Cold Opening – Duh! Winning! with Charlie Sheen
But of course this week SNL did not open with a political sketch.   Obviously Sheen was going to be all over this episode.  This was a clever premise to take him on, and considering the way he has dominated his interviews, it wasn’t too crazy an idea to make Sheen the interviewer.  Unfortunately, the guest choices did not really fit.  John Galliano and Gaddafi may have also had some issues this past week, but neither exemplifies “bi-winning” the way Charlie does.  And Xtina was totally out of place.  Gaddafi did get in a good line about dressing like Humpty Hump, though.  Thankfully, there was an appropriate guest when Lindsay showed up, as her troubles are actually of the sort that can be rationalized and dressed up the way Sheen has his. B

Miley Cyrus’s Monologue
I feel that Miley must have watched the SNL Backstage special, specifically, the portion about monologues.  According to that retrospective, hosts have been told that the monologue is their opportunity to introduce themselves to the audience, to say, “This is who I am.”  Miley took that advice, and came out swinging.   By addressing her “controversies,” she demonstrated the best way to call bullshit: instead of getting angry, she made a joke out of it.   I don’t think I’ve ever seen a host work an audience for a specific reaction in a non-joking way the way Miley did.   (That was quite a reaction when she mentioned Hannah Montana, and those shouts didn’t sound like they came from 12-year-olds.) B+

I laughed a few times. Original Grade: C+ Adjusted Grade: B-

Our Time! with Taboo and!
The premise of this sketch was so patently funny that the execution could have been disappointing and I still would have been smiling just based on the premise.  Taboo and are so intrinsically funny; Andy and Kenan were plainly not struggling at all for material.   Every note was perfectly hit: dancing (poorly) when they should have been doing more singing, constant reminders that they are in fact in the Black Eyed Peas, references to the baffling question of what race Taboo is, satisfyingly goofy explanations of their stupid names, awkward smiles, and wild body language.   Miley was right on as Fergie.  Strangely enough, Jay was the weak point as  It was like Darrell Hammond doing his Dubya.  The greatest impressionists are not immortal, unfortunately. A

The Essentials: The Sound of Music
Like Lon Donsen in The Wizard of Oz, it made no sense that Richie Inez, Jr. would have ever appeared in any cut of The Sound of Music.  Lon Donsen was a funny enough character to overcome that lack of sense.  Richie Inez, Jr. – not as much.  But there were enough funny moments to make it close. B

The Disney Channel Acting School
With Miley hosting, something like this had to be done.  It looked like she was eager to poke fun at her Disney overlords.  Highlights included the mere presence of Kenan as Raven Symoné and spying in a doorway. B+

The Miley Cyrus Show
I hadn’t thought about who (the real) Miley would be playing once they got to this sketch, but I probably would never have thought of Bieber.  Good thing I wasn’t the one writing it, as she nailed the Bieb’s trying way too hard nature.   It was a wise decision to forego having Miley directly address the validity of Vanessa’s Miley, and instead have her, through Bieber, call her out on her annoying habits (need for approval, insistence on the phrase “pretty cool”). B+

The Strokes perform “Under Cover of Darkness”
The Strokes were ripping the strings right off their guitars, and Julian Casablancas was just about eating the microphone.  This song sounds like it was tailor-made for Rock Band.  Bassist Nikolai Fraiture looked cool in his John Lennon-style getup. A-

Weekend Update
-The Jokes: There was a lot of great material, and I laughed several times, but I found myself wondering, “Would any of these jokes be funnier if they were delivered by someone other than Seth?” B
-The Segments: -Winners/Losers Charlie Sheen: See above. B
-The Devil: Jason, you have some good points, but come on, you’re not the Devil.   You’re the guy who pulls harmless pranks and pretends to be bad. B-
-Secondhand News: Anyone can make puns.  Anyone can make them as nonsensical as they want them to be.  But not many can do so while having physical tics and looking behind and to the side of himself the way Bobby does as Anthony Crispino. A-

Les Jeunes de Paris
When this started, I thought, “Really?  This again?”   I liked it the first time, but I didn’t feel confident that they could really do any more with it.  But there is plenty that Les Jeunes de Paris is capable of.  It is like a more fantastical version of What Up With That?, in which it really feels like anything could happen.   The best part was Andy the mime throwing the water on Taran. B+

Beastly Trailer
I can’t say no to that face. B

Rock-a-Billy Lady Party Moisturizing Facial Cream
This reminded me of the bit that Will Forte and Kristen did as Clancy T. Blancheratt and Jackie Snad, in that it was so weird, and I laughed at the weirdness, but I ultimately couldn’t get a handle on it because it was just so out there.   The Clancy T. Blancheratt bit was better, though, as it featured Will Forte singing like a maniac. B-

The Strokes perform “Life is Simple in the Moonlight”
Julian Casablancas was too incomprehensible for this to be a truly great performance. B

Cruise Ship Singer
The premise of a resentful cruise ship singer was promising, and Miley had a good handle on the character, but it didn’t go very far.  She just called everyone gross.   It was funny, but I wanted something deeper.  It was particularly funny when Vanessa requested “My Heart Will Go On” by Titanic. B-

Gurney Month on CBS
I was expecting at least one made up show title (Two and a Half Dead Bodies doesn’t count), but CBS apparently has so many real shows that fit the bill that there wasn’t enough time to get to a fake name.   The friendly voice saying things in bad taste is always good for a few chuckles. B-

Many fretted over the announcement of Miley as host, concerned about the obvious baiting of the teenybopper crowd with a young star of questionable talent. But I was confident that this would be a strong show, and here’s why: Charlie Sheen, the material afforded by the controversies Miley has been a part of, Gaddafi, the material afforded by a Disney Channel past, Charlie Sheen, the inevitable Miley Cyrus Show sketch, John Galliano, Charlie Sheen, the Strokes, Charlie Sheen, and the fact that Miley is actually talented. And amidst all that, who would have thought that the best sketch of the night would be about the Black Eyed Peas? Simply put, this was one of those magical weeks where the cast and writers had more material than they knew what to do with. As far as Sheen is concerned, he was at least referenced in four sketches, and he informed about half of Weekend Update. Miley actually came off a little smug, but she was funny about it, so it was okay. She was game for doing whatever and she even seemed to have been equipped with her own ideas (the Bieber impression looked like something she’d been working on).
Interestingly enough, this episode shared some striking similarities with the Emma Stone episode, as both featured Les Jeunes de Paris, the Babyspanx commerical, and the host portraying Lindsay Lohan.