Welcome back Saturday Night Live. All is forgiven. After a previous season that had more misses than hits the premiere of SNL season 42 was an epic win. Guest host Margot Robbie, who clearly has arrived, did a fine job with her monologue and was hysterically funny in “The Librarian” (a pre-recorded bit of ’80s nostalgia.)
The show blasted out of the gate with special guest Alec Baldwin doing his Donald Trump impression. Alongside Emmy winning performer Kate McKinnon (who showed just why she earned that award in the “Actress Round Table” skit) Baldwin and Kate killed it in the show’s open.
(The Willy Wonka gag got less laughs than it should have for some reason…)
Robbie, still red-hot after her Harley Quinn performance in Suicide Squad, appeared in a number of skits. She even got to portray Darlene in the Mr. Robot parody at the end.
The highpoint for Margot had to be The Librarian. The ’80’s pastiche that combined the “Oh Yeah” song from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off with a brilliant dose of bizarre science fiction.
After the monologue, where Margot “fact checked” everything she said, the show started off with a “live news report” where a sinkhole had just swallowed up seven cars.
Robbie, who is an incredible 11 out of 10 marks for stunning, and her bespectacled husband (played by Neil McNabb) are the eyewitness couple that Kenan Thompson’s reporter speaks to. The gag in the skit is how on earth this mild mannered chap wound up with such a beautiful wife. This was brilliantly funny and it felt like SNL had gotten their mojo back.
Other skits included the Family Feud political lineup with Thompson once again donning his Steve Harvey persona. Robbie played Ivanka Trump, Larry David reprised his Bernie Sanders and new kid on the block Melissa Villaseñor did a pretty decent Sarah Silverman.
(The Silverman inclusion had to be an in-joke since the performer was briefly part of the the SNL stable.)
There was a “homage” skit called “The Hunch Bunch” that was a parody of Scooby-Doo without the animated mutt. Kudos, by the way to Kyle Mooney for doing a very funny “Shaggy.”
The Hunch Bunch featured a mystery solving gang who are all pretty PC. Robbie, channeling her inner Harley Quinn is the odd one out and her boyfriend Tad is mortified at her verbal gaffes.
As the gang come in contact with the old man haunting the place, Becca Ashley (Robbie) shoots him in the back. One of the group tells the rest that the old chap is still alive and Becca Ashley cocks her pistol and aims down at the prone figure.
“Oh no, I’m not going back to jail…”
While not hysterically funny the skit was amusing and, once again, was more like SNL used to be. A bit silly overall but it allowed a vague Harley Quinn reference in.
The clear winner, in terms of skits (versus pre-recorded sequences like The Librarian) was the Actress Round Table discussion. McKinnon ruled this one. Her anciently old performer was truly hysterical and had guest host Margot Robbie corpsing throughout the skit.
One other notable thing about the roundtable skit was that it featured Sasheer Zamata, the more silent cast member of SNL. The performer actually got more than the usual one line spot.
The Weekend Update was a staggering 14 minutes long, easily taking up the lions-share of the episode. It was the usual Jost and Che double-act treat. Topics covered were the Colin Kaepernick national anthem issue and of course politics.
Cecily Strong and Kenan Thompson gave performances and musical guest The Weeknd did a cameo spot.
The Mr. Robot sketch (with Pete Davidson as Elliot Alderson) did a riff on the Leslie Jones computer hack that was funny. It was also a sign that the Sam Esmail series has “arrived.”
This was a brilliant start to season 42. Robbie did very well for her first time. And there were moments where the comedy was so spot on that tears of laughter were spilled.
SNL airs Saturdays on NBC. May the comedy seen thus far continue. Stop by and check this newest season out and keep an eye on Melissa Villaseñor.