After a bit of a tough start to Saturday Night Live‘s landmark fortieth season, the show got a shot in the arm from former cast member and fan favorite Bill Hader. Hader has been staying plenty busy since he left the show in 2013 but his return to the late night sketch show was more than welcomed as SNL continues to work out the kinks of their transitional 2013-14 39th season. The nights musical guest was Hozier and despite being light on celebrity and other former cast member cameos, it was the best episode of the season yet.
Cold Open: Kim Jong-un
The cold open is now almost exclusively reserved for the political sketch of the night and this week SNL was poking fun at missing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un featuring Bobby Moynihan as the childish dictator.
Hader’s opening monologue featuring an appearance by his co-star of The Skeleton Twins and fellow SNL alum Kristen Wiig as well as Broadway legend Harvey Fierstein, who joined together to sing a song to the best of their abilities.
Herb Welch: Virginity Pledge
The first of a few returning characters from Hader’s arsenal was Herb Welch, the racist, crabby old coot and veteran TV news field reporter, this time covering a high school’s virginity pledge.
Hollywood Game Night
Hosted by Jane Lynch (Kate McKinnon) and featuring Hader as Al Pacino, Wiig as Kathy Lee Gifford, Cecily Strong as Sofia Vergara, Jay Pharoah as Morgan Freeman, Taran Killam as Christoph Waltz and a spot on impression of Nick Offerman by Beck Bennett the cast of celebrity knuckleheads play Hollywood Game Night.
What would a Bill Hader episode be without an appearance from Stefon? Although being confused at first by the absence of the love of his life Seth Meyers, Stefon took to co-anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che, or as he called them “Mitt and Barack,” and gave tourists some insight into all the attractions to visit during a stay in New York City, all of which included appearances by MTV’s Dan Cortese.
A fast favorite since he made his debut with Seth MacFarlane, last nights episode also saw the return of Anthony Peter Coleman, the war veteran and puppet aficionado who is still working out his trauma through the childlike hobby.
Jan Hooks Tribute: Love Is But a Dream
The episode, for all of the outrageous humor and characters that come along with someone like Bill Hader, took a pause to honor the late Jan Hooks who died earlier this week. Hooks was a crowd and cast favorite and this week SNL paid tribute to the actress by airing “Love Is But a Dream” co-starring the also dearly departed Phil Hartman. Rest In Peace, Jan.
If you’ve read my recaps so far this season or over the last, you know I really do love the show but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed in the season so far. It’s still early and welcoming back a host like Hader definitely helped to make the show more enjoyable. Here’s hoping for its 40th season, SNL can book some solid hosts and figure it out from there. Jim Carrey returns to host on the 25th with musical guest Iggy Azalea. Next week is a rebroadcast of the season premiere with Chris Pratt.
Photo Credit: 2014/Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC