Some thoughts on last night's disappointing episode of "Saturday Night Live" coming up just as soon as I go to Africa...
This season has featured guest-hosting appearances by Ben Affleck, Hugh Laurie, Steve Martin and now Alec Baldwin -- three of the most reliable hosts in the show's history, plus a sketch comedy master who killed in a previous "SNL" appearance -- and they've all been tremendously disappointing. Now, this season has also featured extremely promising first-time hosting gigs by Anne Hathaway, Jon Hamm and Neil Patrick Harris, so it's not like the series has entirely lost its fastball. But an Alec Baldwin episode -- complete with a Dan Aykroyd cameo -- should be a season highlight, shouldn't it?
The cold open with the Republican leadership being out of touch had a good idea, but the execution was off. The monologue with Jack McBrayer featured a twist on my least favorite monologue device, the questions from the audience. Then we got the inevitable Jonas Brothers sketch to keep the tweens from changing the channel, and at least this one allowed Baldwin to carry the full load, when much of the rest of the episode, like Steve Martin's, had him too much in the background. But I thought the Jonas Digital Short was the better of their two comedy appearances, as Andy Samberg and the Lonely Island guys are usually so good at parodying specific types of music like those early '80s hair metal videos.
Cougar Den needs to be put out to pasture, and only seems to come back because Cameron Diaz has attached herself to it. (The Vincent Price holiday specials, on the other hand, are still funny because of the oddness of the impression choices -- Fred Armisen's Liberace always makes me laugh -- so of course it's one of the few sketches from last night that isn't online.)
Weekend Update featured the inevitable Joaquin Phoenix parody (well-played by Jason Sudeikis), as well as the equally-inevitable return of Abby Elliott's Angelina Jolie and Kenan as the "Fix It!" guy. Diminishing returns, folks -- just because people laughed at something once doesn't mean you have to bring it back.
What did everybody else think?