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The Best Saturday Night Live in Years

On May 19, SNL's host was (Sir, please) Mick Jagger. The show was 2012's season finale, and it featured an amazing array of rockers, returning cast members, and surprising cameos.

Jon Hamm opened the show as a swarthy Italian who romances the creepy Lawrence Welk singer Dooneese (Kristin Wiig). An almost unrecognizable Steve Martin showed up in "The Californians," an original sketch for a change. Jagger was a star of the show, supposedly shown on the Soap Channel. It featured an all-blonde cast with unintelligible accents - that used to be called "Valley" - who manage to turn every conversation into highway directions. (That was next week's host Josh Brolin as the doctor.)

The tedious "Secret Word" sketch, in which Kristin Wiig plays the same character making the same mistake over and over and over, displayed originality for the first time. Jagger portrayed an uber-gay veteran actor as a guest celebrity.

Jagger also showed a gift for comedy as a shy insurance salesman spending time with convention colleagues at a Rolling Stones karaoke night. After horrible renditions by the others, and Jagger's reticence to perform in front of a group, the rest of them leave. Alone, he gives a quiet recitation of "Satisfaction." Jagger also parodied Steven Tyler and a J.P. Morgan executive.

Jagger did double duty as the musical guest, performing with The Foo Fighters, and it was novel to see Dave Grohl essentially doing backup. Among other songs, he did "The Last Time" with Arcade Fire, a Stones song they haven't performed in years. Jagger sang the blues in a song he wrote about the presidential election (backed fantastically by Jeff Beck ). The song included one vulgar word seldom heard on TV, starting with S (big deal), and some affiliates immediately went to commercial. However, the hours between 10:00 PM and 6:00 AM have FCC-approved "safe harbor," during which there's a bit of wiggle room. The end of the show featured Kristin Wiig as a new graduate, which moved on to a medley of "She's a Rainbow" and "Ruby Tuesday" to bid farewell after Wiig's seven years on SNL.

The goodbye to Kristin Wiig seemed to take over the end of the show. She has been overused for years. The producers seemed to use her as the "default woman" in endless sketches, some incredibly repetitive, and as a result it was easy to get sick of her. SNL has had good times and bad times, but it will clearly be around for a long time.

The waving goodbye at the end of the show was crowded with the huge number of featured musicians, returning cast members and cameo actors. But it was such a sendoff of Wiig that Mick Jagger wasn't even in the middle of the stage. Goodbye, Kristin. Enough already.

Some TV shows have been on for a long, long time. Saturday Night Live is one of them. Do you remain an audience member through the cast changes that have taken place for 37 years? The shows come and go, but once in a while there's one that's simply the best.

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