This Saturday, SNL turns 40.
Host: Chris Pratt.
Musical guest: Ariana Grande.
And, if the trusty formula holds, a wildly uneven melange of parodies, news satire, phony commercials and the occasional cowbell.
The comedic batting average: Ohhhh ... .300?
So we took grand-slam favorites from each category, then stitched them together into what — we think — is the ideal episode.
1. Best Cold Open: The “live from New York” segment. Start with the first one ever: John Belushi with a horrible European accent (“I would like ... to feed your fingertips ... to the wolverines”).
2. Thigh-Slapping-est Monologue: Bill Murray after having done (apparently) enough coke to kill a small donkey.
3. Second-Best Game Show Skit: Celebrity Jeopardy with Sean Connery, Burt Reynolds and Jerry Lewis. Sadly, the best game show skit — Martin Short’s epic “Jackie Rogers Jr. $100,000 Jackpot Wad” — doesn't exist on the Internet.
4. The Ultimate Political Sketch: Phil Hartman as a conniving, evil Ronald Reagan (“Jimmy, don’t make me have to kill you”).
5. Best Mankinis: Broad comedy + sly gender commentary. Nice work, Sandler/Farley.
7. Hottest Musical Guest: Belushi promised to cameo on SNL in 1981 if they booked punk band Fear. And boy, did they leave a mark.
8. Best Celebrity Impression: Will Ferrell as anyone, really. But here: as Harry Caray, discussing astrophysics.
9. Most Excellent Recurring Characters: Tarzan, Tonto and Frankenstein. One joke, but they kept it short.
10. Wiliest Weekend Update: Once upon a time, Dennis Miller’s smug, pop-culture-savvy brand of Tourette’s was refreshing.
11. Most Epic Talk Show: Somehow, Jimmy Fallon keeps a straight face.
12. Best TV Parody: Eddie Murphy has a “helluva day in the neighborhood.”
13. Celebrity Impression Part Deux: “Mark Wahlberg” (Andy Samberg) talks to animals. “Hey, donkey, you eat apples, right? I produce Entourage.”
14. Best WTF Finale: They save the weirdest, and usually worst, for last. Not so with “Wayne’s World,” which got its SNL start as a final sketch in 1989.
Disagree? Send all complaints to @InsideHook.