To wrap up the holiday season, and looking into the new year, I’ll reflect on the last Saturday Night Live of 2014. Again, something I expected a little more out of turned out to be a bit of a blip. Not to say there weren’t genius moments popping in and out. There was a lot that was eh, but there was still moments of spectacular fun.
Cold Open: Sam Smith Interrupted by Dr. Evil. Are the writers just cashing it in on the cold opens? Because they’ve consistently gotten better and better and have been some of the more stand-out sketches in the last string of episodes. Taran Killam’s impression of Sam Smith slayed me, and even the self referential jab at Sam Smith’s loneliness was a great add-on to an already wonderful joke. And every single remark made by Dr. Evil was so on point, it almost feels like Dr. Evil was re-born yesterday and caught up well with all our new trends (better than he ever did in the Austin Powers movies, it seems) It was a great throwback and also a pretty well put commentary on what’s been going on with the Sony Hacks and all the thoughts surrounding it. Well played again here, guys.
Monologue: Christmas song with Kristen Wiig. Although Kristen Wiig maybe stole the show a bit here, this dueling duet is a real fun use of the musical number, and with someone who totally has the theatrical talent like Amy Adams. The holiday dancing boys were a fun add and Kristen Wiig’s antics against Amy Adam’s more demure desiring of a Christmas celebratory song are well juxtaposed. It was a sweet, fun romp that showed off a skill of Amy Adams I haven’t seen on screen probably since Enchanted.
Best Digital Sketch: Christmas Serial. For those who religiously listened to Serial, there’s definitely a great appreciation here of the effort. Even though it’s definitely an overkill to use visuals for a joke about a podcast, they still added to the fun of the joke. Every part was also very perfectly cast – Cecily Strong really nailed the Koenig impression, and matching each of the Christmas characters to the different Serial “characters” was well placed, like the North Pole version of Jay, and Kyle Mooney’s Adnan-y Kris Kringle. Aidy Bryant wins though for her impression of Gutierrez interrogating in court. This is a true parody and homage to the podcast that works on every level, even for as ridiculous of a topic as it is.
Noble Fake Ad Effort: Asian American Doll. I wanted this to be funnier, but it wasn’t. I wasn’t offended – I appreciated how the real joke is the amount of effort put to be so PC about the doll, and that the young girls are the ones who basically tore those efforts apart. It was an interesting effort at a commentary on how the Asian stereotype is perpetuated, since the voiceover had to constantly qualify all of the qualities (or distinct lack thereof) of the doll. It just wasn’t super laugh-out-loud funny.
Best Sketch: Girlfriends Talk Show. I have a soft spot for this sketch, if only because Aidy Bryant kills it with whatever weird thing she has going on. There were so many hidden wonderful little gags in here that really worked – from all the cracks Aidy Bryant makes to her being showed up by Amy Adams to Cecily Strong soundly admitting that her “boyfriend” just creepily watches her from a boat or something and then Aidy Bryant completely succumbing to the powers of the male dance squad members. Even though this is a rather off-kilter semi regular sketch, it won me over.
Worst Sketch: Singing Sisters. The premise of this was just so weird it felt like some last minute idea someone came up with and they hacked it together. The idea of a really bizarre set of sisters set in the 40s or whatever is funny in and of itself. The idea of a sister singing group singing awful weird songs is funny in and of itself. Adding the weird mystical element that they’re really raccoons? Er, what?
Honorable Mention: Office Christmas Party. Even though the words to this song were essentially (literally) “Office Christmas Party” the visuals and the ideas of it make this a little bit fun. A humdrum office going batshit during the holiday party isn’t the newest joke, but they took it to another level with the production value here.
So there’s to the end of the 2014 holiday season and the 2014 eps of SNL. Hopefully we continue on a better streak when SNL comes back on Jan. 17!