Coming off of a streak of a few very solid episodes featuring hosts with real acting chops (Kerry Washington; Edward Norton), Saturday Night Live gets stuck in neutral, though that's not really the fault of a game Lady Gaga.
There's something altogether ungraceful about Lady Gaga, which places the ongoing art-school project on fame that is her career in an interesting light. More polished and she'd be a more uncomplicatedly enjoyable popstress, but every time she makes an ungainly transition onstage or makes a completely dunderheaded, Jo-Calderone-style spectacle of herself, there's at least an implicit acknowledgement that she's making this up as she goes along, and that can be rather exciting. The same, honestly, could be said about Saturday Night Live, which regularly gets shown up for not being as polished as something like Comedy Central's Key & Peele, but which, in all it's bloated, hit-or-miss, cue-card-reading awkwardness, is all the more interesting for the fact that they're essentially winging it for 90 minutes on a Saturday night.
Lady Gaga made for a decent fit as a guest host this week, breaking out a host of silly accents, taking more than her share of opportunities to make fun of herself (hey, when the public says you copy Madonna and may have a penis, you steer into that skid for comedy sometimes), and, perhaps in exchange, finding all sorts of excuses to play her music. Ultimately, it wasn't Gaga who kept this week's episode stuck in a middle ground of amusing-but-not-uproarious. Precious few sketches has the energy of some of the better moments of the last two weeks. Some cast members fared better than others, and a week when we get Jay Pharoah and Nasim Pedrad busting out their Kanye-and-Kim can never be considered a lost cause, but nothing felt indelibly great.