Alec Baldwin's record-breaking 16th hosting gig on "Saturday Night Live" last night might have been legendary for another reason — this performance might have been his best.
The 37th season opener dazzled from start to finish. And, yep, the "SNL" actors unleashed some of those presidential-candidate impersonations they've been anxiously holding in all summer.
The faux Republican debate featured Baldwin as a tuckered-out Rick Perry, whose brain can't keep up to his mouth before falling asleep. Returning "Bridesmaids" star Kristen Wiig enunciated Michele Bachmann's talking points ("fences, Jesus, papilloma, eyeballs") with some authoritative gusto. And Kenan Thompson gave Herman Cain an impassioned "Field of Dreams"-esque speech that Cain might actually be able to use on the road.
All of it added up to the show's most biting political commentary since its award-winning stuff from the 2008 election cycle.
Baldwin was then able to address his record-setting appearance with legendary former "SNL" hosting champ Steve Martin. And Martin was in rare, old-school slapstick form.
Easily the wildest and craziest America's seen him in a couple of decades, Martin dropped into Baldwin's monologue and immediately ordered him to complete a test for performance-enhancing drugs. Armed with nurses and "Pineapple Express" star and drug-use "expert" Seth Rogen, Martin performed some DIY testing. It was the sort of gut-busting sketch you'd anticipate from two comedy icons.
"SNL" even nailed the requisite topical bits, too. With "All My Children" going off the air this week, practically the whole cast busted out at least one of every imaginable soap opera cliché. One character was in a coma, another had an evil twin, almost everybody had amnesia — and it was all spot-on.
Actually, that would be a perfect way to sum up this week's "SNL" premiere: Spot-on. It was one of those dominant episodes that even the show's detractors will be forced to love. The show provided every facet of what makes it so important to the week's lexicon: some scathing political satire, a couple of boundary-stretching sketches, and a little bit of history.
Baldwin provided a classic performance exactly when he needed to. And then he capped it off with an Al Pacino impression. Because why not?
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