SNL returned last night for their first post-anniversary show, riding high from the fumes of the big celebration two weeks ago. Other than the fact that she is promoting Fifty Shades of Grey at the moment, I knew very little about Dakota Johnson. I heard online once it was announced that she has been pretty funny on Ben and Kate, which I am admittedly unfamiliar with. Does that mean she can sustain as a sketch comedy player? Anyway, between that and wondering if the cast/writers would return inspired by the SNL40 celebration of its’ past, I went into this episode thinking it could be quite the wild card. How did it turn out?
COLD OPEN: GIUILIANI (Bayer, Killam, Mooney, Zamata, Moynihan, Johnson, Bennett)
Full disclosure: I still haven’t seen Birdman. But I know it looks stellar. So as a sendoff to that, this looks pretty well done. (I’m afraid that the audience may have been full of people like me…you don’t hear much audience reaction while he’ going backstage.) Beck Bennett’s Birdman voice was the best part for me.
DAKOTA JOHNSON MONOLOGUE (Johnson, Mooney, McKinnon, Don Johnson, Melanie Griffith)
Dakota Johnson seems nice. And she’s not naked. That’s about it. Okay, okay – mentioning her parents and honoring them was a nice touch, and she was trying to win the crowd over on her side (albeit nervous). But between that and the questions plug for Fifty Shades, there wasn’t a lot to be remembered later.
FATHER DAUGHTER AD (Killam, Johnson, Mooney)
This was the beginning of more ISIS jokes than I had expected to get. However, it was better than the Shark Tank attempt to joke at ISIS last fall. It’s a messed up world we live it.
CINDERELLA (Killam, Mooney, Moynihan, Johnson, Strong)
I was looking forward to a nice Cinderella sketch between a charming Taran Killam and Dakota Johnson…and then the worst part of the James Franco episode from last December showed up. I don’t get how this character, even in a different environment, becomes recurring. She used the exact same jokes from the first troll sketch, and it was not funny the first time around. This sketch also wasn’t funny. I want to award points for putting her in a different situation, but I just don’t know wanted to see this character in a Cinderella story.
SAY WHAT YOU WANNA SAY (McKinnon, Strong, Johnson, Bryant, Bennett, Pharaoh, Bayer, Davidson, Jones, Zamata, Moynihan)
I can neither confirm nor deny whether or not I have been Dakota Johnson’s character talking to Jessica or Kate McKinnon’s character in the bathroom. (All internally, that is.) Anyway, this was a great idea. (I would watch a sketch about Leslie Jones spoiling movies and TV shows for people.)
PRESS JUNKET (Johnson, McKinnon, Killam, Mooney)
Upon re-watching this one, although it didn’t particularly make me laugh out loud, what’s most impressive here is Kyle Mooney. Here, he plays a middle school student who’s seen Fifty Shades of Grey with his dad just to spend time with him, and interviews Johnson for the school paper. Mooney was having an MVP night, and I hope this character comes back again in a new situation. (But please…no more of Cecily Strong’s Cathy Anne.)
I CAN’T (Strong, Johnson, Moynihan, Bryant)
Okay, this one wasn’t particularly funny, but had this sketch been put in the wrong hands, the focus would have remained on the three “I can’t even” characters, when the focus should be on poor Margo. I get that the point was a play on the “I literally can’t” thing, but I wouldn’t mind the put-upon Margo showing up again in a more interesting situation (instead of predictably falling out of the window). As far as her coworkers, don’t act like you don’t know these people. You do. (However, this was the most electric Dakota Johnson was all night.)
WEEKEND UPDATE (Jost, Che, McKinnon, Pharaoh, Zamata, Moynihan)
We had Kate McKinnon’s Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg first, dishing out ‘Gins-BURN’s while dancing at 81. This isn’t anything new in terms of content or Update characters, but man, Kate McKinnon is just great at what she does. Even her quieter, more passive-aggressive characters that I didn’t understand the first time around are still very good. Jay Pharoah performed a great Kanye West apology rap, and literally, the moment he appeared on stage, the real Kanye West started tweeting about his new album cover. (The world needs to remember again just how great Kanye tweets are.) And back one again, my favorite new Update character, Riblet!!
How were the Che/Jost jokes this week? Pretty darn great, actually. Both anchors were having the time of their lives delivering lines like “what color is that?” referring to Obama, or “Hey Chris Brown: don’t beat yourself up over this”, this was the most fun I personally had all night.
EMERGENCY ROOM (Killam, Johnson, Jones, Thompson, Bayer, Davidson)
I want to study an oral history on the creation of this sketch. It ended with a tribute to Leonard Nimoy for his passing this past week…but Kenan Thompson was playing Worf (sort of). This sketch played to crickets as the audience started to attempt at understanding it, and while I want to give it points for creativity and paying homage to Nimoy, it just seemed to have the wrong setting for its’ intentions. Worf M.D. alone might have been a funny idea, but the setting of this sketch did not have the payoff I think they were hoping it would.
NET NEUTRALITY (Zamata, Johnson, Davidson, Moynihan, Jones, Killam)
What in the WORLD was this?! I still have no idea what I was watching here. There were multiple issues all going on, and none of them were coherently related. Zamata asks her guests about net neutrality, and suddenly, we’re talking about the dress again…internet porn…fingers…slow clapping…a founding father of the internet slapping the guests…what was this?! Somehow, Dakota Johnson even snuck another Fifty Shades joke in there. Thankfully, the Alabama Shakes performed after this and cancelled out all this noise.
MR. RIOT FILMS (Mooney, Bennett, Thompson)
In the moment, my brother had to inform me that this sketch is based on a video series that’s been played in anti-bullying school assemblies. So as far as what Mooney and Bennett do with that to parody it here, that’s great. However, I’m assuming the people they approached were unaware people off the street in real life who were not ready for this, and also who did not react well. That kept this from getting out of first gear, unlike Mooney’s tourist sketch last season where people actually responded to his interruptions pretty well.
Best Sketch of the Night: Weekend Update
Worst Sketch of the Night: Net Neutrality
Joke of the Night: “What color is that?” – Che
Observations: This episode was pretty much what I was afraid it would be. Dakota Johnson was fine at best, but she just seemed nervous and uncomfortable in almost ever sketch, except when she was given a more upbeat character to play, such as in the I Can’t sketch. Weekend Update was as great as it’s been this season, and the Alabama Snakes did very well for themselves also. The rest of the show was pretty inconsistent in terms of quality. A few good ideas, but sans Update, it was at least 18% more interesting than the Blake Shelton-hosted show.
BLACKOMETER AVERAGE: 5.62
Next time: Chris Hemsworth!
Martin Freeman: 6.98
Bill Hader: 6.91
Kevin Hart: 6.86
James Franco: 6.81
Woody Harrelson: 6.80
Jim Carrey: 6.80
Cameron Diaz: 6.78
Sarah Silverman: 6.78
J.K. Simmons: 6.70
Chris Pratt: 6.54
Amy Adams: 6.18
Chris Rock: 5.75
Dakota Johnson: 5.62
Blake Shelton: 5