The Best and Worst of Last Night’s ‘SNL’ with Jim Parsons

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SNL had a month-long vacation and returns with The Big Bang Theory star Jim Parsons and musical guest Beck (in full creepy preacher regalia). Parsons seems like an odd choice for hosting duties, but his quirky delivery is a welcome addition. Will the writers do him justice, or leave the newcomer floundering? How did Colin Jost perform his first time sitting at the “Weekend Update” anchor desk? Its all here, after the jump.

The Best

“Bird Bible”

You know it’s a rough night when what would normally be a semi-funny, throwaway sketch feels like a tall drink of water in a barren wasteland. Kate McKinnon and Mike O’Brien have gifted their son with a Bird Bible — the holy book, but with all of its greatest stories re-enacted with illustrations of birds (sporting beards and fig leaves, even). McKinnon’s deadpan, psychotic delivery makes it work: “Look how freaked out they are,” and, “He cut off that big bird’s head and left it to rot in the sand.”

“Dance Floor Killer”

Beck Bennett hosts the Killer Files — a show on Investigation Discovery (because “you like to watch murders, but don’t have the balls to do them yourselves”). Parsons’ murderer is nicknamed the “Dance Floor Killer,” which should have been a chance to craft some outrageous physical comedy. Instead, this is another wasted opportunity as the actor skulks about and comes across as a total drag. The Dance Party USA and Soul Train dancers were the most entertaining things about this sketch. Points for nostalgia.

“Weekend Update: Jebidiah Atkinson”

SNL‘s co-head writer Colin Jost is the new co-anchor of “Weekend Update.” Jost and Cecily Strong make a handsome team. Nerves and giddiness get the better of him a few times during the segment, but he’s likable and seems to share Seth Meyers’ deadpan delivery (watch Jost in video two). Everyone’s favorite film critic crank Jebediah Atkinson returns to smear the Best Picture nominees from this year’s Oscars. We even get a Woody Allen joke that elicits a boo from an audience member. Thanks for finally waking us up, Taran Killam.

“Spotlightz Acting Camp”

SNL returns to familiar territory, spoofing the Oscars via the Spotlightz Acting Camp kids. It’s nothing to write home about, but the sketch is funnier than the Ellen and 12 Years a Slave bits. Plus, we get to hear Vanessa Bayer sound like Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy talking about pot, cocaine, and morphine.

“Elevator”

SNL is known to rely on lame poop jokes for insta laughs. In this case, and perhaps due to the dourness of the sketches bookending the scene, poop humor works. The joke builds to an absurd crescendo.

The Worst

“The Ellen Degeneres Show Cold Open”

Kate McKinnon’s Ellen impersonation is all over the map, but she has the physical comedy right. After a month-long hiatus this is a strange way to kick things off, and the attempt at topical jokes is a fail. Jim Parsons makes an appearance as flamboyant figure skater Johnny Weir, spoofing his fabulous outfits — which don’t need spoofing since they’re legitimately fabulous. What gives, SNL?

“Jim Parsons Monologue”

Parsons looks nervous as hell, making this one of the roughest monologues I’ve seen in a long time. The musical segment about character actors who can’t quite get rid themselves of their iconic screen personas (Parsons’ Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory, Jaleel White’s Urkel, Jason Alexander’s George Costanza, etc.) feels like a huge missed opportunity. Flatlining.

“Peter Pan”

Parsons’ Peter Pan is ready to head to Neverland, and he needs the help of a trusty fairy — except Tinker Bell isn’t available. Instead, he’s aided by Tonker Bell (which sometimes sounds like Taco Bell) who is played by an ultra sassy Aidy Bryant. She throws a whole lot of shade — except it’s just not funny. The awkward pedophilia joke didn’t help matters.

“12 Years Auditions”

Once again, SNL mines 12 Years a Slave for a few cheap laughs and has nothing terribly interesting or funny to add to the ongoing conversations about race — with regards to Steve McQueen’s film or SNL’s own diversity debacle.

“Murder Mystery”

Friends join for an evening of Clue-style mystery dinner theater. Parsons is forced to play the part of a “harmless, oversexed nutball” and isn’t happy. In fact, he’s a jerk about it. This sketch is a jerk, too. Someone in the writing room slammed Parsons with all the stinkers last night.

“Cowboys”

Cowboys plan a birthday celebration. Parsons gets to employ his Texas accent. We remain bored to tears.

Musical Guest

Here’s your creepy Beck palate cleanser.