It’s been nearly 20 years since Christina Applegate was last present to host “Saturday Night Live,” and it was refreshing to see her bring back memories and laughs to this weekend’s installment of “Saturday Night Live,” leading the show to its most consistent episode so far this season.
The “Up All Night” actress hosted this show once before, in 1993 – an episode best remembered for Chris Farley’s first appearance as loud-mouthed, thrice-divorced, government cheese-eating motivational speaker Matt Foley.
Applegate and David Spade snickered throughout the iconic skit, losing composure as Foley droned on about “living in a van down by the river.”
Christina starred on a sitcom then, too – “Married … With Children” as Kelly Bundy, the curvy, clueless blonde with a pretty face and poor boyfriend choices. She’s held numerous roles since her Kelly Bundy days, from TV (Jesse, Samantha Who?) to movies (The Sweetest Thing, Anchorman) to life advancements (marriage, parenthood, beating breast cancer).
Two decades later, Applegate used her monologue to share photos from that 1993 episode – including one shot showing her in a white leather, western-themed get-up, the type of outfit best left in the 1990s.
“Somehow, my outfit was worse than (Farley’s),” she said.
This weekend’s monologue also included Applegate singing about her favorite time of year – the time before the holiday season arrives, “one last glorious weekend when no one’s celebrating anything.”
The song featured an appearance by the “Fruppets,” a rip-off Muppets puppet ensemble with Dane Cook (Jason Sudeikis) as the Swedish Chef. Sadly, Cook’s ‘Chef’ only involved low-brow observational humor in a chef’s hat.
The episode opened with a VP debate skit, skewering this week’s actual debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan. Sudeikis shined as the over-amped Biden, interrupting and insulting Taran Killam’s Ryan at every chance.
“You think you’re tougher than me because you do the P90X workout?” ‘Biden’ asked his challenger, poking fun at Ryan’s gym efforts. “There’s gym strong, and there’s old man strong.”
Cast member Kate McKinnon appeared as moderator Martha Raddatz, providing a stern presence beside Biden’s outlandishness and Ryan’s youthful cheer.
“Hey – do I sound like Jim Lehrer?” Raddatz asks, drawing attention to the first presidential debate’s tepid moderation. “Do I look like Jim Lehrer? Then don’t f— with me like I’m Jim Lehrer.”
Much as the VP debate was more entertaining than the presidential debate, SNL’s second debate skit was sharper and funnier, and even included an appearance by Olympic runner Usain Bolt as Ryan’s workout partner.
The episode achieved a controversial – but humorous – moment with a mock Gillette Fusion “Masters of Style” commercial showing Adrien Brody, Gael Garcia Bernal, Andre 3000 … and convicted child rapist Jerry Sandusky, walking down the street in his prison jumpsuit and handcuffs and putting his razors to use in prison.
Another highlight involved the Greek character Odysseus (Sudeikis) and his men encountering three Sirens – who croon 1990s pop songs. Applegate’s Siren begins singing Lisa Loeb’s Stay (I Missed You).
“I know this,” Odysseus says, bobbing his head, trying to unravel himself from the ship’s mast.
Paula Cole, Shania Twain, Sheryl Crow and TLC songs follow. And Odysseus sings along, the 1990s very much alive on a night led by a 1990s sitcom star.
Applegate is a known quantity when it comes to comedy. She may not have appeared on this show since her Kelly Bundy days, but in the past 19 years, Applegate has only gotten funnier — so it’s reasonable to have fairly high expectations for her performance. As a bonus, Applegate could very well bring Up All Night co-stars Maya Rudolph and Will Arnett in for cameos; their presence would be much appreciated. Then again, the episode’s biggest sketch might not feature Applegate at all.