‘SNL’ Scorecard: Chris Pratt Makes a Great First Impression
The 40th season of ‘Saturday Night Live’ has arrived (as well as the fifth season of ‘SNL’ Scorecard -- and I just can’t believe I’ve been doing this for five years) and, boy, what a difference a year makes. Last year’s season premiere featured six new cast members and was one of the clumsiest shows in recent memory. (Hey, remember ‘New Cast Member Or Member of Arcade Fire’? Gah.) This season, we have two new cast members and, more importantly, a significantly smaller cast. This was the first ‘SNL’ in over a year where I felt some actual intimacy with the cast. Look at newcomer Pete Davidson: he was everywhere! It was almost as if this incarnation of ‘SNL’ was built just to make us forget about last season. It didn’t completely work (I’ll never forget you, Rick Shoulders), but with a first-time host like Chris Pratt (who is a natural) and what feels like a much more focused show, this was a really great start.
Sketch of the Night
’Bad Boys’ (Mooney, Bennett, Pratt) It was funny reading my Twitter feed during the live broadcast while ‘Bad Boys’ was airing -- there was a lot, “What is this?” Just a few years ago, for all we knew this would have been a brand new sketch idea, but now that ‘SNL’ puts some of the sketches from dress rehearsal that didn’t air on the Internet, “Bad Boys’ technically becomes a sequel to ‘Wing,’ a sketch that never aired during the Andrew Garfield-hosted show from last season. ‘Wing’ would gave been the best sketch of that show had it aired. ‘Bad Boys’ – which, again, perfectly captures the melodrama of ‘90s young adult television programming -- only here with non sequiturs (a castle!) used for scene changes – is the best sketch of this show. (I nearly did a spit take when it was revealed that the little kid was packing heat.)
‘Marvel’ (Pratt, Bryant, Moynihan, Pharoah, Killam, Bennett, Mooney) It’s funny because it’s true. It’s been the joke since ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ became the sort of surprise hit of 2014 – Marvel Studios can put out just about anything at this point and it would be a hit. Well, yes, I would pay money to watch ‘Pam 2: The Winter Pam’ and ‘Fancy Ghosts.’
‘Weekend Update’ (Jost, Che, Strong, Jones, Davidson, Thompson) Now, this was interesting for a few reasons. There was a definite effort to present this as THE NEW ‘Weekend Update.’ There was a fancy new backdrop and a new co-host and, yes, a new vibe. As the centerpiece of ‘SNL,’ everything was done to try to make you forget about last year’s ‘Update’ – which is a smart move. Colin Jost was better, and only improved as 'Update' went along. Michael Che started out nervous and fumbled over some lines – which would be expected from anyone; but it is weird watching Che do this because I’m used to him being so smooth – but by the time ‘Update’ ended on the “Cheer Up, Obama” segment with help from Kenan Thompson, he looked like he was in mid-season form.
And this was a long ‘Update,’ featuring three individual segments. No one just gives up ‘Weekend Update.’ Someone had to take ‘Weekend Update’ away from Cecily Strong. So it was very big of her to come on ‘Update’ as The Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With at a Party. She swallowed some pride to make a “See, everything is fine!” appearance when a lot of people wouldn’t do that. Leslie Jones was back and, again, killed. And, boy, Pete Davidson … what a star. He was hired to be the new “personality” and this guy is filled with personality. The thing is, I don’t even think Davidson’s material was that strong, but I couldn’t help but think, Oh, yes, please tell me more. He’s 20!
‘Booty Rap’ (Bryant, Pratt, McKinnon, Strong, Zamata, Bayer, Bennett, Mooney, Moynihan) This is basically just Chris Pratt and Aidy Bryant involved in a sing-off – and that’s fine because they're great. It’s not much of a sketch, but I guess who cares because it’s a delight.
‘Chris Pratt Monologue’ (Pratt, Faris) This was nice! Nothing too fancy, the thought here seemed to be, “Go out and be yourself.” You can tell Pratt is a natural at this after he accidentally sang the words “40 answers” instead of “40 hours,” and how he didn’t let it trip him up, he addressed it, and made it even more charming. Man, this guy…
’Cold Open: CNN State of the Union’’ (Bryant, Pratt, Thompson, Pharoah) This was fine, and the first of the two NFL themed sketches during the show that pretty much said the same thing. But, this one had Jay Pharoah’s Shannon Sharpe impression, which is a strange mixture of Shannon Sharpe and Clark Griswold’s Marty Moose impression – which somehow works!
‘He-Man and Lion-O’ (Mooney, Pratt, Killam, Bryant, Strong, Grande) Well, at least this was interesting. I mean, what would happen if He-Man and Lion-O all of a sudden became real? Would they want to masturbate? Maybe! It just felt like there could have been a couple more laughs to mine out of there being He-Man and Lion-O there on my television. For some reason if felt grim! But, whatever, the costumes were great.
‘Cialis Turnt’ (Killam, Strong, Bryant) This seemed like an excuse to perform ‘Turn Down For What,’ which already feels a little dated.
‘Video Game’ (Killam, Moynihan, Zamata, Davidson, Bayer, Pratt) I appreciate what’s going on here and, concept-wise, I found myself wanting this to go further. A simple puzzle game turns into a love drama between Chris Pratt and Vanessa Bayer’s video game characters. It almost didn’t feel weird enough. This is one of those odd sketches that I really didn’t like, yet I want them to try it again at some point during the season.
‘Vet Office (McKinnon, Pratt, Strong, Bayer, Moynihan) They did this sketch last season when Josh Hutcherson hosted and, well, for some reason, here’s another one. The concept that if you bring an animal to this hospital it’s going to wind up dead is kind of amusing – at least to the point why I can understand how it got on the air -- I’m just not sure we need this to be a recurring sketch.
‘NFL Intros’ (Bennett, Killam, Thompson, Pharoah, Pratt, Moynihan, Che, Anderson, Jost, Mooney, Jones) And here’s the second NFL sketch of the show. This felt like piling on and not that the NFL doesn’t deserve to be piled on – it does – but it felt like piling on just for the sake of piling on. This sketch pretty much said the same thing as the cold open, only in a lot less clever way. “Every NFL player is a criminal,” I don’t know, it just seems a little cheap when the target of our scorn should be Roger Goodell.
Average Score for this Show: 5.99
· Chris Pratt 5.99
Mike Ryan is senior editor of Screencrush. You can contact him directly on Twitter.