'Saturday Night Live' Review: "John Goodman"

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On tonight's all-new episode of 'SNL,' John Goodman returns to the 30 Rock stage to host for the 13th time! It's hard to believe, we know, but we're really excited for Goodman, who's on hand tonight in anticipation of the Coen Brothers' 'Inside Llewyn Davis.' But we're even more excited after the ups and downs of the season -- surely a total 'SNL' veteran host like Goodman will bring the, um, goods (pardon the pun). So how did he do? Read on for our full recap and review!

Presidential Address

Jay Pharaoh's Obama addresses the controversy surrounding Nelson Mandela's memorial service: his notorious selfie photo, the handshake between him and Raul Castro, and the sign language interpreter who wasn't correctly translating the sign language. Playing that interpreter is Kenan Thompson, whose goofy sign language includes Spider-Man's web-slinging, moves from Michael Jackson's "Thriller" dance, and making a number of crude and childish gestures. It's fun, but not as delightful as the return of Kate McKinnon as the German prime chancellor, obsessed with wanting to duplicate the presidential selfie to repair her poor public image.

Opening Monologue

Aww, seeing John Goodman on the stage is such a delight! He hosted every year from 1989 to 2001, and then took a break for a while (joking that he's starred in 36 Coen Brothers films). Kenan Thompson joins him on stage to sing a funky little song about how all they want for Christmas is booty -- yes, like a woman's rear-end. This is some classic-level 'SNL' music stuff, and exactly the kind of thing you want from Goodman making an appearance.

Guy Fieri's Full Throttle Christmas Special

'SNL' is already winning me over tonight with this one: Bobby Moynihan revives his Guy Fieri impression for this pre-recorded bit, a promo for a "Full Throttle Christmas Special" on the Food Network, and he's got some special guests: Kyle Mooney as Criss Angel (MINDFREAK!), Brooks Wheelan as Kid Rock ("the human equivalent of the food I make!"), and Taran Killam as Bret Michaels. They'll be having Bud Lime gazpacho, a stocking stuffed with 20-layer bean dip, and a "fruitcake turned into a straightcake -- it's just bacon and cars." Goodman makes an appearance as Dog the Bounty Hunter, and Moynihan pulls an Eddie Murphy, playing the entire cast of 'Pawn Stars.' It's gonna be FULL THROTTLE! I know Fieri is an easy target, but if you've ever spent even five minutes watching any one of his shows, this is pretty spot-on stuff. He's like the Juggalo of cooking, but easier to digest.

Dearborn Community Playhouse's First Annual Holiday Pageant

Goodman plays Dr. Gene Walderman, who is throwing a local community holiday pageant, "The Dance of the Snowflakes," which involves a group of adults dressed as giant snowflakes and performing a dance that you'd expect to see at a toddler recital. The sketch takes us inside the heads of each of the performers, including Bryant, Thompson, and Vanessa Bayer, as they suddenly realize how dumb the whole thing is and become increasingly self conscious -- especially wonderful when Thompson gets an awkward erection. It's kind of cute, and mostly just worth it to see Goodman dressed like a giant snowflake, but otherwise it's a bit one-note.

Three Wise Guys

Hey! Whoa! Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone make a surprise appearance in this sketch, which tells the story of the Three Wise Guys, who were like the Three Wise Men, but from Long Island. The jokes in this are pretty great -- "Do we know this kid's last name?" "Christ, I dunno"; "I hear his dad's in construction." It's Goodman's show so he's really ruling the sketch, but Stallone is almost just as great. I wouldn't mind seeing him host 'SNL,' and he's not an actor you'd think would be really great at it. De Niro, on the other hand -- he has some good jokes, but he feels so awkward and unnatural. You can just tell he's not putting as much into it as the other guys, and it's kind of disappointing. It's too bad because otherwise some of those one-liners are pretty solid!

Weekend Update

Kenan Thompson stops by as Santa to defend himself against Fox News' Megyn Kelly, who said this week that Santa Claus is definitively white. Black Santa says he's used to white guys taking credit for what black men have done, and explains that white men don't wear suits that are entirely red. Also, Prancer the reindeer is gay because duh.

