The video: Melissa McCarthy is having a banner year. First, she shined in the hit summer comedy Bridesmaids as the lovably bizarre sister of the groom. Then she shocked the industry last month — in a good way — by winning the Emmy for Best Actress in a Comedy for her performance on the CBS sitcom Mike and Molly. Now, McCarthy has once again impressed critics, this time with her first-ever hosting performance on Saturday Night Live, earning praise as the "most fearless host" in years. On the show, McCarthy reunited with Bridesmaids co-star Kristen Wiig in a parody of The Lawrence Welk Show; showed off her dancing skills in a clever opening monologue; and performed lewd acts on a horse balloon as an over-sexed office worker. But the sketch that most delighted critics had McCarthy dressed down in a dowdy perm and Spock sweatshirt to play Linda, an overzealous taste tester for Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressings. (Watch the video below.)

The reaction: McCarthy "jumped into her hosting role with such gusto, such fearlessness" that she owned every moment she was on the SNL stage, says Therese Odell at the Houston Chronicle. Indeed, McCarthy hosted "one of the funnier SNLs in recent memory," says Michael Slezak at TV Line. The "best, if not craziest" sketch of the night was the Hidden Valley Ranch taste test skit, says Aly Semigran at Entertainment Weekly. McCarthy proved she would stop at nothing for a laugh, pouring an entire bottle of ranch dressing on herself as the audience "ate it all up." See for yourself: