‘Saturday Night Live’ review: The Californians, Usain Bolt help Christina Applegate

Even though Christina Applegate almost completely blended into the cast on “Saturday Night Live” this week, this was not necessarily a bad thing. The show really was one of the funniest installments of the entire season, and there was a little bit of everything: singing, familiar sketches, and some genuine risk-taking that was sure to offend some people who missed the point of what the writers were trying to do.

Were there still some weak moments in here? Sure, and we’re also not sure that this was the show that brought in many viewers considering the lack of star power attached to it. There was still one shocking cameo, though, and it came up just minutes into the broadcast. Yes, that’s right: we’re talking about Usain Bolt.

The Vice-Presidential debate – The Olympic sprinter turned up here as a hilarious way to call out Taran Killam’s Paul Ryan on some of his comments, and this really was the best cold open for “SNL” of the entire season. Not only were the impersonations by Killam and Jason Sudeikis as Joe Biden brilliant, but there were also some sharp satire of the actual debate content, whether it be the frequent interruptions by Biden or his tendency to laugh at Ryan’s comments.

The familiar – Is “The Californians” a little too long for its own good? Sure, but the opening minutes of it are still funny and the producers found a way to do this without Kristen Wiig even around (and this is with us more or less hating this thing the first time around). If that’s not impressive, we don’t know what is. It was also nice to see the return of “Arianna Huffington” to weekend update, and we even enjoyed the revival of what was basically a modified version of a character Kenan Thompson first played on “All That” years ago in Pierre Escargot.

The risks – Who would have ever put Jerry Sandusky in a Gillette commercial that we have seen with Adrien Brody a million times? This was probably the touchiest bit of the night, and it may have gone a little too far considering the reaction that we have seen on Twitter largely based on timing. However, we do like that “SNL” “went there” when having some fake Chinese factory workers come on Tech Talk to tear into some spoiled bloggers complaining about the iPhone 5. Kudos to producers for using another culture as a way to mock Americans.

The sirens – This is the sort of ridiculous “SNL” sketch that we absolutely love. They took the story of “The Odessy,” and found a way to transform it into a story about a delusional man and some women singing some of the least-seductive numbers in the history of music. It was random, well-executed, and also very, very funny.

The bad eggs – There are always some disappointments in every show, and this time around, our biggest point of criticism comes in the Booker T. Washington High School sketch along with Applegate’s own opening monologue. Why does everyone have to sing? We like to compare singing monologues to vampires on TV shows: if there are a few vampires here and there, it keeps things interesting. However, there’s nothing special about it if every single person on the show is sporting a set of fangs.

Overall, this was a good show for “SNL,” and one that they really needed as a reminder that there is still some great comedy on here that you would never expect. What did you think about this installment, and about Applegate’s performance?

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