It was the best of "Saturday Night Live," and it was the worst of "Saturday Night Live."
This week's Adam Levine-hosted episode featured some very high highs (including the return of Lonely Island) and some very low lows (the Fire Department fundraiser sketch -- more on that later).
Levine himself was a pretty game host at first, but seemed to wilt as the evening went on. The Maroon 5 frontman referenced his transition to acting in "American Horror Story" but clearly still has a lot left to learn, especially when it comes to comedic timing.
The monologue perfectly encapsulated Levine's overall performance last night: It produced laughs, but Levine was relegated to a supporting performance. Instead, it focused on cameos from Andy Samberg, Cameron Diaz, and Jerry Seinfeld:
Levine did what he does best: taking off his shirt. He should've done that all night.
BEST: The Sopranos Diaries
"SNL" skewers The CW's "Carrie Diaries" with this '80s prequel to the HBO drama. Bobby Moynihan was perfect as the teenage Tony Soprano. He nicknames new kid Adam Levine "Big Pussy," vents about his homework to a Melfi-like guidance counselor, and cheats on a young Carmela. His crew's cafeteria table even has the red-checkered tablecloth and wineglasses. Simply sublime.
UNEXPECTED TREAT: Lonely Island's Digital Short "YOLO"
As soon as Samberg popped up in the monologue, we hoped he'd show up in a sketch or two. Instead, we got something better: a new Lonely Island digital short! "YOLO" (you only live once) became a mantra for agoraphobic shut-ins. Some of their advice: "Never go to saunas because they're crawling with piranhas" and "Pull out all your teeth so you can't bite your tongue." ROTFLOL!
WORST: Fire Department Fundraiser
Bill Hader played a closeted fireman who starts yelling at Levine for talking to his ex. Hader is a terrific screamer, but that's all this sketch was: him screeching at the top of his lungs -- for minutes on end. Oh, and there was his overly long wrestling match with a stuffed dog. Levine and everybody else in the sketch just looked embarrassed.
DISAPPOINTING: Obama and Martin Luther King, Jr. Cold Open
Pharaoh was once again terrific as Obama, and Kenan Thompson was amusing as MLK. But instead of discussing current events, MLK asks about Michelle Obama's new hairstyle and Beyonce's hotness. Remember the days when "SNL" did incisive, sharp political commentary? Yeah, it's getting fuzzier and fuzzier.
PAINFUL: Adam and Janet
It's hard to remember what even went on in this sketch; we were so distracted by Levine staring off-camera at the cue cards the entire time. This was just one of several sketches in which Levine bumbled the timing of his lines.
BEST RETURN: Nasim Pedrad's Arianna Huffington
Pedrad was all over the place last night, which highlighted her recent absence. Great to see her reprise this impression:
JUST OK, WITH ONE FUNNY BIT: Circle Work
Yeah, "SNL" had two sketches that relied on gay stereotypes (plus there was a joke about Samberg enjoying a shirtless Levine in the cold open). This one wasn't as bad as the firefighter one, but wasn't particularly snappy either. The one funny part, which almost redeemed the whole sketch, was Thompson spelling out the phrase "You're as gay as a gay goose in a gay goose parade" -- maybe the night's funniest single moment.
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"Saturday Night Live" airs Saturdays at 11:30 PM on NBC.