Thursday, December 31, 2015

SNL 41.9 Review - Tina Fey & Amy Poehler, Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band

Original Airdate - 12/19/15

Usually, the most anticipated episodes of Saturday Night Live are the ones hosted by former cast members.  This was true earlier this year when Tracy Morgan made his triumphant return.  This is what Lorne Michaels was banking on when he brought back Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, two of the most beloved castmembers of the 2000's, to host the Christmas episode this year.  It's rare for there to be co-hosts of the show, but if anyone should do it it is Tina and Amy.  Tina has hosted once before, and although Amy has never officially hosted, she has been one of the most frequent former castmembers to pop by and say hi.  Add to that The Boss as the musical guest, and we had the makings of a legendary episode.

Cold Opening

The political scene right now provides so much rich material for a show like SNL that every week they almost feel obligated to make a statement on the latest spectacle.  This week was a Republican debate.  With so many candidates on the stage, and the fact that you pull out all the stops for the Christmas episode, they brought announcer Darrell Hammond out of the booth to show off his spot on Donald Trump impression.  Taran Killam has been doing an admirable job, but nothing beats Hammond.  The show was definitely off to a strong start.


Although the material for this monologue wasn't necessarily original, Tina and Amy show once again why they might be the best comedy duo working today.  There is just so much chemistry between these two, and they are so naturally funny, that they could make reading the phone book fun.  This new attempt at a Christmas song is a perfect example of this.

Weekend Update

Two things were certain about this episode's trip to the Weekend Update desk: Kate McKinnon would find some character to bring just like she does almost every single episode, and Tina and Amy, Weekend Update anchor alums, would make some sort of appearance.  Both of these came true.  McKinnon brought out some strange old lady to talk about soap operas, but it turns into a strange discussion about whatever she is eating out of her leftover container.  Both Kate and Colin cracked as they were thrown off by the smelly meal.  Then we have Tina and Amy just showing up to read a couple jokes of their own.  It's so nice to see them back at the desk every now and then.

Best Sketch

There were so many great sketches that came out of this episode, I couldn't pick just one.  Honorable mention goes to a creative sketch that allows Tina and Amy to bring back their Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton impressions.  The first sketch picked shows one of the benefits of bringing back former castmembers and writers as hosts.  Instead of churning out a batch of sketches every week like they did when they were castmembers, Tina and Amy have had sketch ideas rolling around in their heads for years that they are finally able to bring to the stage.  This sketch of a really bizarre game show is the type of awkward, uncomfortable comedy that they were known for back in the day.  The second sketch is special for a few reasons.  It starts off fairly bland until you realize Tina and Amy don't do anything without their buddy Maya Rudolph.  Then, there she is.  Also, this is officially the first Bill Cosby appearance since his legal troubles, which is really a shame since Kenan Thompson does one of the best Cosby impressions there is.  The joke definitely hits home, while part of you is forced to ask, "Too soon?"

Worst Sketch

A danger of having former castmembers around is you can get stuck in some generic, average sketches.  This sketch is one that didn't need to happen.  The first time this sketch was brought out a few years ago, it was funny for a little while, but by the end of it, it was already getting old.  I think they were hoping that, with time, the sketch would freshen back up.  It didn't.  A film director who used to work on The Jeffersons is giving acting advice to serious actors in a a classic drama.  I can imagine this is sketch was pulled out because of its ties to some improv games, but it just isn't that funny.

Dark Horse Sketch

When you have old castmembers around, you can pull out old sketches.  I don't know how long it has been since there has been a Bronx Beat, but it was a welcome site to see Amy and Maya reprise their roles and find a way to include Tina.  I don't know if it is a good thing or a bad thing, but sometimes when the old castmembers return, it makes the current cast irrelevant.  I think it is a good thing every now and then, but not something to get into a habit of.  The second video is the best end of the show event of the season so far.  Springsteen, his band, the cast, and apparently Paul McCartney all get together and sing "Santa Claus is Coming to Town."  Just enjoy.

More is always expected out of the Christmas episode.  This, along with the season finale are always considered the highlights of the year.  This episode was set up to be great more than any other so far this season.  Although it wasn't a perfect episode, it certainly wasn't a disappointment.  It definitely brought 2015 to a strong close for Saturday Night Live.


View the full episode here:

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