Despite my previous predictions about the likelihood that this week’s host, former Saturday Night Live cast member Jimmy Fallon, would be breaking all over the place, he actually held it together quite nicely, giggling mostly when appropriate and otherwise leading a perfectly solid, back-third-of-the-season episode.
Donald Trump Cold Open
Whether SNL’s shots are working or his lack of experience has become obvious, Steve Bannon’s no longer the favorite son of fickle President Trump, as seen in this week’s cold open. Unaware of his historically low poll numbers, Trump (Alec Baldwin, still) is checking off all his accomplishments (really, there’s just one, and it’s barely that) but there’s one thing on his mind – Bannon’s poor performance. Simple solution: replace him with the only person who’s possibly more of a conflict of interest, his own son-in-law, ex-journo Jared Kushner (played by a wide-smiling Jimmy Fallon). Now everyone’s happy, especially Trump, who still gets to sit at his special little Big Boy desk.
Fallon’s hosting, so, he won’t be reprising his role as Kushner (imagine how insane it’d be if he signed on Baldwin-style for that), so we don’t really need to get into the possible dangers of casting Kushner as a silent, smiling little boy-type (“like a little Jewish Amelie”), sooooo let’s just save it and see how this one plays out.
Jimmy Fallon’s Dance Monologue
With nearly 42 years on air, there isn’t much SNL hasn’t done yet – except broadcast one show live in all time zones, like they did this week (and will be doing for the rest of the season). To commemorate, host Fallon breaks into a bit of a Bowie tribute during his monologue, “Let’s Dance”-ing into the audience and through the studio, which is lit more like 54 than 8H, to commemorate the event with a lip-synced celebration. Maybe he’s trying to give award-winning “Carpool Karaoke” host James Corden a run for his money?
Celebrity Family Feud
It’s another edition of Celebrity Family Feud, and this time there’s even more of a twist: it’s a time travel edition, with contestants from 2017 battling celebs from, somehow, 1977 (don’t ask host Kenan Thompson about the time travel thing, he’s just here to pick up a check). On Team 1977, there’s Liza Minelli from Cabaret (Cecily Strong), “original Beyonce” Diana Ross (Sasheer Zamata), a stuttering Travolta (Fallon, reprising one of his classics), and in an adorably inept cameo, there’s a vibrating Harry Styles trying his best to pull off Mick Jagger (and making jokes about going solo).
On the 2017 side, there’s Kristen Stewart (Kate McKinnon), Gwen Stefani (Melissa Villasenor), “magician and all-around creep show” David Blaine (Pete Davidson, looking like the sparsely bearded son Nick Kroll would have if neither of them ended up famous), and – a similar play on last week’s split screen that had Baldwin’s Trump debating Baldwin’s O’Reilly – the final player on Team 2017 is present-day Travolta, also played by Fallon, in a less lustrous wig and puffier face paint. The two teams battle it out with plenty of cultural references, topical and non (including a few good digs at OJ, because why not), but the real game of the scene is knowing how fast Fallon has to run back and forth between podiums to change Travoltas.
Before the Show
Before the first middle school class to ever perform Legally Blonde: The Musical goes onstage, they’re a little nervous, but honestly? They got this – from the choreography so intense some kids got un-cast cause they couldn’t learn it, to the big solo, to the romantic duet, they couldn’t be more confident. And when, on opening night, the entire thing is a nightmare of mumbled lines, skinned knees, and whispered singing, they’re ecstatic, because in their minds it was perfect – and that’s why middle school theater always sucks.
Take Me Back
A cute new couple (Strong and Beck Bennett) are giggling over getting to know each other when there’s a knock at the door: it’s Doug (Fallon), rain-soaked and ready to win back his ex. Remember Savage Garden’s 1997 hit “Truly, Madly, Deeply”? I do, because I had the cassingle; and so does Doug, because as soon as Strong lets him in he’s belting it out. When his flat singing doesn’t woo her, he reveals a shirt emblazoned with her face… then some backup singers (Kyle Mooney and Mikey Day), and finally, a proposal. Who could resist?!?
Strong can, and for good reason: “No, Doug – you dragged a man off a plane this week!” And with that, SNL wins the absolute best coverage of this week’s United Airlines fiasco.
Easter Message from Sean Spicer
Hey kids, happy Easter – now get out of here, and shut up, because actual former White House Easter bunny Sean Spicer (Melissa McCarthy, praise be) has something to say. For once, it’s an apology, for his unfortunate remarks about how maybe Hitler wasn’t so bad, but between his tangents on chocolate cake and a poorly-timed United joke, the actual apology is kind of hard to find. There is, however, a fairly thorough explanation of Passover and the axis of evil, with the help of Spicey’s trusty doll friends.
Jost and Che sound off on North Korea’s attempted missile launch, Fox News’ payoff scandal, and Trump’s presumption that they haven’t seen any really pretty cakes:
Jacob the Bar Mitzvah boy (Vanessa Bayer) stops by to talk about Passover and Papa John’s:
And everyone’s favorite standup comic, Bruce Chandling (Mooney) is back with some musings on spring:
Civil War Soldiers
When a band of Civil War soldiers, huddled fireside in the dead of night, start to lose hope, a song about the future rouses their spirits; one by one, they join in to sing of victory in battle, and returning home to New York, triumphant and to their families. It’s an emotional moment for the men (Bennett, Day, and Moffatt) until one recruit jumps up to add a chorus, hands waving with excitement, about how they’ll all go party at his dad’s house when the war is won – something better suited for Carly Rae Jepsen than the Civil War battlegrounds.
Surprisingly, though, they love it – and it’ll probably be in all our heads, too, unfortunately.
Caught talking shit about your boss, or something equally embarrassing? Don’t run away, turtle down – into your shirt, that is, with the Turtle Shirt by Swag. It’s like “having your own personal panic room on your back,” and it’ll get you out of sticky situations by making you look only slightly less dumb than you already just did.
Sully & Denise
Fallon couldn’t host without at least one really good throwback sketch, and here we go: Zazu and Sully, the world’s Boston-iest Bostonians, are back at Hahvahd, and they’ve got a good reason this time. Now married, the Sully’s have raised a daughter (McKinnon) who, against all odds, has gotten into the Ivy League school – if her parents don’t ruin it for her, at least. Shout out to the Build-A-Bear Workshop at the Burlington Mall!
An impatient director (Moffatt) slowly goes insane trying to deal with two basketball-playing background actors (Fallon and Day) in a big scene (between actor Davidson and Thompson).
After a few weeks off, the next new episode will be May 6, with host Chris Pine and MUSICAL GUEST LCD SOUNDSYSTEM!!!