Cold Opening – Congresswoman Michele Bachman’s Response to the President’s State of the Union: The Second Attempt
The concept of technical difficulties galore was good for a few laughs and then it got a little old, but not as old as it could have gotten. Bachman offhandedly confirming that Xena was on the same tape as the Obama clip and the crash in the background at the end were the most amusing bits, because of how goofy and unexplained they were. B

Jesse Eisenberg’s Monologue
When Zuckerberg joined Eisenberg, it felt like they were going for pretend awkward, but instead it was just actually awkward. (Why didn’t all three Zuckerbergs appear together at the same time?) Jesse’s struggle to paint himself as cocky was well-intentioned, but that too was also awkward. C

This was one of the weakest premises SNL has ever had for a commercial parody, but thankfully it was part of a trend in which weak premises are saved by great performances. Bill, Fred, Paul, and Bobby especially were completely wholehearted in their roles, particularly while wining. And of course Kenan’s look of joyful surprise was the best moment. B

Mr. Wizard’s World
That rubbing was rather disturbing. Nasim and Jesse were not holding back at all. Luckily, the disturbing element was tempered by Bill keeping it straight as Mr. Wizard and Kenan and Abby looking positively frightened as the other kids. B

Don’t Forget the Lyrics
At first, the joke appeared to just be a smattering of misheard lyrics. Then, it pulled off a surprise by becoming a little revelatory with the extra testicle moment. And then it settled into a pattern. Oh well. You win some, you lose some. The joke that Mark McGrath is now a puppet of VH1 was a good call, but it was ruined by Sudeikis’s normal jerk-like delivery. B

Herb Welch is a great character and significant evidence as to why Bill has been the best of the cast this season. The mumbling is key. He almost lost it while interviewing Kenan. I don’t know if he can be allowed to have two characters partially defined by cracking up, but it is acceptable for now. Kenan has lately been playing a lot of characters who are the victims of mild racism. B

Digital Short: The Creep
Like many of the musical digital shorts, I didn’t catch all of the lyrics on the first viewing. But that was okay, as the selling point of this one was the look. It is always nice when the outfits of the main characters fit the title, and the Lonely Island’s boys’ look did so in spades. Scoring John Waters for the introduction was quite the coup. It was a token appearance, but there was nothing awkward about it – it felt like the sort of thing John Waters would actually be up to. As for Nicki Minaj’s appearance, she was as impressive as Justin Timberlake, in that she felt like a true collaborator of the Lonely Island and not just a game participant. However, while I was happy to see her appear (she’s got the requisite chops), she looked too attractive – more freaky than creepy. Even with those glasses, I think those guys in the locker room were happy to have a peeping Tom (or peeping Tammy, as it were). B+

Nicki Minaj performs “Right Thru Me”
Nicki’s voice is not too unusual, but it is awesome. And you gotta love her outfits. This is not her most clever song. The lyrics could be a bit grating coming out of someone else’s voice, but somehow Nicki gets it right. What was up with that one backup singer’s hair? I could have sworn she was wearing cat ears. B+

Weekend Update
-The Jokes: This was the best from Seth Meyers as anchor that I have ever seen. He had a few Norm MacDonald-level jokes where I actually could never have guessed his punchline (particularly the elderly drivers bit). B+
-The Segments: -Hosni Mubarak: There’s Fred, the all-ethnic. The great thing about when Fred is successful with his foreign characters is that the jokes aren’t about the foreignness. He does an accent, but the actual humor comes from somewhere unexpected. Here, of all things, it was frustration over being given a large window of time for when an Internet technician will show up. B+
-Tyler Perry: I don’t think Kenan is a huge fan of Tyler Perry. I think he believes that he is more entertaining than Tyler Perry in many ways. I think so, too. But he also knows that Tyler Perry has a lot more money than he does. So he doesn’t get too explicit about how he feels. But he doesn’t have to. B

Bride of Blackenstein
Apparently Bootsy Collins was playing Dr. Blackenstein. I don’t know if that was Jay’s idea or someone else’s, but either way, it was a good idea. The main reason why this sketch worked so well (it was one of the best of the season) was that each character was fully fleshed out, and that lent itself to each line being delivered so strongly. Given Jesse Eisenberg’s presence, I wondered if this sketch had been written by the blaxpoitation version of Aaron Sorkin. Considering the subject matter, I worried that Jesse was only going to make a token appearance, but then he stayed on the whole time, and I was ultimately convinced that this episode had an ingenious host/musical guest pairing. A-

The product placement bits were kind of funny. I imagine it may have been funnier if they had started taking some clothes off, instead of just promising to. Or maybe I just wanted to see some skin and that had nothing to do with laughs. Anyway, the real highlight was Andy as the apparent head of MTV programming. This was one of his best performances of the season. Total comedically professional move when he decided to just throw the moonman off the desk after accidentally knocking it over. B+

Spa Talk
This sketch made no sense, but Kristen’s delivery was out of this world. I was neither amused nor annoyed by the poop jokes; they felt like just a part of the proceedings. B

Nick Minaj performs “Moment 4 Life”
I appreciated that Nicki kept her bride of Blackenstein wig on. It is always nice to see a connection running through an episode, even one as small as this. This performance had a certain I-don’t-know-what that I enjoy in live music. B+

El Shrinko
Kristen’s delivery in this sketch was reminiscent of the Norwegian Actors Playhouse bit from last season. Everyone’s delivery was great! That was good, as many of the lines were dumb. I guess they were supposed to be that way, but they could have been unbearable if not delivered correctly. Why did that Derek fellow pop in for a second? B

The audience was in a really good mood. This was the friendliest audience SNL has had in some time. Such an audience was not entirely deserved until after Update, when Blackenstein, Skins, and Spa Talk promoted a patently silly atmosphere. This episode, more than any other I can remember in a while, made the case that the musical guest should be a big part of the show – and not at the expense of the host (I’m thinking of you, Paul Rudd/Paul McCartney episode). The Bride of Blackenstein, while also being an excellent sketch in and of itself, demonstrated this principle perfectly.