Saturday Night Live returned for Season 37 this past weekend, kicking off with an Alec Baldwin-hosted episode (this was Baldwin's sixteenth time as host, which makes him the record holder... at least until his "nemesis" Steve Martin returns to Studio 8H for his sixteenth stint) and Radiohead as the featured musical artist. Which sketches had us laughing hardest? Read on.
5. Cold Open: GOP Debate
It wouldn't be the first SNL of the new fall season without a politically-themed cold open. With Bill Hader's iffy Shepard Smith (we love Hader, but this isn't his strongest celebrity impersonation) leading off the sketch, we then got our look at the faces that we'll see playing the GOP primary field for the rest of the season... or at least until each one drops out. Utility man Jason Sudeikis assumes the perfectly coiffed hair of Mitt Romney, while Baldwin blustered and bloviated as Rick Perry (wonder if they'll tap an SNL regular to fill that part going forward or if Baldwin is planning to make the trip from 30 Rock's Queens studios whenever they need him?). The rest of the line-up included Taran Killam as Jon Huntsman, Paul Brittain as Ron Paul (the best impersonation of the bunch), Kenan Thompson as Herman Cain, Andy Samberg as Rick Santorum, Kristen Wiig as Michele Bachmann and Bobby Moynihan as Newt Gingrich. The sketch wasn't as tight as it could have been (we coulda done without the Huntsman-as-Chinese-takeout-guy bit), but it was almost as funny and far less terrifying than the actual Republican debates have been so far, so there you go.
4. All My Children Wrap Party
The cast and crew of All My Children bid farewell to the long-running show in classic soap opera fashion, complete with coma victims, double identities and Susan Lucci. It was a little too over the top and melodramatic, but then again, isn't that the point?
3. Red Flag
This spoof of over-produced ads for high-class perfumes scored the laughs that were desperately missing from Baldwin's dispiriting monologue (could Seth Rogen have looked any more out of place?). SNL's commercial parodies are reliably funny and this one was no exception. It was also Wiig's best performance of the night... maybe because it also required the least amount of dialogue.
2. Who's On Top?
Juvenile as all get-out, but this game show parody -- where contestants have to guess which male celebrity would be on top in a sexual tryst -- had some inspired pairings (Timon would totally be the top in a Timon/Pumbaa match-up, by the way). We could easily see viewers playing along at home.
1. Top Gun 25th Anniversary DVD
A follow-up to last year's excellent Back to the Future anniversary DVD sketch, this two-part homage to the 1986 action favorite allowed the cast to show off their best celebrity impersonations, from Baldwin's killer Al Pacino to Hader's uncannily pitch-perfect Alan Alda. One question: why didn't they reprise Jay Pharoah's ace Denzel impression? Let's start the campaign now to get Jay more face-time this season.
And the Night's Biggest Dud:
"Satellite Delay," in which Wiig played a TV reporter on location in Costa Rica whose satellite problems ended with her getting eaten by a snake. Just an all-around bad idea made worse by bad execution.
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