Pre Show Thoughts:
It’s about time Jim Parsons found his way to Studio 8H. Despite his immense rise to fame over the past seven years on one of the most syndicated television programs, accumulating no less than five Emmy nominations (and three wins), Parsons has never been on Saturday Night Live. Keep in mind that several people have hosted during this time. Basically, it is long past due that someone from The Big Bang Theory had a night to their own and the ever talented Parson is easily the best pick. Parsons actually has a fairly deep history with theatrical work that obviously took a backseat to his hit show, but headlining the play Harvey in 2012 showed he was ready to get back to it. This experience obviously gives Parsons an edge that not many first timers have. Throw in his natural comedic talent and the outstanding musical abilities of Beck and you have a recipe for one killer show after a month break.
While the show got off to a very good start, it wasn’t until The Killer Files that I really started laughing hard. In this skit, Beck Bennet played the typical murder show host showcasing a killer from several years ago. Bennet primarily served to bridge the comedic moments together though with Parsons being the clear highlight. Parson’s was hilarious as the Marc Allen Henry, the notorious dance floor killer who escaped justice despite being a massive walking stereotype. He simply oozed “creepiness” from every feature ranging from his attire to his icy cold stare. For some odd reason, I lost it every time Parsons robotically walked through a dance show like Soul Train, blatantly showing that he should be a suspect for murder yet is never caught. I just had fun watching this obviously simple bit regardless of the disturbing subject matter.
The Weekend Update was especially great last night which is notable considering it’s the first time Seth Meyers wasn’t doing it in several years. In Meyers’ place was Colin Jost, a longtime SNL writer who was promoted for the sole purpose of doing Weekend Update. While I’m convinced that Cecily Strong could easily handle the Update on her own, Jost wasn’t a terrible addition. He was funny but was clearly not entirely comfortable behind the desk. He was really stiff and robotic, the complete opposite of the very engaging Strong. Its obvious Jost simply has growing pains and I’m sure he’ll be able to come into his own. It also helped that the Update was secured by outstanding guests in the form of Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley (Jay Pharoah and Kenan Thompson) and the always hilarious Jebidiah Atkinson (Taran Killam).
Normally I don’t give the musical guests their own focus, but last night had to be an exception. Beck was absolutely outstanding. I’ve been a big Beck fan for years and he really pulled out the stops to promote his recent release Morning Phase. He wisely chose to perform “Blue Moon” and “Wave,” the latter accompanied by a moderately sized orchestra. Both performances were simply mesmerizing. If you have a chance to watch these, I’d definitely recommend it.
The Oscar Profile on 12 Years A Slave was clever but it was so, so late. This Academy Award frontrunner came out close to four months ago and now it gets some attention? Everyone knows about the shocking source material by now so this just felt like adding more attention than really bringing up anything new. Sure the uncomfortable notion of white people auditioning to play brutally slave owners was humorous, but it would’ve been so much better if this came around when the shockwaves started back in November.
Spotlightz Acting Camp came back once again last night, and just like its first appearance several episodes ago, it wasn’t that interesting. This time the Spotlightz Camp kids were Saluting the Oscars with hammy performances on Gravity, Her, and Captain Phillips. It was honestly just a way for the writers to cram in as many jokes about Best Picture nominees as possible. Unfortunately this was done without much humor.
In what is clearly a recurring trend for the season, the episode ended on a quiet note. The final bit of the night involved several of the male cast members sitting around a fire talking about how to celebrate their leader’s birthday. Everyone had some great ideas but Parsons was sold on ideas involving springs and dirt colored paint. The set up was good, but the novelty idea quickly lost its luster as it rolled on. For those who were already tired by this point in the show, it didn’t really give much reason to pay more attention.
As I predicted, Parsons was really great last night. I didn’t matter if he was playing Peter Pan or Johnny Weir. He was completely committed to his roles no matter what and that’s the sign of a strong host. A big goal of Parsons was obviously to distance himself from his character Sheldon Cooper which is probably why there were zero jokes about The Big Bang Theory. The guy clearly wants to make sure he’s not typecasted, a message hammered home in a well-done song during his monologue. The rest of the show was surprisingly on point too considering how the show took a straight month off for Olympics coverage. Thankfully it looked like most of the cast members and writers took that time to rest up and come back strong. This all lead to what will easily be one of the better episodes this season.
See you next week for Lena Dunham and The National!