Many fans know of Octavia Spencer from the critically acclaimed dramatic roles on her resume, including a recent Oscar nomination for Hidden Figures. But Spencer has dabbled in comedy as well. From Opal the prostitute in Bad Santa to Harriet Tubman on Drunk History, Spencer has shown the comedic chops to make you forget she won an Oscar (in 2011 for The Help), or has appeared as a nurse 16 times over her career.
SNL hit ratings gold three weeks ago with the Alec Baldwin-hosted episode netting the show its highest ratings since 2011, but after that highly anticipated, politically-fueled episode, SNL returned as much more formulaic this time around. There won’t be much for Donald Trump to tweet about this week as this episode stumbled from beginning to end, and it’s starting to feel like SNL is struggling with its non-political material.
Cold Open: Jeff Sessions as Forrest Gump
Kate McKinnon seems to be well on her way to another Emmy win for the quality work she puts in every week, and while she was used sparingly in this episode (the cold open was her only sketch appearance of the night), she made the most of it with her take on Sessions as Forrest Gump.
Best Sketch: The TBD Story
The only political sketch of the night outside of the cold open was this movie trailer parody for the story of whichever Republican (minus Paul Ryan) decides to finally take a stand against Trump and bring him down. Not the best political material SNL has produced during the Trump era, but the best sketch of the night in a show full of below-average material.
Second Best Sketch: Zoo-opolis
If you knew anything about new cast member Melissa Villaseñor before her joining SNL, it was probably that she is very good at impersonations. Spencer, Alex Moffat, and Kenan Thompson record voices for a Zootopia rip-off along with Villaseñor, but she steals this sketch with her trifecta of Julia-Louis Dreyfus, Owen Wilson, and fellow cast member Kate McKinnon.
Weekend Update Moment: Alex Moffat as Eric Trump
After a first half full of the usual takes on the Trump Administration, Colin Jost and Michael Che hit a very rough patch with a string of jokes that fell flat due to either bad taste or being just plain bad. At the end of the last season, Weekend Update was one of the few bright spots on a show with many question marks, but this season has been a big step back for Jost and Che.
Every week seems to bring another cringe-inducing moment, either from some flubbed line or a tasteless joke. SNL knows it can’t do an entire Update about Trump, but it really needs to figure out what is wrong with Update or make some changes during the summer. Anyway. Moffat as Eric Trump is stupid, funny, and one of my favorite impressions to come out of our current presidency.
Best Commercial Breaks of the Night: Kellyanne Conway
While she didn’t appear in a sketch outside of the cold open, McKinnon did show up three times as Kellyanne Conway during commercial breaks parodying Conway’s infamous Oval Office couch photo from this week.
** Bobby Moynihan has been cast in a pilot for CBS titled Me, Myself & I. Deadline reported this week that Moynihan has decided to leave SNL after this season whether Me, Myself & I is picked up for series or not, but there has been no official word from Moynihan or NBC.
** Three more installments of the YouTube series Creating Saturday Night Live premiered this week focusing on the music department, show photographer Mary Ellen Matthews, and the sound effects behind the sketch “Gym Class” from the last episode.
** Sasheer Zamata will have a stand-up special, Pizza Mind, available through the streaming service Seeso starting on Mar. 30.
** Last week, actor Bill Paxton died at the age of 61. While Paxton was well-known for his roles in Aliens, Twister, and Titanic what many people didn’t know was that Paxton directed and starred in the music video for the Barnes & Barnes cult classic, “Fish Heads,” which aired on SNL in Dec. 1980.
** Father John Misty performed “Total Entertainment Forever” and “Pure Comedy.”
** Saturday Night Live returns on Mar. 11 with host Scarlett Johansson and musical guest Lorde.