SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Octavia Spencer" Episode 1719 -- Pictured: (l-r) Mikey Day, Aidy Bryant, Octavia Spencer, and Kenan Thompson during the "Spencer's Gifts" sketch on March 4, 2017 -- (Photo by: Will Heath/NBC)

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE — “Octavia Spencer” Episode 1719 — Pictured: (l-r) Mikey Day, Aidy Bryant, Octavia Spencer, and Kenan Thompson during the “Spencer’s Gifts” sketch on March 4, 2017 — (Photo by: Will Heath/NBC)

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

Love It

Jeff Sessions Gump – Has Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III ever struck you as the sort of fellow you might encounter at a bus stop in the Deep South? During his confirmation hearings for attorney general, he has not really been charming any of us the same way that Forrest Gump did 20 years ago, but this is still somehow one of those connections that seems so obvious in retrospect. He’s a “sneaky little liar” who works with a woman who “ain’t got not legs” – how delightful!

Have you ever thought the names of drugs sounded like inner city children? Better get in on that class-action suit this Merck Hearing is sure to prompt! … Kate McKinnon spends most of the episode hanging around the set in Kellyanne Conway’s now infamous leg-tuck pose.

Keep It

Girl at a Bar – Guys flaunting their feminist bona fides just to get some action appears to be a real phenomenon, but to work as comedy, it needs to be less reductive than, “I did everything I was supposed to!” This filmed piece makes it way there, with the weirdness becoming gradually more flamboyant with each successive suitor. And then the female friend is also into it, so maybe this is more about someone who is magically attractive.

Octavia Spencer’s Monologue is one of those quickies that starts off with plenty of promise (Resting Nurse Face) but then just ends…Courage, Compassion, Country: The TBD Story just makes me sigh; the laughter will come at a future date TBD…There is not much of a hook to the chess-as-(not-really-)metaphor Youngblood, but it is an excuse for Kenan Thompson to sputter from incompetent frustration…I’m glad that Colin insisted on telling the “pro-Bono” joke and that Michael made sure to inform us about that insistence…Laura Parsons’ cheery renditions of the most disturbing and explicit news are more essential than ever…I love when random details creep into a sketch, like all the Sticky Bun employees gradually deciding that today is just gonna be Christmas…The sketch proper does not do a whole lot notable, but Octavia Spencer absolutely relishes the chance to be the head of Spencer’s Gifts.

Leave It

Zoo-opolis – Impression showcases can be some of the most sidesplitting sketches ever, but they can just as easily be an excuse for laziness. And Zoo-opolis is the laziest of the lazy. There are plenty of fine impressions here (about a third are of former or current SNL cast members), but there is just barely a premise. All it amounts to is: “Zootopia is a recent animated movie. Here’s something slightly different.”

Alex Moffat and Mikey Day need a stronger hook to their Eric and Donald Trump, Jr. impressions; there might be something to Eric as a simpleton…I appreciate that, despite the tension, all the ladies at Bar Centrale turn out to be kindhearted, but I can’t really make heads or tails of anyone’s motivation…After pulling a gun out at the office, Chuckie Chocolate “The Chocolate Man” returns to apologize by force-feeding everyone a bunch of chocolate- WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?

Octavia Spencer
Let us not forget that Octavia Spencer is an Academy Award-winning hoot in The Help. Seems like a missed opportunity for SNL not to give her multiple characters like the acerbic, irrepressible Minny Jackson. True, she does deliver her poop pie to Jeff Sessions in the opening sketch, but that lasts hardly a minute. She has a little trouble keeping up the pace with all the dialogue she has to deliver, but she maintains her reputation as one of those actors who is always in control of what’s she doing.

Father John Misty
I want to call the erstwhile Joshua Tillman’s music “techno-folk,” not because of any electronic instrumental presence, but because of how it grapples with today’s virtual culture. That is certainly the case in “Total Entertainment Forever,” which bowls me over with its talk of “bedding Taylor Swift every night inside the Oculus Rift.” Song 2, “Pure Comedy,” might be a little too blunt, but this padre has my attention.

Letter Grades:
Jeff Sessions Gump (BEST OF THE NIGHT) – B
Octavia Spencer’s Monologue – B-
Courage, Compassion, Country: The TBD Story – B
Merck Hearing – B
Girl at a Bar – B-
Zoo-opolis – C
Youngblood – B-
Father John Misty – “Total Entertainment Forever” – B+

Weekend Update
Michael and Colin – B
Eric and Donald Trump, Jr. – C
Laura Parsons, Newscaster of Tomorrow – B

Sticky Bun – B-
Bar Centrale – C-
Father John Misty – “Pure Comedy” – B
The Chocolate Man – C
Spencer’s – B-