SNL Viewers Club: Taraji P. Henson with Mumford & Sons

Laser Time, SNL, Saturday Night Live, Viewers Club, review, Season 40, Taraji P. Henson, Mumford & Sons, episode

Taraji P. Henson extends her “empire” to Saturday Night Live with her first hosting gig. How did she fare?

For those who haven’t seen it, Empire is the tale of a hip-hop mogul single-handedly keeping the Fox channel afloat. Oooh, sick burn. Taraji P. Heson’s Cookie is part of the fantastic cast. It also means the SNL writing team went pretty stereotypical with a lot of their sketches…

So let’s break this down. People like numbered scores, so I’ve chosen to rate every sketch at 0, 1/2, or 1 point. A sketch not worth watching at all receives a 0, a sketch that doesn’t stand out but didn’t totally flop gets a 1/2, and a sketch that does its job of entertaining and delivering a few laughs will earn 1 point. A standout sketch that goes above and beyond will receive the normal point plus 1 bonus point. Cool? Cool. Let’s talk about it!

Air Date: 4/11/15

Host: Taraji P. Henson

Musical Guest: Mumford & Sons

Hillary Clinton Election Video Cold Open

Oh yay, more politics! …we all know Hillary Clinton can be pretty hard-faced, but not even the great Kate McKinnon could spice up this by-the-numbers sketch. Darell Hammond’s surprise Bill Clinton appearance was the best part of this for sure. 1/2 point

Monologue

Turns out Henson is a great singer, but I fear we’ve reached the point in the season where the writers are too tired to put actual effort into monologues. A few chuckles from cast member interjections made this one bearable, at least. 1/2 point

Depend Legends

This was a decent enough premise, but the punch lines fell very flat with the audience. It’s totally off base from SNL’s target demographic too. 0 points

Teacher Trial

Unlike the previous sketch, this was a wholly unoriginal premise. That said, every cast member involved had spot-on delivery. 1 point

Home 2

The “list of impressions” sketches usually do well, but I’d say the jokes this time hit about 50% of the time. Cecily Strong’s Sofia Vergara was the standout. 1/2 point

QVC

We’ve heard MicKinnon do this voice before, but what a goofy character to pair with it this time. The sketch lost steam pretty quickly, but I do hope we see more of this left-fielder. 1/2 point

Game of Thrones

You know that joke about how Keenan Thompson’s “impressions” always fall flat? Add Ice Cube to the list. Then add jokes that didn’t land and the quietest cameo response ever (sorry, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), and you’ve got a dud. At least we got to see Michael Che in another sketch. 0 points

Weekend Update

Speaking of Che, he and co-anchor Colin Jost’s Update jokes this were mostly misses. SNL was the “Kate McKinnon Show” this week (she was Kristen Wiig’s replacement, after all), so she returned to the desk as Cecilia Gimenez. We haven’t seen the elderly artist in a while, so her routine was pretty entertaining. On the flip side, we’ve seen Vanessa Bayer’s Jacob far too many times, never with anything new. At least the Billy Crystal cameo was refreshing. 1/2 point

Hollywood Game Night with Taraji P. Henson

Two impression-offs in one show? Taran Killam’s Vin Diesel is hilarious, and Jay Pharoah’s Common was perfectly obnoxious. McKinnon’s Jane Lynch is always great in this recurring sketch, with her building frustration and belittling of the show as she hosts. I’m pretty close to labeling this the new Celebrity Jeopardy. 1 point

Vlog with Taraji P. Henson

This sketch was first seen with Chris Rock in the first half of the season, and it’s just as great in its second outing. This was probably Henson’s best role this episode, and Pharoah performed expertly alongside her. And of course, Kyle Mooney’s awkward, kiddy characters are comedy gold. 1 point

Sesame Street Promo

Get it — HENSON!? Anyway, this sketch was a perfect collision of shows. It’s not as strong if you don’t watch Empire, but funny nonetheless. 1 point

Their Own League

We’ve seen this sketch several times, but by it’s always markedly different by nature (this is how to do a recurring bit, guys). Bobby Moynihan on the woman’s team was a great sight gag, and the whole piece was filled with smartly written cringe humor. 1 point

Connectatron

A goofy, yet weirdly accurate Voltron adaptation. While I like the idea of these events happening in the midst of an actual kaiju battle, the punch lines were pretty hit or miss with the crowd. 1/2 point

Total: 8/13 possible points

This episode picked up dramatically in second half. Did a studio PA drop the show rundown and hand it to a producer upside down? Personally, I love Taraji P. Henson’s work, so I’m bummed to see this episode be so average.

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