Cold Opening – Fox and Friends
“Baseball is a land sport” was one of the corrections – I wonder what they claimed otherwise.  As usual, the corrections were the best part, and they can only work in an age when pausing is easy.  The bits with Bobby as Brian Kilmeade were also amusing, including the lines about pandas. B

Eli Manning’s Monologue
Monologues have gone to the well of “host claims to know New York, but gets it all wrong” plenty of times before, but they usually work, so that’s fine.  I thought I fully knew where this was going at first, but there were some surprises, and Eli was sufficient. B

The acting here was quite solid, but there were a handful of logistical issues that nagged at me: Why would these ladies choose Mother’s Day morning for their alone time?  I mean, they clearly have husbands and children who care enough about them such that they should have known they were probably about to do something for them.  Also, why was this a commercial for Amazon?  In fact, why was it even a commercial for anything?  It was about husbands and kids walking in on Mom while she was reading Fifty Shades of Grey, and that didn’t really have anything to do with where she bought the book from or where they bought their gifts from. B-

Motion Capture
This sketch wasn’t surprising, given Eli’s on-field (lack of) personality, but it was clever, and full of plenty of tricks. B+

Text Message Evidence
There was a supreme degree of confidence to this sketch.  Everyone involved was happy to let it be as long as it needed, and they were comfortable in their belief that the material was strong enough on its own, and they didn’t need to oversell it.  Easily the best use of the dryness of Eli’s personality all night. A-

Little Brothers
Ah, the sequel in spirit to United Way.  While I was able to appreciate that that earlier bit became a classic, I didn’t find it flat-out hilarious the way a lot of people did, and I kind of felt the same way about this one. B

WXPD News New York
“They call it stonewall, but I call it fruit salad” – this is the sort of bon mot we tune into WXPD for.  Thank you.  And it was a nice change of pace to see Herb Welch actually enthused about interviewing someone.  And it goes without saying that that montage was brilliant. B+

Rihanna performs “Birthday Cake”/”Talk That Talk”
I enjoyed the stage design, but … it didn’t seem to have anything to do with anything.  Also, frequently allowing the vocal track to play without actually singing isn’t usually advisable.  It’s understandable if you’re moving around a lot, but Rihanna’s dancing didn’t seem particularly complicated or exhausting.  But, hey, it’s Rihanna, and these tracks are pretty good.  So, it was enjoyable, but not particularly impressive (except for the stage design, if you will). B-

Weekend Update
-The Jokes: There was maybe one good joke, and there weren’t that many jokes anyway. C-
-The Segments: -Patricia Krentcil: A mix of styles that didn’t really mix.  Cheesy jokes in a grungy getup. C+
-Admiral General Aladeen: Here’s what I’m figuring: SNL wanted Sacha Baron Cohen to host (and has probably wanted him in the past), but he insists on remaining in character whenever making promotional appearances for his starring vehicles, so while he wasn’t willing to host as himself, he was happy to stop by as The Dictator.  The list of the movies he had previously starred in was delightfully twisted, and referring to Seth as a Zionist was also a nice touch.  Although, when Marty was there, the timing seemed a bit off. B+

R.I.P. Adam Yauch
This one’s going to take a while to come to peace with.

What is This?
Yeah, we get it Joanne, but the thing is, you’re incredibly annoying.  But you are kind of funny, especially when you said, “Fred, you can leave.”  Boy, oh boy, does Bill Hader keep saving the day. B-

Helga Lately
Okay, I get it: it’s not about the Swedish-esque gibberish – the point was that you can throw in any random words (or noises) in between all the phrases that Chelsea Handler and her panelists constantly repeat, which was a solid observation, but that Swedish gibberish had no business.  I did like the mention of “Toop Chef,” as anything Muppets-related, particularly involving the Swedish Chef, is generally awesome. C+

Rihanna performs “Where Have You Been”
Let’s make sure, if we make sure of nothing else, that it is said that Rihanna’s stage designs were the best SNL musical performance stage designs since Kanye’s.  And, unlike the first performance, this time around it was actually put to use, and the dancing was fun, too.  The singing wasn’t stunning, but it was appropriate, and now that I think about it, it was Rihanna’s best perofmance on SNL to date. B+

Miss Drag World
Annoyingly undercooked, but preposterously well-acted. C

The Essentials: Cheech and Chong and Richard
Interesting that they named the third wheel to Cheech and Chong “Richard,” as that is Cheech’s actual first name.  And that’s about all I have to say about this sketch. C

It turns out Eli Manning’s personality is dry, as opposed to stiff, which can be confused with dry.  The SNL writers seemed to recognize this distinction and put it to good use, especially in the courtroom sketch, which was among the best of the season.  The good sketches were reliable and well thought out, while the bad sketches had interesting ideas that were just a little undercooked.  There was enough good for the bad to not be that big a deal, and the bad wasn’t that bad anyway.  Also, I heard that Rihanna was set to appear in a sketch, so I must ask: where was Shy Ronnie?