A mish-mash, as is typical of cold opens lately.  Some parts worked, including Jay’s freakishly good and ornamentally unnecessary Barkhad Abdi impression.  “Oscar hosting the Ellen’s” made me laugh to an unfathomable degree. B-

Jim Parsons’s Monologue
Jim Parsons pronounces Texas “Tex-IZ.”  This monologue made a strong enough point to justify the umpteenth musical monologue, though the lyrics themselves were whatever. C+

Peter Pan
Oh, hardy, hardy har, it’s a plus-size and brassy Tinkerbell.  Look, Aidy can pull off lines like “gorditas, a strong masseuse, or very loose underwear” in her sleep, but this sketch needs more justification than that. C

Umm, yikes.  Was this a parody of something or just a fever dream of one of the writers?  “What’s a matter, kiddo? Lose another friend?” was sad in all the right ways, and easily the best line Mike O’Brien has delivered all season. B+

The Killer Files
“Mark Allen Henry.”  Serial killer has three names?  Check.
The authorities never being able to catch Henry despite a surplus of obvious clues made no sense, and it was distracting that that was never commented upon.  Jim’s performance made up for that, though.  It was disturbing how well he pulled off the look of “just a little too creepy.” B

Oscar Profiles: 12 Years a Slave
This was decent race-based humor, but I wasn’t won over because I’ve got to believe that most actors today understand they’re going to work with some uncomfortable material in their careers.  Kenan’s Steve McQueen impression was decent, interestingly enough. B-

Beck performs “Blue Moon”
Last time Beck stopped by the SNL stage, he brought along a miniature puppet version of his performance.  Wisely, this number was more low-key.  Simply put, he nailed it. A-

Weekend Update
-The Jokes: When did everyone involved with Update forget that the anchors are essentially playing characters and shouldn’t just be themselves?  All this business of Cecily and now Colin being like, “I’m so glad to be here!” just does not belong.  That lack of personality and overabundance of baldfaced earnestness demands that the material be at prime cut level all the time, and that is simply not the case. C
-The Segments: -Charles Barkley and Shaq: Jay’s Shaq is still ridiculous, but Barkley should be reliable enough for this segment to be worth something.  But Kenan kept corpsing. C+
-Jebediah Atkinson: I fear that Jebidiah has run out of viable puns, but then he pulls out something dutifully efficient like “Dallas Buyers Club: sell!” and then something as clever as The Shawshank Redemption always having had a TNT logo in the corner of the screen. B

Murder Mystery Dinner
The fact that what exactly a “harmless oversexed goofball” is was just as unclear to the audience as it was to Jim’s character allowed this sketch to proceed with an appreciable amount of unpredictability.  Everyone else’s consistent frustration with him bordered on being too much and probably should have been toned down, or exaggerated to an absurd degree. B

Spotlightz! Salutes the Oscar
Nobody can match Vanessa Bayer’s ability to play a child actor.  Just look at her go, playing Jordan Belfort with so much gumption! B

Beck performs “Wave”
This haunted me a little bit. B+

I’d been thinking about the Kings of Catchphrase Comedy sketches recently (what else is new?), so I laughed at Kenan saying “dookie” a lot more than that deserved to be laughed at.  For such a scatologically based premise, this sketch actually managed to cleverly avoid indulging in the grossness. B

Cowboy Birthday
I appreciated the steady ramping up of absurdity in the proposed birthday surprise, but I didn’t get enough of a sense of the missing normality that this nonsense would be contrasting with, making this sketch hard to embrace completely. B-

Jim Parsons knows how to deliver the performance that is asked of him, which is great, because a good portion of this episode required him to carry the sketches he was in.  He was happy to be there.  As he explained during the goodnights, he would recommend that anyone take up this opportunity if given the chance; of course everyone feels that way, but that was a unique way of putting it.  He wasn’t desperate to be on SNL, but he recognized it as a challenge that was worth tackling, and he clearly put the effort in to make a good first impression.  As for the material he was working with, nothing blew me away (maybe the Bird Bible a bit, but he wasn’t in that), but I guess it’s okay to have a semi-decent show with a strong amount of goodwill.