CREDIT: Rosalind O’Connor/NBC

Let’s take a moment to recognize how much Christmas cheer Saturday Night Live manages to regularly contain. On most seasons, there are three new episodes in December, and all three of those year-ender outings typically have a significant percentage of holiday-themed sketches. In the middle of that snowy sandwich in 2019 we’ve got Scarlett Johansson hosting for the sixth time, and Niall Horan is providing the tunes for the first time without his former bandmate bros.

Let me set the scene of my viewing for you: I made myself a couple of pancakes for breakfast that went down easy, the day after I ran a 5K race. Yum!

Kicking off, or cold opening off, we’ve got a trio of families discussing the state of American impeachment politics (Grade: 3/5 Historically Correct Black Jesuses), and while the first two units provide the talking points you’d expect from typical liberal and conservative folks, respectively, at least the black family offers something different. We need to know how Bad Boys 3 gonna be! ScarJo’s Monologue (Grade: 2.5/5 Snaps) involves SNL folks fading away Infinity War-style, and I would have advised against everyone calling attention to how outdated that premise was, but as for confusing Mikey Day and Alex Moffat: it’s about time! The Singing Elves (Grade: 3/5 Mall Employees) are inspired by Todrick Hall, and you know what? I kinda wish that had stayed a secret so that we could have all played detective and sussed out the inspiration on our own. The Macy’s ad (Grade: 3/5 Scratches) about uncomfortable holiday kids clothes ought to be aired every year as a PSA for the Adults of America. The Office Apology (Grade: Too Much Lipton Iced Tea) is fun and silly, but maybe a little too dangerous? And not in the right way. I get the joke of A Conway Marriage Story (Grade: The Deep State Medal of Freedom), and I bet most other people did, too, even if they’ve never heard of A Marriage Story or George Conway. And now it’s time for snazzy-pink Niall H. and his first song, “Nice to Meet Ya” (Grade: 4/5 Tasty Guitar Licks), and wow, it sounds like something that would’ve been right at home in the early days of the British Invasion. Has he become twenty years older since leaving 1D?

On to Weekend Update, and the Trump/George Washington comparison prompting the Colin/Bill Cosby juxtaposition is a moment I will not soon forget. You want correspondents? Oh, they got correspondents! Bowen Yang is back as our good friend Chen Biao (Grade: 3/5 Hos in Different Provinces), and I think we’re all better off learning that a tariff is like a tax, “but a little bitchy.” We knew that Baby Yoda (Grade: 3.5/5 Intricate Makeup Jobs) was cute, but it took Kyle Mooney to show us that he’s also cool.

It’s a Hot Tub Christmas (Grade: 3.5/5 Festive Strippers) for our first sketch after the Update break, and considering that it made me want to take a dip with a ghost, I think we’ll have to call this a success. The Hallmark Christmas movie-based dating show A Winter Boyfriend for Holiday Christmas (Grade: 3/5 Secret Santa Ghost Princes) should prompt us all to consider the value of sitting around with our loved ones and just reciting the cliché tropes of this genre. The I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus music video (Grade: 4/5 Looky-Loos) pokes at a Christmas standard, and wonders, what if it’s actually a cuckold fantasy? And wonderfully enough, it’s a version in which gets what they’re into!

Mr. Horan has one more song for us. It’s called “Put a Little Love on Me” (Grade: Standard Balladry), and there’s a lyric that really intrigued me that went “Heart is relapsing,” but according to the closed captioning, it was actually “collapsing,” not “relapsing.” I suppose I could google the lyrics to verify the truth either way, but I like to keep the mystery alive. Back to the sketches! When the audience starts cracking up as soon as they understand the premise, you know you’ve got something special, and that’s exactly what happened with the choking prevention poster models at Le Grille (Grade: 4/5 High-Waisted Pants).

Closing out the show, the Beck Bennett-voiced, Trump-supporting pug is back for another Dog Translator sketch (Grade: 3.5/5 Kennel Coughs), and what a fascinating story to see the continuing chapters of.

Coming next weekend, on Saturday, December 21, 2019, after a famously long absence, it’s Eddie Murphy returning to host the show that made him famous. Meanwhile, Lizzo, who is also a cool person, will serve as musical guest.