Pop Culture

'Saturday Night Live' season premiere tackles politics, pop culture

Seth MacFarlane didn't need a stuffed teddy bear to host the 38th season premiere of "Saturday Night Live" — his lively humor kept viewers who tuned in delightfully amused. His opening monologue and song showcased a myriad of animated voices, including "Family Guy's" Peter Griffin, Quagmire, Brian, Stewie, Kermit the Frog, and "Star Trek's" George Takei — a splendid illustration of how brilliant a writer/director/impersonator/singer he is!

Seth’s humor took away the pain of missing Kristen Wiig, Abby Elliot and Andy Samberg, who are no longer on the show. Three new cast members — Aidy Bryant, Tim Robinson, and Cecily Strong — have been added as featured players.

Not everything MacFarlane did on the show was funny, of course. The most inappropriate: He began his monologue by saying he has loved "SNL" since he was a kid and promised himself that if he ever hosted the show, he'd say, "Please go out with me, Farrah Fawcett." Crickets. (And a few tiny giggles.) And his Lids for Gangnam skit, where Korean pop star/YouTube sensation Psy made a cameo, was more than slightly odd, though funny. Ditto the Clint Eastwood/empty chair skit.

For the most part, however, there were many highlights. Fred Armisen, who has previously played Barack Obama, has passed the torch to his successor, Jay Pharoah. While Pharoah has the president's voice and mannerisms down during his podium speech, he still needs a tiny bit of work (and much less powder on his face). Huge guffaws from the studio audience, when Obama notes that while his campaign is in trouble, he has a secret weapon: Mitt Romney (played deliciously by Jason Sudeikis).

Seth Myers, as usual, killed it during his Weekend Update. Best joke he told was about singer Chris Brown's new tattoo resembling a battered woman: "You know you've made a bad decision when having a neck tattoo is the second worst thing than having a neck tattoo." Honorable mention here for MacFarlane, who did a spot on, hilarious impression of  the soft spoken, oft-relaxed Olympic swimmer medalist Ryan Lochte, brought on to do a Fall TV Preview. Honey Boo Boo and Mama from "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" make an appearance as well, with subtitles.

Probably the best skit of the night involved McFarlane playing a puppet teacher offering therapy to Bill Hader’s character, who plays an extremely screwed up war vet working through his issues via his puppet. Hilarity ensues — especially when Bill, his puppet, and the female puppet next to him all have a three-way makeout session.

Two soulful ballad performances, "Thinking Bout You" and "Pyramids," were performed beautifully by singer/songwriter Frank Ocean, with John Mayer on guitar. With some of the skits in the last half hour of the show not as funny, it really wouldn’t have been bad if Ocean had sang a third song.

Which 'SNL' skit was your favorite? Tell us about it on Facebook.

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