SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Kristen Stewart" Episode 1717 -- Pictured: (l-r) Host Kristen Stewart, Vanessa Bayer during the "Totinos" sketch on January 31, 2017 -- (Photo by: Rosalind O'Connor/NBC)

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE — “Kristen Stewart” Episode 1717 — Pictured: (l-r) Host Kristen Stewart, Vanessa Bayer during the “Totinos” sketch on January 31, 2017 — (Photo by: Rosalind O’Connor/NBC)

This review was originally posted on News Cult in February 2017.

Love It

Meet Cute – In this filmed piece, Kristen Stewart and Pete Davidson have the titular encounter at a coffee shop, and the unlikelihood of an immediate development into a relationship is examined, poked, and prodded. It is not really the case that in most cinematic meet-cutes someone fails to give out enough relevant information, but it is true that they are just too fast to truly be meaningful. So we should all relate to Pete’s struggle on a spiritual (not literal) level. Oh, and his confusion over how to spell Manhattan (it’s 2 T’s, not 2 D’s) is a marvelous detail.

When Robert Mugabe earns the big applause, as in the Oval Office Phone Calls cold open, you know you’ve got something … let’s call it “special.”

Keep It

Totino’s – The saga of the pizza rolls that serve as sustenance during the big game continues! It seems that everyone has recovered from the possession of last year, and now we head into Sapphic territory. It is tough to top something that was so mind-melting in previous editions, but this one earns praise for its loving cinematography and repeated, unerring concern for “my hungry guys.”

I had been wondering why Kristen Stewart was hosting at a time without anything to promote, but then she mentions some relevant Twitter harassment during her Monologue, and it is kind of galvanizing. The part about Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant trying to be cool like her is rather half-baked, though…The new Welcome to the United States video is ultimately whiny, and that’s the (pretty decent) joke…The White House Press Briefing is a little loud and chaotic, but at least now we know how much Sean Spicer looks like Melissa McCarthy…Some of Michael and Colin’s jokes are too surface-level, but their multiple screw-ups are a hoot…Kenan’s David Ortiz offers no surprises, yet I still somehow crack up when he discusses which products have plugs and clarifies that he said “Little Scissors,” not “Little Caesar’s.”

Leave It

UConn Dry Friday – If you’re going to do a sketch about excessive outrageousness, you need to get the tone right. And this gathering of underage campus drinkers who have been caught one too many times struggles with that throughout. K-Stew immediately cranks it up to 11 with her reveal about a naked chainsaw dalliance, and hardly anybody bats an eye. Sure, they perpetually complain about her “no-hawk,” but it is not until the end of the sketch that they really grapple with just how far off the reservation she is.

Any Family Feud sketch will reliably give us delightful Steve Harvey malapropisms, but the Super Bowl Edition is logically confused and the impressions aren’t even that great…In an alternate version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Charlie is angry to discover that his perpetually bedridden family members can actually walk. That’s a germ of an idea, I guess.

Kristen Stewart
Tonight’s host excels in low-key performances that reveal their excellence over the course of the whole story. That is not exactly a quality that is needed in sketch comedy that often goes broad. But it is not necessarily a handicap. K-Stew slots in well in love stories that need a disorienting edge like Totino’s and Meet Cute. And she also stands out, somehow surprisingly, for the poise and bite she demonstrates in her monologue.

Alessia Cara
Our Canadian crooner boogies down a lot during her first performance, which may not be the best choice, as “Scars to Your Beautiful” requires hitting plentiful high notes, and bodily movement can make that difficult. As for the song itself, it may seem at first blush like typical inspirational pablum, but the lyrics have an edge to them, and the production has some funky instincts. Song Number 2, “River of Tears,” however does not stick as memorably, but I’ve got my eye on this Alessia Cara. She’s got plenty of promise – both already fulfilled and still to come.

Letter Grades:
Oval Office Phone Calls – B+
Kristen Stewart’s Monologue – B-
Welcome to the United States – B
UConn Dry Friday – C
Totino’s – B
White House Press Briefing – B-
Alessia Cara performs “Scars to Your Beautiful” – B

Weekend Update
Michael and Colin – B
David Ortiz – B

Family Feud Super Bowl Edition – C
Meet Cute (BEST OF THE NIGHT) – B+
Alessia Cara performs “River of Tears” – B-
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory – C-