Critics are mostly calling Saturday Night Live’s 38th opening season comeback a resounding success. With regulars like Kristen Wiig and Andy Samberg gone, many thought the show would suffer. But, as it turns out, it didn’t.
With a big emphasis on Family Guy creator-voice actor Seth MacFarlane and a much anticipated appearance by Channel Orange artist Frank Ocean, SNL proved it is still cutting edge television in the competitive, primetime weekend slot.
Performing “Thinking About You,” the same song he performed at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards, only this time better and more sublime, Ocean drafted in John Mayer on guitar.
Later in the show, Ocean returned with Mayer to deliver a blistering debut of album cut “Pyramids.” The recently out singer provided an odd moment of interest during Mayer’s solo when he walked to side of the set to play a video arcade game.
As for MacFarlane, he delivered. Known mainly as the voice of Family Guy’s “Stewie” and the director of surprise hit Ted (starring Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis), MacFarlane was funny as all out in numerous sketches.
One of these featured a mock Ryan Lochte as a “stupid” version of the Olympic swimming medalist guesting on the Weekend Update desk. It worked a treat as did the “Introduction to Puppetry” sketch with MacFarlane playing the instructor and SNL favorite Bill Hader playing a student in the class to great effect.
More laughs came when Hader channeled actor and Romney endorser Clint Eastwood in a vaudeville sketch “Eastwood and Chair.” Hader’s routine about an “Invisible and Irritated Barack Obama” and a duet “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” played brilliantly with the studio audience.
Bringing up the rear, Keenan Thompson convincingly pulled off talk show host Steve Harvey, giving one “lucky viewer” a makeover. Said viewer was revealed as Seth MacFarlane, complete with bald cap, comic pinstriped suit, and larger-than-life facial hair. Jason Sudeikis featured as Mitt Romney, and long-standing SNL cast member Jay Pharoah replaced Fred Armisen to storm the show as Barack Obama.
Saturday Night Live, back and better than ever — what do you think?