Saturday Night Live turned in its best episode of the season this past weekend, with Anne Hathaway as host. As expected, Tina Fey returned as Sarah Palin to spoof the vice-presidential debates. It was a return to form for the show and for Fey, who once again nailed her Palin character. Hathaway did a nice job hosting the show, showing tons of enthusiasm and a surprisingly good singing voice to top it off.
Cold Open: "Palin vs. Biden - The Vice-Presidential Debate" (Grade A)
At this point in the presidential campaign it's nearly impossible for me to watch Sarah Palin without thinking about how Tina Fey will spoof her. Fey hit all the right marks in the vice-presidential debate parody. She emphasized Palin's down-home "doggone it" way of talking and of course Palin's overuse of the word "maverick." As good as Fey was, the real surprise was Jason Sudeikis' portrayal of Senator Joe Biden. Biden is not as obvious of a character, but Sudeikis created a funny version of him as a slightly arrogant (and stereotypical) politician. Sudeikis' impression itself wasn't dead-on, but it worked well for the sketch. Queen Latifah made an unexpected and welcome cameo as debate moderator Gwen Ifil.
Opening Monologue - Anne Hathaway (Grade B-)
This one was kind of hard to grade because it was one of the shortest opening monologues I have ever seen. That was most likely due to the fact that the cold open was over eleven minutes. Hathaway joked a bit about her very public break-up and the subsequent imprisonment (for fraud) of her ex-boyfriend. Hathaway came across as very likable and excited to be doing the show. I'll give her props for being willing to joke about a painful subject on live TV.
"The Lawrence Welk Show" (Grade C+)
It is kind of strange to parody The Lawrence Welk Show considering probably not too many people watching SNL have ever seen the show. If not for an incredible coincidence, I would have had to include myself in that category. I happened to be flipping through channels at a hotel I was staying at on Saturday, and I came across The Lawrence Welk Show on PBS and I watched a few minutes of it. In fact the part I caught was an act featuring a group of sisters singing the old classic "Hot Diggity." There weren't exactly the "Merrill Sisters" of this sketch, but then again it wasn't all that far off. In that respect this was an accurate take on the real thing. Of course there wasn't anyone in the original that was like the "not quite right" sister played by Kristen Wiig. This sketch was kind of funny, but I was reminded of Rachel Dratch's Siamese twin character with Jennifer Garner and Fred Armisen as the third Olsen twin sketches from the past.