CREDIT: Will Heath/NBC

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

Love It

Pete Davidson – Pete Davidson’s Update segments were one of those recurring bits that I resigned myself to accepting that they would be good enough but also pretty much the same thing each time. But then wouldn’t you know it, he comes out with a new energy while discussing a condition known for sapping the energy of those it affects. This discussion about depression is far from depressing itself. Instead it is quite agreeably loopy. The doctor’s note to put Pete in more sketches is plainly inspired. Now I actually want to see the sketch that’s about a chicken who ate eggs AND Black Lives Matter!

Keep It

The Naomi Show – Is this what daytime TV is like now? Ostensibly, I assume Naomi is a parody of the likes of Maury or Sally Jessy Raphael, but I don’t think either of those actually feature teens who are “addicted to straws.” Also, the idea of a 13-year-old sporting a Jedi vs. Sith T-shirt in 2017 is pretty far out. This sketch is quite a mess that never bothers to explain itself (again, what is straw addiction?), but it manages to entertain a bit with a delirious hodgepodge of concepts (including Kenan’s enunciation of “Moesha”) and a sort-of happy ending.

Gal Gadot’s Monologue features a half-baked bit with Leslie Jones as the Times Square Wonder Woman, but at least the hummus joke delivers…The E! New Fall Lineup hits the expected targets, with “Where’s Kanye?” serving as an effective mini-domestic horror film…Pete Davidson’s Chad is back, and he is The Chosen One in a fantasy realm, and yeah, I’m laughing at him laughing at the virgin queen saying “coming”…I feel like the Mirages sketch is just the tip of the iceberg in exploring how desert hallucinations can spiral out of control…The Safelite commercial tells the intriguing story of how your friendly neighborhood windshield repairman can go too far, but it could stand to be expanded a bit more…Michael and Colin get serious about gun control and then get weird about Karen in accounting and keeping insects away “from your new brain tumor”…Last week Angela Merkel, this week Kate McKinnon returns again as Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and it is worth noting that the Supreme Court justice is trading her height for years off her life.

Leave It

Themyscira – There is definitely something to be mined from the concept of lesbians arriving on Themyscira expecting to find a Sapphic paradise. And Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant (who look just like real-life comedian couple Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher) give it their all in their exuberant line readings. But all the Amazon performances are so stiff and stilted, thus ruining the entire hook of the sketch, as it becomes way too awkward to confuse this place for a fantasy come true.

There is certainly edgy humor to be derived from OJ Simpson’s release from prison, but the dinner at Vida is way too predictable and paint-by-numbers to accomplish that…Poor people jokes aside, The Maiden and the Mice is representative of this episode’s tendency to be awkward and lacking in personality…The Spy Negotiation/Webcam Show ought to be more bonkers – let’s really explore that crunch fetish!

Gal Gadot
On a scale of Elle MacPherson to Chris Hemsworth, Gal Gadot is definitely in the tradition of SNL hosts whose statuesque beauty is mined for all its worth. Unfortunately she falls on the end of those who struggle to transcend that role. I love her, she’s a sweetheart, but live TV isn’t really her thing, or at least it won’t be until she can pull her eyes away from the cue cards.

Sam Smith
On a scale of sophomore SNL musical guests, Sam Smith settles into “instantly confident,” as opposed to “struggling against the weight of expectations.” His simple but effective rendition of “Too Good at Goodbyes” wins me over more than any of my previous listens of that song. An understated brown collared shirt can go a long way!

Letter Grades:
Jason Aldean performs “I Won’t Back Down” (No Grade)
Gal Gadot’s Monologue – C+
E! New Fall Lineup – B-
Vida – C+
The Chosen One – B-\
Mirages – B-
Safelite – B-
Sam Smith performs “Too Good at Goodbyes” – B

Weekend Update
The Jokes – B
Ruth Bader Ginsburg – B
Pete Davidson (BEST OF THE NIGHT) – B+

The Maiden and the Mice – C
Spy Negotiation/Webcam Show – C+
Sam Smith performs “Pray” – B-
Themyscira – C+
Naomi – B-