A Message From the President
I saw Non-Stop a couple of days ago, and aww man, I am so pumped for Liam Neeson right now.  Why can’t he host?  Not much happened here, but Liam did show up and yell at Vladimir Putin, and that goes a long way. B

Lena Dunham’s Monologue
Yes, we get it, because of the content of her show, people feel way too comfortable asking Lena Dunham personal questions.  But this all felt so … tame. C

Ooh Child
Lena’s character constantly getting cut off by the GPS wasn’t exactly clever, but it was a concept.  It was nonsensical, and it made less and less sense as it went on, but at least it was well edited.  Then instead of trying to come up with a resolution, it offered a huge non sequitur.  A surprise ending that is completely unrelated to what came before it isn’t going to induce much more than confusion. B-

The members of Pope & Associates completing impossible tasks at superhuman speed came off not so much absurd as lazy.  And Lena as Kelsie offered little relevant commentary. C

What’s Poppin’
At first, this seemed like the umpteenth pastiche of an urban aesthetic by Kenan and/or Jay, so it was actually a breath of fresh air that this focused on the performance of the hippie “rap” group, who actually sounded pretty good.  I would have been happy to hear more of them.  Ultimately this sketch was about the culture clash between the hosts and the hippies, which didn’t seem to have anything to do with anything.  Also, a liter of Sprite is apparently a month’s worth?  This episode has really been reveling in the nonsense. B

This was a classic example of identifying a current trend in the culture and making a connection with it to the host.  It didn’t have as much surprise perfection as Miley Cyrus and the government shutdown, but it did have Adam Driver as Adam, and I can’t ask for much more than that. B+

What Are You Even Doing? You’re Being Crazy
Okay, “Ooh Child,” here’s how you pull off a non-sequitur.  When Jon Hamm shows up with no sensible explanation, that is the moment that you continue the sketch and not suddenly end it.  Anyway, we have seen this preteen talk show sketch more than enough before.  It did not fit Lena at all, and Nasim has done it much better.  So, yeah, we needed Jon Hamm.  And as much as he does need to host again stat, I wasn’t wishing that he were hosting this episode as I was with Liam, because he works so well as a surprise guest. B-

The National perform “Graceless”
Either I need to listen to Trouble Will Find Me again or The National just sound so much better live, because this was just a lot more lovely and patently enjoyable than I remember anything on that album being. B+

Weekend Update
-The Jokes: It felt like there were fewer stories than usual, which for this regime, is, like, whatever.  Pope Francis being all cool and the beginning of the Sicily space program were the highlights, despite both being a little obvious. C+
-The Segments: -Matthew McConaughey: This commentary didn’t have anything special to say, but Taran did have McConaughey’s real life and True Detective cadences down.  Then there was the Inspector Gadget gag, which actually was something special. B
-Putin’s Two Best Friends From Growing Up: I’ve generally been a defender of Vanessa and Fred’s Two Friends, but this rendition felt particularly uninspired and in no way specific to Putin.  The fact that Fred felt compelled to return for this makes it doubly disappointing. C

Jewelry Party
The reveal of Mike’s character as a “men’s rights activist” promised something wild and hot-button, but he was ultimately too much of a wimp for anything controversial to be a big deal.  I do have to give Cecily props for committing as much as she did to the Venezuelan accent (it might not have been perfectly accurate, but she was consistent with it), and bizarrely enough, her pronunciation of “turtle” actually ended up being one of the biggest laughs of the sketch. C+

Pimpin’ Pimpin’ Pimpin’
As good as Jay’s Katt Williams was (and as good as Taran’s Harrison Ford was), this was formulaic SNL Talk Show Sketch 101: guest, another guest, another guest, and they really don’t have anything to do with each other, even if there is a theme overall. C+

The National preform “I Need My Girl”
The National have been a band I’ve classified as one I think of as good, but one then I’m generally not in the mood to listen to.  But I may have to re-evaluate that stance, because they gave two solid performances that I would be happy to listen to any time. B+

I love comedy that deconstructs typical conversations and examines social conventions.  Beck and Kyle seemed like two guys who had never planned a social outing, and they were overcompensating to make sure they planned everything perfectly.  Or, they love planning outings so much that they take the planning stages to an absurd level that basically nobody else finds necessary (I can relate).  The ending suggests that it was actually all just a prank, which works, too. B+

Apparently Lena Dunham has a limited range, or this episode just gave her a bunch of roles that did not fit her at all.  Well, the latter is definitely true, but it’s not clear if that is because of a limited range, or if she has a decent range, and she was just saddled with incompatible material.  The only time she really shone was when she was essentially playing her Girls character (which is a semi-autobiographical version of herself) in the Adam and Eve trailer.  To be fair to her, the material in this episode wasn’t very deep and really required next-level performances to work.  And while the cast did step up a bit in that regard, it still wasn’t enough to really save anything.