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'SNL' RECAP: Andy's Samberg's Return (and the Entire Season) Gets Lost in a Flood of Returning Castmembers

Welcome to Edition No. 42 of Popculturology's Saturday Night Live recaps. All of your questions about the Andy Samberg-hosted episode will soon be answered.

How'd Andy Samberg do?

One of SNL's most uneven seasons has finally come to an uneven end. Season 39 of SNL had a lot of storylines running through it — the departure of Bill Hader, Jason Sudeikis and Fred Amrisen; the addition of several new castmembers; a controversy over cast diversity and the subsequent hiring of Sasheer Zamata; the midseason switch from Seth Meyers to Colin Jost as head writer and "Weekend Update" co-anchor.

While juggling all of those issues, SNL never really found its footing during its 39th season. Sure, this season had its moments, but a reliance on past hosts and cast alumni never allowed the new pieces to fully come together. (Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake are the exceptions here. They're always awesome.)

Let's talk about SNL's heavy reliance on former castmembers. With Samberg returning to his old stomping grounds a host, this episode was already going to be full of old sketches and past characters. Samberg's opening monologue was fun, with Samberg and Meyers reuniting to do a bunch of impressions. Hader eventually showed up to reclaim his impressions crown, and Martin Short stopped by because ... he's Martin Short? There. That should have been plenty of former castmembers for one episodes.

Unfortunately, it wasn't.

As the episode went along, SNL rolled out Armisen and Kristen Wiig. They even threw in hosting veteran Paul Rudd for two sketches. The new castmembers never even got a chance. In fact, much of what passed for SNL's veteran cast didn't even get a chance this episode either. Taran Killam and Kenan Thompson didn't do much. Nasim Pedrad finally got into a few sketches, just in time for her to probably leave the show for Fox's Mulaney.

SNL has become so obsessed with its recent past, it's forgotten to put any care into its future. I get that Lorne Michaels loves Wiig and Armisen, but they're not the comedians who are going to keep SNL alive over the next few years. He needs to let them go. SNL needs to move on. 

Hopefully Season 40 will represent that growth. If I'm Brooks Wheelan, Noel Wells or John Milhiser, though, I'd start making sure my portfolio was in good shape.

What were the best sketches of the night?

While the return of the Digital Shorts belong in this section, I'm going to save them for the next question. Just pretend to be surprised when I reveal them later on.

When an episode's best sketch doesn't come until the night's closing minutes and it's a recurring sketch, there's a problem with that episode. I love the pornstars sketch. Vanessa Bayer and Cecily Strong are so good in it, always nailing (poor word choice for a sketch featuring pornstars?) the broken delivery and porny non sequiturs. I also love how SNL can't dare air this sketch until the final minutes of an episode. 

SNL hasn't been able to pull off a political cold open this season, so the show wisely tackled the Jay Z/Solange Knowles fight instead. Oh, that's right — before we could even get to the Meyers, Hader and Short appearances during Samberg's monologue, there was a Maya Rudolph cameo during the cold open. 

For a brief second, I thought Camp Wicawabe was the same imaginary summer camp that Fallon and Timberlake hang out at during Timberweek, but the SNL/Tonight Show/Late Night incest didn't go that far. Aidy Bryant and Kate McKinnon's take on two campers discussing things they thought made them bad to the bone possibly rivaled Bryant and Strong's "Girlfriends Talk Show." McKinnon was clearly enjoying herself during this sketch, trying to not crack up while Samberg was talking about finding a condom and trying it on with his ten bunkmates.

Oh, and kids going to bed when it's full bright out is a real thing. And it sucks.

Here you have what's most likely Pedrad's final sketch of her SNL career. Kind of sad. The show never did figure out how to maximize her talents, wasting her as a castmember for several years. Who will play Kim Kardashian on SNL with Pedrad gone?

Samberg launched the Digital Shorts era on SNL — did they come back with him?

OK, you're going to be TOTALLY surprised when I tell you this, but Samberg brought the Digital Shorts back with him this weekend.

"Hugs" may have been the second Digital Short of the episode, but it was the superior offering. While "Hugs" wasn't in the same league as slickly produced Digital Shorts like "Jizz in My Pants" or "Motherlover," it still had that same vibe. Fans of Orphan Black also got to enjoy a brief cameo by Tatiana Maslany too.

The Lonely Island has figured you out, Avicii

How was "Weekend Update"?

Jost now has half a season as "Weekend Update" co-anchor under his belt, but he never seemed to get any better as time passed. A "Weekend Update" has to have something about them that makes them worth watching. Jost doesn't have that. He's just there. Even worse, he doesn't seem to have any chemistry with Strong, his co-anchor. The great recent "Weekend Update" pairings — Fallon/Tina Fey, Fey/Amy Poehler, Peohler/Meyers — had amazing chemistry, with each anchor working off their partner.

Jost and Strong are co-anchors but they aren't working off each other. I wouldn't be surprised if we've seen Jost's last installment of "Weekend Update."

Why this Nicolas Cage sketch matters: "Seth, my old friend. Wow, you look so youthful." "Don't correct me, haircut!" "Don't condescend me, Ruddney Dangerfield." "Don’t sass me, Clueless." Oh, and tea bagging the Magna Carta.

This is either the second or third time that Kyle Mooney has done his Bruce Chandling character during "Weekend Update." The character took an interesting step this episode, not only adding an eye roll but also going super dark for a bit. "The Grim Reaper's knocking at the door," Chandling told Strong. "Kind of want to answer it."

Anything else worth mentioning?

I don't get the appeal of Armisen. During his final seasons as an SNL castmember, I dreaded seeing him during sketches. He's probably my least favorite part of Meyers' version of Late Night. I get the feeling Armisen finds himself much funnier than he actually is. No more Armisen, SNL. Please.

If you didn't realize that was Bobby Moynihan under some very convincing Gimli makeup, you probably thought Moynihan was given this weekend off.

No castmembers lost their lives during this sketch, so there's that ...

What's next?

That's it for the 39th season of SNL. Come back in September for another season of recaps.

'SNL' RECAP: Andy's Samberg's Return (and the Entire Season) Gets Lost in a Flood of Returning Castmembers Reviewed by Bill Kuchman on 5/19/2014 Rating: 5

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