‘SNL’ Scorecard: The Triumphant Return of Bill Hader (And Anthony Peter Coleman)
After watching Bill Hader host ‘SNL,’ I think there’s a chance that we all undervalued him while he was actually on the show. And I write this knowing that Hader actually was highly valued, but maybe it wasn’t enough. Hader is this generation’s Phil Hartman. It really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that he makes the perfect host. And it’s evident that ‘SNL’ really hasn’t figured out quite how to replace Hader yet; he fits so effortlessly into this cast. Hader has a way of elevating everything, and that’s why last night we got one of the best ‘SNL’s in recent memory. (Also, it was so great that ‘SNL’ decided to show ‘Love is a Dream,’ a beautiful piece of work from the late Jan Hooks and the late Phil Hartman. I had a feeling it was coming, but, boy, that didn’t take away from its emotional impact. I hate that they’re both gone.)
On to the Scorecard…
Sketch of the Night
’39 Cents’ (Hader, Pharoah, Thompson, Jones, Zamata, Bayer) On a night filled with great sketches, this was the best pure sketch and I didn’t laugh harder than when Jay Pharoah says “ask for more.” What a great concept – we’ve seen a form of these commercials pretty much our whole lives – and, yes, where do they come up with 39 cents a day? The revolt over this paltry and arbitrary amount is one of the best pure ideas to come out of ‘SNL’ in recent memory.
Puppet Class: (Hader, Killam, Strong, Moynihan) My dream is an Anthony Peter Coleman movie directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. I’d also accept David Fincher. This sketch – which included a puppet flashback to Grenada – is probably as close as I’ll ever get to that dream. (It’s kind of remarkable that this is only the second Anthony Peter Coleman sketch.) But, good grief, Anthony Peter Coleman is so funny.
‘The Group Hopper’ (Davidson, Mooney, Zamata, Bennett, Hader) Yep, these movies pretty much are all the same and, yep, they all look the same. This sketch is funny because it’s true. And, my gosh, the way Beck Bennett says the line, “the hero,” Beck Bennett really should be in all of these types of movies.
‘Weekend Update’ (Jost, Che, Davidson, Hader) It was good to see Pete Davidson back after his one week “you can’t become too famous too fast” suspension. Also, and now only his third show as ‘Update’ host, Michael Che is so smooth. It feels like he’s been doing this for months. He brings his own style to ‘Update’ that’s so refreshing because Colin Jost, while better, is still doing the same voice inflections as Seth Meyers. He needs to stop this. (Again: Jost was so good last week playing “dorky dude.”)
Hey, Stefon was back. Here’s the thing, I tweeted last night that I didn’t really want to see Stefon because he had that great sendoff. Then again, so what? It’s ‘SNL,’ not a presidential funeral. “How dare Gerald Ford come back to life after all of those nice speeches.” And it was funny! I kind of missed Stefon! (Also, poor Dan Cortese. I hope he’s enjoying Cleveland, or whatever.)
‘Cold Open: Kim Jong-un’ (Moynihan, Killam, Strong, Bennett) See, now this is a way to kick off a show. There’s been a weird run of dull cold opens over the last year or so (not all, but a lot), but here’s Bobby Moynihan prancing around the screen as Kim Jong-un and it’s a delight. Maybe just let Moynihan do this anytime he wants. I hope Moynihan's Kim Jong-un becomes a famous SNL character. Like when 'SNL' released its "Best of Dictators" DVD set, I want this to be on the cover.
‘Herb Welch: Virginity Pledge Rally’ (Hader, Killam, Davidson, Strong) I think Herb Welch is Hader’s favorite character that (A) people seem to like but (B) people never talk about that much. And, yes, it pretty much is the same joke every time, but who cares? Hader always looks like he’s having the time of his life. (And putting Herb Welch on-screen with Pete Davidson was pretty inspired.)
‘Bill Hader Monologue’ (Hader, Wiig, Fierstein) In a perfect world, it would have been nice to just let Hader have his moment alone -- it’s a big deal to come back to host – and I’m sure it was Hader’s idea to have Kristen Wiig there (they do star in ‘The Skeleton Twins’ together), but Wiig's setup of Hader’s bad singing seemed to go on longer than it needed to. Anyway, whatever, it was still funny.
‘Hollywood Game Night’ (McKinnon, Bayer, Strong, Killam, Pharoah, Bryant, Bennett, Hader, Wiig) Nothing really happened here except some people got to do some impressions. Which is fine – Pharoah’s Morgan Freeman and Killam’s Christoph Waltz were hoots; and it’s always fun to see Hader’s Al Pacino – but it just felt like there should have been more.
‘Cat’ (Hader, Strong, Bryant, Davidson, Killam) This was fine, but any time you have Bill Hader dressed up like the Cat in the Hat, I just wish it would have been even weirder. The highlight was Aidy Bryant’s dance. Also, Hader makes a better Cat in the Hat than Mike Myers.
‘Inside SoCal 2 with Bill Hader’ (Bennett, Mooney, Davidson, McKinnon, Killam, Strong, Hader, Moynihan) These ‘Inside SoCal’ sketches are Bennett and Mooney at their Bennett and Mooneiest. I love it when they do sincere, mixed with their sort of irreverent style. But when it’s only that style, it just seems to lose what makes it special. Here, they basically just make a carbon copy of what these shows are actually like. I just wish there was at least some sort of twist to it other than being able to make an exact replica.
Average Score for this Show: 6.73
· Bill Hader 6.73
· Chris Pratt 5.99
· Sarah Silverman 5.86
Mike Ryan is the senior editor of ScreenCrush. You can contact him directly on Twitter.