Decided to see what the rest of the world thought, and I found this writeup from Hollywood Reporter
. It makes many of the same points I've made...
(1) The season premiere began with former cast member Darrell Hammond
settling in as the show’s announcer, replacing the recently deceased Don Pardo
. (Note to the engineers: Hammond’s voice was difficult to hear in the sound mix.)
(2) Music? Ariana Grande
proved once again that she has a big voice with little nuance, and has mastered all the dreadful techniques that American Idol
has instilled in a generation — pointless melisma; grasping the mic dramatically to feign passion, etc.
(3) Lame jokes hobbled Michael Che's debut as “Update" co-anchor with Colin Jost
, and the show went to the NFL-problems well once too often with both a cold-open that featured Pratt as Roger Goodell and, about an hour later, a totally laugh-free football sketch.
(4) The night needed a whole lot more Kate McKinnon
and Sasheer Zamata
(5) Michaels’ other success is the hiring of young comic Pete Davidson
, whose gleefully raunchy “Update” segment about performing oral sex for a million dollars was exceptionally strong. Essentially a stand-up bit done sitting down, Davidson’s comic rhythms were smoothly impeccable—it’s no wonder that, during the closing-credits, Pratt and Bobby Moynihan
brought Davidson forward onstage and pointed at him: They knew who scored the night’s most memorable moment.
(6) Host Chris Pratt was invariably charming, even when trapped in glum sketches about lousy videogames and awkward dating.
And, from this review on Entertainment Weekly
(1) Are SNL
‘s growing pains over as it enters its 40th season? It certainly didn’t seem that way from the show’s bizarre season opener.
(2) This confidence resonates better than last season’s opener, when the new cast members were forced to endure the “New Cast Member or Arcade Fire” sketch. But in doing so, the show seemed to push aside some of its strongest, more veteran players, like Kate McKinnon and Vanessa Bayer.
(3) The night was filled with strange bits. (Case in point: “He-Man and Lion-O.”) I doubt anyone was clamoring for the return of the “Animal Hospital” nurses, and yet there they were. No sketch, however, was weirder than the Mooney and Beck Bennett offering “Bad Boys.” Look, Mooney and Bennett are an acquired taste; I can’t say I possess that taste, so take my evaluation of this sketch with a grain of salt. And this season, Mooney and Bennett (and SNL
segment director Dave McCary) have been joined on SNL by Nick Rutherford, the last member of their old sketch group Good Neighbor—meaning that their takeover of the show may be complete.
(4) It was incredibly strange not to hear Don Pardo’s voice booming across the opening credits. I’m sure we’ll get used to Darrell Hammond’s take eventually. It wasn’t bad, just a bit quieter.
really gave Pete Davidson a chance to shine in his show debut, giving him a Weekend Update segment as “resident young person,” commenting on a teenager who photographed himself in a lewd manner with a statue of Jesus. What followed was a routine centered around what Davidson called the “‘How much money would you go down on a guy for?’ game.” He launched into an explanation of why he would
perform sexual favors for cash, saying, “If you’re gay, it’s fine. Me and my friends are just trying to make money.” The bit was daringly racy, but also felt backwards; the whole concept is that oral sex between two men is inherently gross. Clearly, it was an auspicious beginning for Davidson, and, if nothing else, it demonstrated that the comedian can capture an audience’s attention with ease. There have already been cries of "this kid is going to be a star" on the Internet, and I don’t necessarily doubt that—but this material just did not sit well.
(6) The cold open, a particularly stagnant sketch, found Aidy Bryant playing Candy Crowley opposite Jay Pharoah’s Shannon Sharpe and Thompson’s Ray Lewis.
(7) Che visibly stumbled a bit in his first Update appearance