This time they’ll have to arrest me for generosity.

A Message from the Department of Health and Human Services
This was okay, I guess, but it was the same sort of “the Internet is confusing!” jokes that have been going around for the past 20 years, and that was only underscored by the Encarta and AOL gags. C+

Edward Norton’s Monologue
This was well-intentioned, but the good stuff was either small-scale (13-year Method preparation), familiar (training from a veteran host), or incomplete (Miley’s appearance).  Good impressions, though. B-

Autumn’s Eve Pumpkin Spice Douche
A flavored douche is an amusing enough idea, and that’s all this sketch was.  It needed to create a whole world of flavored douchiness. C+

Stranger Awareness
Primarily memorable for Bobby Moynihan becoming a huge fan of vans.  “Do you know how much candy you can fit in a van?!” C+

Steve Harvey
It’s a little surprising that it took SNL this long to figure out what worked in the Steve Harvey Who Wants to Be a Millionaire sketch (i.e., lingual confusion) and apply it to the talk show setting.  And now I’ll be Jeffrey Dahmer Toast Crunch and John Wayne Gacy Grahams for the next couple of Halloweens. B+

The Midnight Coterie of Sinister Intruders
That image of the masked chainsaw wielder waving hello was so delightful.  Like many other folks, I would now like to see Wes Anderson actually get to work on this, and I think the result would be quite creepy, with an unsettling style of tonal strangeness. A-

Critter Control
This sketch was propped up by Brooks Whelan and Ed Norton giving up a couple of idiosyncratically oddball performances and by just being weird. B-

Drug Deal
This was something of an idea – a non-savant trying to be passed off as a savant – but it did not go beyond that, and it needed to.  Bobby Moynihan keeps saving sketches just a little bit here and there with wild line readings (“He almost messed that one up!”). C+

Janelle Monáe performs “Dance Apocalyptic”
Great song, great energy, unfortunately I’m aware that Monáe can be even more energetic, so this paled slightly in comparison. B+

Weekend Update
-The Jokes: Chris Christie realizing he can now marry Bruce Springsteen was absolutely killer.  Cecily’s flu vaccines being “administered to you by surprise” worked a lot better than she seemed to realize, and Seth noting that fans of the original Murder, She Wrote are “long dead” was also a fantastic punchline. B
-Secondhand News: Edward the Snow Man’s legislative body is also a wonderland.  At least that’s what Abracadouglas told me. B+

12 Days Not a Slave
I’m not going to call this sketch offensive, though its approach to stereotypes was lazy. Luckily, Jay playing a freed slave who expects way too much progress in just two weeks was an odd enough idea to make this effort not completely disposable. C

Ruth’s Elvis
Considering how much this sketch relied on it, the physical comedy was not insane enough for this bit to work. C

Janelle Monáe performs “The Electric Lady”
For a performer as dynamic as Monáe, “good enough” is not good enough.  (But let’s not go crazy and give her a bad grade for a performance that was perfectly decent.) B

Halloween Candy
This was basically the same as the Christmas Ornaments bit with Steve Buscemi – right down to the holiday-themed cocktail – but campier and not as good.  That original was excellent.  This one was merely very good.  Ed was clearly having a grand time with the mischievous darkness (“now who’s in control?”). A-

Three great sketches (Steve Harvey, Midnight Coterie, Halloween Candy) saved an otherwise ho-hum episode.  And I can’t get angry at those other sketches, because, with the exception of Anthony Crispino, there were no recurring sketches.  Like the Bruce Willis episode, and about half of the Tina Fey episode, I appreciated what was being attempted, but it wasn’t quite clicking.  I’m getting reminded of the super-dry sketches from the early 90’s.  Ed Norton was good but not spectacular, though his spot-on Owen Wilson and range of impressions he showed off in his monologue suggests he has more to offer comedically than he had a chance to show off.

Best Sketch of the Episode, starring Owen Wilson, as a man in danger: