SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Alec Baldwin" Episode 1718 -- Pictured: (l-r) Sasheer Zamata and Alex Moffat during the "Russell Stover" sketch on February 10, 2017 -- (Photo by: Caroline De Quesada/NBC)

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE — “Alec Baldwin” Episode 1718 — Pictured: (l-r) Sasheer Zamata and Alex Moffat during the “Russell Stover” sketch on February 10, 2017 — (Photo by: Caroline De Quesada/NBC)

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

Love It

Russell Stover Black History Month Heart Shaped Box – Great comedy often arises from the plans of the well-meaning going awry. Offering their black girlfriends a peanut butter-filled George Washington Carver or a Malcolm X fiery with cayenne, the white boyfriends look so eager to please, so intent on getting it right. But it is plain to see that they fail on two levels: romantically and racially. But as insensitive as this particular candy box is, wouldn’t we all want to live in a utopia in which the chocolate version of any historical figure has no unsavory implications?

The pitch meeting for a Cheeto’s ad stretches the social activism of commercials as far as it can go…Jake and Kellyanne are locked in a Fatal Attraction-style tête–à–tête, and may I say, with just a stern look, Beck Bennett is killing his impression of the CNN anchor…Trump takes his case to The People’s Court, which makes me go: hey, remember when Jon Lovitz played the Devil on a People’s Court sketch back in the day? That’s somehow both more and less believable than this…Leslie Wants to Play Trump, and I want to see as many of these dreamy, personal, behind-the-scenes short films as possible.

Keep It

White House Press Briefing – Melissa McCarthy’s thorough embodiment of the WH press secretary may be the biggest viral sensation of the season (and I may have initially underrated it a bit), thus she is back immediately. This time, we can appreciate even more how perfect she is for the role, but this is pretty much the exact same sketch. It has not been run into the ground completely yet, but let’s keep in mind that there is only so much you can do with an aggressive podium.

I guess when you’ve hosted 17 times, you use your Monologue to make fun of the cast member who wasn’t yet born the first time you hosted…Alec Baldwin plays the proud papa colonel of C Company, and it is a pretty one-joke sketch, but I won’t soon forget “cookie chill-out”…Colin and Michael: props for calling Jeff Sessions the new “Confederate general” and Che reminding Colin to tell his grandfather that Che’s not his nurse…Kate McKinnon’s rendition of Elizabeth Warren is an interesting Update guest segment, because she’s not brought in to make fun of Warren, but as a mouthpiece to take down other targets…The school record for the most Sit-Ups is like, what, 20? Whatever. This 10-to-1 sketch comes in, goes out, and makes it flatulent point.

Leave It

Beyoncé’s Womb – I’m not against the idea of Kenan Thompson and Tracy Morgan as the twins hanging out inside their very famous mom, but that’s not so much a sketch concept as it is an excuse to just list what makes Beyoncé (and in turn, her unborn children) cool. The “throwing shade” gag is well-executed, but one good joke does not a good sketch make. Don’t blind me with star power.

I appreciate the (poorly endowed) edge Alex Moffat brings to the Guy Who Just Bought a Boat, but this hits all the beats you expect it to…Same with S&M novices Greg and Shelly Duncan – I mean, it really hits those beats.

Alec Baldwin
On a scale of “Alec Baldwin fully committed” to “Alec Baldwin phoning it in,” the hosting record holder is fired up this season, baby. As much as he has relished going HAM in his recurring cameo role, I think it has been wearing on him a bit. So he looks quite happy to go out there and maybe create some new classics.

Ed Sheeran
On a scale of “boring Ed Sheeran” to “kind of interesting Ed Sheeran,” we get a bit of both. But alas, the better of his two songs already sounds familiar if you are steeped in the repeated melodies of pop music.

Letter Grades:
White House Press Briefing – B
Alec Baldwin’s Monologue – C+
Russell Stover Black History Heart Shaped Box (BEST OF THE NIGHT) – B+
Cheeto’s – B+
Jake Tapper and Keyllanne Conway – B+
C Company – C+
Ed Sheeran performs “Shape of You” – B-

Weekend Update
Michael and Colin – B
Elizabeth Warren – B
Guy Who Just Bought a Boat – C
Greg and Shelly Duncan – C

The People’s Court – B+
Beyoncé’s Womb – C
Leslie Wants to Play Trump – B+
Ed Sheeran performs “Castle on the Hill” – C
Sit-Ups – B-