Cold Opening – WikiLeaks TMZ
The cold opening should always be reliable, and Bill Hader playing someone with an English (actually Australian in this case) accent is certainly reliable. I don’t know if Julian Assange is anything like the way Bill played him, but the accent allowed him to be in his comfort zone. This worked best when the political figures had no idea why the cameras were following them, and thus, the first bit, with Fred as Qaddafi, was the funniest. B+

Robert De Niro’s Monologue
I was watching De Niro’s first appearance as host recently, and in that monologue, he looked incredibly stiff. It barely lasted a minute; it looked like he couldn’t wait for it to be over. This time, he was actually willing to be funny. And scary at the same time. Damn straight New York is the home of EPCOT. A-

The Abacus Conundrum (and Other Books) by Harlan Kane
When all else fails, just come up with a list that includes a bunch of silly words. Also, any mention of Pokémon is generally automatically funny. De Niro’s bons mots provided the perfect interaction with the list: “Lot of good words in this one.” B+

What Up With That?
WUWT? has gotten to the point that I not only expect it to be the same thing each time, but I get excited about that sameness. Relatively few sketches can accomplish that. For a moment there, though, it looked like De Niro and Robin Williams were going to stop Deandre from doing what he always does. I debated among myself what was the best direction for the sketch to take at this point. It was unsurprising that Deandre would eventually start the music again, but this would have been the one way in which WUWT? should invite breaking the formula. Maybe that can happen eventually, perhaps on Kenan’s last show, but at the moment, I think this was the right way to go. But it wasn’t so cool that De Niro eventually just stopped talking and Williams did little more than mutter.
There was one area that did definitely require some mixing up – appeasing Lindsey Buckingham.  Thankfully, enough of an effort was put forth in that area. K-Wiig’s character taking off a succession of wigs was wild, and the top highlight was the “sequels, prequels, squeakquels, eagles, beagles, seagulls, peoples, weasels” progression. B+

Mr. Produce
This was basically the same thing over and over, but De Niro and Andy put enough of an effort into some of their lines to provide a few laughs. Also, De Niro said “Andy” at one point. B-

Digital Short: Party at Mr. Bernard’s
Well, isn’t that convenient? B-

Diddy-Dirty Money perform “Coming Home”
I thought that Diddy had given up rapping. And we were all happy about that. But this piece actually had an adequate degree of energy to it. B

Weekend Update
-The Jokes: Seth annoyed me with his Seth-ness only once or twice. B-
-The Segments: -The Kardashians: I did not realize that Khloe was that much freakishly taller than her sisters. Anyway, Abby and Vanessa couldn’t keep up with Nasim, but the butt joke worked for all parties involved. B
-Ryan Christopher from the Spider-Man musical: I am impressed that Andy kept his professionalism while hanging upside-down. The request for the Spider-Man upside-down smooch made this one memorable. B
-’80’s Aerobics Video Instructor Janet Judy Tran: Aerobics videos appear to be an obscure interest of K-Wiig’s. She didn’t convince the rest of us to share this interest, but she did try. C+

Little Fockers Set Visit
This was played to perfection by Bobby, who seems to have the spirit of a child. The Permanent Midnight reference was off the hook. B+

Blizzard Man
In the middle of the show, I was thinking how we haven’t seen the Blizzard Man in a while. Then lo and behold. I should have realized he could be appearing, what with Diddy as the musical guest. It would be great to see him again in two weeks with Eminem and Lil Wayne. De Niro in drag as Blizzy’s moms and Diddy hitting on her was too freaky for words. The MC Skat Kat was the nicest touch. B

La Revista Della Televisione con Vinny Vedecci
This took an unusual course, considering that Vinny had an Italian-American guest. The Deer Hunter bit and Vinny’s son on a bender (there’s Bobby as a kid again) were tops. This was the second sketch of the night featuring someone in a role originated by Will Forte (Taran in WUWT? was the first). Will could really eat spaghetti in an entertaining way. Too bad for Paul that he has to follow that up. B+

Bosley Hair Restoration
I miss the days when SNL would regularly rerun its best commercial parodies several times over the course of a season. That is hardly done anymore. It makes it feel that the show is its own separate universe. This commercial was a good choice for defining that culture this season. Orignial Grade: B+

Diddy/Dirty-Money ft. Swizz Beatz perform “Ass on the Floor”
A lot of yelling. C+

Who Do I Have to Screw to Get a Drink Around Here?
Clever. And Stiller’s appearance at the end sold it as a classic. I was reminded of “The Heat is On.” A-

American America: I, Hippie
At least this had a joke, unlike the last one of these. B-

So, check it: Before the show started, I was thinking how we were probably due for a What Up With That?, I was pining for the return of Blizzard Man, and when the Digital Short started, I identified it as a Weekend at Bernie’s parody as soon as mention was made of partying with the boss. I guess I know this show too well.
Anyway, this was bizarro SNL: the Short was a (relative) disappointment, and the cold opening and monologue were highlights. De Niro was looser than in his previous stints as host, but he is still one of the stiffest hosts ever.