Tracy Morgan returned to Saturday Night Live as host, for the first time since the car crash. He opened the show with a monologue that brought on board his ’30 Rock’ cast members Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Jane Krakowski and Jack McBrayer, for a memorable reunion. See a review roundup and video highlights right here!
The return was nothing less than a triumph. The former ’30 Rock’ star and SNL alum Tracy Morgan suffered multiple injuries in the June 2014 accident that saw a Walmart truck crash into the limo he and several others were riding in, including his friend and mentor, Jimmy Mack, who was killed.
Tracy Morgan had wanted to attend the SNL 40th anniversary special in February, and was not yet sufficiently recovered. But as he strode out on the famed Studio 8H stage to deliver his monologue, he began by making light of the life-threatening injuries and long recovery, saying, “People were wondering, ‘Can he speak? Does he have 100 percent mental capacity?” To that he quipped, “But I never did. I might actually be a few points higher now.”
And in a model case study of truth being stranger than fiction, there actually is a ’30 Rock’ episode that saw his character nearly die in a car crash, and this became the springboard for the ’30 Rock’ reunion of Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Jane Krakowski and Jack McBrayer all reprising their roles.
And to the delight of fans, he brought back many of his iconic SNL characters including Astronaut Jones, Brian Fellows and others in later skits. Overall he took part in numerous skits, not least, the old mainstay, Family Feud.
On the political front, the cold open picked the recent CNN Democratic Debate as the obvious spoofing target. It was SNL alum and ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ star Larry David’s surprise appearance as Sen. Bernie Sanders that drew surprise and that segment, naturally, is going viral.
But on this night all else was overshadowed as the worldwide audience was collectively eager, or at the very least, curious to see the comedian return. But what about the TV critics who must separate triumph and backstory from the details of a 90 minute show that — historically — has its hits and misses? Here’s a roundup of what’s being said.
“….For Mr. Morgan, the show celebrated the raucous sensibility and absurd characters he is known for while also announcing to fans and the entertainment industry that he is ready to return to the comedy career that was halted by his debilitating crash…..”– New York Times
“….Morgan was a staple in the early 2000s on SNL and his return to the show was more than just another former cast member coming back to SNL for a hosting gig. It was a triumphant return that all got kicked off by one of the most powerful and effective opening monologues we’ve ever seen……”– Fansided
“….Overall, this was a very funny show. We do think that it had some bumps in the road, but it was delightfully nostalgic and a lovely tribute to Tracy’s work. Grade: A-……”– Carter Matt
“….It was the Tracy Morgan greatest hits night, and, while none of the sketches topped the best of their forebears, Morgan (and memories of Morgans past) made them all most welcome. Look, there are some people who don’t like or don’t get Tracy Morgan’s appeal. Fair enough. But if you do, then the returns of Woodrow, Brian Fellow, Astronaut Jones, and Tracy Jordan were unexpected (yet pretty much completely expected) delights. …” — The A.V. Club
“….Saturday was, in fact, a celebration of Tracy Morgan, almost by way of celebrating those who were part of his greatest triumphs — notably Fey, who brought back Liz Lemon in a funny “30 Rock” skit embedded within Morgan’s opening remarks…..” — Newsday
“….Maybe Brian Fellow was the special sauce Morgan needed in order to make his performance begin to click. Following that sketch, his confidence seemed to increase along with his screen time. By the end of the night, he was jovially yelling like the Tracy of yore — and doing it with enough aplomb to eclipse his own backstory….. ” –Mashable
No doubt about it, Tracy Morgan is back on the scene, and as the proverbial icing on the cake, the reviews, overall, have been quite favorable. Yes, the world hopes to see more of the comedian that we almost lost. See SNL video highlights below!
Cold Open – Democratic Debate
Brian Fellow’s Safari Planet
Yo! Where Jackie Chan at Right Now?
Weekend Update – with Tina Fey
Astronaut Jones: The Martian
Pictures: PR Photos