'Saturday Night Live': Gwyneth Paltrow, Cee-Lo have a strong episode

gwyneth-paltrow-cee-lo-green-snl.jpgGwyneth Paltrow hosted "Saturday Night Live" for the third time on Saturday (Jan. 15), with musical guest Cee-Lo Green. We have to say -- very good job all around.

The cold open bit with FOX News embracing civility was alright. We always enjoy Bill Hader as James Carville.

Gwyneth's monologue about country music started off rough but got better. When she sang "Islands in the Stream" with Jason Sudeikis as Kenny Rogers, Gwyneth's vamping from not knowing the words was hilarious and her harmony was good. Then Cee Lo joined the party and it was full of awesome.

The Secret Word parody of "Password" was back. We really wish they would do the "Match Game" parody instead, those are hysterical (both the originals and the parodies). Gwyneth played a socialite named Titsy Bizmark-Tomlinson and was quite funny. Simply smashing.

There was the digital short featuring Peewee Herman and Anderson Cooper. Peewee and Andy Samberg did shots, they danced "Tequila" on the bar and then they beat up Anderson Cooper. Then there was an intervention staged. It was really weird.

In a ridiculously delightful sketch, Gwyneth was Taylor Swift performing at a bar mitzvah. Her "bar mitzvah twist" on the song "You Belong With Me" went like this:

"She's in synagogue with her new clear braces on. / I'm sittin' shiva with no mirrors to put makeup on. / She doesn't get your Mel Brooks humor like I do. / She wears Macy's, I wear Loehmann's. She wears Filene's and I wear Filene's Basement. / Can't you see? She's just a JAP. Not like Japanese."

Then Jay Pharoah appeared as Jay-Z and sings his bar mitzvah version of "New York State of Mind." Meh. Bring back Gwyneth as Taylor. Abby Elliott's Katy Perry doing her Jewish version of "California Girls" was also not that good. But Cee Lo Green redeemed it in a giant fur coat singing his "Eff You" song about Hebrew.

The sketch where they substituted all the swear words with normal words wasn't always laugh-out-loud funny, but the pure skill with which the actors said their lines without screwing up was fantastic. It made me think of a modern version of "Who's on First?", just in the style of the word play.

They obviously wrote the sketch in response to Cee Lo having to censor his song "Eff You" on the show and it segued well into his performance of it, which was great.

Weekend Update was its usual awesome self. Seth Meyers gave an inspired rant during "Constitutional Corner" that we can't transcribe here (it's too long), but suffice to say it was hilarious and smart. There was a weird Golden Globes bit where Bill Hader bellowed like a Wookie as his Cher impression. It made us laugh pretty hard.

Unfortunately, the singing duo Garth and Kat brought Weekend Update to a screeching halt. That is not funny. Ever. Please stop this bit. And then they dragged poor Gwyneth into it.

The show moved on to Globe Theater sketch set in England where they parodied a modern movie theater. They previewed Shakespearean plays, trailer-style, summing up "Romeo & Juliet," "Hamlet" and "Henry IV." It was kind of clever.

The "Fresh Prince of Bel-Aire" DVD sketch was kinda funny. Jay Pharoah does a pretty decent Will Smith impression, which is what really sells the sketch. But it also feels like sometimes they force or shoe-horn in sketches just to showcase the impressions Pharoah can do.

There was a Sportscenter Desportes sketch where Gwyneth played an ESPN anchor named Sofia Cortez and the whole bit was that she and her co-anchor were speaking in Spanish except when they had to exclaim things like,"Brett Favre," "Pop goes the weasel" and "sexting." It was actually pretty funny if you've ever seen one of those broadcasts.
 
The final sketch of the night was various women auditioning for a co-anchor spot on Eliot Spitzer's show. Gwyneth played Heidi Klum -- there's a reason this was the final sketch of the night.

Overall, though, we give Gwyneth and Cee-Lo a big thumbs up. This was one of the strongest episodes in recent memory.
 
Photo/Video credit: NBC