A VERY SOMBER CHRISTMAS WITH SAM SMITH/DR. EVIL: First of all, Taran Killam’s Sam Smith impression is pitch perfect. Second of all, we get a huge surprise here with Mike Meyers’s Dr. Evil, and although the jabs at North Korea and Sony are pretty generic, it’s enjoyable watching the character yet again. GRADE: B-
MONOLOGUE: Okay, so as some of you may know, I love Amy Adams and will watch her in any movie…yes, even Man of Steel; she and Jessica Chastain are neck and neck for my favorite working actress today, with Marion Cotillard close behind. As for the monologue, she’s perfectly charming and all, but man, we seriously do not need Kristen Wiig back on the show. In addition, musical monologues are rarely good. GRADE: C+
ASIAN-AMERICAN DOLL: This is another sketch about political correctness, and there are some excellent jokes in here delivered through some great dynamics between the parents and kids. Funny concept executed well. GRADE: B+
TENDERFIELD CHRISTMAS 2014: Kate McKinnon’s “In my Christmas sweatpants!” is comedy gold, and the bits about the kids are hilarious. The sketch isn’t the most polished one in the world, but it’s funny enough nonetheless, and bringing in Kenan Thompson to shut everything down is always going to be great. GRADE: B-
SERIAL: THE CHRISTMAS SURPRISE: It’s kind of hard for me to judge a parody of a podcast that I haven’t listened to yet, but there are definitely quite a few things I laughed at here; I just find it kind of interesting that we’re seeing a podcast in non-podcast form, but admittedly, that’s the only way it would work out here. I enjoyed those phone calls, I guess? And Cecily Strong was amazing, I can recognize. GRADE: B (but if I knew “Serial”, it would most likely be an A)
GIRLFRIENDS TALK SHOW: I’ve never liked this sketch at all, but I do enjoy the energy Aidy Bryant always brings to it. My favorite part of this segment, however, is probably Cecily Strong going on about her crazy boyfriend. GRADE: C+
OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY: This doesn’t end up being as funny as I was hoping from the start, but it’s a solid musical pre-taped bit; it’s kind of a wannabe “Lonely Island” segment, though. Anyway, this essentially just rests on a bunch of physical comedy, so if that works for you, then you probably liked the sketch. GRADE: B
ONE DIRECTION UPDATE: Jeez, these crowd folk are annoying.
WEEKEND UPDATE: The bit with Bobby Moynihan is only fairly amusing, but the sniper lasers make it a bit better. Thompson as Che’s neighbor Willie, though, is great, and I really enjoyed all his “You know what they say!”s. Garth and Kat come back and have a blast, and although I’m not the biggest fan of Armisen or Wiig, those two characters still make me smile. Also: I liked Che calling Kim Jon-Un “Kimberly”. GRADE: B
A VERY CUBAN CHRISTMAS: Kate McKinnon as Diana Nyad is the best part of this sketch. Aside from that, the segment isn’t all that funny; the reveals of who all the people are are definitely funny, but after that, it all fizzles out. GRADE: C+
ONE DIRECTION: Remove the screaming fans, and you have some pretty good live singers here. They harmonize well, and although their music is pretty bland to me, I can recognize their talent. GRADE: B
A MAGICAL CHRISTMAS: This is out of nowhere, and I know a lot of people will hate it; I however, think it’s delightful. Adams, Strong, and McKinnon have impeccable chemistry here, and the concept is unique and strange and hilarious. The beginning is already fantastic with the whole garbage exchange, but by the time they’re all singing raccoons, it’s awesome. GRADE: SINGING RACCOONS
WHISKERS R’WE: This is just an excuse for McKinnon and Adams to handle some adorable cats, and I’m all for it. The two are excellent together, and the sketch has one of my favorite quotes of the night: “Prices as low as ‘we’ll give you $20’!” GRADE: B+
A bit disappointing for a Christmas episode, especially one with Amy Adams (looking forward to Big Eyes!) hosting, but not a bad one nonetheless. I’ll see you back here on January 17th for Kevin Hart’s episode.
Also: Happy holidays, everyone. I’ll have Homeland and The Affair reviews up tomorrow, but after that, my TV coverage is done for the year. Stay tuned for TV Year End lists, as well as many more film reviews (those year end lists will be up in late January or early February).
Photo credit: NBC, Saturday Night Live