It's the first episode of 2014 after Saturday Night Live took their Christmas break, and there are many things of note here. Coming off what is as close to a perfect episode as you can get, this episode was going to feel slightly anticlimactic no matter what it held. Some automatic excitement around this episode surrounded the newest cast member Shasheer Zamata who was hired to fill the "minority female" role on the cast. Drake brought some excitement too, serving as the third host this season to serve double duty as host and musical guest (3.5 if you consider Timberlake's role in the Fallon episode). I was wondering how well a guy like Drake could do in this setting. Although the episode turned out to be pretty vanilla, Drake proved that he was worthy of the honor.
With a month between episodes, they had to do something that allowed for a crash course in current events to start the show. Enter Piers Morgan via Taran Killam. They were able to cover Chris Christie's Bridge-Gate scandal, the A-Rod circus (which allowed for the rare appearance of the host in the Cold Open), and Justin Bieber. It was quite a fun way to start the show immediately allowed for the audience to see some of the things that Drake was going to bring to the table.
This was one of the best monologues of the season so far. Drake explored the fact that he is a Black Jewish Canadian and flashed back to his Bar-Mitzvah. All of a sudden, his Bar-Mitzvah recitations turned into a self-deprecating rap. This was definitely the highlight of the show. It also showed the first appearance of Zamata who instantly just became part of the gang.
Seth Meyers only has a couple episodes left, and this episode continued the tour of his favorite Weekend Update guests with Nasim Pedrad's Arianna Huffington (one of her few characters that doesn't annoy me). She was solid as usual, but the best part of this week's Weekend Update was their commentary on this year's Golden Globes featuring a silly and delirious Jacqueline Bisset brought to us by Vanessa Bayer. It was a dead on impression of a very awkward moment during the yearly broadcast.
Drake was great all night. His monologue was outstanding. He gave it 100% every time he was out there. However, the material just wasn't there. It was hard to pick a best sketch from all the very average sketches there were. However, the one that had the best moments was probably the sleep over. Having Zamata in the cast allowed for this sketch to be possible as Drake plays her dorky dad hosting the sleepover. Every time the dad popped into the room of girls, one of the guests (Aidy Bryant) became more and more attracted to her friend's dad. What starts as a slightly awkwardly funny sketch goes completely haywire by the end with Bryant showing why she is one of the most naturally funny cast members on the show right now.
This decision was easy, however it had nothing to do with the host. As has been the case for several of my least favorite sketches this season, this sketch revolves around Nasim Pedrad producing yet another quirky Middle Eastern character that is supposed to be funny and really isn't. This scenario puts her in Disney World experiencing what it was like to be Indiana Jones. Drake was great trying to hold Rahat's attention and in turn, trying to hold the sketch together, but it ultimately failed.
Dark Horse Sketch
There really wasn't a dark horse sketch this episode. None of the sketches after the Weekend Update halftime marker were really any good. So instead I am going to talk about another one of my favorite sketches from earlier in the episode. One of the interesting bits of trivia surrounding Drake was that he used to star on the TV show Degrassi. This sketch explores other possibilities of rappers appearing in classic TV shows. The highlight was Drake impersonating Lil' Wayne impersonating Urkel. Pretty surreal. Here is another highlight. How are you doing on your New Year's Resolutions? Hopefully better than these people...
This was a successful episode in the sense that it showcased a star in Drake displaying his comedic talent in a very effective way. He really surprised me here. I had a lot of fun watching his natural ability for entertaining in more ways than one. However, it is starting to become a trend that the creative team of Saturday Night Live is not consistently producing material worth the talent the show is showcasing. With head writer Colin Jost moving into the Update desk to replace Seth Meyers in a couple weeks, hopefully it will jump start the creative juices. Either way, the show is still so much fun to watch because of the immense talent that is brought every week by the cast and the great run of hosts they have had.