The Christmas episode of Saturday Night Live is always one of my most anticipated episodes of the season. Mainly because New York during the holidays is fantastic and this episode is often one of the most festive. As if the writers and cast are looking to go out with a bang before a long break and pick things up again in the new year.
Jimmy Fallon’s first hosting duty on the show came this weekend adding the extra layer of “former cast member” returning element to the episode. It’s always exciting when a former cast member returns to host the show, the ones that return are often the beloved ones from casts past and doing well with their career. Bringing with them intangibles, like familiarity with the show’s structure and inner workings, less of an improv learning curve, and live television experience. All of which allow everyone to focus on putting on a good show rather than just the “getting through it” experience some hosts can give off. A returning former cast member also offers up the chance to write for some old characters and revive old sketches peddling on nostalgia. And, if we’re lucky other cast members from the same era might just stop by as well.
Pretty much all of the this happened last night, Fallon was incredibly comfortable as the ringleader, has the likeability, and Rolodex. Seemingly able to recruit a lot of his old friends to play in the sandbox once more. How many old bits would we see? Would he sing a song or two? Would he bust up at some point and laugh at all the funny sketches with us like he used to? Let’s find out.
Cold Open: Sully and Denise
First sketch and we’re back with Fallon’s revival of his hardcore Bostonite, Sully. But the character is updated and not in his votech high school but rather trying to crash a winter formal. What Sully bit would be complete without Rachel Dratch’s Denise by his side. The pair are still up to their own tricks but have children and, well would ya look here, Amy Poehler is also around but now as a motherly Patrice there to pick up her child. Sully also finds out that he’s become a bit of a legend at the school since his departure.
Nomahhhh! Never forget!
Usually the monologue is somewhat of a throwaway but last night Fallon actually made it one of the funnest and upbeat moments of the night. He took to his guitar and donned his charming grin and launched into a musical number that involved the whole cast and a dance party. He even took a few shots at himself: “So many memories… Barry Gibb Talk Show, Debbie Downer, Cowbell… I laughed and ruined all those sketches.”
Oh hai monologue running into a well-timed Jimmy Fallon Capital One commercial, I see you.
I’m usually not too into this sketch just because Kristen Wiig goes a little over the top with the Kathy Lee impression and the payoff is usually just her antics. However, this time around, there were a few perfect digs into Hoda, especially the boyfriend material. Then we’re just in time for Fallon’s always perfect Regis Philbin impression, and as he and Kathy Lee team up on Hoda, things just gel.
Michael Buble has a new Christmas album why not use this chance to bring him into a bit, he seems like he has a great sense of humor. And Jimmy is a terrific at impressions, that’s probably why he handled many of them in this bit. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before and the crashing of the two worlds together is the joke.
That aside, it woulda been fun to see Bill Hader toss in an Alan Alda. But I will take Fred Armisen’s Thom Yorke and Taran Killam, who after the great Robyn video clip hit the web last week, has re-affirmed that he’s the future of SNL and should be bumped up from his featured status and never do a Scotty Mccreery impression again.
I loved the idea of the return of this bit…especially since the story of the original version of this sketch had Mick Jagger and Fallon impersonating Mick Jagger involved Jimmy going around the back of Lorne Michaels to get it on the air.
However, the law of diminishing returns held true this time around though. Mainly because Fallon quickly slid into a Jimmy-impersonating-Andy-impersonating-Jimmy tone as he aped Andy Samberg’s impression of him a rather than just deliver his own speech patterns. Was he matching Samberg’s lesser impression skills? Probably.
1920’s Holiday Party
Every time SNL goes with a sketch that takes place in a different time or in black and white I get nervous… it could be long and drawn out and not all that funny, but the “don’t make me sing,” and “don’t make me dance” back and forth between Kristen Wiig and Fallon just worked, especially as Wiig tried to jump into the song.
One Man Show
Fred Armisen pretty much skewers anyone with ambition to have a one-man show. Most of the time, it’s terrible, the rest of the time he might be the AV guy or janitor.
The song “I Wish It Was Christmas Today” has long been on my Christmas playlists. When this quartet performed it over a decade ago it was hilarious! The song was ridiculous, it was funny, and well Tracey Morgan flinging his arms around like a fool with no expression on his face and calling it dancing was just too much. But this updated version, though nostalgic didn’t have the same instant effect as the original.
The biggest upset was Chris Kattan, who seemed off on his timing and not sure what cameras were on when so he kinda fumbled it. If you haven’t seen the original version I recommend watch that version over this one. Then I recommend watching the version Fallon did with Horatio, The Roots, and Julian Casablancas (of The Strokes) two years ago on his late night talk show. Then, finally watch this.
Michael Buble “Holly Jolly Christmas”
Michael Buble was the musical guest and sang us some Christmas standards. I don’t dislike Buble, and think every generation needs a crooner and this is what we have folks.
It would be tough to top last week’s Update and it seems they did this time around. The three segments, from the news to the guest to the twist at the end which brought back the last two decade’s worth of anchors to have a joke-off sealed the deal. And the improvised sound buzzer effects was a nice touch as well.
Beethoven Meet The Band
I really liked the idea of this bit. Taking Ludwig Van Beethoven introducing his band like you see musicians such as BB King do (which I’m assuming they got the idea from with the nod to him at the end). This sketch woulda flown high had it been 3 minutes shorter. It was only about 6 minutes in length but damn did it feel like 10. Even Kristen Wiig’s random triangle drop in didn’t save it.
You don’t need to know the plot of the play and/or movie and/or book War Horse to find this funny and that’s a good thing since the movie hasn’t been released yet. Frankly because any sketch that just gets more and more ridiculous usually wins me by the end. From Fallon playing a live action version of a puppet horse to Keenan playing a puppet version of a live person, this sketch just gets weirder and weirder. Add on Andy Samberg’s eager cheering/chasing of his horse, Fallon’s terrible poppin’ and lockin’, Jason Sudekis’ minstrel-ing and a U-S-A chant and you have a winner.
Michael Buble “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”
One more from Michael Buble before we’re on our way out tonight. That guy looks good in a suit.
Boom final sketch time. Usually this is the go-for-broke moment that either reaps big rewards or just ho-hums; coming off a great sketch last week SNL doubled-down and gave us this Tim Tebow jem. Just what would happen if Jesus stop by the Broncos locker room to talk to the heavily religious rookie quarterback? He’d probably tell him to ease it up a bit and help him help them.
Fallon’s episode laid it all out there and it delivered the highest ratings of SNL this season. It also might have set the record for most cameos by former cast mates of all time (unofficial, I don’t know that for sure). In addition it also showed a more mature Fallon. Though it would have been great to see him loose it in the middle of a sketch like he used to. Many of the sketches relied on their star power and nostalgia but it was probably the most consistent episode of the season.
- Anyone else notice Mr. Amy Pohler himself, Will Arnett skating around the ice rink at the end of the night?
- Must have been an easy night for most of the crew as Fallon and his returning crew handled a lot of the heavy lifting
- After seeing Andy Samberg act next to Jimmy Fallon, I’m pretty sure Samberg is the Fallon of this new crew
- It also appears that Fallon was wearing an original Killer Bee’s suit on the ice at the end of the night
Have a happy holiday season everyone! We’ll gather in two weeks when Charles Barkley hosts and Kelly Clarkson sings. Setting up the inevitable Kennan Thompson impression of the former basketball star. What did you think of the show? Sound off.