All of the elements for a truly terrific "SNL" were there -- great host, spirited audience, refreshed cast -- but it wasn't a terrific "SNL." It was a good show, fueled mostly by the physical efforts of host Melissa McCarthy, but, overall, the material wasn't there. The thing about McCarthy is that not everything has to involve her falling down or saying weird things -- she can play subversive, too (as we saw at times during the "Outside the Lines" sketch).
The first time McCarthy hosted, it was the "McCarthy and Wiig" show, playing off the success of "Bridesmaids." Thankfully (for the sake of being too obvious), there was no cameo from Kristen Wiig, which left McCarthy open to do different types of sketches. It's just a shame that, for the most part, the writers didn't take full advantage of that. Here is your SNL Scorecard:
Sketch of the Night
"Outside the Lines" (Melissa McCarthy, Bill Hader, Tim Robinson, Bobby Moynihan, Jay Pharoah, Cecily Strong) Mike Rice, until recently, was the head coach for Rutger's men's basketball team. He lost that job after a video surfaced of Rice abusing players physically and verbally. It's a quite disturbing video, and "SNL" was wise to directly lampoon Rice, but instead, put McCarthy in a character who is "worse" than Rice: Not only did Shelia Kelly throw basketballs at players, as Rice was wont to due, Shelia Kelly will throw toasters and drive over players with a golf cart. This was by far the best use of McCarthy during the show.
"Bathroom Businessman" (Kenan Thompson, Nasim Pedrad) Admittedly, I was initially rolling my eyes during "Bathroom Businessman," thinking, Oh, wonderful, here's a lazy commercial parody for a computer in a bathroom stall that ends with a poop joke. Lovely. Then, the rug was pulled out from underneath the segment, transforming the entire message into a plea to stop working on your electronic equipment from the bathroom because it's disgusting. "Brought to you by Decency."
"Weekend Update" (Seth Meyers, Vanessa Bayer, Keenan Thompson, Bobby Moynihan, Peter Dinklage) It's always nice seeing Peter Dinklage pop up somewhere, but that was a waste of a Peter Dinklage appearance. Put it this way: If someone had told me that Dinklage was going to be on the show last night, "appearing for the last two minutes of Drunk Uncle" would have been low on my wish list for him. Alas. Regardless: Hey, Peter Dinklage!
Seth Meyers seemed refreshed and extremely sharp (perhaps rumors of getting your own late night talk show will do such things). I may be in the minority, but I love Vanessa Bayer's Jacob -- yes, she somehow does look like a 13-year-old boy. And Kenan Thompson's Charles Barkley was, like always, OK.
"Ham Bake-off" (Melisa McCarthy, Jason Sudeikis, Kenan Thompson, Cecily Strong, Nasim Pedrad, Taran Killam, Bobby Moynihan) The best part about McCarthy's "Ham Bakeoff" dance routine was that the word "ham" being relentlessly repeated over and over during the performance. In the end, this was certainly fine, but not quite as special as it seemed like it was going to be on first viewing -- meaning that McCarthy really sells this one.
(Not online due to song rights issues.)
"Melissa McCarthy Monologue" (Melissa McCarthy, Taran Killam) It's hard to do something "different" during the monologue. Melissa McCarthy struggling to get down the stairs in her new high heels, coupled with her purposely lame jokes, was certainly different.
"Pizza Business" (Melissa McCarthy, Jason Sudeikis) This one grew on me. To be fair, it aired right after "Million Dollar Wheel" and I was still annoyed -- but, by the end of the sketch, I'd invest in a leftover pizza eater myself. Also of note, if this is Jason Sudeikis' last season, I will miss him playing the "normal" character. Somehow he still makes it funny.
"Art of the Encounter" (Cecily Strong, Kate McKinnon, Melissa McCarthy, Taran Killam, Bobby Moynihan, Tim Robinson) Well, this was certainly weird -- and certainly fit the bill for a "10 to 1" sketch. I think that my favorite part was that it was set in the 1990s, even though there really was no reason for it to be set in the 1990s. And I do like it when Cecily Strong plays "weird," something she's been doing more of lately, instead of just relying on "funny accents."
"The Voice" (Taran Killam, Melissa McCarthy, Bill Hader, Jason Sudeikis, Jay Pharoah, Kate McKinnon, Kenan Thompson) I feel "SNL" has really wanted to do a sketch based on "The Voice" -- other than that quick hit they did during Adam Levine's monologue -- for some time. (It's been killed at dress rehearsal in the past.) Of course, it appears that they didn't really know quite what to do in that sketch. Regardless, Bill Hader's Levine is fantastic -- not fantastic enough to carry an entire sketch, but it's fantastic.
"Cold Open: C-Span North Korea" (Bobby Moynihan, Dennis Rodman) OK, enough is enough with this sketch. Who is it that just loves this sketch so much that it just keeps on opening "SNL" and killing all momentum right off the bat? Seriously? Oh, what a change up, instead of Fred Armisen speaking gibberish underneath a translator, this time it's Bobby Moynihan Kim Jong Un. I'm sure these will continue because someone obviously loves them, but they have more than run their course. And, no, in 2013 a Dennis Rodman cameo isn't edgy or the least bit interesting.
"Million Dollar Wheel" (Melissa McCarthy, Bill Hader, Nasim Pedrad, Fred Armisen, Tim Robinson) And, in direct comparison with "Outside the Lines," this was the worst use of McCarthy during the show. I kept waiting and waiting for the punchline. But, no, McCarthy's character really was just dumb and didn't know where the "D's" were.
Average Score for this Show: 5.86
· Christoph Waltz 7.03
· Justin Timberlake 6.40
· Martin Short 6.28
· Christina Applegate 6.13
· Seth MacFarlane 5.93
· Louis C.K. 5.92
· Anne Hathaway 5.87
· Melissa McCarthy 5.86
· Bruno Mars 5.81
· Adam Levine 5.71
· Joseph Gordon-Levitt 5.51
· Kevin Hart 5.47
· Jamie Foxx 5.43
· Jeremy Renner 5.39
· Jennifer Lawrence 5.38
· Daniel Craig 5.35
· Justin Bieber 5.23
Mike Ryan is senior writer for Huffington Post Entertainment. You can contact him directly on Twitter. Click below for this week's "SNL," Not Ready For Primetime Podcast featuring Mike Ryan and Hitfix's Ryan McGee.