By Ken Tucker
Updated February 15, 2009 at 06:34 PM EST

Saturday Night Live last night should, in theory, have been a great one. Host: the terrific Alec Baldwin, hosting for the 14th time. Cameo appearance: SNL great Dan Aykroyd. Possible topics for satire: the stimulus package; the upcoming Oscars. So why did it stink so badly?

The cold opening with Aykroyd leading a bunch of Republicans through some cynical political maneuvers was toothless and tedious. The sketch with Baldwin as the fourth brother of musical guests the Jonas Brothers — ‘scuse me, that’s just “Jonas Brothers,” no “the” anymore, apparently — proved mostly that, as comic actors, those nice Jonas boys ain’t the Monkees.

“Weekend Update”: z-z-z-z-z…. A promising idea — a jab at a snarky online blogger featuring the talented Michaela Watkins — was all attempted-catchphrases, no real punchlines.

The Wii-as-masturbation scene? As Seth Meyers would say: Really? Baldwin, Bill Hader, and Will Forte as businessmen trying to schedule a meeting that results in a glory-hole climax, so to speak? Started out funny, dribbled into nothingness.

Really, the only time I laughed was at Baldwin’s spot-on Richard Burton impersonation during one of Bill Hader’s always-reliable Vincent Price sketches. What does it say about SNL that it got its best laughs (also liked Kristen Wiig as Carol Channing, and Fred Armison as Liberace) with subject matter that was a throwback to the early 1960s?

Was there stuff here last night that you laughed at? If not, what do you think was the problem?