So, the talk this week centered on the question of "will she or won't she" in relation to Maya Rudolph's Whitney Houston impression -- and thankfully, that didn't happen. (Though, that was nothing compared to the now two weeks of buildup until Lindsay Lohan's sure-to-be disaster of a show.) The most notable thing about last night's show was the cold open: absolutely pouncing on the Jeremy Lin story - even responding to the unfortunate ESPN headline - instead of the usual, "Hey, here's Mitt Romney talking," or whatever. In other words: it set the tone for the night. A very good Amy Poehler, Justin Timberlake and Paul Simon cameo filled night, I should add.
Sketch of the Night
"Cold Open: Linsanity Postgame" (Hader, Thompson, Pharoah, Killam) Please, please, please, please, please let this put an end, once and for all, to the Jeremy Lin puns. You, out there, still trying to come up with a new word to stick "Lin" in front of -- SNL is openly mocking you. (OK, having said that, please ignore the headline of this piece.) Also: as mentioned before, why every show doesn't start with a great cold open is beyond me. Actually, in the two years that SNL Scorecard has existed, I'm fairly certain (and I'm way too lazy to look this up to be sure) that this is the first time the cold open has earned "Sketch of the Night." Again: it really does set the tone. (Though, I'm afraid in 15 years, people will look back at this sketch and ask, "Wait, who are they talking about?")
"Cosby Obama" (Rudolph, Armisen, Sudeikis, Killam) First thing: This was honestly the first time I've seen Armisen having fun playing Obama since the "Play it Cool" sketch from 2008 - even though it was more Cosby than Obama. Also, the sketch captures the later years Cosby Show tone of almost being a parody of itself. And, yes, it is remarkable that Maya Rudolph has to host the show in order to air a sketch featuring the First Lady - that's sort of a problem. (Also, somewhere, Carl Payne III is calling his friends to ask, "Hey, did you see they mentioned Cockroach on SNL last night?")
"Weekend Update" (Meyers, Poehler) Amy Poehler should not allowed to appear on "Update." Every time I convince myself, "You know, Meyers does a really good job by himself. And historically the 'Update' anchor has been more of a solo gig than a duo anyway," Poehler shows up and utterly destroys this misconception of mine. The energy level on "Weekend Update" went off the charts as soon as Poehler showed up. Even the jokes that misfire can be saved by the banter between Meyers and Poehler. It's just not fair. It's not fair to give us this taste, knowing that it's only temporary.
Maya Rudolph Monologue (Rudolph, Simon, Ensemble) Hey: Paul Simon showed up! How about that! Yeah, as far as monologues go, this was pretty great. I love it when the whole cast gets together for a choreographed number. This just had the feeling of, "Wow, a lot of work went into this one." Oh, did I mention Paul Simon was there? (Yes, and Stephon -- who I can handle as a cameo right now, but is getting dangerously close to being overexposed.)
What's Up With That? (Thompson, O'Reilly, Upton, Ensemble) Oh, you thought this was retired forever, didn't you? You almost had me convinced! But I always held on to hope. Hope that, just like the phoenix, rising out of the ashes of Mahwah (or, whatever), Deandre Cole would return to me. Good God, it was great to see Jason Sudeikis dancing around in his red tracksuit again. And, Lindsey! Poor Lindsey. Someday, Lindsey.
"Maya Angelou Prank Show" (Rudolph, Pharoah, Thompson, Hader) OK, I'll be honest, I had to watch this one a few times before I fully appreciated it. I don't know why, but it grew on me. Actually, it's one of those sketches in which I laugh harder the more times that I watch it - particularly at Pharoah's Morgan Freeman.
How's He Doing? (Thompson, Pharoah, Rudolph) "The show where the black voter takes a look at President Obama and asks, how's he doing?" My biggest problem with this sketch was its placement on the show. It's not quite bizarre enough to be the last sketch of the night. With its political slant, it almost felt like something that was bumped from the cold open. In other words: it's a good sketch that would have played better not closing out a high-energy show. This would have been a good ballad to slip into the middle of a set list filled with rock song after rock song.
"Bronx Beat" (Rudolph, Poehler, Samberg, Timberlake) Ah, yes, the least surprising "surprise" of the evening. (OK, to be fair, I had heard through the grapevine that this was happening over a week ago. I digress.) Look, I don't get "Bronx Beat." I never have. I know people that swear by it. Every time it airs - and it always airs in prime real estate -- I try to give it another chance. I really do. But, for me, the humor just comes down to Rudolph and Poehler doing exaggerated New York accents. Great. To those who love "Bronx Beat," I apologize in advance because I'm sure this entry was just as amazing as all of the others. I just can't join you in your praise. I just ... can't ... do ... it...
"Jay-Z and Beyonce's Baby (Rudolph, Pharoah, Timberlake, Ensemble) I despise these type of sketches. Yes, I like seeing Fred Armisen's Prince has much as the next person, but what this amounts to is, "Let's just parade in the entire cast and have each do an impression. It doesn't matter what the impression is, any will do..." They always feel lazy and this was no exception. (OK, yes, I did like Timberlake's Bon Iver -- but, still...)
"Super Showcase" (Wiig, Rudolph, Hader, Bayer) Don't be fooled by how much you laughed during this sketch. You laughed because Kristen Wiig broke character - which, to her credit, is extremely rare. If that had not happened, you would not have laughed at this sketch. It's just Wiig and Rudolph doing a weird voice. Actually, this felt like an inside joke between Wiig and Rudolph, which is probably why Wiig couldn't keep a straight face.
Average Score for this Show: 6.05
· Jimmy Fallon 6.17
· Zooey Deschanel 6.08
· Maya Rudolph 6.05
· Jason Segel 6.05
· Charlie Day 6.00
· Steve Buscemi 5.95
· Emma Stone 5.85
· Alec Baldwin 5.80
· Charles Barkley 5.65
· Melissa McCarthy 5.45
· Daniel Radcliffe 5.39
· Channing Tatum 5.27
· Ben Stiller 5.18
· Katy Perry 5.09
· Anna Faris 4.95
You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.
HuffPost Entertainment is your one-stop shop for celebrity news, hilarious late-night bits, industry and awards coverage and more — sent right to your inbox six days a week. Learn more