Michael Keaton proves a very amiable host tonight, as he appears to still have intact every bit of the weird, spontaneous humor that made him such a comedy star in the 1980's. The show's had such a good run lately that it's made me feel a little guilty for going so hard on it back in the fall, but the fact that I can pinpoint this exact turnaround to the 40th anniversary special seems a strange kind of coincidence, don't you think?
COLD OPEN: But this opening tonight isn't great- it's a CBS check-in on the NCAA tournament, and it kinda tries to address the controversial student athlete issue, but it pretty much fails entirely. Kenan's mumbling Charles Barkley is the only funny part of this bit and he gets about two lines tonight.
MONOLOGUE: Michael Keaton comes out onstage for the first time since 1982 (!) and is promptly serenaded by Batman and Beetlejuice fanboys Taran and Bobby, who beg him to play their favorite characters with them. It's not that funny, but it is kind of cute as a tribute to Michael (he was and still is my favorite Batman too), and it works as a skit to get all his 80's iconic characters out of the way up front.
CNN NEWSROOM: A spoof of CNN's "random nonsense" daytime coverage that spoofs their obsession with plane crashes and stupid technical gadgets- it's an easy target that The Daily Show has already mocked mercilessly over the last few years. Still pretty funny though, especially Michael dancing as part of a performance art troupe re-enacting Indiana's anti-gay law.
PROM KING: It's a Mike O'Brien video, so you know this is gonna be weird. This time he takes on the She's All That premise as a high schooler who bets to turn his teacher (Michael) into prom queen, but falls in love. It's as odd as it sounds, and like most of his videos, I don't know if this is good or not. His humor's an acquired taste, but Michael really goes for it (they may match up in that sense).
CALL YOUR GRANDPARENTS: Sasheer hosts an ad for calling your grandparents on Easter, and we get to see Cecily, Kate, Michael and Leslie as old folks in various states of doddering, forgetful annoyances. It's funny and pretty on the mark (I like the one about talking at the same time the entire phone call, lol).
MR. WALLACE: Okay, now this one is so kooky and practically all on Michael, so I'm convinced it was his idea. He's a weird advertizing CEO who keeps pitching crazy, increasingly perverted commercials to his employees- while also bleeding out more and more from a naval piercing. Yeah, it's off the wall, but his commitment to it is funny, and it just seems so him.
CHURCH OF NEUROTOLOGY: A direct mockery of the Scientology music video from 1989 that was seen in the Going Clear documentary that aired on HBO last week. Hilarious and really hits the church hard on all the missing people and defectors who left after signing "billion year" contracts. Really good.
WEEKEND UPDATE: Colin and Michael have their second week in a row of decent jokes about the nuclear deal with Iran, then Pete comes on as a the resident young person to talk his obsession with The Walking Dead finale, and with an appearance from Darryl Dickson no less. A little too long, but all's well when Jebediah comes back to roast current TV shows! He's awesome as always. I never get sick of nasty, rude Jebediah.
NEW NEIGHBORS: Another odd sketch with Cecily and Michael as people who invite their neighbors over for a look at their home inventions, including a pole that recognizes you from your inside when it's inserted in you-know-where. Creepy, but that seems to be Michael's character of choice this episode. It's okay.
EASTER MESSAGE: Yay, the skit with the creepy Christian is back! The all time best of this one was Steve Buscemi's Christmas 2013, but Michael does a pretty damn good job as he goes through the items in this year's Easter basket, including a marshmallow peep that he produced from his body whole (lol) and a stuffed monkey that we definitely did not "descend from." Kate replaces Kristen Wiig as Portia, the new girl off to the side. Love it!
So Michael's thing was offbeat and weird tonight, but he pretty much nailed it, and overall it was another solid episode with not a single dead weight sketch, actually (the closest was the lame cold open I guess). Interesting that there wasn't even a single mention of Birdman. I guess he's over that whole thing, huh? I give it a B+, and next week it's Taraji P. Henson, fresh off the Empire phenomenon, so tune in for that, because then it'll probably be two weeks off before SNL comes back for its final run this season in May. See you then!