Saturday night with Miley was neither the trainwreck nor the twerk-filled spectacle many expected it to become. Instead, the second episode of the new season of "Saturday Night Live" was just the right amount of audacious and, at best and worst, your usual episode of the NBC sketch comedy show.
Miley Cyrus did the host AND musical guest thing for "SNL" for the second time, following up her March 2011 gig with a whole new set of impressions, characters and new music from her just-released album, "Bangerz."
Few hosts get into the game during the opening sketch, but on Miley's night, the cold open was all about her -- and how she's responsible for a post-apocalyptic New York 30 years in the future. Government shutdown? Nah. It was Cyrus' performance at the MTV Video Music Awards that set the world's downfall in motion. In a flashback, new Miley is visited by old Miley, played by Vanessa Bayer. "No matter what happens, I'll always be true to Miley Cyrus," she said before, you know, effectively ending civilization as we knew it. Watch for really wonderful Will Smith and Robin Thicke impressions, too.
From there, Cyrus was quick to point out in her opening monologue that there would be no twerking that fateful evening; "Now that white people are doing it, it seems kinda lame." Oh, and she revealed what happened to Hannah Montana. Hint: she was murdered.
If there's one sketch folks will be talking about around the water cooler Monday, it's the show's parody of "We Can't Stop," set to the tune of the government shutdown. "We Did Stop," which features Cyrus as Michele Bachmann and Taran Killam as John Boehner, is as raunchy as a video parody of "We Can't Stop" starring government officials can get. If you ever wanted to see Bachmann and Boehner twerk it out, your chance is here. Choice line: "This is our House. This is our rules. And we did stop."
As with her last hosting gig, which saw her play Justin Bieber, Miley got into the impression game Saturday night. She was again paired with Killam in a sketch that showed screen tests for various actors for the "Fifty Shades of Grey" film -- something "SNL" tends to do tremendously well. Seek out Kenan Thompson's Steve Harvey and Nasim Pedrad's Aziz Ansari, but Cyrus and Killam's bit, during which they portrayed Scarlett Johansson and Christoph Waltz, respectively, got some good laughs if only for Killam's creepy persona and Cyrus' solid, deep-voiced Johansson impression.
Some of Miley's other spots included Lil Teeny (or Tara Arnold, whose family runs a Honda dealership -- whichever) from a school hip-hop club, a brief appearance as an MTV-ified Hillary Clinton, a cheerleader whose teammates are stolen by aliens, a poet who don't know it (and filmed some bugs eating a dead bird, if you're into that), Yolanda the newscaster from Mornin' Miami and, finally, herself, hooking up with new castmember Kyle Mooney -- who seems to be having second thoughts.
As part of the musical accompaniment, Cyrus laid down the first two singles from "Bangerz." "Wrecking Ball," the Hot 100-topping second single, was decked out with a rock band and backup singers, giving the song an '80s power ballad feel in the vein of Benatar and Lauper capped off by a voice break right before the final chorus that may have betrayed her emotions. Her dress for the occasion? A far-too-large, see-through brown Poison jersey and most definitely no pants.
Rather than reaching into the "Bangerz" catalog to perhaps trot out an upcoming single, Miley went back to "We Can't Stop" for her second performance. Rather than go for the plugged-in version, Cyrus was accompanied by three acoustic guitarists and nothing more.
Her spot on the show precedes another pop star's grand return to the "SNL" stage, as Katy Perry suits up for her turn in the spotlight next week. Bruce Willis will host.
Oh, and no Sinead O'Connor references, in case you were wondering.
Did Miley fly or fail on her second "SNL" gig? Favorite sketch? Least favorite? Comment away!