With the week that Charlie Sheen had in all of the media, you'd have to be an idiot not to know that Saturday Night Live would capitalize on it from the get-go. And despite the efforts of some to push Jimmy Fallon back into SNL as Sheen's doppleganger, the show looked within its own cast to find Bill Hader as a Sheen impersonator for the cold opening, which imagined Sheen hosting his own show, Duh! Winning!, even though Sheen himself had just hosted his own show an hour earlier in real time online via Ustream. Which sucked, by the way.
Let's examine the evidence. At least the SNL version offered an opportunity to burn through everyone else who was having a bad PR week in the world. As far as Hader vs. Fallon as Sheens, I'm not sure I liked one that much better than the other. Mostly because I'm sick of seeing anyone (even Charlie Sheen) being on Charlie Sheen. Enough already. So an entire sketch devoted to similar train wrecks? Egad. Abby Elliott played the sidekick role as Christina Aguilera, while Sheen's guests included Nazi sympathizer John Galliano (Taran Killam), Libyan dictator Muammar Muhammad al-Gaddafi (Fred Armisen) and Lindsay Lohan (Miley Cyrus).
Look. I know some people were wondering how a young woman would do hosting SNL, when all she has to her credit is several years working on TV comedy programs and singing in front of large audiences. Turns out…she's going to be OK doing TV comedy and singing on TV!
At 18, Miley Cyrus had the chance to show her "adult" side, as Lohan herself did when she hosted a few years back. This wasn't that. But in her monologue, Cyrus took aim at all of her accusers in song by declaring "I'm Not Perfect." It's all relative, right? Wiig and Moynihan helped out in costume. In its own way, this is perfect for her and the show. Because for everyone who accuses SNL of being off or not quite right, maybe we need to be reminded that SNL isn't perfect, either. Really?!? That was Seth and Amy asking. Not me.
For the first ad spoof, they brought back "Baby Spanx."
And before the first real ads, we had a nice conceptual talk-show sketch hosted by apl.de.ap and Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas. You know. The two people in the quartet known as the Black Eyed Peas that you never hear about. I feel like it would've been stronger without the reminders from Fergie (Cyrus) and Will.I.Am (Jay Pharoah). They kept the concept strong by having as their guest the least of the Kardashians with Khloe (Abby Elliott).
Oh, look, it's another look back into the movie vaults of TCM with Robert Osborne (Jason Sudeikis), and this time, we're seeing how a stand-up comedian from olden times named Ricardo (Fred Armisen) ended up in scenes from The Sound of Music, which allowed Cyrus to sing again. Too much singing = not enough time to get the licensing rights for online video. Interesting touch putting extras in Nazi outfits in the audience, though.
Speaking of interesting touches, how about Miley Cyrus teaming up with Kenan Thompson (himself a star thanks to a kid-acting role on Nickelodeon) for a spoof on acting schools for the wannabe kid stars of Disney Channel? Very meta, SNL. Very meta. Watch and learn. See how these two make fun of the thing that allowed them both to become famous in the first place? It's funny because it's true. Laugh, audience monkeys. Laugh.
So you knew that Miley Cyrus would want to be part of the recurring sketch, The Miley Cyrus Show (starring Vanessa Bayer as Cyrus, with Sudeikis as her daddy, Billy Ray). But you probably didn't guess that Cyrus herself would want to be Justin Bieber. She gets the boyish part down. But Bieber is more feminine than Cyrus! And. I don't know that she needed to say the facial tics out loud. Give them props for having Bayer bring up the salvia issue, at least, and letting Cyrus as Bieber defend herself. Pretty cool? Having Cyrus sing the theme song with Bayer was pretty cool. I'll give 'em that.
The Strokes! Do you remember where you were when The Strokes were cool! Oh, you're still standing there? Then sing along to this song, why don't you? Even Miley Cyrus is wearing a T-shirt devoted to The Strokes. It's "Under Cover of Darkness."
On Weekend Update, Seth Meyers had another edition of "Winners & Losers" to share, thanks to Charlie Sheen.
With the Westboro Baptist Church winning a First Amendment case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, the devil (Sudeikis) had to have his say about the matter. Interesting thoughts about gay people. Also, he plans to prank the WBC people. And, of course, Entourage.
It could be easy not to like Bobby Moynihan's second-hand news delivered by Anthony Crispino, but his charisma pulls this off every single time. Second Twizzler reference of the night, by the way! Twizzlers!
Here's something you didn't think would get a second shot on the air: "Les Jeunes de Paris," aka Taran Killam's sketch he originated with The Groundlings, which is all in French, and involves young people singing and dancing. Pedrad, Elliott, Moynihan, Brittain and Cyrus all get in on the act. Samberg plays the old mime guy. Not a lot of laugh-out-loud laughs in this, but it's an interesting thing to see on TV after midnight. J'approve.
As for the movie spoof on Beastly, which essentially was a reboot on the "Declan" character Andy Samberg did in the movie spoof with Justin Bieber for The Roommate. It's as if The Lonely Island guys are phoning it in big-time now.
Would you like some moisturizer, and also a rockabilly CD? Well, you're in luck! Thanks, Miley Cyrus and Kristen Wiig! Interestingly, Cyrus doesn't sing in this sketch. No matter how many CDs you get with your purchase. Sound like a deal to you? She's very game, though.
And for their second song, more from The Strokes. "Life is Simple in the Moonlight." Yes it is.
The end of the show is for risky material, so what's so risky about a cruise ship entertainer turning on her audience? Not sure. More singing for Cyrus, though! And screen time and lines for three of the four newbies.
Time for one more thing, and it's a swipe at CBS? Hmmm.
People seemed to really like this episode of SNL. I think they're just fatigued after enough not-great episodes, that something that's, well, "pretty cool," is cool enough for them now. I know they can do better. In a few moments, we even saw that. And I look forward to that.