CREDIT: Will Heath/NBC

It’s the first SNL of 2020. We diddddd it!

So in the spirit of moving forward, I’m going to take a moment to look back. When I first started writing up SNL episode recap/reviews, I would usually watch some of the episode as it aired live (typically until around Update) and then go to bed and watch the rest on Sunday morning. But as I got older, I realized that I tended to get tired at nighttime and preferred going to bed before the show started and thus I would watch it all on Sunday morning. But this time, I got back in my old groove and watched the first couple sketches before tucking in for the night (though slightly DVR-delayed). I didn’t feel too tired, and the Australian Open was on, so I decided to roll with how I was feeling. Just so you know. Also, I had a milkshake while watching. I really had a hankering for one!

On to the show! We’ve got Adam Driver for Host Job Number 3 and Halsey for Musical Guest Part 3. The Impeachment cold opening (Grade: 3.5/5 Trips to Hell), like so many political sketches these days, features a cameo from a special guest, which often feels like a crutch. But in this case, it’s practically avant-garde, what with Jon Lovitz not even bothering to do an Alan Dershowitz impression but instead just basically being himself. Speaking of pushing the envelope, it really felt like Adam Driver was tearing apart the constraints of the show with his Monologue (Grade: 4/5 Lot of Women). He claimed to be dragging it out so that a sketch he didn’t want to do at the end would get cut off, and while that was probably just part of the script, there was in fact no sketch after Halsey’s second performance…

Now it’s time  for a Sleepover (Grade: 3.5/5 Heavy Weeks) sketch, which is a bit of an SNL sub-genre these days. In this edition, there’s a massively clogged toilet thanks to some inadvisable feminine hygiene product disposal. The descriptions are adventurous, the Mark Harmon references surprisingly delightful. Kylo Ren is back on Undercover Boss (Grade: 3/5 Okay, Boomers), and man, does Adam Driver always fully commit when he plays that space wizard. The Del Taco Commercial Shoot (Grade: 3.5/5 Cornholios) is the latest piece of evidence that Driver saying “pervert” in a sketch about producing an ad is comedy gold.

I’m fine with the kids played by Cecily Strong and Mikey Day in The Science Room (Grade: 3.5/5 Balloons) being a couple of precocious Hufflepuffs, but I am a little worried while trying to figure out why they look so anxious and stressed. Next up we got a couple of musical numbers with contributions from Halsey. First is the R&B music video parody “Slow” (Grade: Too Little Romance), which is indeed as slow as advertised, but thank God Driver can go so low. And then it’s time for Halsey to do her thing on the live stage, as she kicks it off with “You should be sad” (Grade: 3/5 Cowboy Silhouettes), which makes fine use of light performative acrobatics.

We got a full bit of business for Weekend Update, with Michael and Colin mostly saying sensible things. Carrie Krum (Grade: 3/5 Belly Hairs) is back, and with her discovery that “Jesus rode an ass,” it’s a pleasant visit. And then Melissa Villaseñor (Grade: 3.5/5 Oscars) sings about “White Male Rage,” and it’s kind of catchy, but I like it most when it gets relatively off-the-rails. (Angry Toy Story, anyone?)

Medieval Times (Grade: 2/5 Mighty Kingdoms of New Jersey) delivers its best joke when Adam Driver refers to Bowen Yang’s character as “the Mongolian,” and that sort of edge ought to be there more often. We move right on to a parody of the Netflix docu-series Cheer (Grade: 2/5 Melted Ankles), which is interesting, because my sister was just talking to me about Cheer and aggressively recommending it. And finally, the Marrying Ketchup (Grade: 3/5 Cholulas) sketch is very silly, so silly, in fact, that I thought that the Colonel from Monty Python might show up and demand less silliness. But hey, when you’re going to have a sketch about marrying ketchup, you might as well go for it. But even more finally, we’re going to wrap it up with Halsey’s No. 2, “Finally // beautiful stranger” (Grade: 3/5 Acoustic Guitar), and I’ve gotta ask … does Halsey want to be the pirate?

As we arrive in February next Saturday for Super Bowl weekend, we’ll have a couple of first-timers in footballer J.J. Watt and country troubadour Luke Combs.