SNL Scorecard: Did the Rookies Save Gwyneth Paltrow's Show?

Last night's Gwyneth Paltrow-hosted edition of Saturday Night Live used an interesting formula: The first half of the show featured mostly the established cast-members (Kristen Wiig even got to do that Kristen Wiig thing that she does, a rarity as of late), which has been, at best, hit or miss all season. Then, after a notably feisty "Weekend Update," new featured players Jay Pharoah, Taran Killam and Paul Brittain, respectively, gave us three individual sketches that all killed. Were their efforts enough to make this a memorable show? On to the scorecard!

Sketch of the Night

"Digital Short: Andy and Pee-Wee's Night Out" (Samberg, Reubens): If Paul Reubens ever wants to host SNL again (he hosted before on Nov 23, 1985), I'm officially on board. Especially if it involves Andy Samberg and Pee-Wee Herman (want to feel old? He turns 60 next year) downing tequila shots then hitting Anderson Cooper over the head with a chair. Yes, this is bizarre as it sounds.

Score: 9.0

The Good

"Fresh Prince Lost Episodes" (Pharoah, Thompson): Yeah, yeah, I know, Pharoah finally gets some considerable airtime again and, of course, he's doing an impression. Yes, it's still a concern, but if the guy is going to do impressions, I could listen to his Will Smith all night, especially as the Fresh Prince version of Smith. This sketch really isn't that far from the truth; Smith used to be such a terrible actor that he would visibly mouth the dialogue of the other actors so as not to miss his lines. Here, Pharoah's Smith channels Scooby-Doo upon hearing that Carlton had been inappropriately touched by a teacher.

Score: 8.0

"Weekend Update" (Meyers, Armisen, Wiig, Thompson, Hader, Bayer, Pedrad): Perhaps Seth Meyers felt some sort of regret last week for not addressing the shootings in Arizona; perhaps he wasn't allowed to address what happened so soon after the event. Regardless, Meyers came out swinging and was absolutely on fire. It's nice to see "Update" take a relevant stand on an issue and not just be an outlet for quick one-liners. Meyers' rant hit upon the longstanding argument about what the founders would have wanted today when it comes to gun control. As a visibly agitated Meyers notes, being "freaked out by cars" and wondering, "'Why are all the slaves out?' You can groan all you want, but they would think that," would most likely be at the top of their lists of concerns. Where has this Seth Meyers been this season? Also, Garth and Kat, from a technical standpoint, is still one of the most fascinating segments to watch.

Score: 8.0

"ESPN Deportes" (Brittain, Paltrow, Armisen): It's the Spanish-language version of SportsCenter that features anchors who insist on using American accents and slang when pronouncing names and catchphrases like, "POP goes the weasel!" on an NBA dunk. This is just one of those weird sketches that gets funnier the longer it goes on. Great to see Brittain with some quality airtime.

Score: 7.5

"Shakespeare Previews" (Killam, Paltrow, Moynihan, Hader): A revisionist's history look at what would happen if Shakespeare had implemented a never ending stream of coming attractions at the Globe Theatre. It didn't go over well with the Globe crowd (and, unfortunately, it's not on Hulu) UPDATE: a terrible, terrible version is on YouTube, watch at your own risk.

Score: 7.0

"The Cape Promo" (Ensemble): Yes, The Cape is pretty bad. It's never a good sign when a comedy show goes after a new series on its own network. The cape gives this guy magical powers, so, in addition, watch out for future superheroes The Smock and The Spanx, "My secret identity is someone slightly fatter... than this."

Score: 7.0

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  • sants says:

    frankly, u don't seem to enjoy SNL at don't watch it.

  • Sweat Pants Boner says:

    That was not me, FYI!
    Also, I pretty much agree with you this week. Loved the Pee Wee DS but I'm a bit creeped out by him being nearly 60 and acting so childishly.

  • Mike Ryan says:

    Honestly, I thought that he was maybe in his early 50s. I was pretty shocked that he's pushing 60.

  • Kristen says:

    It was refreshing to see SNL give their newest additions the opportunity to showcase themselves more than usual. It's something a lot of viewers have been waiting for all season and I certainly was not disappointed.

  • Boricua in Texas says:

    Honestly, the ESPN sketch was not funny at all. They get points for actually speaking Spanish as opposed to making up gibberish, but it was just blah.

  • Nerd says:

    Compared to most episodes this season last nights was great. Gwyneth was so so. The veteran cast was pretty good. And the rookies were great. I even enjoyed Bayer as the barmitzvah boy, although it wasn't the best sketch. I think 'Shakespeare Previews' was my favorite of all the rookie sketches.
    I also agree with you about Update. Seth Myers definitely brought his A game this week. Hader as Cher was terrifying and hilarious. Garth and Kat are always the highlight of any episode they appear in. Having said that, Gwyneth almost ruined this one for me. The only reason why the sketch ever worked so well is because Kristen plays off of Fred with such perfect timing. Gwyneth's timing was off.
    Oh, and the PeeWee/Samberg Digital Short was priceless. That's what, 4 solid Shorts in a row?

  • Scraps says:

    Haven't watched yet. But I already know I'll be fast forwarding through the always unwatchable Garth and Kat.

  • lord-z says:

    I somewhat agree on the cold opening. In fact, it might have been better had they, and I don't say this often about SNL, milked it a lot more. It could easily have gone on for several more minutes, as the poor Fox-News hosts would find themselves tortured by CNN and MSNBC hosts, until they snapped. As it is, it feels like it is just the first half of the complete sketch. That said, I did like it, and would perhaps have placed it as the lowest of the good sketches.

  • Al says:

    I could honestly watch Kenan do his Jimmy McMillan schtick for hours. Definitely would rather have seen McMillan talk for twice as long than see yet another (what was it, the 5th or 6th?) way-too-long Garth & Kat bit.
    During the Bar Mitzvah, as soon as Armisen said "Taylor Swift", I spent the rest of the sketch wondering why Bayer was playing the kid instead of Swift. Is her pretty-good Swift act going to be restricted to the one-note talk show sketch?
    In other news, I didn't realize until the show that Cee Lo was so good, or that his band of models was so good.

  • Al says:

    Oh, almost forgot: Can somebody PLEASE get Summer Glau back on TV right away after The Cape gets cancelled?

  • Scraps says:

    After watching the episode all I can say is "Who the f*ck is Cee Lo?" Seriously, he walked around the SNL studio like he owned the joint and ended up in 3 bits. Usually SNL only does this to the iconic musicians that are on the show, but I'm sorry, Cee Lo is not iconic.

  • Kai Schaupp says:

    Its great that they are doing so much for the United Negro Fund.