After two straight excellent episodes featuring particularly inspired hosts (Justin Timberlake and Melissa McCarthy), it may have been inevitable that there'd be a drop off in quality in this week's Saturday Night Live. Despite a pitch perfect punk rock parody tribute to Margaret Thatcher, some great work by rising star Kate McKinnon, and a surprisingly good opening monologue from host Vince Vaughn, last night's episode was a complete dud.
Things started off badly with the limp political humor of the cold open—but that's not really surprising. We can count on one finger the number of great cold opens we've had this season: the sobering Sandy Hook "Silent Night" tribute. The show keeps dipping into toothless political sketches for the start, and they almost never work; Jay Pharoah, despite being a gifted impressionist, has been unable to come up with any funny readings of Obama, and he seems to stumble over his lines more and more each week. The better cold opens this season have been apolitical ones—Timberlake's Elton John impression, the poop cruise parody—and the only decent election one involved blinking Paul Ryan. It's getting to the point where we're considering turning on the show at 11:35 p.m. so we don't have to sit through the stilted opening bits.
After Vaughn pulled off the surprising (albeit long) audience-interacting monologue, we had Bill Hader get to show off his Al Pacino impression in a funny, if one-note, sketch making fun of all the Pacino-starring HBO biopics. Besides the brilliant Sex Pistols-aping Thatcher sketch, that was it for the night. The Weather Channel was a potentially good premise with uninspired execution; the John Tesh theme song sketch had a great starting point, but never went anywhere with it. And despite McKinnon's charming commitment to the bit, the episode-closing "Last Call" wasn't anywhere near as electric as the first time she did it with Louis C.K.
And then there were the two absolute stinkers of the night, two of the worst sketches to appear on SNL this season: "Short Term Memory Loss Theater" and "Junior Prom." Both were absolutely terrible, and two of the more prominent uses of Vaughn, who seemed to slide into the background as the evening went on.
Click through above to check out all of last night's sketches, including Weekend Update and performances by Miguel. Overall, there were definitely a few highlights (Thatcher, Pacino, monologue), but it really wasn't a great night for SNL. Thankfully, things already look up for the next new episode in early May, which will be hosted by Zach Galifianakis.