If last week's Season 48 opener of Lorne Michaels & NBC's Saturday Night Live felt like getting to a cool party way too early and having to watch everything get set up, this week's Brendan Gleeson-hosted edition (with musical artist Willow) felt like the party was just starting to heat up. Perfect? No, but a confident step forward from last week as the cast and writers continue to gel. But big thanks go to our host and musical guest, with Gleeson's thespian expertise & willingness to commit to every sketch combining effectively. Bonus points to Gleeson for shifting the opening monologue approach to his strengths, and it was very cool to see Colin Farrell show up for some self-deprecating guest appearances. As for Willow? Wow! Once again, SNL turns me onto an artist who kills it live, and now I'm checking out their backstory. Performing "curious/furious" and "ur a stranger," Willow embraced the moment and set the Season 48 musical bar for future performers (which Megan Thee Stallion might just reach when she hosts & performs next week). So here's a look at what worked, what we weren't that thrilled with, and (of course) Colin Jost & Michael Che with "Weekend Update"…
Saturday Night Live Season 48 Review: Brendan Gleeson & Willow
Gleeson leaning on his charm, musical skills, and great storytelling skills was a smart move for the opening monologue and was a nice change of pace. I would much prefer this over someone forcing jokes or going down the childhood nostalgia route one more time.
"So You Think You Won't Snap" was a nice way to open the show and hit on some insane headlines from the past week or so and a much-needed break from the standard news channel-themed parody. Also, I could see Bowen Yang hosting a "Twilight Zone/Night Gallery/Rod Serling"-type anthology series (random thought).
Chloe Fineman did a great job taking on Marilyn Monroe, but the "Blonde" sketch was lost on me because I haven't seen the film. Also, why was Gleeson portraying a woman in the sketch? Is that something from the Netflix film that I'm missing? Because I'm pretty sure SNL has female cast members who would've appreciated the screen time.
Please Don't Destroy (Ben Marshall, John Higgins, and Martin Herlihy) team with Gleeson on "Tommy" in a sketch that proves once again that even the silliest concepts can hit and hit big when everyone's committed to it. Once again, I'm putting in a formal request that PDD has a sketch slot reserved for them each week. They've earned it.
"Blood Oath" was saved by Gleeson going all-in on "Master Thespian!" only to sell that hand wound a little too well. And when in doubt, you'll always win over the crowd by spraying everyone on stage with unending amounts of fake blood.
Whether it was a jab at the Try Guys for claiming "trauma victim status,' at the media for making their drama a multi-day story over much more important news, or a testament to how CNN is making a turn towards the not-so-good, Yang, Mikey Day & Andrew Dismukes (with a nice assist from Nwodim & Gleeson) killed it when it came to exposing the bigger-picture absurdity of it all.
I love Sarah Sherman on SNL, and "Eyes" is yet another one of those reasons. Taking our need for others to acknowledge us & the things that we do to an absurd level, the sketch then goes that extra step of having some of Sherman's body-horror comedy enter the scene. One question, though? How much of a headache did Sherman have after considering she looked like she was head-banging at a metal concert to get the googly eyes moving?
While "New Cast Advice" was a nice spotlight for Devon Walker, Michael Longfellow, and Marcello Hernández, it was Molly Kearney who had the mic, and they killed it. There was something very raw and real about the way Kearney explained how they needed to kill Putin for Michaels (yup), reminding us of a cross between Melissa McCarthy and Chris Farley.
Once again, "Headshot" is essentially a one-note sketch joke saved by Gleeson's willingness to "go there" for the sake of an effective laugh. But don't sleep on Longfellow, who had me laughing at how frustrated he was getting at his grandfather getting all of the attention. And Dismukes delivers some great lines, offering a character that I wouldn't mind seeing make a return visit.
"Weekend Update" Hit All of the Right Cringe-Worthy Notes
After some rough patches last week, Jost & Che were back in razor-sharp form this week, tackling a range of topics that included President Joe Biden pardoning thousands of marijuana convictions, Planned Parenthood opening mobile clinics, the "Scooby-Doo" character Velma coming out as Lesbian, Hefty making pumpkin spice-scented trash bags, an artist selling $500 containers of urine, and more. Because it's not really "Weekend Update" if we don't get at least a half-dozen moans from the audience and those smiles from our "anchors" when they know they've hit that "uncomfortable" nerve.
I don't know what's left to say about just how great Nwodim is, but here's another example to make the case. Her take on "Black Ariel" and how she's looking to get a jump on online trolls by putting her entire backstory out there was both spot-on hysterical and also a subtle-yet-sad statement on how social media can corrupt even the nicest of things. And Hernández was impressive in his segment, making a very strong case as to why American baseball is boring and could take a page or two from Cuban and Dominican baseball. But Jost also gets a bonus point or two for his response to the "daddy" question that Hernández hit him with mid-segment.