Welcome back to SNL in Review, fellow Coneheads! With stay-at-home orders still in place across the country, including for members of the cast, we remain in unchartered waters. And following the inaugural SNL at Home episode earlier this month, questions remain:
—How closely will Saturday Night Live adhere to its format given its no longer live? Despite the quarantine restrictions, it has a lot of room to experiment.
—The previous SNL at Home featured Tom Hanks and Chris Martin; who will host and perform as the musical guest and how involved will they be in the show?
—How much will we see the Quarantine Three (Cecily Strong, Bowen Yang, Melissa Villaseñor)? Last episode they were essentially absent. At this point, I am treating every episode as if it could be Cecily’s last...
It is wild to remember tonight’s episode will only be the sixth show in SNL’s 45-year history to not broadcast from Studio 8H. That is just one reminder of how unprecedented this all is — and the challenge to mine humor. I am joined tonight by former cast member Jeff Richards. His first episode on SNL was the post-9/11 show so he knows a bit about the strangeness of this era. “It’s like getting to your first pro ballgame, but that’s the game where they switch from a baseball to a golf ball,” he says, adding “We were all freaked out… [September 11th] was supposed to be the day when we were going to all meet up and table read commercial parodies.”
Let’s get started!
Cold Open — Dr. Fauci
A message from Dr. Fauci! And it’s Brad Pitt. You will remember two things, perhaps: Pitt last cameoed in 1998, but has never hosted. And second, this is a nice meta moment, as Fauci earlier this month joked he hoped Pitt would play him on the show. Funny: during Pitt’s last appearance was also during a cold open (with David Spade.) Otherwise, all the Pitt we’ve gotten has been Taran Killam's impression.
This cold open ends with Pitt taking off his wig, and thanking the real Fauci for his calm. “Live, kinda, from all across America, it’s Saturday Night,” he coos.
What Up With That
Charles Barkley, DJ Khaled, and (an image of) Bill Hader as Lindsey Buckingham join Kenan Thompson in the first "What’s Up With That" since the Martin Short episode in 2012. Jason Sudeikis and Fred Armisen are superimposed in. Cecily appears (yay) as Quarantina, singing disco.
“I’m not gonna lie, this is weird!” says Barkley. Guess this means no host! The season premiere of season 10 also went sans host — but there's not a ton of precedent to be hostless. Other epsiodes that were unhosted include an episode in season 5, a one-off 13th episode of season 6, and the season premiere of season 7.
In-Depth With Brian Sutter
Ego Nwodim interviews a sick anchor Mikey Day, who has infected his spiteful daughter. This turns into anther of the virtual shows' funny filter sketches — they have done this before like in this 2019 War Zone Reporter sketch. The hook: Kenan’s character also is "glowing up."
Jeff Richards has been posting his own homemade videos during the pandemic. He says the self-quarantine has made it “easier because there is almost nothing else to do. If you’re not working on a new video you’re watching other people’s new vids and feeling guilty about not making your own.” And unlike the current cast, who have all had to adjust to this format, Jeff adds “I do mostly impressions with the FaceSwap app, so it’s better not to have an audience, other than my collection of rare toads and field mice.”
Pete Davidson Music Video
Pete Davidson raps about the repetition of being alone and quarantined. “Stuck with my fam/ I can’t get out.” They have a nice flow and effect on his vocals here.
And hold the phone, it's Adam Sandler! How fun. He sings about missing Rob Schneider, who also appears to holler “You Can Do It!” from The Waterboy. This is great. Instant classic. And I like the DIY touch of seeing Pete and Adam’s families, who apparently worked together to film this. It ends with a thank you to the good folks on the frontlines. Very nice.
I asked Jeff what the key is to a successful musical parody since he’s put out a number of song spoofs. His answer? “Weed.”
Bartenson’s Grocery Store Ad
Ah, Aidy Bryant and Kate McKinnon riffing again, another modern trope. One clever way to avoid the restrictions of being at home, isolated — Kate and Aidy are both being interposed onto different grocery store setting backdrops.
Big Papi Cooking Show
A tour-de-force performance by Kenan. He’s played Papi a bunch of times on Update and now is hosting his own home cooking show. Besides Diondre Cole, could this be Kenan’s signature SNL role? “Pure Hell: why is my skin like a bunch of dust,” he pitches during a commercial pause.
Chloe Fineman continues to slay — of course, these kinds of character bits were her bread and butter on her Instagram before joining the show. Very imaginative.
Terrence — Back in the Streets
Chris Redd’s Terrence has been let out of prison due to the coronavirus. He calls up his (possible) girl Sheila, who isn’t leaving the house. He was locked up for pirating The Sopranos, and is now looking for some action. He calls up Ann, played by Aidy, who has kids. Cecily's Stacey is sick. “Come over and get you some,” she says, sneezing. Fun!
