Blake Shelton is a tall, charming country singer who knows how to crack a joke and make fun of himself, whether it’s hosting an awards show or serving as a judge on NBC’s hit singing contest, The Voice. So it’s no wonder that Saturday Night Live eventually would go along with TV network synergy and ask Shelton to host and play musical guest.
That it happened in 2015 isn’t so unusual. That so much of the show seemed to exist in a time warp? That was quite odd.
If that’s a byproduct of playing to the host’s sensibilities, if it’s because the cast and writers already are so caught up in nostalgia with the 40th anniversary coming up in three weeks, well, that’s just idle speculation for recappers and comedy nerds. So let’s get to it! The recap:
Patriots Press Conference Cold Open: New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick (Beck Bennett) and quarterback Tom Brady (Taran Killam) reveal who was really responsible for the deflated footballs. OK, so this NFL “scandal” is the most ridiculous of all of the actual scandals plaguing professional football, so SNL is right to go after it. And yet. On this same Saturday, only hours earlier, when the real Belichick drops a deep reference to My Cousin Vinny, it just makes you look lazy to go for a super-obvious tribute to A Few Good Men for your big punchline. When Bill Belichick is funnier than you, you’re not off to a strong opening drive. Pats 7, SNL 0.
Blake Shelton’s Hee-Haw Monologue: Host Blake Shelton teaches Taran Killam, Pete Davidson, Jay Pharoah, Cecily Strong, Vanessa Bayer and Leslie Jones about country humor with help from an old kook (Bobby Moynihan). Another throwback tribute in the monologue, with Shelton teaching the SNL kids about Hee-Haw, with some ol’ fashioned pickin’ and grinnin’! But the kids these days don’t get the subtleness of Southern humor and instead just roast Shelton instead. There’s also an unnecessary angle with Leslie Jones not enjoying it while wearing blonde pigtails, which doesn’t really pay off. But Shelton’s at least selling his part of the bit.
No fake ad in the fake ad slot.
Farm Hunk: A group of women (Cecily Strong, Vanessa Bayer, Kate McKinnon, Sasheer Zamata, Aidy Bryant, Leslie Jones) compete for the affections of a hunky farmer (Blake Shelton) on reality dating series Farm Hunk. Farm Hunk is The Bachelor. This is just what it’s like, right? Filed under: Funny Because It’s True.
Wishin’ Boot: Blake Shelton, Aidy Bryant and Kate McKinnon star in the country music video for “Wishin’ Boot.” A music video that’s also the stand-out sketch of the night, as it’s just crazy enough to make you want to share it, while also melodic enough to want to play it again for your own amusement and enjoyment.
Celebrity Family Feud: The Voice coaches Blake Shelton, Adam Levine (Taran Killam), Pharrell (Jay Pharoah) and Christina Aguilera (Cecily Strong) take on American Idol judges Keith Urban (Kate McKinnon), Nicki Minaj (Sasheer Zamata), Harry Connick, Jr. (Beck Bennett) and Steven Tyler (Kyle Mooney). The Feud has replaced Jeopardy as SNL’s favorite celeb game show parody, not just for Steve Harvey’s charisma as channeled by Thompson, but also for so many more celeb impersonation opportunities! Nice reference to Marc Maron, as Harvey misidentifies Levine’s band as Marc Maron 5. Why, though, why oh why is the Idol team made up of judges from years ago? I suppose it’s because they need five for a Feud squad. And yet it just feels outdated for the choice. Rather have them find a Seacrest, J.Lo and a wild fifth choice instead, or just have The Voice face a different team.
Ladies and gentlemen, Blake Shelton! This is “Neon Lights.”
Weekend Update 1-24-2015: Weekend Update anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che tackle the week’s biggest news, including President Obama’s State of the Union address, the Patriots’ deflated footballs, Pope Francis’s visit to New York, and the creator of instant replay’s death. Che’s right. That instant replay was dumb.
Weekend Update: Riblet: Michael Che’s high-school friend Riblet makes an unexpected appearance and proves it’s not that hard to be a Weekend Update anchor. Correction! Riblet is by far the best thing to happen to this SNL tonight, or at least to the current Update desk anchor dynamic. Bobby Moynihan veers in and out of Riblet/Update Anchor so well, it should make somebody nervous.
Weekend Update: Pete Davidson on Cyber Security: Pete Davidson explains how having a good computer password can prevent your girlfriend from logging onto your computer and discovering how much gay porn you’ve watched. Because Pete was worried he was gay, people. Relax! Funny amusing how this is the second time Davidson has visited Update to casually talk about homosexuality as a young straight man.
Weekend Update: Nicole: Michael Che’s ex-girlfriend shares tips for getting your personal finances in order – until her and Che’s history gets in the way. Hello, Sasheer Zamata, but even better callback for RIBLET!
Parole Board: A prisoner (Kenan Thompson) pleads his case but the parole board is not so easily swayed, especially because of his cannibalism. Somehow this actually is a throwback to 1994’s Shawshank Redemption and also Jeffrey Dahmer from that year, making Thompson try on his Morgan Freeman voice but, in the end, resorting to “Shake Shack” as a punchline? Egads. Nope. This is not inspired at all.
My Darlin’ Joan: A widower (Taran Killam) teams with a musician (Blake Shelton) to pen an ode to his dearly departed wife (Kate McKinnon). Subtle. Perhaps too subtle.
Once again, Blake Shelton. This is “Boys ‘Round Here.”
Magician: An audience member (Blake Shelton) heckles a magician (Taran Killam) until he grants him the power to go down on himself. A groaner about a groin wish.
The show definitely cut something for time tonight that deserved to have aired instead of the Shawshank and this magic/heckler sketch. More depressingly, they misjudged the timing of the show by a few minutes, so the 5-to-1 slot happens during a commercial break — they come back to set to show the band for 30 seconds or so, then cut back to another commercial break to kill time. What if they had a short video or something. Especially when both the Shawshank and magic sketches just dragged and dragggggggggggged. Oh well.
Goodnight, everybody! See you next Saturday with host JK Simmons and musical guest D’Angelo!