The good news is this week’s Saturday Night Live feels comfortable and safe; the bad news is this week’s SNL feels comfortable and safe. Kristen Wiig – who doesn’t have any current projects to promote — returned to studio 8H and brought a herd of cameos in what feels like a Thanskgiving reunion without the family drama. Jason Sudeikis, Will Forte, and Steve Martin all joined her for an episode that had no breakout winners like David S. Pumpkins, but also had no real losers — a rarity for a show that has to put up an hour and a half of original material a week.
The cold open featured the return of Alec Baldwin as Trump in a solid sketch where he was forced to confront his inability to fulfill all of his campaign promises. It’s funny, but it brings up the awkward question that nobody thought they would have to answer two weeks ago: What do you do when your cast doesn’t have anyone who can play the president?
Ideally, they should have found a featured player over the summer who did a good Trump and held him in reserve. They could still have used Baldwin, but if Trump won the election, they could have swapped his Trump out for the new guy. But now, as soon as Baldwin goes off to do a movie, SNL has nobody to fill in.
Kristen Wiig was known, during her tenure on the show, for her loud and obnoxious characters, but the monologue showed why she’s a movie star. Her ability to say absurd things with absolute, deadpan conviction is second to none. If you can make an audience think — even for a split second — that the statement “Because pink, white and brown: Those are the colors of the French flag,” is true, then convincing them that you’re actually busting ghosts is child’s play.
Best Sketch: “Donald Trump Prepares”
A send-up of the president-elect’s recent backpedalling. The scene benefits from Kate McKinnon’s increasingly despondent Kellyanne Conway (“Is there something on your shoulder?” “Yes. All of this.”) and a crazy uncomfortable handshake with Mitt Romney (Sudeikis).
Worst Sketch of the Night: Surprise Lady Thanksgiving
Kristen Wiig had more recurring characters on this show than you’ve had hot lunches and this is what they decided to go with? Sue must have her fans, but having Wiig reprise her instead of, say, Target Lady, Gilly, Dooneese, Aunt Linda or even The 2 A-Holes (Sudeikis is there too)? Weird, weird choice.
Best Use of Kristen Wiig: “QVC Audition”
SNL‘s bread and butter is the big, wacky character sketch; relationship sketches almost never make an appearance, so it’s nice to see this one slip in. Wiig and Strong play best frenemies who are just a bit too involved in each other’s lives. Bobby Moynihan and Beck Bennett play the clueless husbands who have what may be the best scene exit of the season. And did anyone else notice that both “pendant” and “earring” are misspelled right there at the end? Comedy’s all about the details.
Episode MVP: Cecily Strong
Strong isn’t as flashy as Wiig, but her character work is impeccable and it’s clear that she fills the same space in the cast as Wiig once did as the go-to to anchor a scene. In QVC and Secret Word, she plays mirror versions of Wiig’s characters and more than holds her own.
Potential Viral Hit: “Target Commercial”
File this under: True, Funny Because It’s.
Saturday Night Live returns with a new episode December 2 at 11:30 p.m. on NBC. Watch clips and full episodes of SNL on Yahoo View.