Miley Cyrus - "Wish You Were Here"
Pitt introduces the former Hannah Montana star, in front of a blazing backyard firepit and soaking in the light from the flames. Over the years, Cyrus has become an SNL mainstay. This appearance, her shimmering voice is covering Pink Floyd. A fitting song selection for these times. I guess as opposed to plugging their own projects, the At Home musical guests are doing special covers, which I really like.
Previously, Cyrus appeared as both host and musical guest and performed "Wrecking Ball" and "We Can't Stop." Later she was host and musical guest and performed "Karen Don't Be Sad", a medley of "BB Talk", and "Twinkle Song". She appeared again as a musical guest on November 4, 2017 performing "Bad Mood" and "I Would Die for You." She also performed during SNL40.
Will Pitt be credited as tonight’s host?
Now Colin Jost and Michael Che have been given the classic Update background — lots of backdrops this episode. No awkward Zoom laugh track either. Che — wearing a Tyler Perry's Madea shirt — calls for Iraq to adopt us. “Cocaine isn’t going to cut itself,” he says, rationalizing why Vegas and Miami need to reopen. He then really lays into the red state protestors, bringing unnecessary guns to rallies. Fair point - and biting!
Pete pops up over Zoom in his basement. “I haven’t gotten a face tattoo yet — so a lot of people lost that bet.” He talks about New York’s COVID-19 sex policy. He also calls out "heiney smoocheroos" in this document, which he can’t fully describe despite being on the show that created "Dick in a Box." Funny! “It’s weird without an audience!” he ends. He isn’t wrong but this seems to be working better than the last At Home Update.
Wow, Che slams Boston again. Huh. This again. Mayor Walsh will not be pleased…
Who is going to submit to the Update All In Challenge?! Let me know in the comments. (Awkward.)
SoulCycle at Home
Bowen Yang is Lee, as in Harvey Oswald. Cecily is Phoenix, as in University of.
And Ego is @KoronaNottheVirus. “I’m hot and religious; yes, it’s a trap.” Chris Redd, Heidi Gardner (On Molly) and Beck Bennett (Robert, Julia Robert) also join. These are great if a little repetitive. This is, I believe, the third or fourth time they’ve done this sketch this season.
Kenan plays former SNL host and Buffalo Bill alum, OJ Simpson. Don’t worry, he does not have coronavirus. Kenan last appeared as OJ in 2017, spoofing his first date. Of course, Tim Meadows played him in the '90s during the murder trial, the same time Norm Macdonald eviscerated him on Update. Here, OJ is asking Lorne Michaels to ease up on his boy Trump. Ha!
Paul Rudd is Facetiming his obnoxious cousin Mandy (Heidi), who also does not have coronavirus and is wearing Dick Tracy shirt, a nice callback. She needles him on his Golden Globe loss. A solid trope and it’s fun to see Heidi in her element.
Law & Order: Zoom
Beck's detective is interrogating murder suspects over Zoom, while they wait for the fourth suspect. They ask Cecily to perform a new song she was humming - again, this is (yet another) opportunity to spotlight her voice before her new show. Which is fine! Bennett busts out a song, “Rare Steak.” Turns out Heidi's Debbie is the culprit, and Bennett sings more.
A reassuring ad and tone from our friends at PornHub. Nice to see Melissa briefly pop up! I am a little worried about why she isn’t being utilized more.
Whiskers R’ We
Kate is a kooky cat shop owner. We have seen this sketch periodically: during the Amy Adams, Tiffany Haddish, Reese Witherspoon, Kristin Wiig episodes.
It’s fun watching Kate goof with her pet cat. Goofy and odd.
Kyle’s 10-to-1 - Why Is This Happening song
Kyle’s awkward partygoer is called out for not remembering someone’s name. Great true-life lyrics, satirical and strange. “Guess I’ll just have/ to guess it!”
Melissa’s Big Date
This is a little sad and self-effacing but great to see the show use her. Typically she seems to fulfill background roles — I don’t understand why we never see more of her impressions, for instance. Melissa is imagining a one-night stand. “Oh Melis, you sure know how to pick ‘em!”
Aidy Bryant jokes about her poor spelling, and love of Rosie O’Donnell. “I can’t keep looking back at the past!” she confesses eventually. This really captures how stir crazy the pandemic has made people, and the toxic power of nostalgia.
—This was pretty fun! An improvement over the last show. What did you think?! Vote here!
—Pretty cool that the Sandman has reunited with the show. In addition to hosting last season, he has now popped up twice during the pandemic. And I think the last time Rob Schneider appeared on the show was 2002!
—Thank you Jeff Richards for your contributions tonight! Follow Jeff on Instagram @thejeffrichards.
Watch EW's new daily series, Last Night's Late Night, every morning on Quibi.