Saturday Night Live, Sunday Night or Later: Episode 1

Saturday+Night+Live%2C+Sunday+Night+or+Later%3A+Episode+1

General Overview:
“I’m excited to be doing something live… this is where you get that instant feedback from the crowd, because when you do a movie, you do it, you wait a year to hear how you did, but that’s not the case tonight. Reviews will be coming in immediately. People are probably tweeting reviews right now.”
–Owen Wilson, 10/2/21

According to last night’s host of Saturday Night Live, I’m already late to the party when it comes to reviews for a live show, but this column is called “Saturday Night Live, Sunday Night or Later,” not “Saturday Night Live, Stenography is my New Lifestyle.” Plus, I pride myself on not being on Twitter.

Highlights:
Owen Wilson really was a great host, with a lot of dedication to his scenes and a sweet monologue that talked about the other side of reviews like these, notably that “bad reviews don’t speak to in the same way” as the good ones. Lucky for Wilson, he can read this one without fear.

The cold open was excellent, poking fun at the Democratic Party’s disunity and legislative troubles compromising. Cecily Strong’s Kyrsten Sinema, predictably, stole the sketch, and I’m so glad that only one actor left the show between these seasons; I really thought that Strong’s Jeanine Pirro impression from the season 46 finale would be the last thing she ever did, but I certainly don’t mind being wrong about that.

I was taken aback by the boldness in the rest of the episode, with some particularly scathing comments during Weekend Update making the cold open’s digs at the Democratic Party seem like an episode of “My Little Pony” in comparison. If this episode was anything to go by, this season will not be a boring one.

Lowlights:
I may just be growing more observant, but I noticed a few times where the production quality slipped a little bit in the show; one time I even heard Wilson ask if they were on yet. This may be because the crew is out of practice, and I understand that live shows are incredibly difficult to do right, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t at least a little distracting.

Also, this is normal for the first few episodes of a season, but I really don’t have a sense of who the new people on the show are. None of the sketches they were in were all that great, and the “Mail-in Testing Service” sketch (almost entirely played by new additions to the cast) was almost certainly the worst sketch of the night. Even so, it still got me laughing a bit, which goes to show how consistent the quality of the episode was.

Best Sketch: “School Board Meeting.” It just kept adding running gags until the whole thing was such a patchwork of ridiculousness that it was hard to tell if I was laughing at the jokes or if I was laughing because one of the previous characters from the sketch was back on screen again.

Best Joke: “Look, as a wine-drinking, bisexual triathlete, I know what the average American wants.” -Cecily Strong

Overall Score: 9/10
This was a solid way to start the season. No sketches made me want to throw anything at the screen (which is not a given), and the confidence of the actors and the writing made me excited to see where the season goes from here.