CREDIT: Samantha Lichtenstein/NBC

This post was originally published on News Cult in November 2017.

News Cult Entertainment Editor 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

The Mueller Files – You can take the Update guests out from behind the desk, but you can’t take the desk out of the Update guests. But sometimes that transition is a good thing. A new context can be enlightening. And so we have the Trump sons off on their own adventure, free from the confines of the middle of the show. And the result might be just be SNL’s most confident political satire of this era.

Pete Davidson mercilessly skewers his native Staten Island and the borough’s golden boy Colin Jost in one of his best Update appearances.

Keep It

Chance the Rapper’s Monologue – As Chance reminds us as he opens the show, there are still no great Thanksgiving songs. But when it comes to SNL, it’s not for lack of trying. Quite frankly, with Kristen Wiig’s episode last year, I think the show already hit upon the ditty that should serve as the theme song to all future Turkey Days. I won’t be switching my loyalties to Chance’s version (which ticks off all the anxiety-inducing stereotypes), but it’ll do in a pinch.

The real Batman is not as awful as the visitors at the Wayne Manor Food Drive make him out to be, but hanging by one’s drawers from a gargoyle is a memorable image…“Come Back” is the latest comedic lament asking for Barack Obama’s return, and it still stings…Family Feud Thanksgiving Edition tells a heartening tale of growing a full mustache at age 11, but the joke is way too obvious right from the get go…Michael and Colin’s biggest laugh this time comes from the former informing us that the latter is a “regular old millionaire”…They’re really leaning into the possum thing with Jeff Sessions, and I love it…“Where’s the food, dude?” More like, where’s my weekly dose of Bruce Chandling, man…dling?…The Ringside Rangers sketch is a simple example of a reporter tackling a topic he is wholly unfamiliar with, and on that score, it demonstrates that Chance is strong enough to carry a sketch mostly on his own…The Soul Crush Crew on Rap History is just some weird Sugarhill Gang/Village People mishmash, so I think a wiser focus would have been on Lil Doo Doo, for the sake of more gems like his opinion about Run-D.M.C. being that “Hillary Clinton should’ve won”…Ah, Skank Babysitter 17, another one of those logically impossible porn shoots with Aidy Bryant’s guileless interloper. Anyway, Heidi Gardner is really becoming a budding star.

Leave It

Career Day – When I place a sketch in the “Leave It” section, oftentimes it is not because I hate it. In fact, in the intro to all my SNL reviews, I explain that “Leave It” sketches are “in need of a rewrite.” And Career Day is close to the epitome of a sketch that could be improved with a revision. There is a germ of an idea here that could have resulted in a good, even great, sketch. Maybe focus on how the kids have disturbingly orgasmic reactions to their dads’ general contracting. Have a slow build to increasingly over-the-top expressions. Each of those elements is present to some degree, but the whole thing is too scattered to effectively hit.

Chance the Rapper
On a scale of Snoop Dogg to Katy Perry, Chance the Rapper is one of a select few musicians who have hosted an episode without also being the musical guest. This tradition isn’t long enough for any precedents to be clear, but even within this limited set, Chance has a much smaller personality than all the rest. He still makes an impression, but it is more rhythmic than earth-shaking.

On a scale of U2 to Prince, Eminem is apparently one of those musical guests who is high-profile enough to break out of the typical two-song routine, here opting for just a medley of “Walk on Water,” “Stan,” and “Love the Way You Lie” (with an assist from Skylar Grey). Is “Stan” the first song that has been performed by the same artist on the SNL stage on multiple occasions? The transition from “Walk on Water” to that does strike me as astute.