clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Saturday Night Live report card: Kylo Ren goes undercover on Starkiller Base

Plus, the weirdest Aladdin sketch you'll ever see

It didn't take long for the Star Wars jokes to start rolling in during Saturday Night Live's first episode of the new year.

With Adam Driver as host, the cast got in as many Kylo Ren quips as they could during the actor's opening monologue before the night's sketches even began.

While the monologue felt awkward at times and the comedy a bit forced, the show did manage to score a hit with one of its first bits, "Undercover Boss: Starkiller Base."

Driver absolutely shone during the five-minute parody of A&E's Undercover Boss series and essentially proved from the very beginning of the episode that he was capable of producing some high quality comedy content.

Star Wars parodies aside, the episode featured some of the weirder sketches found in recent episodes, including a take on Disney's Aladdin that was questionable at times.

With a number of topical football sketches and a beautiful tribute to David Bowie, SNL's 2016 return was definitely a successful one.

Best sketch: Undercover Boss: Starkiller Base

Adam Driver understands how awkwardness can be used for comedic purposes. He's done it for the past five years on HBO's Girls and he did it again last night in this sketch.

Based on A&E's show, Driver's Kylo Ren went undercover as Matt, a lowly mechanic on Starkiller Base to see what employees thought of the job and their overlord boss.

With strong supporting performances from Leslie Jones, Bobby Moynihan and Taran Killam, the parody felt like a classic SNL sketch. Which is something, it should be mentioned, the show hasn't had in quite some time.

Runner up: Golden Globes

One of the show's darker sketches, Golden Globes follows the kids of two fictional celebrities after they're told to "go to bed" by their parents who are accepting the awards.

As time passes and their parents still don't return home from the event, these two kids — played brilliantly by Kyle Mooney and Kate McKinnon — start to think the worst. It's a nightmarish three minutes for them as they start to conjure up all the terrible scenarios of what could have happened.

Despite the dark nature of the show, it was one of the most riotous, and proved once again that when Mooney gets to work on his offbeat sketches, the show benefits immensely.

Best moment: Fred Armisen's tribute to David Bowie

SNL alum Fred Armisen returned to the stage last night to pay tribute to musical icon David Bowie, who passed away from cancer at the age of 69 on Jan. 10.

Armisen spoke briefly about how watching Bowie's 1979 performance of "The Man Who Sold The World" on the show transformed live television for him.

Armisen added that Bowie's performance had a profound effect on him growing up and played a one-minute clip of Bowie performing said song before leaving the stage. It was respectful, short and a perfect way to honor Bowie's legend.

Worst sketch: Cold open

This season has been full of disappointing cold opens, but none so much as last night's.

There was no rhythm to the sketch, which poked fun at Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and the most recent GOP debate on Fox, and the jokes felt rehashed from previous sketches. Taran Killam and Jay Pharoah slayed as Ted Cruz and Ben Carson, but the formatting of the sketch took away from their performances.

At one point, the show purposely cut away to an ad for Supergirl, and although clever, wasn't given a clear enough introduction. It felt messy, unprofessional and above all else, wasn't the least bit funny.

Weirdest sketch: Aladdin

Aladdin is another perfect example of how a weird sketch can ultimately work to the show's advantage if the right people are cast.

The sketch focused on the romantic moment between Aladdin and Jasmine while taking a ride on his magic carpet, breaking out into "A Whole New World" whenever possible. Things start to go awry, however, when objects start flying into Jasmine's head and the carpet suffers from mechanical failures, leading to an emergency landing at a nearby airport.

Everything about this sketch, from the writing to the animation used at the every end, is super strange, but consistently works in its favor.

All in all, it was one of SNL's stronger episodes and was a promising start to the second half of the season. The only kink the show needs to work out is how it's going to continue to tackle the GOP race without reusing the same jokes and inevitably falling flat week after week.

Next week, MMA superstar Ronda Rousey is set to host with Selena Gomez accompanying her as the musical guest.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Patch Notes

A weekly roundup of the best things from Polygon