The "Saturday Night Live" season finale turned into a wacky alumni reunion, and the pleasure of seeing surprise guest stars offset the uneven writing. Maybe "SNL" should load up on surprise cameos next season.
Maya Rudolph popped in as Beyonce to electrify a ho-hum opening skit about the Jay Z-Solange elevator fight. (It was a great plug for Rudolph's variety special at 10 p.m. Monday on NBC.)
The return of the Kissing Family, the clan that makes inappropriate displays of affection, featured Kristen Wiig, Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, Paul Rudd and Rudolph. That familiar segment delivered inspired physical comedy when Rudolph, as a nurse, said she needed extra air from the family in a medical emergency. The family came up with a memorable way to supply it.
Samberg was the best thing about a lame "Weekend Update," and his opening monologue was an amusing series of quick impressions. (Hader, Seth Meyers and Martin Short turned up in the monologue.)
In one of the better sketches, Samberg was the wedding planner for Kanye West (Jay Pharoah) and monumental airhead Kim Kardashian (Nasim Pedrad). "SNL" skewered Kimye. What does marriage mean to Kim? That's what you need to get a divorce, she replied.
Samberg used music quite effectively for humor. He was hilarious reprising Blizzard Man, the terrible rap artist. Samberg warned the audience that Justin Timberlake would not be part of the show, but a clever video called "Hugs" featured Pharrell and the line "you can't hug a rolling stone."
Look for "SNL" to repeat Samberg's "Testicules," a glitzy commercial for a cologne for private parts.
The weaker material: Samberg couldn't do much as the Confident Hunchback, a Quasimodo with swagger, or as Legolas of "The Hobbit" ordering at Taco Bell, or as a teen saying inappropriate things to younger children at camp. In a bizarre film, Samberg played a multitasking DJ whose music made people explode.
The season finale was a very mixed bag, but the alumni made it worth a look.