And while Black Santa is a suitable enough guest and everything, the real exciting special guest is Moynihan's Drunk Uncle! It's almost Christmas, after all, so we can't get this close to the holiday without a visit from our favorite obnoxious, slurring, nonsensical relative. Oh Drunk Uncle, you are truly a treasure. Of his chronic outbursts tonight, "Yeah, I steal cable!" and "LESBIANS!" are highlights, for sure, as well as his charming new lyrics to "Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car" (hint: it involves booze). Also, we meet yet another Drunk Uncle relative: Drunk Uncle's own Drunk Uncle, played by Goodman, who does a pretty good drunken uncle ("He's not my pope!")

The Trial of Mr. Rosenfeld

Goodman plays Genevieve Lezzara, a woman (yes, a woman) who believes she was fired for being too hot and distracting to her boss at an art gallery. Mr. Rosenfeld's defense includes, "I mean ..." and "Say what?!" because, you know, it's John Goodman in drag. It's kind of great to see Goodman play a super feminine lady who squeaks and giggles, plays coy and bats her lashes, flirting with all the men in the courtroom. Also, she seemed to be a pretty bad employee, doing ecstasy at work and getting Nutella on expensive paintings. Goodman has a blast in this sketch, especially when he gets to do a sexy little dance, and I love Killam's baffled reactions to every man in the courtroom falling for it. But I also love how the sketch could have been offensive and wasn't at all! Attractiveness is totally subjective, and the sketch supports that idea while also finding a way to make it funny. And you know, who doesn't love John Goodman in a dress?

Fire Safety

Oh, so I guess this is a recurring sketch now? Goodman plays a firefighter visiting Kate McKinnon's jaded teacher's classroom to teach holiday fire safety to some ridiculous kids, including Nasim Pedrad's Shalynn, a sassy troublemaker. Shalynn increasingly frustrates the firefighter, leading the kids in making hypothetical bad decisions and questioning the judgment of the responsible adults. I'm actually kind of fond of this Shalynn character and her spunky, sort of ghetto attitude.

Hallmark Countdown to Christmas

'SNL' put together this pretty spot-on fake promo for a slew of Hallmark holiday movies, including Rosie O'Donnell in 'Skyping with Santa,' Dean Cain in 'My Neighbor's a Magi,' Phylicia Rashad's 'Christmas Nap,' 'Yes Virginia, There is a Santana,' and Tony Danza in 'On Dasher, on Danza.' No actors playing roles here, just some cute Photoshop work, although these all seem like movies Hallmark might actually make.

The Christmas Whistle

Goodman stars in this fake black and white movie presented on TCM as a father and husband who learns that every time you hear the sound of a Christmas whistle, someone is watching over you. As he tries to explain to his wife and kids (McKinnon, Pedrad, and Milhiser), the whistle keeps annoyingly going off in the background -- also maybe dad is an alcoholic and this angel with the whistle has something to do with that, and the neighbors are getting pissed. Aidy Bryant gets to do one of her awesome melodramatic characters, which is good because she just hasn't been around enough between this week and last week. This sketch is just a bit annoying thanks to the repetitive whistling sound -- it just doesn't work as intended.

H&M Shopping-Ass Ninja

In this pre-recorded short, Goodman goes to H&M for some Christmas shopping and just wants to buy some pants, when Taran Killam's eccentric ponytail-sporting employee whisks him into the overly-stylish and hip store, where he gets more than he bargained for. Jay Pharaoh performs the song "H&M Shopping-Ass Ninja," about the excessive, outlandish nature of the store -- the sizes are all wrong, the clothes are all over the floor, everything is cheap, and Goodman can walk out of the store looking pretty fly for less than a tank of gas. I'll give it this: it's damn catchy.

Sheila Solvage

It's been a long while since we've seen Kate McKinnon's Sheila Solvage character, the weird, brassy barfly who has a habit of picking up equally boisterous and inappropriate men. Tonight pairs her up with Goodman, of course, who always pulls off a pretty good drunk, and the two have really great chemistry and get good and gross and weird together. Also, we learn what a "66" is: two people in bed, upside down, watching TV together. Sexy. It's a wonderful sketch to end the show with -- overall, the show was pretty solid, but there were few standouts. Goodman was a great performer and really game, but nothing stood out as amazing. Oh well. We've still got one more episode this year, so we'll catch you back here next week when Jimmy Fallon hosts with musical guest Justin Timberlake. I don't want to be presumptuous, but I think it's safe to assume that next week should be pretty great.

Filed Under: John Goodman, SNL
Categories: TV News, TV Reviews
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