“Saturday Night Live” premiered tonight (Sept. 15) — and thanks to host and perfect human Seth MacFarlane, affecting performances by Frank Ocean and the successful transition between presidential impersonators, its 38th season got off to a grand start.
First, the highs:
The Politicians: In a classy move, Fred Armison, the outgoing Barack Obama impersonator, introduced his successor,
Jay Pharoah . And although didn’t quite nail it in his first podium speech, Pharoah’s got POTUS’ mannerisms down and is a huge improvement over his black-faced predecessor. He delivered lots of laughs, especially when paired against his “secret weapon”: Jason Sudeikis as Mitt Romney.
Seth MacFarlane: Thank you, SNL, for giving American audiences the chance to appreciate the true magnitude of the “Family Guy” creator’s brilliance and charm. His opening monologue and show-stopping rendition of “My Head Is Filled With Voices” – with dead-on impersonations ranging from “Star Trek’s” George Takei to Marlon Brando and Marty McFly — were pitch-perfect. And he pwned nearly every sketch.
Gangnam Style: This nod to the meme originated by Korean pop star Psy — who cameos in the skit — is an instant classic. Everyone’s going to be hitting up Lids for Gangnam Style button when they need a Horse Dance fix.
Ryan Lochte’s Fall TV Preview: MacFarlane’s impression of the laid-back Olympic medalist turned Hollywood star was priceless — from praising NBC’s “Monkey Hospital” (really “Animal Practice”), pronouncing Matthew Perry‘s “Go On” as “goon” to confusing commercials with short TV shows, we wish he could be a regular correspondent.
Frank Ocean: The singer-songwriter, who recently came out as gay , delivered two poignant performances: “Thinkin Bout You” and “Pyramids.” And he checked out during John Mayer’s guitar solo to improve his Galaga score ranking.
Puppet Therapy: Bill Hader as a deeply damaged war vet working out his issues through tinted aviator glasses and ventriloquism? Magic.
The lows? There weren’t too many, which is a good sign, but these duds really brought us down:
Sex Over 50: Do people over 6 really think diarrhea jokes are funny?
Eastwood and Chair: If this comedy duo spoof had aired right after the RNC, it might have been hilarious. But this close to Invisible Obama’s expiration date, SNL really needed to raise the bar on their “high-waisted hijinks.”
Blind Date: I’m like, Seth MacFarlane is almost annoying me, and I’m all, How is that possible? Because this Nasim Pedrad vehicle is awful.
Weekend Update: Honey Boo Boo and Mimi Morales: Vanessa Bayer and Bobby Moynihan’s impersonations brought nothing new to the Honey Boo Boo phenom — which is pretty much over, right? (See: Eastwood and Chair.) As for Cecily Strong’s Latino voting activist? OK, her “Ghostbusters” Stay Puft Marshallow Man made us laugh, but we kind of hated ourselves afterward.
It’s not fair to judge newbies Strong, Aidy Bryant and Tim Robinson based on a single episode, but Kristen Wiig, Andy Samberg and Abby Elliot will be missed.
What was your favorite skit in the “SNL” premiere?