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December 10, 2017

James Franco hosts ‘SNL’ with musical guest SZA

The holiday season is officially underway at “Saturday Night Live,” with the second in a trio of new episodes airing last night. Host James Franco starred in an episode full of holiday-themed sketches infused with political commentary and satire.

The cold open took a welcomed break from Alec Baldwin’s Donald Trump and instead featured Kenan Thompson as a mall Santa with help from Kate McKinnon as an elf. The job becomes complicated when the kids visiting Santa have a slew of political wishes and questions, including, “What did Al Franken do? Is President Trump on the naughty list? Which list is Roy Moore on?”

The episode marked Franco’s fourth time hosting the show, and as such, his opening monologue was riddled with cameos from Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, and Steve Martin.

Sexual harassment returned as a theme for a few other sketches, including “Sexual Harassment Charlie,” where Franco and Thompson play employees getting the boot for their behavior.

During Weekend Update, co-hosts Colin Jost and Michael Che took no prisoners in ridiculing politicians' behavior amid allegations. 

“Senator Al Franken announced his resignation this week in the wake of sexual harassment allegations, and yet Uncle Bad Touch is up four points in Alabama,” Che said.

“You see, the Democrats hold themselves to a higher standard than anyone else. Which is why they always lose. It’s the same the Harvard football team sucks, because you also gotta be a rocket scientist to play there. But to play for Alabama, you just gotta be able to spell Bamma.”

The second half of Weekend Update was dedicated to Che dressing up as a “liberal white woman” named Gretchen in a pre-recorded digital short.

The latest episode also included a take on A Christmas Carol -- “Scrudge” -- where Beck Bennett plays a curmudgeonly Scrooge-type character who makes passive aggressive comments to people at a Christmas party all night.

In another digital short, “Christmas Charity,” Cecily Strong plays a high-power business executive who helps a homeless person, played by Franco, who turns out to just be James Franco.

The host played himself again in “Reunion,” where he comes face-to-face with his cousin -- "Pretty Mandy" -- for the first time in 20 years. She has a ton of questions for him.

Musical guest SZA performed, marking her first appearance on the show. The singer performed “The Weekend” and “Love Galore,” both off her debut album “Ctrl.” SZA was accompanied by a full choir for her first performance.

Next week Philly native Kevin Hart will take the stage in the final “SNL” episode of 2017 with musical guest Foo Fighters.