Can we give Saturday Night Live an A for Effort even if there’s no letter “A” in the word?
That’s how I felt during the longest good-nights segment in quite a long time, as the SNL cast waved and hugged and waved some more and mouthed “Happy Mother’s Day” to the camera as host Charlize Theron wrapped her second stint hosting the show, and her first in fourteen years.
Take this three-minute short video, “Cocktail Hour,” which finds Nasim Pedrad and Beck Bennett trapped as guests in the home of unhappily married drinking couple (played by Taran Killam and Charlize Theron), matching wits with outlandish drinks. It’s subversive. And yet, it didn’t make it on air last Saturday night. Instead, it’s added online and tagged “web exclusive.”
Now let’s try figuring everything else out. To the recap!
Michelle/Hillary Address Cold Open: First Lady Michelle Obama (Sasheer Zamata) and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (Vanessa Bayer) join forces to wish Americans a happy Mother’s Day. There have been so many cast members to portray the latter, and only one of the former. Are you happy now?! Bayer is much more energetic than past SNL Hillarys. How does this make you feel about 2016? They play the contrasting styles of the two women for the laughs, but it’s really more important that you remember that SNL finally has a Michelle Obama. Are you happy now?
Charlize Theron Monologue: Charlize Theron hasn’t hosted SNL since 2000. There’s a nice callback to then, when she played with Maya Rudolph and Ana Gasteyer in a parody of Destiny’s Child called Gemini’s Twin, and the knowledge that Theron isn’t much for singing. Still isn’t. Which leads into a song about that. Great idea, Studio 60! Here are Cecily Strong, Kate McKinnon, Taran Killam, Beck Bennett, Sasheer Zamata and Kenan Thompson as her “backup” singers.
No fake ad in the fake ad slot.
But Seth MacFarlane’s new movie with Theron and others gets promotional placement here, along with a quote from Rolling Stone that suggests its the “dirtiest damn western comedy ever.” Which means nobody on staff at RS is old enough to remember to have seen Blazing Saddles yet. Or, apparently, MacFarlane’s gone and done something even dirtier and funnier than that? Hmmm.
Mother’s Day Game Show: The Hallmark Channel’s Mothers Day Game Show, “Come do a Game Show with Your Mom, It’ll be Fun, Yes It Will!” boasts Kate McKinnon as the host and mother, Joanne Pendak, with her three kids as contestants (Brooks Wheelan, Kyle Mooney, Charlize Theron) guessing how well they know their mom. Linda the neighbor (Aidy Bryant) serves as judge and there’s a quick Dad round with Bobby Moynihan that more than serves his and the sketch’s purpose. Simple. Effective.
Girlfriends Talk Show with Charlize Theron: I don’t see it. But you do? Kyra (Cecily Strong) and Morgan (Aidy Bryant) welcome guest teacher, Miss Christine, who’s recently fired from their school, to talk about acting out, the “Vagina Monologues” and men.
Dragon Babies: HBO First Look is a behind-the-scenes preview featurette, in this case conquering the fictional animated film, Dragon Babies. How much time and money does animation not cost, any longer? That’s one big takeaway from this. Also: If you ever wondered how some people who don’t seem to belong in a TV or movie end up in one, consider the possibility that it’s a 12-step situation. In this case, it’s retired Chicago cop Rick Shoulders (Mike O’Brien) who gets the big role, thanks to his sponsee, the director (played by Taran Killam). Charlize Theron plays herself. Noel Wells and Nasim Pedrad do not. It’s another great part in a digital short film fronted by O’Brien. Cecily Strong also shows up with a blustery accent as his wife.
Heshy: Dating Seminar: Nasim Pedrad’s Heshy character returns with a new pep talk at a three-day workshop for “The Man Plan.” Ladies? Vanessa Bayer is running the workshop. But check out Heshy’s BFF, Gail (Charlize Theron). She was formerly “a goofy asexual mess”! And even though Heshy says she is 44 and doesn’t seem to have a handle on romance or dating, she does have a grown son (played by Mike O’Brien), who’s supplying all those nasty beats and sound effects. Drop it like it’s hot!
Ladies and gentlemen, The Black Keys. This is “Fever.”
Still waiting for this new “anchor” team to establish their personality. Meanwhile, breaking nudes?
SNL’s Update paid tribute to Barbara Walters, who is retiring on May 16, with clips of the SNL cast members who have impersonated her on the show. Well, four of them, anyhow. Not pictured: Michaela Watkins. Very much pictured? Walters herself. Who wheels in and offers three tips for success. In retrospect, how did that actually work? How did we think that was great? Cecily Strong does get Walters back with a retort: “But you’re a co-host on The View.” Not for long.
Drunk Uncle (Bobby Moynihan) also stopped by the Update desk to talk to “Seth” about graduations.
Bikini Beach Party: A TCM rebroadcast of a 1960s beach movie, already in progress. Starring Darren (Taran Killam) and Gadget (Charlize Theron) as the would-be lovers. He’s 22. She’s 13?! In fact, all seven SNL women join Theron on the beach in swimwear, and we learn that all of the girls are jailbait. Not only that, there’s a dead whale filling up with gas on the beach. Make that two dead whales. Gutsy move! Literally and figuratively. That old fisherman (Kenan Thompson) is just happy to be there.
Once again, The Black Keys. This is “Bullet in the Brain.”
Pet Rescue Commercial: If kittens always work in YouTube videos, then why not also in an SNL sketch? Kate McKinnon and Charlize Theron play the cat ladies — one more than the other. I’ll let you guess which one. Hint: She goes by Cat Mullet. At “Whiskers R We,” McKinnon’s character holds up each of the kittens and asks us to come on down and adopt one. While Cat Mullet pets McKinnon instead. “If you buy one cat, we make you take all of them for free!”
Tourists: It’s eight minutes before 1 a.m., do you know where your subversive short video is? Pranking tourists and New Yorkers alike on the streets of Manhattan, of course. Just what can a comedian or Theron say in disguise and an accent to passersby and get away with? In Midtown? Just about anything.
Next week: The season finale, with Andy Samberg returning to host!