[SNL pulled itself out of its recent slump this week with the best episode in a while. From the inspired opening, in which the New York City Children's Chorus paid homage to those touched by the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, singing "Silent Night" by the light of a flickering candle, to the strong lineup of sketches presided over by funny-as-ever SNL alum Martin Short, the episode delivered. Kristin Wiig, Alec Baldwin, Jimmy Fallon, Samuel L. Jackson, Tina Fey, and Portlandia's Carrie Brownstein all made cameos. Musical guest Paul McCartney performed "My Valentine" and "Wonderful Christmastime," and teamed up with Nirvana to perform "Cut Me Some Slack."]
Cold open—the New York City Children's Chorus.
Kate Middleton's OBGYN (Bill Hader, trying not to laugh), gets lessons from Buckingham Palace representative Martin Short on proper etiquette for examining her highness's "Downton Abbey."
On a "Christmas Spectacular" edition of What Up With That?, a breakdancing Tiny Tim, "Grinchina" the female Grinch, and classic Martin Short character Jackie Rogers Jr. drop by. Kenan Thompson is quick on his feet when guest Samuel L. Jackson starts getting profane.
In the lead-in sketch to Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmastime," Caleb (Martin Short) won't let his triangle accompanist (McCartney) sing during their Christmas pageant audition. (I have a million-dollar voice—you don't...")
The New York Actors Studio presents a new twist on a holiday classic: You're a Rat-Bastard, Charlie Brown, with Al Pacino (Bill Hader) in the title role, Philip Seymour Hoffman (Jason Sudeikis) as Pig-Pen, Edie Falco (Kate McKinnon) as Lucy, Larry David (Martin Short) as Linus...
Also: The Girl You Wish You Hadn't Started a Conversation With at a Party drops by Weekend Update to discuss the holidays ("Why can't Secret Santa just be openly gay? Hello—it's 2010..."); Bar Mitzvah Boy (Vanessa Bayer) drops by Weekend Update to explain the story of Hannukah; old friends Mark and Dennis (Fred Armisen and Martin Short) catch up at the Restoration Hardware store; The monologue (not currently online)—Martin Short pays musical tribute to the most "amorous/lascivious/promiscuous" time of year (accompanied on piano by former SNL bandmember Paul Shaffer), and plants a kiss on Lorne Michaels.
NEXT, on January 19: Jennifer Lawrence, with musical guest the Lumineers.