SNL kicked off its 38th season with host Seth MacFarlane and quite a few of his signature voices. Despite the absence of Kristin Wiig, Abby Elliott and Andy Samberg, it was a pretty good start to the season. The premiere also featured the debut of three new featured players and while Tim Robinson and Cecily Strong seem to have some potential, the six seconds that Aidy Bryant was onscreen weren't really enough to judge her skills. Only a few sketches missed the mark this time (can we just retire Fred Armisen's replacement talk show host please?), so here are some of the night's best.
"Cold Opening: Obama vs. Romney"
While the sketch itself wasn't very inspired, Jay Pharoah proved to be a much better President Obama than Fred Armisen. Like the episode's host, Pharoah is an expert at voices, but he really nailed the whole impression. At least this will make the inevitable stampede of political sketches a little more enjoyable.
There are some things that from the moment they happen, everyone knows it will become an SNL sketch. In the premiere, that was, of course, "Eastwood and Chair," but it's the unexpected sketches that tend to be best. Seeing Bobby Moynihan bust out of the wall of a Lids store in full Psy outfit doing "Gangam Style" might've been the episode's highlight. The ensuing absurdity made it even better, as long as you weren't distracted by MacFarlane's awkward eye contact with the camera.
This whole premise was obviously meant to let MacFarlane to do more of his voices, but Bill Hader, as usual, completely stole the show. MacFarlane was funny as the goofy teacher, but gravel-voiced war vet Anthony and his traumatized, trembling puppet Tony easily trumped him.
"Weekend Update: Ryan Lochte"
Oh, Ryan Lochte, the only person who can make Michael Phelps look like a well-spoken genius. MacFarlane's impression of the lovably dumb Olympian was hilarious, and easily the standout of Weekend Update. Plus it's not so hard to believe that the real Lochte would be Animal Practice's only fan.
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