Saturday Night Live Season 38 – review

It was like a sad reminder that went on for 21 hours over eight months: Kristen Wiig was gone (and boy did I squeal when she appeared in Martin Short’s monologue). This season of Saturday Night Live was, for the most part, a train wreck.

The cast

The Andy Samberg void certainly wasn’t filled by newbie Tim Robinson, meaning that Messers Armisen, Hader, Sudeikis and Thompson had to hold down the fort whilst suddenly seeming…woeful.

Meanwhile, Vanessa Bayer won a deserving promotion (her bar mitzvah boy Update guest is excellent, see below), with Taran Killam and Jay Pharoah still up for debate (I’m eagerly anticipating the day that Killam tops his Real Housewives of Disney performance).

Two of the other new featured players, Aidy Bryant and Kate McKinnon, have the potential to outdo Nasim Pedrad, for whom the writers have still yet to develop any recurring characters that are more hysterical than intensely annoying. And that Kim Kardashian impression could still do with a bit of refining.

The hosts

Bruno Mars and Daniel Craig were unlikely hosts and predictably dull; Justin Bieber held his own, surprisingly, and better than Zach Galifianakis. Louis C.K. can do other accents, and they are great. JT’s Five-Timers Club  monologue was flat – and missing Drew Barrymore – but was made up for by the Three Amigos reunion. Speaking of which, Martin Short didn’t seem up to the usual standard (Royal Family Doctor was my least favourite sketches of the entire season), and if Paul McCartney pops up in many more sketches I might just write a note of complaint to Lorne Michaels.

Jennifer Lawrence is hilarious. There’s no doubt about it. Her face is the most expressive thing since Kandinsky. So why, please, writers, so many dead-pan characters for her episode as host? I hope she’s back next season because this was just like a teaser for the main event.

Melissa McCarthy was the stand-out host, by far, returning for her second time as bold and willing as the best hosts are. And that Pizza Business skit (see below)? A true rival to Taste Test? Linda vs. Barb is a straight-to-VHS film that I’d snap up in a heartbeat.

And so, to the episode of my dreams: Kristen Wiig as host. But instead of using it as an opportunity to debut characters that she’d never been able to do as a cast member, it turned into a forced ‘best of’ remembrance that wheeled out not one or two, but no less than five of her classic characters. Sigh.

Au revoir

And an inexplicable season finale: from Jennifer Garner to a horrible adieu for three of those that had looked so woeful. Farewell Fred, Bill and Jason. Hope you enjoyed your depressing jam sesh.

Redeemed only by Stefon’s beautiful, beautiful send-off.