SNL had itself an understandably busy weekend with all the 40th anniversary festivity, but February 28 will see the longrunning NBC sketch comedy series whipped back into shape, and appropriately so. 50 Shades of Grey star Dakota Johnson will take the stage on February 28 as our first post-40 SNL host, and those bondage jokes are a-comin’.
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Welcome back to another installment of the Monday Morning Critic. In this space each week, I’ll be looking at the week that was in addition to the week ahead in television. The format will shift each week, as the world of TV will dictate the form and content of each piece. In this week’s installment: my all-time cast of SNL.
The SNL 40th Anniversary Special had a LOT going on. It was over three hours of comedy and music and stars and tributes all packed into one night. With so much going on, if you missed something, we can't say we blame you. We've covered the big items, like Celebrity Jeopardy, Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake, the new Digital Short, Wayne's World and the huge monologue, but we're here to celebrate some of the smaller moments.
In between all of the tributes and montages and musical performances, the SNL 40th Anniversary Special actually found time for some original content. Right after a montage celebrating the short films that have been featured on the show over the years, Zach Galifianakis took to the stage to introduce a new digital short from Andy Samberg and Adam Sandler. Unlike most of Samberg’s original shorts, which usually traded in genial silliness, this one looked inward and examined a subject that everyone who has ever been on the show should be familiar with: breaking character.
Schwing! With the SNL 40th Anniversary Special bringing back all their heavy hitters, you had to know that Wayne and Garth were going to come back for one more Wayne's World. We had to wait until the end of the special, but it was worth it to see their “SNL Top 10” that broke the fourth wall and was actually sweet.
A few key members of the SNL cast and crew must love “The Californians” because the much-derided sketch was brought back to life for the show’s star-studded 40th anniversary special. For those of us who have always enjoyed this bizarre sketch (and there are about three of us), it’s a welcome return and we will greedily drink up the angry tears of everyone else.
We knew going in that the SNL 40th anniversary special would be chock-full of just about every famous person who has ever walked within spitting distance of 30 Rockefeller Plaza and the opening monologue was quick to make use of this genuinely insane temporary cast of stars. Things got started on the right foot when the always-welcome Steve Martin took the stage ... but then he was joined by Tom Hanks. And then things got really crazy.
In the midst of an otherwise dull (and occasionally painful) red carpet special that aired before the SNL 40th anniversary show, special guest Jim Carrey livened things up by by making Matt Lauer really uncomfortable. His comedic weapon of choice? The recently suspended/disgraced NBC newsman Brian Williams.
What would a SNL 40th Anniversary Special be without Celebrity Jeopardy, one of the most popular recurring sketches of the modern SNL era. Alex Trebek was back and he brought with him some of his most frustrating contestants including Sir Sean Connery, Justin Bieber, Tony Bennett, Matthew McConaughey, Christoph Waltz, and, of course, Turd Ferguson.
The SNL 40th Anniversary Special started off like you thought it might with two of its most popular modern day partners, Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake. The two took the stage for the show's cold open and sang, danced and rapped their way through 40 years of SNL history (with a few special guests, of course).