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'SNL' RECAP: Sarah Silverman Channels Joan Rivers, 'Weekend Update' Co-Anchors Find Some Chemistry

Welcome to Edition No. 44 of Popculturology's Saturday Night Live recaps. All of your questions about the Sarah Silverman-hosted episode will soon be answered.

How'd Sarah Silverman do?

While last weekend's Chris Pratt-hosted season premiere got mixed reviews, I thought it was a strong way to start SNL's 40th season. Silverman's episode failed to keep that momentum going. If Pratt's episode wasn't afraid to try new and weird things ("Bad Boys," for example), Silverman's episode was all about doing what was safe. Basically, if Kenan Thompson is playing a TV host or MC in a sketch, that's a safe sketch — we got this scenario twice in this weekend's episode.

Silverman herself wasn't a bad host. As one of the most successful comedians working right now, it would have been hard to see Silverman flopping as an SNL host. Having a strong female host put many of SNL's top female castmembers on the back burner, meaning stars like Aidy Bryant barely had a role to play this episode.

Despite Silverman's strong performance throughout the episode, her monologue seemed more like several attempts at doing a monologue. Was she the SNL host who wades into the audience and talks to real people? Was she the SNL host who takes fake questions from the audience. SNL monologues can be many things, but there's a certain point when they've gone on too long. I don't have an exact number on that time, but you can feel it.

What were the best sketches of the night?

Sarah Silverman - Surprise Proposal W/Adam... by IdolxMuzic

There weren't many standout moments during Silverman's episode, but "Car Ride" was my favorite. SNL's been doing "in a car" sketches forever, but the show still finds new ways to make them funny. For this sketch, the appearances of a scorned almost-fiance, a set of parents and Adam Levine kept me laughing. Line of the night: "Don't you yell at Adam Levine, he has done nothing wrong" or "You cheated on me … then you gave me fudge"?

(Unfortunately, NBC isn't hosting this online. I usually won't find bootleg versions of sketches, but when we're talking about the pinnacle of an episode, I figure I had to include this clip.)

I didn't watch SNL live this weekend, thanks to a torturous Washington Nationals postseason game that wouldn't end, but while I was watching the game, The Fault in Our Stars 2: The Ebola in Our Everything was buzzing on Twitter.

I'll get to "Weekend Update" as a whole later, but I need to highlight this segment now. One of my complaints about Colin Jost with both Cecily Strong and Michael Che as his co-anchor has been that he's shown little chemistry with the person he shares the desk with. This was a problem for half the season last year and it was an issue during Jost and Che's first episode last weekend.

This segment showed the first glimpse at Jost finding chemistry with a co-anchor. It was short and it was still shaky at points but it gave me hope that Jost and Che are going to figure out their "Weekend Update" personas.

Any shorts or commercials?

Watching Silverman, Beck Bennett and Kyle Mooney finish each others' sentences was cute, but the real fun in this sketch came from the physical comedy. It's hard to not laugh when there's uplifting music playing while Bennett walks Mooney like a dog. Not sure if the dummy portraying those two in this sketch was the same dummy that portrayed Levine in the "Car Ride" sketch, but the SNL props department got a workout this episode.

Did you know that your Vitamix blender can make nut butters?

Former castmember Mike O'Brien returned from his banishment to the writers' room for one more sketch.

How was 'Weekend Update'?

If Thompson leaves after this season, I'm going to miss his Al Sharpton. Also, why haven't we been calling MSNBC "Ms. NBC" all along?

I can't tell you how scared I was when Che introduced a music duo that it was going to be some combination of Fred Armisen and Kristen Wiig again. Sure, they don't work for SNL anymore, but that hasn't kept them away in past seasons. Thankfully, it was Silverman and Kate McKinnon singing about how Thor has always been a woman. 

Anything else worth mentioning?

There are probably several websites that will put this sketch higher. Silverman paying tribute to her idol Joan Rivers? I can see where the temptation is. The problem with that idea, though, is that this wasn't a well executed sketch. Silverman has Rivers' mannerisms and voice down, but several of the jokes were flubbed. That doesn't help when you're trying to do an impression of someone. I couldn't tell at times if that was supposed to be Silverman mimicking Rivers' delivery or just her making a mistake.

Sure, SNL, let's just cram all the political news of the week into one cold open. ISIS, the Secret Service, Tinder — whatever.

How did a sketch this unfunny wind up getting slotted before the first musical performance?

What's next?

SNL is back on Oct. 11 with Bill Hader hosting and Hozier as the musical guest.
'SNL' RECAP: Sarah Silverman Channels Joan Rivers, 'Weekend Update' Co-Anchors Find Some Chemistry Reviewed by Bill Kuchman on 10/05/2014 Rating: 5

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