Zsigray’s Take: SNL Weekly Review: Week 1

Welcome to Season 43 of Saturday Night Live! I am so excited to be back reviewing SNL as it is truly one of my favorite television programs. In my pre-season breakdown article, I went over the changes to the show and included my predictions for this season. At the time when I wrote that article, it was unknown how the cast would be structured. Well, now we know! The Repertory Players remain the same.  The showrunners have added Heidi Gardner, Luke Null, and Chris Redd as Featured Players this season. We even saw them in last night’s episode—especially Chris Redd, who I really like.  

SNL’s premiere episode was hosted by Ryan Gosling and featured two musical performances by Jay-Z. It was overall a solid episode. I give a lot of leeway with both the premiere and finale episode each season, primarily because everyone is either trying to get back in the groove of things or are ready for a break. Below is my review of last night’s episode of SNL!

“SUPERSTAR!” (The Best Sketch of the Night)

“Papyrus”: I never realized that someone could get so upset over a font choice for a film’s logo. As a graphic designer myself, I found this sketch to be incredibly well written.  Gosling also acted it out spectacularly. I could not stop laughing. Everything about it was perfect from Gosling’s exchange with Kate McKinnon (his therapist), where he found out, to his dismay, that there are upcoming Avatar sequels, to Gosling using his motorized seats in his car to stalk the designer who originally made the logo.  So now we know truly how impactful logos are. Just look what happened here: this gentleman was so indignant that he crashed his car into a fire hydrant and did not even care.

“I gotta have more cowbell!” (Solid Sketches)

“Another Close Encounter”: McKinnon has a lot of characters that she acts out. One of my favorites is her “Alien Abductee” character, which has been featured a few times before tonight. She is just so good at this character. McKinnon manages to take already stellar writing and add her own style and flare to it, making the sketch that much more enjoyable each time. As for Gosling in this sketch, he had a problem with breaking character quite frequently last night and he just could not keep it together here. But, I have heard before that Lorne Michaels loves it when cast members break character so Lorne is probably supportive of Gosling’s trend.

“Donald Trump & Jeff Sessions Cold Open”: I think everyone expected that Alec Baldwin would return the first episode of the season to portray Donald Trump.  President Trump provided us with just so much quality material over the summer that we had to just jump right in. I actually think that it was the highly politicized summer that caused the show to do Weekend Update during the summer just to keep up with all that was happening. But, aside from that, the writing here was special. The line of the night for me was probably when Trump says, “People say I remind them of an NFL player because I’m combative, I like to win and I might have a degenerative brain disease.” What a jab this was at Trump! It was little lines like this that made this sketch work, so kudos to the writers for accomplishing this sometimes difficult feat.

“Levi’s Wokes”: These “woke” pants (are they really pants, though?) should be in every dress code nationwide. Everyone would look the same, there would be no drama in terms of what color is more flattering or if pants are too tight. When people go shopping, there is one option and one option only. While I understand that SNL is merely satirizing our overly label-based culture, I think that this is a solid idea that Levi could implement.

“Well, isn’t that special” (Hit or Miss Sketches)

“Italian Restaurant”: Honestly, I do not know why Cecily Strong’s character was so upset. Think about how much money she can save now. She can go and enjoy her favorite pasta and pay less for it at Pizza Hut than at a high-end Italian restaurant in the middle of New York. I like this sketch for the first two minutes or so when the joke came to light, but it went on for too long after that. Yes, we know that Strong is upset.  We know that Gosling cannot get her to calm down. A three-minute sketch would have sufficed here, not a four-and-a-half minute one.

“The Fliplets”: This sketch had a lot of potential. That potential was too large for a three-minute sketch.  This felt rushed. It bought time for the stage crew to set-up for Jay-Z and Weekend Update but I feel like this sketch could have been so much better.  Gosling’s character was really intriguing and I almost think that the dynamic between him and the other two brothers (a realtor and a contractor) would have been more appealing had the sketch been centered around an actual episode, rather than a promo for the show. If the brothers were getting into arguments with homebuyers standing around, I think that would have worked much better.  Obviously, the sketch would have to be longer.

“Weekend Update”: It is so great to see both Michael Che and Colin Jost at the Weekend Update desk again this season! While last night’s segment was not one for the memory books, it was good to see that the chemistry between Che and Jost remains from last season, where it was the core of each week’s Weekend Update show. The highlight of this sketch for me was McKinnon’s Angela Merkel. We actually talked about Merkel in school this week and how her laconic demeanor and objective character makes her a favorite among voters because she is not bold and I think that I finally see how amazing McKinnon’s impression of her now is.  When McKinnon brought out the box of love for Barack Obama and read her love note to him, I could not stop laughing.  Her appearance was solid. As for the “Guy who Just Bought a Boat” character by Alex Moffat, he should just get on his boat and sail away, never to return. He is too annoying.

“Buh-bye” (Bad Sketches)

“Dive Bar”: Even hours after watching this sketch, I am still so confused as to what it was trying to accomplish. Satire or not, what was going on here? It was literally just nonsense being spoken around by Gosling, Kenan Thompson, and Kyle Mooney. “Gosling had some issue with the police and Thompson kept singing the same chorus over and over again as he is arguing with Gosling” is what I got from this. If you understood differently, feel free to reach out. Your rationale is probably better than the quality of this sketch anyways.

“Henrietta & The Fugitive”: I have this rule where if I fast-forward through a sketch it automatically ends up in this category because clearly if I fast-forwarded through it is bad. However, with last night being the premiere episode, I watched every sketch in its entirety. SNL really should have learned their lesson with including talking animals who double as humans in sketches. The last time they did this, to my memory, was like four years ago when Vanessa Bayer was a turkey who came to a Thanksgiving dinner. Lame, right? Yeah, I agree.  So when Aidy Bryant played a talking hen, I lost all hope. That hope did not come back throughout the remainder of the sketch.

SNL’s premiere episode was a solid effort. The show returns next Saturday, October 7, with host Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman).

Dylan’s Ranking of the Episodes:

*Note: New Star System this Year–1 (lowest quality) – 5 (highest quality) episode*

  1. Ryan Gosling (★★★)