So this is the Christmas episode of “Saturday Night Live.” And what have you done, “SNL”? You’ve brought together Jeff Bridges and Eminem for your final comedic jaunt of 2010. The Dude and The Real Slim Shady: like chocolate and peanut butter, but with more facial hair and anger issues. Vegas places 3:1 odds on “Lazer Catz” meeting “Tron” during tonight’s episode, and me liking the result at about 50:1.

Will Bridges redeem a rather tepid Fall for the show? Only one way to find out. As always, what follows below are my insta-reactions to each sketch as they happen. Like “SNL” and Bill O’Reilly, WE’RE DOING IT LIVE! Onto the recap after the break...

“Cold Open”: Democrats dreaming of a better 2010? Guess “SNL” couldn’t write a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” rebuttal sketch quick enough to make it to air. A basically wordless sketch, and a basically laughless one as well. It played like “Weekend Update” on mute. Terrible opener. [Grade: D-]

“Monologue”: Some early jokes about Jeff Bridges not being The Dude in real-life bomb, but things picks up when Cookie Monster’s viral campaign to host the show comes true and the pair sing “Silver Bells.” And man, I can’t tell which one is higher. (I kid! Kinda!) Cookie Monster scatting over Bridges’ faithful rendition? Best monologue of the year! Let’s hope Cookie Monster makes it into as many sketches as possible. I sense “What’s Up With That (Cookie)?” airing before Eminem’s first performance. [Grade: A]

“A Message from Mark Zuckerberg”: Man, “SNL” is going to run Julian Assange into the ground before any government gets the chance to do so himself. And given that this was by far the least funny of the three sketches they have done in consecutive weeks, let’s be glad there’s not an episode next week that will completely kill any remaining comedy inherent in this premise. [Grade: C-]

“The Miley Cyrus Show”: Jeff Bridges as Nick Nolte? Huh. It’s both too close to, and yet nowhere near, the real thing. It mostly seemed like Bridges took a nap after the monologue and was pushed into the sketch having just woken up. As for the rest of the endeavor: same format as every other iteration this year, same amount of laughs. Which is to say, not that many. Where the f#%$ is Cookie Monster? [Grade: D+]

“I Just Had Sex”: What if “Jizz in My Pants” and “I’m on a Boat” had a 3-way with Akon? This song, people! Throw in Jessica Alba and an oddly attentive world population eventually joining in, and you have an anthem that will probably end up referenced on “Texts from Last Night” within the next week. PS: Someone tell Alba that someone actually wrote this piece of filmed entertainment, OK? She’s sometimes confused on how words appear in the mouths of people onscreen. [Grade: A-]

“Larry King Live”: As bad as the Nick Nolte fit was, Dog the Bounty Hunter works pretty perfectly for Bridges to perform, especially when he starts getting weepy about his “only friend” leaving the show. But having Jermaine Jackson and The Judds on as the other guests reminded why I wasn’t exactly shaken up this past week when King left the airwaves. Still, had I known he ritualistically slaughtered a ram on a daily basis in order to keep his deal with God, maybe I would have tuned in more often. [Grade: C+]

“Chrunkmas Karnival”: Mary Poopins. Expired Tylenol. 20% of the cast of “Growing Pains.” Loose hawks flying all over this bitch. There were tons more jokes in this, one of the few recurring sketches I actually wished appeared onscreen more often, but I was too busy laughing to take more notes than that. [Grade: A]

 

C’mon, Eminem and Lil Wayne, it’s Christmas! Why you both going on about “No Love”? And why is Steve Jobs’ stunt double playing keyboards for you? Eminem went a little loco for a while there in the recent past, but he looks plenty focused tonight, spitting out lyrics like he’s spraying bullets. That makes sense, given the urgency and anger in this song. Lil Wayne’s verse didn’t have nearly the forceful impact as Eminem’s, but luckily the song ended stronger than it started. It’s no “Lose Yourself,” but what is? [Grade: B]

“Weekend Update”: Kenan Thompson’s Michael Steele doesn’t really play to Thomson’s strength, since the real-life Steele doesn’t have any of Thompson’s wide-eyed energy. Taran Killam’s Brad Pitt will have me rewatching “Kalifornia” to see if he really ends all of his sentences with that guttural noise. As for “A Joke for Fair Harvard”…really? 10,000 men from there will surely be heading to 30 Rock to lodge a formal complaint! (See? Two can play at THIS game, “Weekend Update.”) Wrapping things up with Governor Paterson, Stefon, and Snookie singing “O Christmas Tree” was a fun idea, though oddly none of the three got to shine the way they do when solo. [Grade: B-]

“This You Call a Wonderful Life?”: Ah, the Hanukkah version of this holiday classic. Jason Sudeikis’ Jimmy Stewart is pretty on-point, but the rest of the sketch is just lazy ethnic humor layered atop a familiar film. On top of that, the camera work was consistently off, either pointed at the floor or to a non-speaking player. I’m feeling like a Grinch here, but it’s another downer of a sketch here as we head into the homestretch. [Grade: D+]

“Jeff’d”: My notes for this sketch sum things up nicely in and of themselves: desperately trying to think of something nice to say…still trying…banging head against the wall…does Forest Whitaker have some weird ideas about taxidermy in real life?...save me, Cookie Monster…you’re my only hope… [Grade: D-]

Guess Pink was too busy to show up to sing the hook for Eminem’s “Won’t Back Down.” That, or she caught “Jeff’d” during the dress rehearsal and left town. And even though Jeff Bridges introduced Lil Wayne, he never actually appeared onstage…until Eminem left so Wayne could take the stage solo to perform “6’7’’”. Whereas “Won’t Back Down” assaults the audience, this one shakes their booty. Can’t believe Eminem played warm-up act for the second slot, but both slots were certainly strong. [Grade: B+]

“Tunstall General Store”: It only took the show one hour and twenty minutes, but they finally gave Jeff Bridges a character to take advantage of his not-so-inner weirdo. This is one of those late-in-the-show sketches that is solely saved by the way in which the cast throws themselves into the utter silliness of it all.  Nothing amazing here, but it wins points for originality. And given the overall quality tonight, that’s something I suppose. [Grade: B-]

“A Holiday Message from The Kardashians”: Well, it’s not an unfunny commercial featuring an “SNL” player from the 20th century here in the final slot. So, that’s something. Half of their impressions stems from their voices, and half from the way that these three never…stop…undulating. (I’m a fan of both of these aspects.) At around ninety seconds, this was the perfect length for this premise. While it didn’t save the show by any stretch, it was a pretty good note to end on. [Grade: B+]

Best Sketch: “Chrunkmas Carnival”

Worst Sketch: “Jeff’d”

MVP: Cookie Monster

LVP: The person that decided showing the puppeteer holding the upper half of “Cookie Monster” during the closing credits was a good idea

 

What did you think of the final “Saturday Night Live” of 2010? Will you ring in the new year with continued viewings or make it a resolution to stop watching? Leave your thoughts and comments below!