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

Love It

Turtle Shirt – Like Bad Idea Jeans, Three-Legged Jeans, and Mom Jeans before it, SNL has debuted a new piece of attire we never knew we needed. This time, it isn’t just a fashion statement, it’s also supremely functional! The Turtle Shirt is perfect for those moments when you need to warp reality.

Jimmy Fallon says “Take Me Back” to Cecily Strong, and the reason why she won’t is a perfectly timely and disturbing twist…While Michael and Colin’s political chops have matured, I think they’re at their best when they’re at their goofiest, so it’s a bonus when their focus on the government is as fierce as it is here…Bruce Chandling does not remember “what it feels like it to be kissed,” but thanks to him, now we know not to kiss the wrong type of chocolate…The Basketball Film Shoot is simply a fantastic example of background physical comedy.

Keep It

Union Army Camp – If you’re going to sacrifice historical accuracy for historical bizarreness, go all the way. Thus why I applaud the move to make Bobby Moynihan’s authority figure not an actual party-pooper, but a pretend one just playing the role of the parent who doesn’t understand rock ‘n’ roll. He could have gotten his troops in line, and then maybe they would not have died, but then we would not have had a perfectly pleasant sketch about our nation’s first big, fat hook. And trust me, we want the phrase “our nation’s first big, fat hook” to be a regular part of our vernacular.

Boston Parents – Boston Teens Sully and Zazu are all grown up and now have their own Boston teen (Kate McKinnon), a Good Will Hunting-type on her way to Harvard. When revisiting classic recurring characters, there had better be an update to the story, and a new generation is an ideal way to go. Self-consciously revamping a catchphrase to “intellectually disabled” is a mark of maturity on the characters AND the writers.

A Bachelor-esque showdown between Steve “Death” Bannon and Jared “Amélie” Kusnher in the White House is most impressive for its lighting…I expect – and accept – that Jimmy will sing during his Monologue, but I also expect him to change the lyrics around a bit. But this time, he just straight up sings “Let’s Dance,” but I’ll give him a (slight) pass because that’s such a great mood-setting song…SNL’s Celebrity Family Feud sketches are always a mess, and the Time Travel Edition is no different, but Kenan’s Steve Harvey impression is always reliable for some good yuks, and Jimmy running back and forth to play both John Travolta’s is not as self-indulgent as it could have been…Among other solid gags, Legally Blonde the Musical once again confirms the undeniable chemistry between Vanessa Bayer and Kyle Mooney…That’s Melissa “Spicy” McCarthy delivering the Message from the White House Easter Bunny, and it seems I will never tire of a good joke of totally butchering someone’s name…The indefatigable Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy catches my attention most this time with a description of a gruesome injury following a patio chair collapse.

Leave It
No “Leave It” sketches this week, not because it is a super fantastic episode, but because Jimmy is mature enough to keep everything on the up-and-up more than he has at times in the past.

Jimmy Fallon
On a scale of “Jimmy Fallon laughing through everything” to “Jimmy Fallon reminding us why we love him,” let’s give it up for him tending toward the latter. He is not as exuberant as he tends to be around Christmas, and he still does not really fit in this current era of comedy, but this episode expressly delivers plenty of material right up his alley, and he delivers right back by hitting his marks with style.

Harry Styles
On a scale of Justin Timberlake to Mick Jagger, I can’t believe that is an accurate scale to judge Harry Styles on. But this former boy bander has broken out on his own with a new sound that distinguishes himself from his roots, and he’s showing off some real rock bona fides. Also like his predecessors, he’s trying his hand at sketches as well, though that aspect of his repertoire could still use some work.

Letter Grades:
White House – C+
Jimmy Fallon’s Monologue – C+
Celebrity Family Feud Time Travel Edition – B-
Legally Blonde The Musical – B
Take Me Back – B
A Message From the White House Easter Bunny – B-
Harry Styles performs “Sign of the Times” – B

Weekend Update
Michael and Colin – B+
Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy – B-
Bruce Chandling – B+

Union Army Camp – B+
Turtle Shirt (BEST OF THE NIGHT) – B+
Boston Teens – B
Harry Styles performs “Ever Since New York” – B
Basketball Film Shoot – B+