Saturday Night Live review: Did the Tina Fey finale really deliver?

Saturday Night Live - Tina FeyTina Fey is the host for the Saturday Night Live finale and going into the episode airing, it felt pretty darn clear that we would be in for a fun, crazy show. Fey knows the show stage better than almost anyone and to go along with that, she also has a very keen understanding of how to much the envelope. We expect some creativity from tonight rather than just the show resting on its laurels.

Before checking out the remainder of this review, we suggest that you head over here to see our full take on the cold open.

Monologue – After surprisingly not appearing in the cold open, Tina Fey turned up on stage in order to get a little bit meta. One of the biggest criticisms of the show as of late has been an over-abundance of cameos, so in response to that the producers brought out Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Anne Hathaway, Donald Glover, Fred Armisen, and an extremely random Benedict Cumberbatch.

What actually made this funny was seeing SNL completely milk some of these cameos, especially Armisen intentionally going on for seemingly forever about the diet he is on to lose weight. There were two moments we found especially great: Donald Glover talking about his “system” when it comes to his hat and then also Tracy Morgan turning up at the end — it wasn’t particularly funny, but it’s Tracy.

Royal Wedding Spoof – It was inevitable that this was something we were going to get on the show, just as it was also inevitable that Kate McKinnon was going to be playing the Queen in it. None of the impressions in this were altogether good, even if there was something especially odd and demented about watching William twerk while carrying a baby.

Where things got a little funnier was when Harry introduced the random table, including a Deal or No Deal model played by Heidi Gardner and then Fey as a distant relative who got kicked by a horse. Also, who knew that Aidy Bryant could play Elton John?

The weirdest part of this whole sketch was the fact that there was no Meghan Markle in it at all — she’s the bride! How do you do this without the bride?!

Morning Joe – It’s a little shocking that SNL isn’t trotting these two out for a Cold Open. The main appeal of seeing this sketch is the back-and-forth between the show’s version of Joe and Mika, who alternate between fighting and almost making out at the desk. With Joe constantly interrupting most of the guests including Meghan McCain (Bryant), this is basically the political version of What’s Up with That? — which we still miss.

It took a long time in order to get Fey in the sketch as a prominent Russian attorney to talk about the “secret” Donald Trump Jr. meeting in Trump Tower. She brought a little bit of comedy, but thirty minutes in and this episode still was missing a crackerjack sketch.

Tina Fey talks Mean Girls – Apparently Fey has a secret obsession with wanting to be a part of the musical, mostly because Lin-Manuel Miranda did that with Hamilton. Watching Tina try to play a version of Regina George was worth a few laughs, but we couldn’t help but think for most of the sketch that Tina had a role in the original movie. Could she have just played Ms. Norbury in here, as well?

Nicki Minaj – Nicki is the guest tonight, and you can read about her (controversial) “Chun Li” performance over here.

Weekend Update – We kicked things off tonight with some jokes about John Bolton, Sean Hannity, and the summit between the United States and North Korea. Also, you had the Bill Gates – Donald Trump joke we all saw coming.

Let’s get to the correspondents, given that we had ANOTHER appearance from Donald Trump Jr. and Eric. They were in the cold open and were also present here. Luckily, this is one of the best things that SNL has going for it right now — great chemistry and writing. There are few things funnier than Alex Moffat as Eric trying to mimic Trump Jr. … only to then eat Play-Doh that was intended for playtime.

Then, we got an appearance from Kenan Thompson as Bishop Michael Curry. This had to be a sketch that came together today given that nobody knew Curry was going to be a star at this point a day ago.

Finally, we turned to a series of jokes that were “too controversial to air” during the season. Some of these were worth a chuckle.

Pervert Hunters – Fey played the star of a TV show a la To Catch a Predator who had to film multiple takes of her big confrontation scene with a pervert (Beck Bennett). This is probably something SNL should’ve put on earlier in the show, mostly because it was so silly and absurd. Of course, in reality there’s no way that a “pervert” would react so okay to having to film multiple takes of his life being ruined. In the context of the sketch, though, it was funny and we were able to turn our brain off for it.

Sarah Palin – It was hard to imagine this impression not being in a Tina Fey show but it was pretty hard to imagine how it would happen. It came, somehow, via a musical number about how quickly fame can fade. As if seeing Fey-as-Palin singing wasn’t weird, we then had McKinnon singing as Kellyanne Conway and also Bryant as Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Also, Armisen stopped by as Michael Wolff for one last appearance and we also probably got our final Rex Tillerson (John Goodman) while we were at it. We’d say that this was the last Omarosa appearance but with Omarosa, who knows?

This sketch wasn’t hilarious, but at least it earns brownie points for creativity.

Talent Show – This sketch was about a mother/daughter feud that was going on featuring Fey and Melissa Villasenor as contestants who were too busy feuding in order to properly sing “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” Surprisingly, this really wasn’t all that fun at all. The best part of the sketch was actually Kenan playing the Principal discussing his sex life.

Chicago Improv – Apparently, this is the next edition in One Chicago — and it’s probably accurate. We also feel like the cast has plenty of experience in this, given that so many of them actually come from this scene — including Tina Fey.

CarterMatt Verdict

If there is a surprising takeaway from the finale, it’s this: SNL has become too reliant on headlines for comedy rather than coming up with it themselves. They’ve done great political stuff but this show felt like too much of the greatest hits and surprisingly, didn’t really give Palin a classic sketch like “New Cast Member or Arcade Fire” or “Meet Your Second Wife.”

See the video version of our review below — be sure to subscribe to CarterMatt on YouTube for more.

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