[With an inspired episode from start to finish, SNL once again demonstrated the wisdom of offering hosting duties to former SNL cast favorites. (Also see Jimmy Fallon's recent triumphant return). Maya Rudolph shelved her best known impression in the wake of Whitney Houston's tragic death, but she offered well-observed takes on others, from Beyoncé to Maya Angelou and Michelle Obama. Also making cameos were Amy Poehler, Justin Timberlake, Bill O'Reilly(!), and Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Kate Upton. Midway through the episode it was announced that the show's next host, on March 3, will be troubled actress Lindsay Lohan.]
Linsanity—New York sports commentators (Bill Hader, Jay Pharoah, and Kenan Thompson) hail sports phenomenon Jeremy Lin with gongs, karate moves, fortune cookie jokes, and an actual New York Post cover (proclaiming Lin "AMASIAN!"), while admonishing colleague Taran Killam to "leave race out of this."
Beyoncé (Maya Rudolph) and Jay-Z (Jay Pharoah) introduce baby Blue Ivy to a succession of music-industry heavyweights, including Prince (Fred Armisen), Nicki Minaj (Nasim Pedrad), a characteristically astonished Taylor Swift (Kristin Wiig), and Bon Iver (Justin Timberlake), who accidentally puts himself to sleep with his own music.
It's The Obama Show ("filmed in front of a live studio audience"), with Barak Obama (Fred Armisen, channeling Bill Cosby), Michelle Obama (Maya Rudolph), Joe Jamal-Biden (Jason Sudeikis, decked out in some funky '80s sweaters), and guest star Hillary Clinton (taking Rudy's part in the classic "Night and Day" Huxtable family lip-syncing scene).
What Up With That?: President's Day Edition—DeAndre Cole (Kenan Thompson) turns the tables on overbearing talk show host Bill O'Reilly, barely letting him get a word in edgewise as he tries to hawk his new book. Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Kate Upton provides eye candy, while tracksuit-attired Jason Sudeikis steals the show with his maniacal background dancing.
Amy Poehler joins Maya Rudolph for a new episode of SNL talk show favorite Bronx Beat (in which Betty and Jodi's efforts to hit on crewmembers Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg prove unexpectedly successful).
Also: Super $$ Showcase—Kristin Wiig can't stop cracking up as she and Bridesmaids costar Maya Rudolph attempt to portray incompetent gameshow models; Maya Angelou punks her esteemed colleagues in I Know Why the Caged Bird Laughs ("My name is Jonathan Franzen... I'd like to order 50 pizzas..."); Amy Poehler joins Seth Meyers for Weekend Update and a new installment of Really?!? With Seth and Amy: Contraception Debate Edition ("Really, Congress? You held a Congressional hearing on reproductive rights and you didn't invite any women? That would be like not inviting any men to a Congressional committee debate on the Maxim top 100...").
NEXT, on March 3: Lindsay Lohan, with musical guest Jack White.
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