The newcomers took a backseat this week as Paul Rudd hosted Saturday Night Live for the third time—and he brought along tons of guests, including Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Dave Koechner, Kristen Wiig, and Fred Armisen. Rudd was his predictable, likable self, dancing both adorably and spastically throughout the episode, and blending in seamlessly with the cast. The actual episode was quite schizophrenic though, with a few of the worst sketches of the season mingling with some of the best.
The biggest attention will be given to all those guest stars: Wiig and Armisen popped up in the cold open, a condensed version of NBC's version of "The Sound Of Music." While it was nice to see both of them again, Dooneese has always been one of Wiig's more annoying characters (though not as bad as Gilly, because nothing is that bad). Much more successful was the monologue, in which One Direction and the cast of Anchorman joined together to sing an a capela version of "Afternoon Delight" (though it's debatable whether all the One Direction members actually knew the song).
Rudd was delightful as Dan Charles, the "#1 One Direction Fan" in a pre-taped bit that took place at a One Direction show. He was also excellent in Divorce Meeting, in which he and ex-wife Vanessa Bayer kept getting distracted from hashing out their divorce by Fleetwood Mac’s “I Don’t Want To Know." That sketch, in which Rudd and Bayer kept escalating their dance moves and trading bizarre wordplay, is unfortunately not available online.
Weekend Update included appearances from two of their best recurring personalities, Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy and Jebediah Atkinson. It wasn't Jacob's best appearance, and it seems like SNL really missed an opportunity to add a new dimension to the character with Meyers leaving. Jebediah first appeared only three weeks ago, but he is clearly the best new character from this season—the show acknowledged the quick turn around by having him note, “Run things into the ground much?” when he first came on.
Unfortunately, the rest of the episode was more miss than hit: Politics Nation with Rev. Al Sharpton totally bombed, Michelangelo’s David was a one-joke premise that went nowhere, Santa’s Elves never really got off the ground, and 28 Miles Away was a nice feature for Cecily Strong but not a very memorable sketch. The White Christmas parody of black holiday movies was the weirdest sketch of the night, one which meant to be edgy (and comment, yet again, on the racial disparity of this season's cast), but wasn't funny enough to make much of an impression (although Mike O'Brien as the guy who wears a necklace over a turtleneck was a pretty good sight gag).
But there was no forgetting the last sketch of the night—the return of Bill Brasky, which hasn't been on the show since 1998! It's interesting they chose to bring it back this week when John Goodman, who has appeared in three of the previous Brasky sketches, is hosting next week. But Brasky was a most welcome sight, a rare callback to the late '90s SNL sensibility.
Click through for all those sketches, plus performances from One Direction. Goodman is host next week (along with musical guest Kings Of Leon), which will mark his 13th time hosting; this will be his first time back since 2001.