The show took a month off from filming thanks to the Olympics. When it came back, SNL was starting a new era. (By the way, I have never seen a show make so many significant changes in the middle of a season.) Seth Meyers had moved on, and head writer Colin Jost had moved into the Update desk to take his place. This now makes 7 featured players in the cast. I know Weekend Update is just a small part of the show, but it has been the backbone of the show since the first episode. This was a big deal. Add to that the first hosting gig for Sheldon, I mean Jim Parsons, you have quite the episode of firsts to start a new era in Saturday Night Live.
How do you start the show airing the night before the Oscars? Well, when you have possibly the best impersonator of the host on the cast, it only makes sense to start with the Ellen Show. Kate McKinnon, as always, gives a haunting impression of the Oscar host (it's actually like a strange mix between Ellen and McConaughey, but whatever). Her guest was Johnny Weir, played by Jim Parsons, making the fourth time in five shows the once-rare occurrence of the host appearing in the cold open has happened. What makes this sketch work though is McKinnon. She has definitely emerged as the new leader of the ladies with some of the best characters since Wiig was around.
One of the time-honored traditions of Saturday Night Live is making a host (especially a first-time host) give a little song and dance number in his opening monologue. I'll admit, I never thought I'd see Jim Parsons sing a song, and I don't really care if I see it again, but it was a fun way to start the show. The best part of the song was seeing everyone's impressions of other actors who are known more for their characters than their actual personalities. I would really like to see some more of Bobby's George Kost ... I mean Jason Alexander.
The big question going into this episode was how would Colin Jost's debut as Weekend Update co-anchor go. The verdict turned out to be a solid effort for a first-timer. He definitely has some potential, but you can tell he's been stuck in the writer's room for a few years. He needs to get used to being in front of the camera, which shouldn't take long. Outside of Colin's debut, this turned out to be one of the strongest Updates of the season. It featured another appearance from SNL's favorite basketball commentators, Charles Barkley and the absolutely ridiculous Shaquille O'Neal. The best part of this bit is how much Kenan and Jay just make each other crack up. It also featured what has the potential of being the new Stefon, Taran Killam's 19th century critic Jebidiah Atkinson. With the Oscars the next day, the obvious topic of Jebidiah's disgust was the Oscar nominees. You know it's funny when Killam, possibly the actor with the straightest face SNL has ever seen, cracks himself up with something new every time Atkinson pops up.
Parsons's song in his monologue was entitled "I'm Not That Guy" as he tried to prove Jim Parsons is not Sheldon Cooper. The sketch that best proved this was the hunt for the Dance Floor Killer. Parsons makes a pretty convincing sociopath as he plays a serial killer that hides in plain sight. It's stupid I know, but it's pretty hilarious at the same time.
As has been the case with most episodes recently, for every great sketch that comes along there have been some real clunkers. More times than not, these clunkers have been placed at the beginning of the show where they normally place their strongest sketches. This episode, the sketch right after the monologue turned out to be the weakest of the night. The sketch showed Parsons being cast all too perfectly as Peter Pan, coming back to take the children back to Neverland. However, Tinkerbell was not available so her crude sister showed up instead, Tonkerbell. The idea was original, but the sketch just wasn't funny.
Dark Horse Sketch
There is something in the hearts of every boy and man in America that makes us laugh every time at poop jokes. I don't know what it is, they're just funny. Here is the latest one. I have nothing else to say ... just enjoy.
Every time something happens on SNL where a star moves on to bigger and brighter things, everyone freaks out and thinks the show is coming to an end. However, that's the great thing about Saturday Night Live. It creates stars, and lets them move on and become the bigger stars they are meant to be. When they leave, the next man steps up and becomes the next star. Seth Meyers moved on, but the show will be fine; a little different, but just fine. On the other side of things, Jim Parsons proved his point he set out to prove in his monologue, he is much more than the nerd from The Big Bang Theory. None of the sketches were landmark in any way, but it was a solid episode that was still entertaining.