CREDIT: Will Heath/NBC

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

Meet the Press – Oh wow, a political cold open that’s not only funny, but quite possibly the best sketch of the episode! This is basically the inverse of the How’s He Doing? sketches from the Obama era, but here it’s even more extreme and patently nonsensical. Certain Republicans have knotted themselves into a Trump-supporting bind that is dangerous for everybody and just plain stunning in its blind loyalty. Honestly, Kate McKinnon’s version of Lindsey Graham saying, “Harder, Daddy” isn’t that far off from the real thing.

Keep It

The Perfect Mother – I’m sure that every mother or anyone who’s had a mother who cared will find plenty to recognize in this portrait of keeping a stiff upper lip in the face of domestic chaos. It is valuable in that regard to let us fellow humans know that we are there for each other in our most discombobulated moments. But as comedy, it’s a little too predictable, save for the TV that’s completely covered in paint. I did not see that coming.

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler join Emma Thompson’s Monologue to give us a lesson in Motherspeak 101, and the translations are mostly as expected, but we get a few curveballs like “How does one buy weed?”…Cinema Classics gives its game away immediately in this edition, but at least Reese De’What can never be tamed…Chopped is a little untamed with its mess of random ingredients, but there are some good sight gags, especially, of course, the kitten on the hamburger bun…I’m left wondering how the incompetent Judge Court ever could come into being, but there are always joys to seeing these ladies goof off together…Michael and Colin are reporting on some weird stories this time, and their most prizeworthy conclusion is that Eric Trump got a subpoena from Detective Pikachu…I’m happy to see teen movie critic Bailey Gismert return if only to hear her say, “Pikachu can get it”…Pete Davidson makes one of his shortest ever Update appearances to deliver an awkward/sweet Mother’s Day message…The Tracy talk show is delightful enough for just how darn supportive it is of its wayward teen.

Leave It

Wait a Second, That Shouldn’t Be There! – With a name that long and a placement at the end of the show, “Wait a Second, That Shouldn’t Be There!” promises to be something totally crazy. Instead, it gives away its one joke right away and then carries it out in the most predictable fashion. If the accidental anachronisms had been subtler or if there had been some dissonance between truth and presentation, this could have been something. Instead, it inspires resigned reactions of “Oh, yeah, right.”

The Royal Etiquette Coach shows the limits of physical comedy, at least when it’s basically the same slap over and over…I’m fine with a version of Beauty and the Beast that features a swole Beast, but I’d like more clarity in his motivation to spend so much time in the gym. The affair with Mrs. Potts makes intuitive sense to me, though.

Emma Thompson

CREDIT: Will Heath/NBC

On a scale of legendary British actors, Emma Thompson is way up there in her willingness to play along. But really, from Patrick Stewart to Helen Mirren, which of these thespians from across the pond hasn’t been eager to revel in the silliness? Thompson fits splendidly within this tradition, and she’s clearly having an infectious blast even when the material is bollocks.

Jonas Brothers

On a mercury scale, the Jonas Brothers are burnin’ up, I suppose, though I don’t think the heat is distributed to everyone equally. They’re cute young boys, and they craft peppy pop tunes, so I know why people love them. But at least with these couple of performances, I’m not detecting anything particularly unique about their tunes. Still, I appreciate that they decorate the stage with balloons (why don’t more acts do that?!), and I really want to know where they shop to get those bright red duds.

And now for some letter grades:
Meet the Press (BEST OF THE NIGHT) – B+
Emma Thompson’s Monologue – B
Royal Etiquette Coach – C
The Perfect Mother – B-
Cinema Classics – B-
Chopped – B
Judge Court – B-
Jonas Brothers perform “Sucker” – B
Weekend Update
The Jokes – B-
Bailey Gismert – B
Pete Davidson – B-
Beauty and the Beast – C-
Tracy – B
Jonas Brothers perform “Cool”/”Burnin’ Up” – B-
Wait a Second, That Shouldn’t Be There! – C

I’ll be back next week to let you know what I’m loving, keeping, and leaving from host Paul Rudd and musical guest DJ Khaled!