Sandlers return after 23 years exceeded most expectations, a reminder that when his heart is in it, hes a great performer
A returning Saturday Night Live initially opens with live C-SPAN coverage of Capitol Hill, but since attorney general William Barr disobeyed congressional Democrats and refused to give testimony last week, we cut to Celebrity Family Feud: Avengers v Game of Thrones edition.
The Marvel team is comprises Scientologist Thor (Alex Moffat), swole Grimace Thanos (Beck Bennett), Okoye (or as host Steve Harvey calls her, Okee-Dokee), and Groot (Leslie Jones, wearing a simple tree trunk hat and a brown long-sleeve shirt), while the Thrones faction includes an awkward Brienne of Tarth (Kate McKinnon), a high-strung Tormund Giantsbane (Mikey Day), new Maybelline cover girl Melisandre (Cecily Strong), weird brother Bran (Kyle Mooney), and a horny Arya Stark (Melissa Villasenior).
Its little more than a rundown of basic reference with no real point, which means its in keeping with most of this seasons other cold opens, despite the switch from politics to pop culture. That said, props to the prop department the costuming was on point, especially Bennets ridiculous, but impressive, Thanos getup.
Adam Sandler makes his return to SNL 23 years after he left the show, hosting for the very first time. He reminisces about his days as a fresh-faced twenty-something just starting out with his soon-to-be famous friends (getting in a killer joke at Norm MacDonalds expense), before recounting his surprise sacking via song. Hes joined briefly by his buddy and alumni Chris Rock, who was similarly fired, as well as Pete Davidson, who everyone agrees is likely to be fired soon enough. The monologue signals what will be a music-heavy episode.
CNN Breaking News kicks off with live coverage of widespread fighting in Tripoli. Brian, the networks foreign correspondent on the ground, is only able to connect with the studio via Snapchat. His harrowing account turns instantly ridiculous as the app renders him through a series of ridiculous filters, including a talking meerkat and hot dog. Simple and effective.
Clothes (Holes) is a gauzily-lit music video by a theatrical rock duo called Von Bonjour (Beckett and Mooney and featuring Sandler as a Slash-like guitarist), a catchy tune all about how clothes are just holes that we get inside to cover the holes of our bodies.
In Sandler Family Reunion, the host discovers his various relations are a little put out with him for basing his most famous characters Billy Madison, Little Nicky, the guy from Big Daddy on them. Its an easy excuse for the cast (including musical guest Shawn Mendes, as well as guest stars Kristen Wiig and Jimmy Fallon) to do their best Sandler impressions. Like the similar Carrey Family Reunion sketch from five years ago, its certainly memorable and meme-worthy but also a bit grating.
Next is a commercial for Rectix a large suppository for erectile disfunction thats really just a butt-plug. Sandlers turn as a milquetoast senior casually describing how it works to his disgusted son is a welcome change of pace, character-wise, and this short, gross, hilarious parody is an early candidate for sketch of the night.
Mendes takes to the stage and performs his new single, If I Cant Have You.
Weekend Update opens with coverage of AG Barrs refusal to comply with Congress, because, as Jost puts it, apparently our country doesnt have rules anymore. He and Michael Che harp on Democrats dumb stunt responses and dismiss their empty threats to hold Barr in contempt, since the list of people theyve held responsible so far is limited to Scott Pruitt (Sort Of) Roseanne Barr Thats It!
Senator Elizabeth Warren (McKinnon) shows up to discuss her campaigns crackpot idea of talking about what were going to do and how were going to do it, and to run down the clown car that is her fellow primary candidates Beto ODork, Mayor Pete But-Judge-a-Judy-Jutes, and Joe Amtrak Masseuse Joe Biden.
Those hoping Sandler would reprise his popular Opera Man character for Weekend Update get their wish. He sings about the weeks headlines, including Game of Thrones, the Kentucky Derby, and the suspiciously Sandler-esque romcom Long Shot. Eventually, he gets around to politics, mocking Biden and Trumps combined history of indiscretions (Gropa gropa, sniffa sniffa/ Young or olda, make no diffa/Joe for this you, wont go far-o/To win White House you need to bang porn star-o!). Sandler hasnt lost a step when it comes to this character. He receives a big and much-deserved ovation at the songs end.
Next up is a new entry in the recurring Last Call series. McKinnnons promiscuous walking health hazard Sheila Sovage hits it off an equally sleazy couple, played by a comb over-sporting Sandler and a bronze-burnt Kristen Wiig. Within a couple of minutes all three of them are making out while scarfing down garbage spaghetti (their version of Lady and the Tramp), as Thompsons long-suffering barkeep contemplates suicide, before eventually calling in a drone strike.
Mendes returns and performs In My Blood.
Sandler closes out the night with his musical Chris Farley Tribute (from his 2018 Netflix special 100% Fresh), while photos and clips of the much-missed comic icon scroll by on a screen next to him. Youd be hard-pressed to find as moving a segment let alone conclusion in SNLs history, and its by far the best moment of the last several seasons.
Sandlers return met and even exceeded most expectations, with tonights episode serving as a reminder that when his heart is in it, the man is a great performer.
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