I was saying TTYL to my innocence.

SNL returns for Season 38.  It’s an election season (which should be good?).  Kristen Wiig, Andy Samberg, and Abby Elliott are out; Aidy Bryant, Tim Robinson, and Cecily Strong are in.

Cold Opening – Democratic Rally
Classy (and kind of funny) move from Fred handing off the Obama impression to Jay.  (Let me just say I would love it if they both played Obama this season.)  Jason has got to be thanking Mitt for providing him with all these gaffes to make up for the lack of an impressionable voice.  The Paul Ryan numbers joke was so right on the money. B+

Still pictures?! I’ll have to get used to that. It was time for a change, and they do look cool.

Seth MacFarlane’s Monologue
Go ahead, Seth: show off! B+

Obama for America Ad
After all the times that Bill broke last year, it was great to see him play a role so deathly seriously.  Kenan’s story was wonderfully in-depth and an excellently funny exaggeration of Bain’s fast-and-loose ways. A-

Sex After 50
Roger Brush as the leadoff after the monologue?  On the season premiere in an election year?  Umm, okay.  There were some laughs to be had, and Roger actually seemed like less of a jerk. B-

Eastwood and Chair
A smart concept to come out of Clint’s chair routine, but it wasn’t that funny, or at least not as funny as it could have been.  It got by on the strength of Bill’s impression and the cleverness of the concept, but it could have been a lot better (though it was certainly burdened by high expectations). B

Lids – Gangnam Style
I thought Fred was going to walk out as Prince when the door first opened.  And then we got this … which made about as much sense as the actual “Gangnam Style” video.  I don’t think it’s meant to be understood, just experienced. B

Introduction to Puppetry
This was more or less a showcase for Bill Hader, who convincingly remains the best member of the current cast (and is reserving himself a place as one of the best of all time).  But the other players were no slouches: Seth got to show off his voice skills, Kenan’s second guessing provided chuckles, and Vanessa’s puppet sounded like Lindsay Lohan with a dash of Miley Cyrus.  I loved how nobody was completely weirded out by Anthony Peter Coleman and that they instead just encouraged him to be more palatable, and he agreed, to a point, but they also went along with his intensity a bit.  The moment with Clark may have been the highlight, especially considering the twist that he was another grunt in the platoon. A

Frank Ocean performs “Thinkin’ Bout You”
We’re thinkin’ bout you plenty, Frank Ocean. B+

Weekend Update
-The Jokes: Oh, Seth, ugggggghhhhhh.  I did laugh once or twice.  That story about the gay football player being kicked off the North Dakota State College of Science team was funny enough on its own, and then you made a joke that was okay, and nowhere near as funny as the story itself.  Ugggggggghhhhhh. C-
-The Segments: -Honey Boo Boo and Mama: I saw a picture of Mama in a magazine, and it looked rather out of focus.  Apparently she does usually look like she was paused at a weird spot, as Bobby explained.  This seemed frighteningly accurate. B
-Ryan Lochte: I don’t think Ryan Lochte’s that much of an idiot, but he might as well be. B+
-Mimi Morales: I must applaud Cecily Strong for committing to a so-so premise and looking so confident in her first episode. B-

Army Training Camp
This wasn’t the most laugh-out-loud sketch, sure, but it was a clever, and not too obvious idea.  Even when the lines weren’t too funny, they made sense and moved the scene along. B

The Steve Harvey Show
Kenan’s Steve Harvey is still gold (or at least silver), but this sketch didn’t do much more than tread water.  Well, there were a few good sight gags.  And it wasn’t mean-spirited when it could have been. B-

Blind Date
The first moments of “I was like this” and “I was like that” were funny, but they could have become annoying, but they didn’t, because this sketch commented on itself about how potentially annoying it was.  And then Fred had his best performance of the night as the robber who second guessed himself. B+

Frank Ocean performs “Pyramids”
I’m sure everyone’s talking about how Frank went to play on the arcade game while John Mayer soloed.  Me, I want to talk about how smooth his voice sounded.  But that’s no surprise. B+

Wooden Spoon Warehouse
Well, if your sketch is going to be only a minute long and not pre-taped, this is a way to do that. B

Whenever SNL returns for a new season, there are plenty of moments from the summer that it can cover, but it usually doesn’t seem advisable to attempt to cover all of them in one episode.  But in this season premiere, targets included Romney’s gaffes, Ryan’s trouble with numbers, Bain Capital’s wily ways, Eastwood and Chair, Gangnam Style, Honey Boo Boo, something from the Olympics, and Steve Harvey’s new talk show … and they all pretty much killed.  And the best sketch of the night (Introduction to Puppetry) was not topical, and not recurring.  The original sketches were concept-driven, and clever: sign of things to come?  There were no duds to be seen.  All in all, this episode was very go od.

And starting this year, I will be including the best sketch of the episode as a coda on my review: