It was not a good week for "Saturday Night Live." At its best, this episode is just watchable. Host Josh Hutcherson, who plays Peeta in "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" is serviceable and only the shorts demonstrated any level of consistency. Hopefully Paul Rudd (with musical guest One Direction) in two weeks will inspire the show to bring their 'A' game.
The Cold Open
Taran Killam's Piers Morgan takes weak swipes at George Zimmerman who, this week, was arrested for pointing a shotgun at his girlfriend. None of the characters – a malapropism-spewing girlfriend, an ineffectual police chief and Men's Wearhouse founder George Zimmer – get in any strong satirical jabs or even just plain old laughs. Maybe there are too many landmines of race and domestic abuse to land any solid Zimmerman jokes? Or maybe every joke that can be made about the absurdity of the situation has already been made? Regardless, if the best you can muster is a suit salesman complaining about the similarity of their names, then it's probably best to just pick another topic.
A broad "Hunger Games" riff pits Cecily Strong against Bobby Moynihan and proves the old adage that you should never bring a knife to a gun fight – only, in this case it's a trident to a bow and arrow fight. Kate McKinnon as Effie Trinket and Kenan Thompson mistaking the proceedings for a key party were high points. The sketch ends with Strong carrying Peeta – er – Hutcherson off stage.
Best Recurring Characters Sketch
The Girlfriends Talk Show will never get old so long as the writers keep coming up with lines for Aidy Bryant like "weird people are the best at romantic bed time for private under-the-sheet fantasy moments." Although, she also proves that she's capable of taking something innocuous like "super-fine" and adding enough extra syllables to make it her own.
Best Use of the Guest
The documentary about Matchbox 3 – b-boys who specialize in dancing on very crowded subway cars (and occasionally elevators) was quiet, but fun and Hutcherson got to do something besides sit and look pretty.
A weak outing with Bryant playing a generic "Worst Lady on an Airplane" character and only three standout jokes – one about a Pennsylvania hunting law, another about abandoned sequel plans for "It's a Wonderful Life" and one that succeeds purely on the cuteness of the little Thai children involved.
The Sketch from the First Half Hour that Belongs in the Last Half-Hour
Brooks Wheelan as a financial genius with the gross motor skills of a baby would be judged a lot less harshly if it were stuck at the bottom of the show rather than the top. Wheelan does great physical work, though, and if your tastes run to grown men smearing spaghetti all over themselves and others (or if, indeed, you harbor specific pasta-related fantasies involving Josh Hutcherson), this is the sketch for you.
HAIM was fine (though not "super-fooooooiiiin-uh"). It's reached the point that any young musical group that still bothers to play instruments will get at least a passing grade here.
Recurring Characters We Could Do Without
Dana and Niff. Though, in their defense, Best Buy does sometimes end up with these sorts of new hires around the holidays.
Short and Sweet
Bugs with Mike O'Brien interviewing bugs and Hutcherson as his younger brother one-upping him and Dancing with Kyle Mooney are both fine examples of thin premises that don't overstay their welcome. Quick and absurd is a good combination.
The perpetrators: Animal Hospital and Thanksgiving Dinner. The cruelty: making the audience sit through these awful sketches. At least they were in the last half-hour where they belong.
The Sketch with No Jokes, Only 80s References
To be fair, if you count a mullet wig as a joke, this sketch has one joke. But Hutcherson, then later, the whole cast, lip-synching The Outfield's "Your Love" is as lazy as sketch writing gets.
- Josh Hutcherson