At long last, Betty White took center stage as the host of last night’s Saturday Night Live, and I think everyone was both delighted and relieved that her stint proved to be one of the best, if not the best, of the season. With so much hype around the Golden Girl’s appearance, it would have been a major disappointment had the episode turned out to be a bore.

Lorne Michaels wasn’t about to let that happen though. For this special installment, he recruited a gaggle of the show’s best comediennes from the past ten years to join White on stage: Tina Fey, Ana Gasteyer, Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch, Maya Rudolph, and Molly Shannon (noticeably absent: Cheri Oteri). The infusion of energy from this extended cast elevated the material, especially as many of the former cast members resurrected some of their beloved characters and bits from their tenure. It all added up to an hour and a half of great TV, and for once, it seemed like we weren’t watching a sketch show but a party. Throw in the nonstop stream of Tweets and Facebook updates starting at 8:30 PM out here in California, and it felt like a party everyone was invited to (not to cheese out too much).

Of course, watching all those wonderfully talented actresses on stage, it truly underscored some of the deficiencies of the current cast. It’s hard to take lightweights like Abby Elliot, Jenny Slate, and Nasim Pedrad seriously when stacked next to the likes of Molly Shannon and Amy Poehler (to be fair, Pedrad shows the most potential of the group, but still, the only recent female recruit since Kristen Wiig to show breakout talent has been Michaela Watkins, and NBC axed her for no good reason — still angry). Nevertheless, I suppose what we can take away from the experience is that when there’s a host who truly inspires the writers and a talented cast who can bring the material to life, Saturday Night Live can still shine. And when there’s not, well, we’re stuck with Will Forte singing at the Weekend Update desk.

For now though, let’s continue to bask in last night’s show. It was so frequently interrupted by spates of applause that several skits were cut from the telecast. Fear not though. NBC has placed them online. After the jump, the return of Debbie Downer, “Bronx Beat,” and Helen Madden, licensed joyologist. (Sadly, no Mary Katherine Gallagher).

What did you think about the episode? What was your favorite skit? Did it live up to the hype?

22 replies on “Betty White Shines on ‘Saturday Night Live.’ Also, Three Unaired Skits!”

  1. Love Betty White. I thought the whole thing was funny but my favorite skit was Scared Straight. (“Wizard. Of. Ass!”)

    I had forgotten about Cheri Oteri. She should rejoin the cast. What else is she doing these days?

    What’s up with your hatred of Will Forte and Jason Sudeikis? I think they are two of the stronger cast members right now. I mean those ESPN skits alone . . . .

    1. Yes, those ESPN skits alone make me want to STAB MYSELF. I mean, those skits are oookay, but Jason Sudeikis does only one thing: growl. He’s good as the straight man though. Will Forte has his moments, but his absurdist sensibilities drive me nuts. Whenever he starts to sing, it’s all I can do to not fast forward.

      Right now, I feel the strongest people in the cast are Fred Armisen, Kristen Wiig, and Bill Hader. Bobby Moynihan is pretty good too.

  2. Yeah, it’s me again.

    The Bronx Beat skit was funny. Maybe if they had cut out the 1/2 of Jay-Z’s first medley they could have fit in a couple of these skits.

  3. Looks like somebody’s trying to get to the top of the Top Commenters list.

  4. If Betty White is on camera everything else fades into the background….as it should. I remember her in “Life With Elizabeth” and been a fan ever since. She’s an all time great.
    (and, yes, I’m THAT old!)

  5. It was a great show! I think my fav was the radio show with the muffin talk. Good times…

    1. I had to FF through that. Too uncomfortable! I’m with dsc – the Scared Straight skit was on fire.

  6. Love that Sally O’Mally, loved seeing all the girls back, it was the best show so far this season

  7. Yeah Oh God Again.
    It’s been a while, but I obviously need to visit Yoga Zone for a class.
    I just hope all the instructors DON’T look like Andy.

  8. BW in all those Sheinhardt wigs was hilarious.

    I love Pete Twinkle.


  9. She did an awesome job – but it was such a strong show from all of the alums. The Taylor Swift show was the best of a weak season. More Bill Hader!!

  10. having the strong female cast members come back to support Betty DID make for an awesome show, but the fact that Betty was in almost every skit showed that she’s a strong and competent live performer. I loved the “Scared Straight” sketch and the Digital Short. I also love Will Forte and Bill Hader (although Hader does tend to crack up during sketches-I kindalike that too).

  11. I remember reading how having Betty White host the show would be so hard on her. It did not seem like that at all. She rocked it! That woman is a ledgend.

    I also loved the alum’s come back. They were awesome as well. Well Done SNL, now go out and find better cast.

  12. I have to add that I normally detest MacGruber.
    Betty White as Granny in a Hoveraround thingy made it all better.

  13. Betty’s timing is unbeatable. She was fantastic, and it was great seeing all the alum’s bring back some great characters.
    Like hb, I love Pete Twinkle and the ESPN skits. And I can’t help but laugh at “what up with that”.

  14. Betty White was absolutely divine. What a pro that woman is.
    But can we talk about Molly Shannon for a minute? God, I miss her on this show.
    Her contribution to SNL is undeniable. I think she created the best female characters this show has ever seen.

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