How can you tell a great episode of “Saturday Night Live“? When the writers manage to take a typically dreadful skit (see “The Manuel Ortiz Show”) and someone make it into something brilliant.
Overall, we have to give the guys behind the scenes credit for this one — even if host Sofia Vergara did not have too many leading roles in the sketches, this has to be ranked among one of the funniest shows of the season. Over the course of the entire night, there was not a single sketch that we found terrible — even if some worked better than others.
What worked – We’ll start with how “SNL” took the predictable, and then turned it on its head. Everyone expected “Manuel Ortiz” to be featured thanks to Vergara’s Latin roots, but did anyone think that One Direction was going to deliver a hilarious cameo near the end of it? Who else saw it coming that Bobby Moynihan’s Drunk Uncle was going to deliver a well-timed One Direction joke right in the middle of his weekend Update sketch. Heck, “SNL” even made their own stale Mitt Romney impression by Jason Sudeikis funny this week in the cold-open, let alone a sketch at the end of the episode that featured Vergara nearly making out with “Penelope Cruz” (played by new cast member Kate McKinnon) on a couch.
Then, there was also some sketches that were unexpected from the very onset. After Kristen Wiig suggested that she was retiring her character of Gilly, she busted her out again for what could have been a swan song considering that Wiig herself may be leaving the show. We also didn’t see it coming that Taran Killam was going to mock Andy Cohen so brilliantly in a “Watch What Happens Live!” spoof that brought a near-constant stream of comedy. Yes, Andy’s not that arrogant on his actual show … but we really didn’t care as soon as the vicious attack on the Bravo establishment began.
Even the commercial ads were funny this week — from the “Just Friends Booty Shorts” (which too a predictable premise — two guys were short shorts to somehow prove their heterosexuality) to the bizarre but biting critique on the frozen food industry with “Almost Pizza.”
What didn’t work – Really, we don’t have any major complaints outside of a sketch themed all around newscasters spinning around for the camera at the wrong time. If we had about four minutes less of that — and added them later to “Weekend Update” so that we could have seen The Devil or one of the other recurring characters — we would have been in bliss this entire episode.
Sofia’s performance – Did “SNL” stretch Sofia as an actress? Yes and no. While they kept her in her comfort zone for most of the hour, they also allowed her to play a hysterical Fran Drescher in “Bein’ Quirky with Zooey Deschanel,” and she donned a different accent (or at least tried to) for a “Shahs of Sunset” character in the Andy Cohen sketch.
From the opening to the One direction performances (which were certainly high-energy) to the closing sketches featuring “The Hunger Games” and more, we can’t really think of an “SNL” episode that felt more complete this season. The best thing about this show? Vergara and company brought so many laughs without even bringing in any celebrity cameos.
If this season is the curtain call for Wiig, Sudeikis, and Andy Samberg, we’ll give them a round of applause — they are certainly reminding us how much we will miss them.