CHARLIE ROSE: This is definitely a pretty clever twist on the CIA torture reports, and by the time the two clinical psychologists are going on about self checkout lines, one man shows, and auto correct, I’m pretty into it. Not the most polished sketch, but one that delivers some solid ideas. GRADE: B
MONOLOGUE: Martin Freeman–The Hobbit and Fargo star (meh to both, to be honest)–comes out and jokes about all British celebrities being friends, and we get some entertaining Maggie Smith and Alan Rickman impressions along with it. Freeman brings a pretty nice energy to the proceedings, so hopefully it’ll be a good show. GRADE: B-
SUMP’N CLAUS: This is a pretty catchy song, and Kenan Thompson is entertaining as hell in it. It’s not hilarious, but it’s simply fun to watch, and it’s a great production. Even Donald Sterling is getting sump’n this year, guys. GRADE: B-
WEDDING: Okay, “late stage Jenga tower” is a hilarious line, and the concept itself of this sketch is very solid. Leslie Jones and Martin Freeman are both great here, and the long list of people with objections gets increasingly hilarious as it goes (it starts wonderfully with “I’m the groom’s wife”). We end with Kate McKinnon’s old woman, who is pretty much perfect; Leslie Jones can’t even keep a straight face there. GRADE: A-
THE OFFICE: MIDDLE EARTH: Taran Killam’s Gollum is pretty much what makes this sketch, although the rest of it is certainly good (with Kate McKinnon as Pam and Bobby Moynihan as Gandalf/Brent). If I had to choose one parody, it would be a Fargo one, but this one still delivers the laughs by combining two of Freeman’s past projects. GRADE: B
RIGHT SIDE OF THE BED: There isn’t much to this sketch, and while there is some funny visual comedy with Martin Freeman’s Louie and Aidy Bryant’s grieving widow, everything else just falls flat. That isn’t so much the fault of Cecily Strong and Taran Killam as it is the fault of the writing. GRADE: C
CHRISTMAS MASS SPECTACULAR: It’s nice to see the “Underground Music Festival” concept back again, and this sketch delivers with Jay Pharoah’s sweaty palms, Cecily Strong’s enthusiasm, and the joke being met with the small laugh. GRADE: B+
WEEKEND UPDATE: I…guess an FDR joke is still categorized under “too soon”? Jeez, crowd. Anyway, this is a great weekend update, as Zamata’s bit is darkly funny and creative, Cecily Strong’s segment kills it–her line deliveries are amazing–and Jacob the Bar Mitzvah boy is, as always, fun to watch. There are some solid weekend update jokes, as well. GRADE: B+
HEINZ ASSEMBLY LINE: This is a one-note sketch, but it comes and goes quickly (as it should). There is some entertaining stuff in there, but it rests entirely on whether or not you find Killam messing up instructions funny. I find it amusing, mostly when Freeman corrects his pronunciation of “lever” and especially when Killam freaks out about the blue light. GRADE: B
PINE RIVER LODGE: This sketch is intermittently funny, but that’s pretty much it. It’s strange without really delivering the laughs, and although Killam is entertaining, the whole segment simply doesn’t gel for me. I don’t think it knows quite what it wants to do. Kenan saying “boots”, though. GRADE: C+
CHARLI XCX: That second performance consists of Charli XCX as Mila Kunis from That ’70s Show, but it doesn’t really do much for her. The two performances aren’t visually creative or appealing to the ears, and she dances like she’s dancing while alone in her room. GRADE: C-
WATERBED WAREHOUSE: Well, you gotta use that Fargo accent sometime, right? Other than that, Aidy Bryant obviously carries this sketch. It’s not a great sketch, but there’s quite a bit of energy. GRADE: C+
NEXT WEEK: AMY ADAMS! AMY ADAMS! AMY ADAMS!
…and One Direction, but no one cares.
Photo credit: NBC, Saturday Night Live