The "Saturday Night Live" finale was a decent season-ender, with appearances by some beloved characters, visits from former cast favorites, and wall-to-wall musical guests. Host Mick Jagger split his duties about 50/50 between music and comedy, and I have to confess, I enjoyed the sketches more. The night ended with an emotional farewell to Kristen Wiig, and it's safe to say the show's dynamic is going to change dramatically with the loss of her wacky cast of characters.
Best of the Night
I am going to miss those tiny hands! John Hamm, who apparently loves "Saturday Night Live", turned up during The Lawrence Welk Show to serenade the Finger Lakes singers--including Wiig's creepy lady with the "forehead like a windshield." The "Mad Men" actor was funny and charming as a suave Italian with an overbearing mother, and his tiny-hand-seduction move was the sublime send-off this hilarious character deserved. Watch it on the "SNL" video site here.
On the "Saturday Night Live" Weekend Update, Seth Meyers only got about one line into his introduction before the insane crowd cheers began for favorite guest Stefon. This week's clubs included one hosted by "frat-boy guru, D-Bag Chopra," frequented by a "drowned albino that looks like Axl Rose." The best parts are Bill Hader's bizarre pronunciations of the quirkier club names and his trademark giggle behind his steepled fingers, which you can catch over at NBC.
I can't believe I'm going to say this, but the generally loathed "Secret Word" was actually funny on this week's "Saturday Night Live," thanks in large part to our host's wacky performance as an action star who's a lot less tough and a lot more fey in real life. Highlights included Jagger making suggestive comments while holding his very uncomfortable fellow contestant Taran Killam's hand, and Wiig describing "Canal" as "the way to get a part--oh, my monitor was smudged, I didn't see the 'c'." All the extra little notes worked, too, like game show host Hader's disgusted reaction shots, and contestant Vanessa Bayer accidentally getting smothered in Wiig's scarves during a vigorous mime.
The "Saturday Night Live" host's performance of "The Last Time" with Arcade Fire was lively and entertaining, and it's astounding how little the singer has changed over the years. His movement, energy and charisma remain undiminished, and were only hampered by the cramped quarters of the stage.
Worst of the Night
That said, the Rolling Stones front-man didn't score well with me on the other musical numbers. The Foo Fighters often sound chaotic to me, and the two songs they collaborated on for "Saturday Night Live" also seemed to leave Jagger vocally in the dust. Jeff Beck scores points for awesome wailing blues guitar work on the final number, but the song's bizarrely simplistic political lyrics seemed made up on the spot. It wasn't clear if it was supposed to be funny, or serious, or just plain weird.
A lot of the sketches on "Saturday Night Live" were middle of the road, without the usual post-update Crash and Burn we often get. If I had to pick the weakest spot it would be "The Californians," which was weirdly funny the first time it aired, largely because Fred Armisen's over-the-top Valley accent was making everyone else in the cast crack up. There were a few giggles here for the elaborate driving directions interspersed in the dialogue, but Jagger never quite grabbed the accent, and surprise guest Steve Martin didn't get enough screen time to up the funny in the sketch.
The "Saturday Night Live" monologue is often stiffly and awkwardly delivered with jokes that fall flat, but it was a relief to have a host this week who was totally relaxed on stage. He did the "Mick Jagger FAQ" and answered fan's favorite inane questions like "Who's your favorite Stone?" and "When you shout 'I can't hear you!' at a concert can you really not hear us?" The jokes weren't hilarious, but he made them work, and it was a nice kick-off to the night.
The "Saturday Night Live" karaoke sketch didn't end as well as it began, but it was worth the laughs we got from Armisen's caricature of a Jagger impression while the singer himself portrayed a shy insurance salesman who was outraged that anyone thought the pretenders on stage were any good. Sadly, the impressions didn't get any funnier or more inventive--why not throw Jay Pharoah, Nasim Pedrad or the lurking Amy Poehler up there?
Kenan Thompson had fun with his Al Sharpton politics show, and all the mispronunciations, including asking a cannery worker what it was like at the "Salmon Canary". Jagger did a terrible Steven Tyler impression on a "So You Think You Can Dance at a Music Festival" show, but the arm-waving stoned hippie type dancers were good for a few chuckles.
The last sketch of the night had Kristen Wiig graduating "after seven years." She earned a poignant dance with each of the remaining "Saturday Night Live" cast members and Lorne Michaels, while Arcade Fire played "She's a Rainbow." Hader's huggy slow-dance kicked off the tears for Wiig, and she had a similar emotional moment with Jason Sudeikis, who is rumored to also be leaving the show soon. It was a nice tribute, and great to see former "SNL" players like Poehler and Chris Kattan turn up for the farewell. And it just wouldn't be right without a near-wardrobe-malfunction moment.
Andy Samberg is also a soon-to-be-alumni of "SNL" and he put the end-cap on the Digital Shorts, doing a "Lazy Sunday 2" rap reprisal with Chris Parnell. The subject of their white-boy rhymes this time was "Sister Act: The Musical." If this really is the end, I won't miss Laser Cats, but I will miss all those great musical moments with stars like Justin Timberlake, Nicki Minaj, and Michael Bolton.
What did you think, "Saturday Night Live" fans? Was it a good finale, or as bumpy as the rest of the season? Who in the cast do you expect to step up after Wiig, Sudeikis and Samberg leave?
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