We've been up, we've been down, but we are strong, heartache to heartache we stand, ready to recap another episode of Saturday Night Live. Anne Hathaway gets her second chance to host the show. She's a lovely young actress, who in her new movie that comes out this month, takes off her clothes a bunch of times and hops in the sack with Jake Gyllenhaal. That's something I can support without feeling too worried about if I were her boyfriend. Which I'm not. Probably not ever. So let's not try to dwell on that. Instead, let's see if SNL can do something memorable this week.
We start political, but from the TV side, as Abby Elliott — remember her? — gets to kick things off playing MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow. Bill Hader plays probable new Speaker of the House John Boehner of Ohio, and although Elliott's Maddow will make a quip about his orange skin, someone forgot to tell SNL's lighting and makeup people to orange up Hader's face. Someone should tell them! Kristen Wiig plays outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and proves once again that she shines when she's not playing so over the top. And Kenan Thompson plays embattled NYC Congressman Charlie Rangel, who asked for an ethics trial only to show up last week without a lawyer. That guy. Anyhow. It spreads out the political jokes. But you know who likes these political cold opens? Political junkies. And do you know who likes political junkies? Nobody. Wiig's selling the sketch on facial expressions alone, while Rangel gets laughs confusing Maddow for a boy or young man. Don't worry, Rachel. It gets better?
Hathaway's monologue acknowledges her multiple nude scenes (and her "nude" cover of EW) with some parodies of such. Cast members come up to her with subsequent changes to sketches — but will we get to see a "boardroom sketch" with Andy Samberg, or a "Turkey family sketch" with Bobby Moynihan, or a "funeral sketch" with Thompson? Reading too much into this. It closes with a different joke, which plays upon family Thanksgivings, but also kinda weird considering Hathaway's past, don't you think? Anyhow…
Fake ad slot for the win, with the TSA groping procedure turned into a dating ad. "Do you want to feel contact in certain special places?" Nice. Wiig, Elliott and Nasim Pedrad play the ladies looking to touch you, while Hader, Thompson and Moynihan play the actual TSA airport agents. Way to be on top of it.
Well, what do you know, a newbie cast member gets a recurring character, as Vanessa Bayer returns for a second go-around of "The Miley Cyrus Show." Pretty cool! Jason Sudeikis now sits in with the band as Billy Ray Cyrus (he had been played by guest host Bryan Cranston the first time), with Moynihan still in as the band's silent drummer. "Well, as you probably heard, I'm sexy now!" Miley's guest is Katie Holmes, and where in the world did Hathaway pull out this impersonation?!?! A. Maz. Ing. More than pretty cool. Looks like Taran Killam is behind the Batman suit in Miley's screen test. So far, so good, SNL.
Side note: Always curious to see how advertisers try to make special parody ads of their own ads when they buy time during SNL. Rapunzhair? Moving on.
And we're back at a Lutheran church for a Thanksgiving soup kitchen sketch, with Hathaway leading the volunteers and getting them excited by noting they could party all the way until 8:30! p.m. Pedrad plays a first-time volunteer, alongside Thompson, and oh, it's Penelope (Wiig). Chicago-based SNL writers: Take the back line! Moynihan enters as the first homeless man. Hader is Pastor Mike. Penelope's one-upsmanship turns up in new and different ways. Eventually Hathaway's character gets fed up and fights back. Weird ending, though it's always fun to see them pull a post-sketch reveal.
After some ads, we're back, and oh, yes, the British Royal Family made news this week. Busy week in news! This news came late, so too must have this sketch. Fast-actin Tinactin work, kids! Hathaway plays the princess-to-be Kate, make that Katherine, with Samberg as Prince William. Killam plays an assistant, while Fred Armisen shows up as Queen Elizabeth and Hader as her husband. Armisen's Queen and Hader's non-King challenge Kate's agenda and fill her in on the rules of Royalty, with a dig on "The Princess Diaries." Something makes me think Hader is pretending to do his own Michael Caine voice.
Florence and the Machine wants us to know that the dog days are over, although by the way they've changed the arrangement of this song, it sounds like dog day afternoon without Al Pacino, if you know what I mean. And if you know what I mean, please let me know, because I do not know.
