The second episode of Saturday Night Live’s 40th season featured Sarah Silverman’s return to her old stomping grounds as host, a movie trailer nod to love and Ebola, a decent amount of Maroon 5’s Adam Levine, and plenty more ups and downs to talk about. With Silverman, a comic and former featured player and writer from the 90’s, hosting this episode, there was good reason to think this episode would be a solid effort after the so-so first episode. However, this show proved much like the first, a roller coaster of funny and not-so-funny moments, though overall a solid effort.
My first real issue with the episode, and probably what derailed it for me, was the cold open with Beck Bennett playing a “60 Minutes” host opposite Jay Pharoah’s Obama. SNL has always been great with political satire; however, this particular instance didn’t prove to be all that funny. Bennett’s impersonation was good, but it wasn’t cynical, biting, or particularly funny and really left me scratching my head. Were the writers going with a politically charged open solely because it’s the easy go-to move? The skit didn’t lampoon anything terribly specific, aside from a few jabs at ISIS and their social media networking, and overall felt way too forced for me to enjoy it. Having the show start off on a down note for me never helps me get into an episode.
Sarah Silverman’s monologue was a much needed bright spot after the slow start to the episode. She focused on her past with the show, and participated with audience members in a refreshingly unusual way; by sitting on one of their laps and giving them a pep talk. I can only assume this was rehearsed, if it wasn’t it’s ridiculously amazing. Nevertheless, Silverman made the stage her own during the monologue, and really shone bright. Silverman’s performances were great throughout the night, even in skits I didn’t think did well, but I’ll openly admit that I think she was slightly overexposed at the expense of some of the cast (at least that’s the way it appeared to me). The show relied on Silverman to carry it all night when they could’ve relied on the talented cast they have just a bit more during the show. Still, Silverman was an undeniable bright spot on the night.
SNL sort of hit it out of the park with their “Fault in the Stars 2: The Ebola in Our Everything.” I knew the show would hit on the Ebola situation, but I was quite pleased they did it like this. Taran Killam and Sarah Silverman were hilarious in this pre-taped bit, which was a welcome way to start off the show. This fictional movie trailer was then followed up by an odd tribute to Joan Rivers, featuring many cast members and Adam Levine playing deceased celebrities at a roast. While I didn’t necessarily love the skit, I understand it was a writer’s room tribute to the late Rivers, which was fitting for the show to do. Afterwards, the show went back to the recurring “Forgotten TV Gems” sketch to end the first segment of the show. While I never really thought much of this bit, it was actually pretty well played this episode, thanks to the likes of Cecily Strong and Vanessa Bayer.
Weekend Update continued to be a work in progress for Che and Jost, but still I find myself very pleased with their interplay. Despite Che’s occasional fumbling of lines (which just shows he’s human), I think the pair work quite well together, especially in scenes where they get to go back and forth on a topic, as they did with Che’s criticism of Colin’s vernacular. I’m not going to as far as to anoint them the next great Update duo, but I enjoy these two and their interactions a lot more than I had with Seth Meyers and Cecily Strong or Jost and Strong last year. With a bit more focused writing on their contrasting comedic strong points (think Fey and Poehler era), Weekend Update can be good with these two.
Of the later skits on the episode, I definitely really liked the car proposal skit. Bobby Moynihan was great as a jilted man who was hiding in the backseat of a car waiting to propose to his girlfriend when she admitted to cheating. His facial expressions were some of the funniest visuals of the episode, and he had probably the best line and delivery of the episode in response to his character’s girlfriend’s ridicule of Adam Levine; “Don’t you yell at Adam Levine, he did nothing wrong!”
Overall, there were some funny moments in this episode of SNL, I just wish it had been a more consistently great episode. I also wish the show would use their cast appropriately, I saw no Pete Davidson tonight after his great debut, and even some of the veterans like Vanessa Bayer, Cecily Strong, Bobby Moynihan, and others were used scarcely. There are a lot of funny people with really good characters on this show, and next week’s episode with Bill Hader returning to host would be a great time to let them shine.