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

Jeffrey Malone watches every new episode of Saturday Night Live and then organizes the sketches into the following categories: “Love It” (potentially Best of the Season-worthy), “Keep It” (perfectly adequate), or “Leave It” (in need of a rewrite, to say the least). Then he concludes with assessments of the host and musical guest.

Love It

Ace and Jake – The “Day Without a Woman” protest happened earlier this week, and – just as the people demanded – Kyle Mooney and Beck Bennett have written a female-centric sketch in response! The joke here is obvious – the guys fight institutional sexism by passionately listing every example of it but neglect to actually give the women a chance to speak. These two are miracle workers, somehow making thoughtlessness totally adorable.

That canine actor in the Dog Translation sketch is not having that helmet on his head; the fact that he is also a Trump supporter is also kind of funny…The Olive Garden Commercial shoot has it all: fake orgasms, casual racism, and Kenan Thompson sticking his face flat in a bowl of pasta!

Keep It

Alien Invasion – I have mentioned a few times this season that SNL’s political sketches need to get weird if they want to distinguish themselves from the jokes that all the other late night shows and all the social media have already made. This is not just a matter of remaining unique, but also of avoiding boredom and/or depression. With each new unprecedented action the current administration takes, the comedy world could despair. Or instead, it could take a few minutes to wonder if we are adequately prepared for an extraterrestrial invasion.

For me, the most amusing thing about Logo’s new lesbian reality show Cherry Grove is that one of the types is “the dairy-intolerant one”…Complicit is not as astounding as some previous SNL fragrance commercials, but it does make a killer observation…Michael and Colin get their regular political digs in, and then they just get silly…Alex Moffat and Kate McKinnon really have something here with their Al Franken and Jeff Sessions impressions, particularly Al’s matter-of-fact frustration over Jeff referring to lunch at a deli as “Jew stuff”…Pete Davidson stops by the desk for some “First Impressions,” and as befits this version of Weekend Update, the best part is his apparently improvised banter with Michael Che…There is really not much clever at all about Shanice Goodwin, Ninja, but Leslie Jones is clearly enjoying it, and the gunshot is worth a laugh…I could definitely dance the night away to those deep club tracks at the Funeral.

Leave It

Good Day Denver – I am all for some good, animal pornography-based humor, but I do take exception when comedy lacks internal consistency. Unless of course, that lack of consistency is the whole point – but that does not appear to be the case here. Mikey Day’s zoo photographer is misidentified as something more lascivious by a news anchor, who promptly admits her mistake. Then the caption team exacerbates the goof, so the news crew fights to fix it again, and yet it is the guy with the camera who ultimately loses his job. Come on, fam, let’s be fair. Or make the unfairness the point of the sketch so that we know how to track the humor.

Come on, Scarlett Johansson’s Monologue, just pick a concept and go with it! (Kenan taking over the spotlight could work well enough)…Regarding True Tales From the Sea, hurray to Kate McKinnon for reveling in her role of a blobfish mermaid (anglerfish ScarJo is having fun, too), but this outing lacks the unpredictability of the first edition. I do appreciate the Simpsons theme song gag, though.

Scarlett Johansson
On a scale of “Scarlett Johansson? Meh” to “Scarlett Johansson? I guess I like her,” this is now the second instance that 5-timer ScarJo has not played Lexi of Mike’s Marbleopolis and Busteria fame, as Fred Armisen is no longer in the cast. But Kenan Thompson still is! It is such a different era than it was 10 years ago, and yet in many ways it is still the same. One important difference: ScarJo is such an old pro, as she demonstrates when she re-straps the helmet back onto the doggie.

On a scale of Haim to D’Angelo, Lorde is definitely one of those musical guests that I am super excited about because I already know how much I love the songs she is going to play. I have listened to “Green Light” about five times per day the past week. Ultimately, she falls a little on the side of “unable to live up to impossible expectations.” I think some more unbound dancing should have been in order. However, I am still getting to know here second song, “Liability,” so that rendition is satisfactorily intriguing.

Letter Grades:
Alien Attack – B
Scarlett Johansson’s Monologue – C
Good Day Denver – C
Cherry Grove – C+
Dog Translator – B+
Olive Garden Commercial – B
Complicit – B
Lorde performs “Green Light” – B+

Weekend Update
Michael and Colin – B-
Al Franken and Jeff Sessions – B
Pete Davidson – B-

True Tales From the Sea – C
Shanice Goodwin, Ninja – C+
Lorde performs “Liability” – B+
A Sketch for the Women (BEST OF THE NIGHT) – A-
Funeral – B