On Weekend Update, more jokes about the TSA's no probing procedures.
Guy Fieri (Moynihan) has food tips for your Thanksgiving, and whips up his own rhymes for dinner over his recipes. Did he win it in a minute? Close.
Seth Meyers says "Come on, dictionary," over Sarah Palin comparing herself to Shakespeare in making up new words. Some people have mentioned Rich Hall's Sniglets. But even Sniglets on HBO was influenced by the British show that came before it.
Oh, Four Loko, with "creator" Chris Hunter (Sudeikis) to defend his product, which is being banned in NYC! Oh, Ohio State. That explains it. Good to see Sudeikis back on the screen. We've missed you this fall!
What? Another guest to the Update desk? Jay Pharaoh arrives as himself for once, asking his favorite hip-hop stars to put out a Thanksgiving song. Oops. Not himself. Just a ploy to get more of his impersonations, as he sings potential Turkey Day songs as hip-hoppers Jay-Z, Drake and Biggie Smalls.
In other news, Rod Blagojevich and Snooki need to get off of my TV and stop earning money as spokespeople for any ad campaign. Thanks.
On SNL's version of TCM, Robert Osborne (Sudeikis) is giving us a behind-the-scenes look at "The Wizard of Oz," with moments from the cutting room floor. I get it. Another T-Day tie-in, as this classic film is an annual T-Day film, this year airing all next weekend on TBS. Hathaway gets to play Dorothy, with Samberg as the Scarecrow, Killam as the Tin Man, Hader as the Cowardly Lion…and Armisen as the overbearing Turkey who needs a new apartment. You knew they were going to find a way to let Hathaway sing again, didn't you? Last time she was Mary Poppins. This time, Dorothy. Moynihan gets to jump in as the Wizard. Turns out Armisen's actor got cut out of plenty of other movies, too.
On WXPD's "News New York," Sudeikis bounces back-to-back sketches — he's back, people! — as the lead anchor. Hader plays 90-year-old reporter Herb Welch, celebrating 60 years in broadcasting, which leads to some sloppiness on his part whilst talking to witnesses of an armed robbery. Hathaway played the witness from upstairs, while her boy, Ricky, is played by Paul Brittain. Pedrad is his sister. But that's not the point. The point is, Hader loves playing characters who cause mischief.
Another fake ad! Just in time for Black Friday sales, Moynihan appears to sell us on Mega-Mart's "12 Minute Madness" sale. Their deals are too good to be true! With another Four Loko joke, thanks in part to Hathaway as a crazed shopper. Once you add up all of their offers, this is insane. So insane it'd probably be true someday. Just you wait.
Anyone else stare longingly at the new SNL bumpers, waiting to see if it'll be one of those bumpers that moves at the last second? Just me. OK. Fine.
Who ordered the cameltoe?! Good thing we're in the final half-hour, you guys, because audiences couldn't possibly handle cameltoe any earlier. Although maybe they could handle cameltoe underneath the mistletoe for Christmas? Just a thought, guys. Just a thought. In this pre-taped office sketch, Hader admonishes Wiig for having cameltoe, with coworkers Pedrad and Brittain offering looks and/or advice. A third fake ad of the night! Most of the cast gets into the act on behalf of "Camel Tame."
For their second song, Florence and the Machine — does anybody know if her name is actually Florence? or is this act like Hootie and the Blowfish, where Darius Rucker was never ever Hootie, but plenty of dumb people still think he is Hootie? — replaced their dance team with more strings. I take it back. I think the singer is the Machine. Or is she the Blowfish?
Did you know that by airing two fake ads on either side of real ads, plus a musical number, it's like the whole cast got a 20-minute break? Wonder how often that happens.
Are you ready for the animated movie, "Horse Play," featuring horses who want to play baseball? Before you get ready for that, get ready for Armisen as Randy Newman warbling a song. But that's not all. Other selections from the soundtrack include a Cranberries parody sung by Wiig, Alanis Morissette (Hathaway), the Cure's Robert Smith (Samberg), Adam Lambert (Sudeikis), and Cee Lo (Thompson) doing "Buck You."
Well, that's all, folks! Good job, SNL. Good job. Full credits this week, too. Well, almost full credits. Take next week off. You deserve it.