Chadwick Boseman’s ‘Saturday Night Live’ debut was thisclose to being a great episode. But then …

Saturday Night Live
Chadwick Boseman & Cardi B.
April 7, 2018

First, let me be clear, my complaints about Chadwick Boseman’s episode of Saturday Night Live have nothing to do with Chadwick Boseman. The handsome and charismatic star of Black Panther was funny and charming and, it turns out, does a remarkably good R. Kelly. And the truth is because there were several very strong sketches in this episode, including both commercial spoofs and another episode of “Black Jeopardy,” I’m going to remember this episode as being one of the strongest of the season. This, despite having possibly one of the worst-written sketches of the season, and several just very mediocre ones. The worst sketch of the night still wasn’t as bad as one where the alien had a butt for a face and a face for his butt, but it was a close second. Small blessings, I suppose.

Hey, it’s another Trump cold open, this time using his recent meeting with the Baltic states’ presidents as the framework for Alec Baldwin to yell about Mexicans and Jeff Bezos and make fun of foreigners. You know the routine by now.

Grade: B-

Chadwick Boseman’s monologue mostly focused on how it took Saturday Night Live long enough to invite him to host, considering he is the lead in the biggest movie of the year. In fact, he argues, it took them so long that they’ve already used up all their good ideas for Black Panther sketches. It’s not a terrible premise for a monologue, but then for no particular reason, he breaks out into a James Brown dance and I’m really not sure about what he is even wearing here and, well, yeah.

Grade: B-

The first commercial spoof of the night is for Nike workout leggings, in which women reveal how they actually use them. And you need to listen to me: this is TOO REAL. And now I share too much with you: every morning I put on one of three pairs of 10-year-old yoga pants, which I call my “blogging pants,” and I often don’t take them off until sometime late in the afternoon. There are some days I never get out of them. I AM COUCH PANINI.

Grade: A+

Fortunately, it turns out they didn’t run out of good Black Panther sketches after all. In an ingenious move, they brought back “Black Jeopardy” with T’Challa, whose experiences as a Wakandan are vastly different from an African-American man. However, once he gets it, he gets it. Not as great or poignant as the “Black Jeopardy” sketch featuring Tom Hanks but I am HERE for making fun of white people for putting raisins in their potato salad.

Grade: A+

In this sketch, the first pregnant man learns that he is going to give birth through his urethra. It’s not so much bad as it is unoriginal. Although, points for the word “tuliping.”

Grade: C

Aidy B. strives to be more like Cardi B. and finds her power and I love it? I am going to start channeling a little Cardi B. from here on out. ~trillllll~

 

Grade: A

 

ok aidy bryant snl

“Weekend Update.” The political humor feels a little soft (points for “healthy as a fat horse,” and “shade queen”) but I’m not mad at it. (But also, too, golfers are not athletes.)

Grade: B+

Alex Moffat does Mark Zuckerberg, full of awkwardness and nervous shrieking laughing and defensiveness and poking. It’s fine.

Grade: B

Heidi Gardner is back as “Angel, Every Boxer’s Girlfriend” and it’s just the same joke over and over again. I appreciate the character, I just don’t know that I needed to see it ever again.

Grade: B-

In this sketch, a group of women visits a “magic mirror” at Disneyland to reveal their inner Disney princess, and Leslie Jones’ discovers hers is R. Kelly. I have mixed feelings about this: on the one hand, it’s entirely too easy to make fun of Leslie Jones for not being traditionally feminine, but on the other hand, there is something so surreal and admittedly funny to think of R. Kelly as being anyone’s “personal princess.” Jones manages to get in a single reference to Kelly being a notorious predator, but it feels like some sharper jokes might have been unfortunately cut from this bit.

Grade: C+

Boseman plays a fireman who refuses to help with a fire because he wanted to leave work early. Also something about dogs and dolls? This is easily the worst sketch of the evening, I don’t even understand what the joke is supposed to be.

Grade: F

In this sketch, a group of diners sing their criticisms of a restaurant, and it is annoying as hell. That said, Kenan’s wig though.

Grade: C+

The second commercial spoof of the evening was for “The Game of Life: DACA Edition,” and it is amazing. “Time for a Presidential tweet card!”

It’s difficult to make something so awful and brutal as the way DREAMERS are treated by this country funny, but SNL managed to thread that particular needle here.

Grade: A+

The final sketch of the night — which somehow wasn’t that terrible fire fighting bit — is one in which African-Americans have some issues with White people doing the Wakanda salute. It’s fine up until the end, which, just, sighhhhhhh. LEARN HOW TO WRITE AN ENDING, SOMEONE, ANYONE, PLEASE.

Grade: B-

Apparently, rumors of Cardi B’s pregnancy have been swirling for months, but she chose her appearance on SNL to be her “Beyonce at the VMAs” moment. It’s a blatant rip-off of Queen Bey, but she looks so blissed out that you can’t help but be happy for her. No grade here, it was just a nice moment.

Final Grade: B. It could have been an A, y’all. It could have been an A.

couch panini snl.gif

Saturday Night Live airs at 10:30/11:30 p.m. Saturdays on NBC.

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