I don’t know much about Blake Shelton, but I was kind of excited for this episode. Country singers as host and performer can be a good thing. I mean, I still fondly remember the Garth Brooks episode of many, many, moons ago. It was a rather successful attempt. Here, I think we had some missed opportunity to take advantage of how down for anything Blake Shelton seemed to be for the show. We get a few good moments featuring Blake Shelton letting loose and trying out his comedic skill, but it’s funny that in the end the sketches wound up highlighting the talent of the cast more than the host, and he was simply a foil. Let’s take a look.
Cold Open: Patriots Press Conference. Kenan as Bryant Gumble already set this up well, making a crack that the football season is ending with yet another scandal, but one actually about football. We dive deep into absolute absurdity with an overly stupefied Tom Brady, played by Taran Killam, really trying to get away from any association with Deflategate. (Beck Bennett did a decent job as Belechik too) But this sketch really took off with Bobby Moynihan as “Dougie Spoons,” and we get a straight-up A Few Good Men parody. This was fun and escalated nicely.
Monologue: Here, we had a fresh take on the monologue with an homage to Hee-haw, with a too-modern twist. I wasn’t quite sure where this was going at first, but as each person started basically roasting Blake, the fun and the genius of this monologue really set in. I was also very curious about the sourpuss face Leslie Jones had the entire time – I noticed it the minute she came on stage, and she did good keeping up the poker face in every wide shot they cut away to – and the payoff was great when she finally heard a joke she thought was funny (even though it wasn’t totally funny, still, the point paid itself off) Everyone twisting back on sister and mom jokes to Blake was really fun and unexpected, and we get Blake showing off his musical skills at that. This seemed totally up Blake Shelton’s alley, and it would have been a good gateway to his comedy had more sketches been written to feature him.
Best Sketch of the Night: I kind of really dug Farm Hunk, if only because we saw the girls really in action digging at the ridiculous sameness of every season of The Bachelor. This was the start of Blake Shelton as foil to the comedic talents of everyone in the cast. Aidy Bryant takes the cake here as the basket case, and there’s always that over-emotional, maybe TMI girl in these situations, but she blows it over with overdramatized sob stories, like still being messed up over your father’s death from 10 years ago, to being so “brain sick” that you need to be fed meds daily hidden in cheese, and even saying she was kidnapped at the same time as Jon Benet but no one cared because she wasn’t a beauty pageant contestant. She took the stereotype and ran with it in this wild, funny way, as did the other girls who escalated the ridiculousness of the maybe-not-so-different “types” of women who wind up on these shows. And, of course, we get a great ending moment from Leslie Jones who straight up says she knows she’s getting booted but would still be DTF if he ever gave her a call. When the ladies really give it their all, it’s usually fun, and this was the most successful sketch of the night, to me.
I’ll give an honorable mention here to the Magician sketch since the sketch centered around Blake Shelton as an oddball heckler-type watching a magic show. His simple-mindedness escalated into sheer delusion as he basically kept catcalling wishes to Taran Killam’s magician as though he were a genie or something. Blake totally committed to this, and I was even shocked that the big wish that shut him up was believing he’d have the ability to go down on himself. It was an odd sketch for sure, but Blake felt the most like a character he could run away with here.
Why the Other Sketches Simply Didn’t Work: Probably the most pointless sketch was the Parole Board sketch. I mean, Kenan was funny – he definitely committed to this role, but it felt a very poor, very rushed attempt at a Shawshank Homage. I almost feel like maybe the joke of a totally unregretful cannibal came years too late – this would’ve been perfect after the crazy homeless bathsalts guy eating someone’s face, or something. This just felt odd and out of place, and the only thing we get out of it is listening to the shocked and horrified reactions of the parole board, which isn’t enough to sustain a sketch, to me.
My Darlin’ Joan was definitely clearly an excuse to get Blake to sing in a sketch. It wasn’t an awful sketch – it picked up when you figured out that Taran Killam reveals through song how much he hates his late wife, giving the contrast of a lovely song with lovely photos of Kate McKinnon a funny twist. The weakest thing about this is the set up of it being a featured segment on a morning talk show. It’s the biggest waste of Sasheer Zamata and Bobby Moynihan, who pretty much only reacted to the lyrics of the song.
Another major waste of talent was the Celebrity Family Feud. It was an amazing idea to do The Voice versus American Idol, but I feel like there was so much more time spent on Kenan’s Steve Harvey wisecracks (which were pretty good) and less time on seeing the different characters interact. We barely even got a full impersonation performance out of the remainder of The Voice team. There could’ve been so much more done here, beyond Kenan’s performance.
The Wishin’ Boot was fun, but my biggest issue here is just took so damn long (I mean, it is basically just a silly song / music video). I was over the conceit after Aidy Bryant got bailed out of jail by the boot.
Weekend Update Moment of the Week: I’m kind of worried about how many digs were taken at Michael Che, but I will say the moments with Riblet and his ex-girlfriend won out for me this week, especially with that final reveal that Riblet is now dating Che’s ex. The Pete Davidson bit here was kind of straddling the line between a-ha funny and mildly uncomfortable (I mean, that’s definitely his style but I felt his “I looked up gay porn” thing was less nuanced than his usual), and I worried about the major misstep in one of Michael Che’s reporting jokes where basically no one reacted. They’re definitely trying out some new types of jokes and bits (I appreciated the instant replay homage), but I do enjoy how Michael Che interacts with his guest bits. He gets a certain level of interaction out of the guest bits than Colin Jost does (except when Leslie Jones comes on, of course), which is what makes the Riblet / Ex-Girlfriend ragging on Michael Che thing work in the end. They bring out something perhaps more natural out of Michael Che’s performance in a fun way that stretches outside the usual Weekend Update style.
Player of the Week: I really gotta give it up to Kenan this week, and Aidy Bryant. There was so much love for Kenan’s performances, and Aidy Bryant just took every sketch she was in to another level.
Weird can be fun, and this was probably a little more fun than the other weirder episodes of the season, but I do think there was some talent and opportunity wasted. Till next time!