Saturday Night Live Kicks Off Season 42 with an Amazing Cold Open

Written by Mark Henely and Melissa Jouben

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Pictured: "Saturday Night Live" Logo -- (Photo by: NBC)

Saturday Night Live Season 42 Premiere with Margot Robbie and The Weeknd

Guest Host: Margot Robbie

Mark Henely: Margot Robbie hosted a really strong episode of SNL. She’s a great actress and she really brought a lot to the table. This was a “tour-de-force” performance like we’ve seen from hosts like Drake and Ariana Grande in the past, but it was a strong show where she really blended in with the cast in the right way. 

You can tell the production team trusted her because she was allowed to do most of the monologue by herself. Usually, if they don’t think a host can handle a monologue solo, they have cast members jump in and assist. And they did assist, but not reight away. Robbie had a lot of assistance on the back half of the sketch, but she did first half totally solo. That isn’t easy and she did a decent job with it.

Overall, I think the SNL team was excited to get back to work and you can feel the excitement throughout the show. The worst sketches of the night were a little “meh…” but nothing was outright bad or embarrassing. Margot Robbie definitely contributed to the overall quality of the show, but I think the real driving force was a creative team that was fresh off the bench and ready to make some good TV.

Melissa: This episode reminded me a lot of when January Jones hosted the show and the idea behind an overwhelming amount of the sketches was “here is an attractive blonde woman and not much else.”  It was a wasted opportunity with January Jones back then, and it should be considered a crime with Margot Robbie now. Margot’s career is at an all-time high and she’s one of the hottest women in Hollywood in the sense that she is in high demand – and yes, also because she’s very attractive. Her monologue was a fun way to skirt around the fact that they didn’t know what to do with her, and was more of a highlight for the cast members who paraded in than for Margot herself. For me, one of her highlights was the very good Keira Knightley impression she got to do towards the end of the episode. As a whole it just seemed like a wasted opportunity to me at best and a total disregard for Margot’s actual talent and abilities at worst.

Margot Robbie and Kate McKinnon
Photo Credit: Rosalind O’Connor/NBC

Melissa’s Sketch of the Night: Actress Round Table

Melissa: It was a really great idea to do a sketch about the struggle of women in entertainment. It not only serves to balance out all the “look how hot Margot is” commentary that was going on in the first half of the episode, but to also prove that everybody behind the scenes is cognizant of what was going on while poking fun at the sexism and misogyny of days past. The sketch highlights the amazing job that all the female cast members do week in and week out: anchoring sketches, doing spot on impressions, building off each other, and generally just being Kate McKinnon. Margot is allowed to actually act and she does great, even delivering lines with a perfectly straight face despite the fact she was cracking up the moment before. No line from the episode hit me quite as hard as “Women writers? You’d have to teach me how to read,” and so I think for me “Actress Round Table” is a winner from last evening.

Presidential Debate on SNL
Photo Credit: Will Heath/NBC

Mark’s Sketch of the Night: Hilary Clinton vs. Donald Trump Debate Cold Open

Mark: This cold open was absolutely phenomenal. Seriously, it was one of the greatest topical sketches I’ve ever seen on SNL. But, this might be because the SNL really had some good material to work with this time around. The first presidential debate was legitimately crazy AF and incredibly ripe for parody. Usually the SNL team does their best with what they have, but they had some much more tonight than they usually do.

In this sketch, Alec Baldwin takes over Donal Trump duties from Darryl Hammond and absolutely knocks it out of the park. He is perfect. I was worried that having a celebrity of his magnitude would distract from the sketch, but it just enhanced it. He looked like Trump, talked like Trump, and felt like Trump. His Trump really captured the aggression and insecurity that has characterized the Donald recently and I think it is a good turn for the show to take with this figure. They tried making Trump a lovable goof when he hosted last year, but they aren’t pulling any punches now and they are making him look as stupid as he really is.

Kate McKinnon’s Hilary Clinton also deserves a spotlight. The recent Emmy Award winner has crafted such a deep character with her Hilary impression that viewers know what Hilary is thinking before she even says. McKinnon is able to communicate so much with just a look. The way she would look at Donald with such naked excitement and glee as he said every stupid thing he said was incredible.

Mark and Melissa’s Worst Sketch of the Night: The Hunch Bunch

Mark: The Hunch Bunch was a Scooby Doo parody where Beck Bennet’s Fred parody has a new girlfriend that doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the gang. Her jokes are too mean and she doesn’t seem to understand if they are looking for a real monster or a man in a monster costume.

This sketch didn’t quite land with me for a few reasons. First, the way they introduce the concept is strange. They introduced it as a Nick At Nite show. Scooby-Doo has never been on Nick at Nite. Nick at Nite shows live action shows and Scooby is a cartoon. Also, the name “The Hunch Bunch” doesn’t really relate to Scooby Doo at all. Once the sketch starts, it takes a couple of seconds to realize what they are doing. This sounds like nitpicking, but it really is a little disorienting.

Second, the game is inconsistent. It’s hard to tell if Margot Robbie’s character is supposed to be rude or stupid. I think it would have worked better if they picked one or the other, but they just went with her doing the weirdest shit they could think of in the moment. A little more discipline could have saved this sketch.

Melissa: I’m a very big fan of Scooby Doo and the idea of a bunch of kids solving mysteries is always, in my opinion, a funny place to explore. There’s so many directions to go with that, and for that reason I guess I can give this sketch a little bit of credit for going somewhere that hasn’t been explored. But the only thing saving this sketch from dying in front of us was Kyle Mooney’s commitment to his knock-off Shaggy impression, and that in itself got tired after a line or two. The bottom line is that this sketch was utterly forgettable.

Photo Credit: Will Heath/NBC
Photo Credit: Will Heath/NBC

Musical Guest: The Weeknd

Mark: The Weeknd sang some nice songs. However, I don’t remember what they were or what they sounded like.

I really liked his minimalist set design. All he had was a  giant glowing cross behind him. It created a cool atmosphere and looked incredibly unique.

Melissa: I’m going to be honest and say that I didn’t pay a lot of attention to The Weeknd’s performances. I hear those songs all the time on the radio and on Spotify ads and I kind of just wanted to get up and use the bathroom. But The Weeknd’s appearance as musical guest provided, once again, the simple and effective “Weeknd Update” bit that lasts for about five seconds and makes me laugh for many more.

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