CREDIT: Will Heath/NBC

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

Love It

Get Woke with Tamika – There tend to be a few SNL sketches per season that could manage to be classics if they could just get rid of the messiness. But that is not always a viable solution, as the chaos is what leads to both the problems and the hilarious weirdness. But “Get Woke with Tamika” solves that issue by making the messiness part of the premise. Leslie Jones has a history of flubbing lines? Well, just have her play the host of a talk show who claims to be a lot more knowledgeable than she is and watch her show disintegrate right before her and our eyes.

Beck and Kyle – It’s good to know that Beck and Kyle are still friends, and that scheming does not drive them apart, but instead brings them back even closer, with Kyle and Leslie remaining together, too. And Baby Lorne’s already off to college! Watching Colin getting punched relentlessly is a little rough, considering how sweet this saga has been thus far, but I do enjoy Tiffany and Lorne’s reasons for joining in on the pummeling.

Keep It

The Dolphin Who Learned to Speak – One day, we will look back and declare Aidy Bryant and Kate McKinnon’s SNL partnership one for the ages. So why don’t we just go ahead and do so now?! This story of them as a couple of research scientists who found success with the “work a while, yank a while” method is a lovely showcase of their chemistry. I think part of what Gerald the Dolphin was responding to was just all the good vibes around him.

Would the Roy Moore and Jeff Sessions cold opening have been funnier if we could hear Papa Possum talking? My gut says: no, it would have just been stranger…Tiffany Haddish’s Monologue isn’t one of those laugh-out-loud, non-stop joke routines, it’s more of the storytelling, “get to know me!” variety, and on that score, it works…GamerCon features confident characterization in the form of Boo Boo Jeffries, but what it gets most right is the bouncing in a fighting video game’s character selection screens…The screen tests sketches have lost their novelty and their bite. Now they really only work when a solid string of impressions just happens to be assembled. And on that count, The Lion King Screen Tests are hit-and-miss, but Heidi Gardner does an excellent Kristen Schaal…The Message From the DNC relies on some tired “Democrats are boring” shtick, until Hillary and “Not Hillary” show up to make the party kooky…Michael and Colin are still making jokes, with the former continuing to hit it with his racism pretzel logic…Kudos to Cecily Strong as Claire from HR for coming in with a receipt stuck to her neck…Kenan Thompson’s Lavar Ball is now in a long and sterling line of SNL exaggerators, and the simplest lies (“Full head of hair”) are sometimes the best…Crazy how many iterations of Whiskers R We it took before the cats really started to try to escape.

Leave It

The Last Black Unicorn – If you’re going to list all the ways in which a character’s life is (or will be) terrible, you’ve got to have a strong hook if you want that to work as comedy. Or you’ve just got to have really detailed and amusing descriptions. Alas, The Last Black Unicorn is too staid and by-the-numbers to match its crazy costumes.

Tiffany Haddish
On a scale of the new Taylor to the old Taylor, can I have the medium Taylor? I enjoy the “boom, boom, boom, GROWL” of “…Ready for It?”, but do we really need the run-of-the-mill acoustics of “Call It What You Want”?

Taylor Swift
On a scale of Kevin Hart to Tom Hanks, Tiffany Haddish is the sort of host who would like to make the show adapt to her personality. That is not ill-advised, though it could have been a more total transformation (recycling the dress in the middle of Weekend Update notwithstanding). Anyway, she’s a fan of the show from way back when, she knows what she’s doing, she ought to be invited back.

Letter Grades:
Roy Moore and Jeff Sessions – B-
Tiffany Haddish’s Monologue – B
GamerCon – B-
The Lion King Screen Tests – B-
Message From the DNC – B-
Beck and Kyle – B+
Taylor Swift performs “…Ready for It?” – B

Weekend Update:
The Jokes – B
Claire from HR – B-
Lavar Ball – B

The Last Black Unicorn – C
Get Woke with Tamika (BEST OF THE NIGHT) – B+
The Dolphin Who Learned to Speak – B
Taylor Swift -performs “Call It What You Want” – C+
Whiskers R We – B