Cold Opening – Mitt Romney Press Conference
The last couple of seasons, SNL has insisted on almost always opening with politicial material, whether or not they writers had anything worthwhile to say.  But with this sketch, they showed that they knew exactly what was going on, and it has been a while since that has been the case.  The fact that the impressions weren’t all that great is forgivable, considering that neither Romney nor Christie have particularly distinct voices.  God help the comedy world if Romney is elected.  There will have to be a lot of sketches like this one if he is, I guess. B+

Ben Stiller’s Monologue
A few good cracks (“the Jewish Willy Wonka” “so, Gene Wilder?”) stuck within an overly broad and unsatisfyingly random premise. C+

Lincoln Financial Group I
They’re on to something.  This reminded me of a video starring my brother. B

Fox & Friends
The best part was the corrections list, which was on screen for about ten seconds.  Thank you, God, for inventing the pause button. B

Lincoln Financial Group II
Even more disturbing, and even more revelatory than the first Lincoln Finacial bit. B+

The Best of Both Worlds
None of the guests this time around really fit the premise, except maybe Mandy Patinkin, but that was a bit too obscure. C-

Digital Short: V-Necks
“God help us.”
V-necks, V-necks, gotta love those V-necks.  This sort of vamping is among what Ben Stiller does best.  Was that a blink-and-you-miss-it cameo from Alan Arkin? A-

Hank Williams, Jr.
That certainly filled some time. B-

Foster the People perform “Pumped Up Kicks”
Mark Foster sounded so different than he does on the recorded version that I had to find a picture to verify that that was actually him.  Another big difference was the huge distortion on the keyboard.  Foster the People definitely appear to be interested in playing their songs differently every time they play them.  Gotta admire that. A-

Weekend Update
-The Jokes: The Jose Reyes joke held up the whole affair. B-
-The Segments: -Nan Washingtom: Like other great Kristen Wiig characters (particularly Judy Grimes), you worry about Nan Washingtom and hope that she can make it through her spiel.  And in the midst of that, there is something unmistakably admirable. B+
-Stefon (and Derek Zoolander): The appearance of Zoolander was gratifying, but – surprisingly – just a tad out of place.  I am starting to notice the exact moment Bill notices something that he doesn’t recognize on the cue cards. A-

Shana at a Halloween Party
Wow, do I hate Shana sketches.  Except not, because as much as this sketch is played out (and it was played out the first time they ever did it), the reactions to Shana’s shenanigans are consistently priceless. B-

Lincoln Financial Group III
A quickie, but a goodie. B

Underundergound Records: Columbus Day Assblast
Mrs. Potato Dick is finally rocking it on Columbus Day!  These promos are so worldly and erudite (“Give Queen Isabella polyps!” “Nina! Pinta! And Scuzzy Beth!” Eckhart Tolle). B+

Bruce Springsteen: Just the Stories
Funny in the way that each segment ended by getting cutting off, so it was a bit tricky as well.  Little Stevie’s moment stood out, thanks to Fred’s gift for playing around with verbiage. B

Foster the People (with Kenny G) perform “Houdini”
Nicely jaunty and energetic.  And hey, Kenny G!  That would have to be the biggest surprise guest appearance on SNL in a long time. B+

This parody served as the contemporaneous inverse of Moneyball.  Ben Stiller fulfilled his role nicely as the sleazy steroid provider, which called to mind his “Do it” character from The Ben Stiller Show.  And there’s Taran Killam with his Brad Pitt impression, which this time around was not completely nonsensical but actually somewhat accurate. B+

The longer sketches had some issues, but, thankfully, the shorter sketches were particularly and consistently strong.  And there were a bunch of them (the three Lincoln Financial commercials, V-Necks, the Update segments, Assblast, Springsteen, and Tinyballs). Stiller was happy to lurk in the shadows (quite effectively).