(The full recap, with videos!) After a couple of weeks off, Saturday Night Live returned last night with a new episode and a seemingly old theme for its cold open: The return of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, set up by the narrator as a message from "the next president of the United States." Before you could finish that long sigh, however, we thought, wow, this looks as if SNL is desperately clinging to its Clinton (Amy Poehler) character as much as the senator herself is desperately clinging to her presidential bid. Which, as it turns out, makes for good comedy. And SNL proved up to the task early on, with Clinton’s main reasons for why she should still get the pick over Barack Obama being, 1) "I am a sore loser," 2) "My supporters are racist," and 3) "I have no ethical standards." Thankfully, this sketch also wasn’t twice as long (make that overlong) as previous SNL cold opens. No Obama tonight?! This leads me, you and everyone else to believe he won’t make another appearance until the fall, when they’ll likely either find someone new to take on the impersonation or not have to worry about it so much.
Host Shia LaBeouf, hardly old enough to drink adult beverages and yet here he stands onstage, hosting SNL for his second straight May sweeps. His monologue took the traditional plug-current-or-upcoming-gig route, the fourth and final (?) Indiana Jones movie, with special appearances by past characters not making the cut for this cast: Darrell Hammond as Sean Connery as Indy’s dad, Poehler as Shorty, and Will Forte hidden behind the melted Nazi’s face. This is the first, last and only time Hammond will appear on the program. Meaning he’s done by 11:40 p.m.?! Is that a record one-and-done night?
With only one week left in the season, we’re bound to see few new sketch ideas and many returning favorite characters. So to no one’s surprise, MacGruber! This night, however, the running gag involved MacGruber’s estranged son (LaBeouf), who turns out to have different sexual preferences from dear ol’ dad. Funniest line to introduce the gag: "Anal lubricant?" Awkward.
Still no ads yet as we hit, in fact, a new sketch based on an old and very popular game show. But everything’s a little bit changed (to protect whom, exactly?) for "It’s a Match," with Match Game theme music, set design and a six-person panel that looks and sounds and evokes that 1970s feel to it, from Chipsy (instead of Nipsy) and a three-named flamboyant semi-celeb and LaBoeuf as a "master of illusion" who reminds you of Doug Henning. Only the host turns up killed, so the entire game show is played as a murder mystery, with Bill Hader as the detective and the panelists (Poehler, Fred Armisen, Casey Wilson, Kristen Wiig, Kenan Thompson and LaBoeuf) serving up their answers as matches. Very funny stuff, probably even more so since I was a fan of the original Match Game. Of course, Match Game parodies also have been a UCB mainstay for years, so it’s only surprising that it’s taken this long for it to migrate to SNL…Still very funny stuff.
After a commercial break, we open inside a police station with a cop (Jason Sudeikis) questioning three juveniles (Hader, Andy Samberg and LaBeouf) caught shoplifting the video game, Grand Theft Auto IV. The focus, though, goes to "Scared Straight" inmate (played by Thompson) who has some lessons for the boys, all of which seem to come straight out of movie plots. When confronted with this, Thompson always resorts with a prison sex threat. Oy.
Which leads to more homosexual tendencies in MacGruber sketch #2, after dad tries to get son scared straight, so to speak. Does it work? What do you think?
The Suze Orman Show returns with Wiig in the role, dispensing financial tips and lady talk. Likely funnier the more you know about Suze Orman. LaBeouf makes a brief appearance as a Miami nightclub owner wondering how to spend his government economic stimulus check.
This week’s SNL Digital Short isn’t going to win back anyone who lost interest in the previous new short for its lack of sophistication. This time around, Samberg sings to LaBoeuf about "the best look in the world," which apparently means: Dress shirt, black socks, no pants (and no underpants)! Ummmm. Yeah.
Musical guest My Morning Jacket confirms also what the early press suggested about them a few years ago: Southern-flavored rock. But that’s OK by me.
Weekend Update opens strong with Poehler getting to deliver the first few jokes. Right out of the box, Israel turns 60 is the headline, with a punchline: They must be getting ready to move to Florida. Hey-O! Guests at the anchor desk included Hader and Armisen as residents of "Liberty City" Vlad and Niko wanting to protest the portrayal of their unfair city in GTA IV. To no avail. Also, another appearance by French Def Jam comedian Jean K. Jean (Thompson). Zut alors! Why, exactly? Oh, wait. Poehler’s wishing him a happy 30th birthday. I suppose even SNL’ers get their birthday wishes granted, don’t they? Happy Birthday, Kenan!
Another returning segment, this time it’s Hader as the Italian talk-show host who cannot communicate with his celebrity guests in La Rivisita Della Televisione con Vinny Vedecci. With LaBeouf playing himself. And a recurring joke about Transformers equaling sex changes. I don’t know. It’s all Italian to me.
MacGruber sketch #3 of the evening pairs Samberg again with LaBeouf, this time as his boyfriend, and an awkward makeout challenge ends gruesomely. Doesn’t every MacGruber sketch end this way, though?
And we’re back, with a dinner scene featuring Wiig and Poehler winding down after work. Wilson is their waitress. And look, there’s Samberg as an admirer with a scary permasmile. So, too, is LaBoeuf. Hey, over there! A whole table of guys (Armisen, Thompson, Forte and Hader) stuck staring at the ladies. Wonder what they’re thinking? Please, don’t wonder such things. It’ll only make head hurt.
My Morning Jacket’s second song: Interesting orchestral influences.
Ads lead to the final, and always a bit of a wildcard sketch, set in an Anthropologie store as mom Poehler weighs in on the dressing room outfits of her pretty daughter Wiig and her other daughter LaBeouf. They’re set on "bringing New York funky style" back home to Decatur, Ga. Seems as though the point really is getting LaBeouf in women’s clothing. Wilson plays the store employee. As Poehler says throughout the sketch, "Uh, no…yes!" Yes…uh, no.
Only one more week in Season #33 for SNL! Tune in next week with host Steve Carell and musical guest Usher.