Saturday Night Live Season 38, Episode 20 Review: “Kristen Wiig”

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Just when Kristen Wiig thought she was out, Saturday Night Live pulls her back in. Have those twelve months made her a changed woman, or is she the same as she used to be?

Cold Open: You know how there were multiple big news stories this week? Well instead of tackling one – or neither – Saturday Night Live just threw them together. After having Kenan Thompson spell out the joke multiple times, the sketch abruptly ended. I’m all for ending a bad sketch early, but this brought absolutely nothing to the table. Score: 2

Monologue: Since I didn’t review Saturday Night Live last season, you had no way of knowing I’m not the biggest fan of Kristen Wiig, and as a result wasn’t looking forward to her returning. So as soon as she walked out on stage and started singing – my least favorite monologue trope – I was ready to write the entire show off. But some good jokes – the camera 1 and camera 2 bit made me laugh pretty hard – and guest appearances made me surprisingly enjoy her first bit of hosting. Score: 7.5

1-800-Flowers: Not surprisingly, Saturday Night Live didn’t hold off on pairing Kristen Wiig with the show’s new version of her, Kate McKinnon. The result was mostly middling, however, and played up that ‘moms are so silly’ ! Score: 4

The Californians: Since Fred Armisen has been at Saturday Night Live for what I think is 584 seasons, he seems to be able to do whatever he wants. I guess what he wants is for every show to have The Californians, because we’re stuck once again with this awful sketch. The one bright spot is that Bill Hader does whatever he wants throughout, and almost saves the sketch. Almost. Score: 2

Aw Nuts, Mom’s A Ghost: Okay, this is exactly the kick in the pants this episode needed. The Ring references are fairly outdated, but this spot-on spoof of Disney Channel shows is far better than another Californians sketch. (Though so are most forms of cancer.) Score: 8

The Lawrence Welk Show: When Kristen Wiig appeared as Judy in this sketch, the crowd lost their minds like they almost didn’t expect her to show up. I however, knew very well that she would, and spent the entire time dreading it. Much like Gilly – who we seem to be spared from besides the monologue – this is a one joke sketch. Judy is weird and wants to do weird things to guys! Thankfully some of the weirdness was bizarrely creative, but that can’t save this sketch that was written with the Kristen Wiig Mad Libs script. Score: 5

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Weekend Update: Maybe it’s Seth Meyers trying to go out on top following the rumors that he’ll be the next host of Late Night, but there was a very solid string of jokes tonight. As for the guests, Anthony Crispino is no Drunk Uncle, but he’s a great Bobby Moynihan character that hasn’t worn out his welcome. Garth & Kat, however, combine two people I’m not the biggest fan of and have them play off each other. You can guess what that does for me. Score: 7.5

Target Lady: Oh, okay, so we’re getting this again. If you’re really into Kristen Wiig doing weird voices, these sketches must be your nirvana. But if Kristen Wiig doing weird voices makes you sigh deeply, then you already know the drill by this point in the episode. (Note: the drill is very shrill and spastic.) Score: 3

Acupuncture: Maybe I’m just looking for something to laugh at by this point, but this sketch did it for me. By the time a gigantic bubble popped sending blood splattering the already crimson room, I was pretty much sold. Score: 7.5

Eddy’s: So that’s where the writing staff went. Tim Robinson and Bobby Moynihan should pair up in more sketches, because them teaming up against Cecily Strong and Kristen Wiig – who also play well off each other – as a severely troubling double date starts the show’s ending on a high note. Score: 8.5

Classy. Sexy. Elegnace.: And this is where the writers left for lunch again. There’s a solid idea here, but it’s lost in a poor execution and heavy dose of autotuning. Score: 4

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Final Thoughts:  I come off as pretty harsh at Kristen Wiig, and she can be funny, but not when she’s stuck playing one-note characters. Sadly, her stint at Saturday Night Live is almost exclusively playing the same type of spastic characters in different sketches, most of which returned here. To her credit, you couldn’t tell it’s been a year since she’s performed and she slips into the show as if she were still a cast member. But the show revolves around her so much that whether or not you enjoy this episode is dependent on your enjoyment of Wiig, so I can’t call this one a success.

Sketch of the Night: Not really much to choose from tonight, but the show ended strong with Eddy’s.

MVP: It’s hard to stand out against Wiig, but I’ll give it to Bill Hader for milking the final laughs The Californians can ever elicit.

Next week is the season finale of Saturday Night Live, with two inductions to the Five-Timers club in host Ben Affleck (?) and musical guest Kanye West. Odd choice for a host, but since Affleck has somehow hosted five times we might get a proper sendoff to the season.

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