Cold Opening – A Message from the President of the United States
Interestingly enough, while I did think that this was one of the better message from the president cold opens in a while, I noticed what a lot of viewers have been saying lately: Fred’s Obama is getting worse.  This had the feel of a Wayne’s World top ten countdown.  Obama didn’t quite have the energy that Wayne and Garth have, but he did have something.  And points are deserved for all of the comments being right on target. B

Steve Buscemi’s Monologue
The problem with this monologue wasn’t so much that it was it was one of those “I’m going to explain to the audience my most notable characteristic, even though they already know that about me” monologues, it was that the character actors who were asking Steve for advice were playing too-specific characters.  Steve’s oeuvre of creepy roles show a greater range than a series of sassy black judges, or rapping grandmas, or even clumsy best friends from romantic comedies, and that dissonance was too great to overcome. C+

Frozen Mexican Dinner
Fish can help with constipation? B-

The Miley Cyrus Show
Miley’s “comedy monologue” is the most consistently strong element of these sketches.  There should be a Miley Cyrus stand-up special sketch.  And as great as she is, there was really no justification for Maya’s Whitney showing up.  She just loopily blurted out every line she’s ever delivered before over and over. B

Digital Short: Batman
Creepy Batman is an overdone gag, and Andy didn’t really add anything new to it, but I did appreciate Steve Buscemi’s performance as Commissioner Gordon, particularly when he told his wife, “I’m happy to oblige, my lady.”  This was a side of Gordon we don’t usually get to see. B

We’ve since Bill’s Keith Morrison get inappropriately excited before, so as good as he is at it, it wasn’t very much, until there was someone (Steve) to sort of go along with it, and egg him on a bit.  Displaying the one photograph from multiple angles was also a good gag. B-

Central Press Conference
An excellent utilization of Steve Buscemi’s persona, and in a timely fashion to boot.  This sketch worked because Coach Bert was not only a guy who looked like a pedophile, he was also a fully fleshed out character, what with the song about his “million friends.”  Also, Kenan’s handwashing-obsessed investigator, Jay’s sting-operating team star, and Bill’s NAMBLA chapter president were certainly not afterthoughts. A-

The Black Keys perform “Lonely Boy”
The Black Keys severely handicap themselves in terms of best SNL musical guest consideration with the shortness of their songs.  MG’s have a limited enough amount of time as it is, and the Black Keys just cruise right through it.  Luckily, their success with “Lonely Boy,” what with it being such a fast and busy ditty, was clear to me. A-

Weekend Update
-The Jokes: Seth’s best performance of the season.  The spiral staircase, 48 thoughts a day, donkeys crossing the bordeer, Saudi cars, the robot hating what it sees in the mirror, and the botched hit all stuck. B+
-The Segments: -Herman Cain: Like Tyler Perry, Kenan’s Herman Cain is not really an impression, but he does say some funny things. B-
-Drunk Uncle: I love it how people sound stupid when they try to say smart things, because there is humor in truth, and there are kernels of truth in those pieces of stupidity. A-

Surprise Sue
It may seem like not that long ago since we last saw Sue, but her last apperance was actually two years ago, and this was only her fourth appearance overall.  And let’s not forget, Sue’s first apperance in the Christopher Walken/Panic at the Disco! episode from April ’08 was actually clever.  This rendition unfortunately telegraphed the exact same plot beats as the other Sue sketches, but fortunately, it did feature Sue yelling, “BAG!” and “I forgot about her jaw!” and from Steve Buscemi, the instantly immortal line “God, Sue, you’ve got some knockers.” B-

Sex Ed’s Couples Workshop Sex Intensive
Steve Buscemi’s character was a nice addition to Sex Ed’s roster, as he wasn’t too creepy.  He was only slightly creepy, and certainly no more so than Sex Ed; in fact, he was plainspoken and quite tame.  Really, he was faux creepy. B+

The Black Keys perform “Gold on the Ceiling”
They make it look so easy.  They are clearly one of the best recent MG’s on SNL, but you wouldn’t realize it if you don’t pay attention. B+

Christmas Ornaments
This is one of those sketches in which the objective is to have a succession of quick, short gags and hope that at least a few of them stick, and Steve Buscemi is just about the perfect choice for headlining something like that.  And for those of you who complain that Kristen gets too many supporting roles that could have gone to any of the ladies in the cast, this is why she gets those roles.  As Sheila, she provided an enigmatic, yet unmistakable element that perfectly complemented the main thrust of the sketch. A

Steve Buscemi is the type of host that SNL should not want to misuse.  And while he had two creepy or just plain odd roles with Coach Bert and Sheila (the ornaments guy), he could have had more hilariously creepy moments, if only the other sketches had been just a little different.  And there was a model to follow in Steve’s last hosting appearance in 1998, when he was, indeed, utilized exactly as he should have been, throughout the episode.  This time, he had at least one unusual line or moment of his own in each sketch, but there was too much missed potential.