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‘Saturday Night Live’ Review: “Daniel Craig”

NBC

007 himself hosts ‘SNL‘ this week — that’s right, Daniel Craig takes the stage at 30 Rock, but does he have the comedic chops to hold it down? We break down this week’s episode skit-by-skit to let you know what worked and what didn’t.

Cold Open: Presidential Debate

Jason Sudeikis is Mitt Romney and Jay Pharaoh is President Obama, with Chris Parnell as debate moderator Jim Lehrer in a mock of this week’s first presidential debate.

Did it work? There’s a great joke throughout that Obama had forgotten his 20th anniversary with Michelle, so the reason he wasn’t so awesome at the debate is that he was preoccupied trying to figure out a present he could get her from the hotel gift shop in Denver. Lehrer’s own internal monologue isn’t nearly as funny as he ponders the death of PBS. The MVP of this sketch is undoubtedly Sudeikis and his crazy, unblinking face as he looks at Obama early on.

Quote it:

“Mr. President, Governor Romney has just said he killed Osama bin Laden. Do you care to respond?” “No, you two go ahead.”

Opening Monologue

Daniel Craig’s monologue focuses on the many violent films he’s been in and all the guys he’s killed. He runs an “In Memoriam for All the People I Done Killed” to honor them.

Did it work? Most of these read like, “nine guys I killed with an explosion,” which is pretty great, and Craig seems overly occupied with the specifics, the smoke machine, and the background music. The bit ends with “The dog who saw too much” on ‘Cowboys and Aliens.’ Overall, it’s a decent opener, but we’ll see how Craig fares when it comes to a legit sketch.

Construction Guys

Kenan Thompson, Bobby Moynihan, and Tim Robinson are construction workers who welcome Daniel Craig into the fold. The guys all find creatively stupid ways to talk about women.

Did it work? Here’s hoping this sketch is the worst the episode — or even the season — has to offer. It’s outdated material we’ve all seen before — a bunch of idiot blue collars objectifying women in increasingly moronic ways. It’s cartoonish and too easy. And we still don’t know if Daniel Craig is funny.

Lesser Known Bond Girls

A pre-recorded short about the Bond girls you may have forgotten over the years to honor the 50th anniversary of the Bond series, including Vanessa Bayer as Diane Keaton, Kate McKinnon as Jodie Foster, Nasim Pedrad as Lea Michele, and a few more. Most importantly, Fred Armisen does his Penny Marshall impression that originated on ‘Portlandia.’

Did it work? First off, are we any closer to a full-on ‘SNL’/'Portlandia’ crossover? I guess what I’m saying is that ‘Portlandia’ is awesome and we could use more of it every single day. This bit is fantastic, though, and McKinnon in particular is delightful to watch, though I wish they hadn’t given her two iconic lesbians to play, considering she’s the only openly gay cast member. Maybe the cast threw out actress impressions they could do, and that’s where the chips fell — regardless, the sketch is hilarious, Craig just plays Bond and hardly speaks, and Armisen steals the show.

A Look Back at the Obama Debate Disaster

Newcomer Cecily Strong plays Rachel Maddow in this satire of MSNBC’s near-implosion following the Presidential debates. There’s a panel of guests, including Kenan Thompson’s Al Sharpton, Jason Sudeikis’ Chris Matthews, and Kate McKinnon as conservative commentator S.E. Cupp.

Did it work? Somehow, Jason Sudeikis’ Chris Matthews has outdone Darrell Hammond with his absolutely insane diction and non-sensical yelling. Thompson comes the closest to Tracy Morgan when he does these Al Sharpton impressions, really honing in on the absurd. McKinnon nails the awkward vapidity of Cupp, but isn’t given much to do. Strong really holds her own here by moderating all the crazy and finding the semi-rational center to the sketch.

Long Island Medium

Kate McKinnon in everything! The ‘SNL’ overlords have heard our cries! McKinnon plays a Long Island mom who can also talk to dead people in this fake promo for a new TV show.

Did it work? Taran Killam pops up as one of her clients, making me remember I love him and want more Taran Killam in this episode. McKinnon straight-up kills it with her Long Island mom thing, nailing the mannerisms and facial expressions. Daniel Craig shows up as a skeptical husband, but isn’t given much beyond a couple of lines. It’s starting to look like one of those weeks where ‘SNL’ got a prestige guest but didn’t know what to do with them because they weren’t very funny.

The funniest bit in the sketch is the banquet hall, where McKinnon asks a room full of guys if any of their fathers died from choking on a meatball sandwich, and most of them raise their hands. When she asks which one of them is named Sal, short for Salvatore, they all keep their hands raised. Special note to Tim Robinson for his little hand down/hand up thing.

Artemis Space Mission

Hey! There’s Taran Killam! He’s with Kenan Thompson, Daniel Craig, and Cecily Strong on a space mission, talking about what they miss. Bobby Moynihan plays Kirby, a guy who can only talk about his cat like a kid.

Did it work? Does Daniel Craig only know one exaggerated American accent? Moynihan’s Kirby voice is funny, and I’m a sucker for talk about cats, but this doesn’t work. It’s a combination of repetition with a joke that doesn’t seem to be going far enough. It feels half-baked. And Daniel Craig is having some issues reading the cue cards, which isn’t helping. What does work is the introduction of Kirby’s cat, Fuzz Aldrin and the horrified looks on everyone’s faces when they think the cat is dead. Also, is that not one of the cutest kittens you’ve ever seen?!

Weekend Update

Seth Meyers covers the Presidential debate and does a special Winners and Losers bit.

Did it work? Meyers has a great joke about Romney cutting funding to PBS, noting that Mitt is such a great name for a puppet. Can Seth Meyers do more Hugh Grant impressions? He is definitely the dorky American version of Grant. Meyers also delivers such a deliciously fantastic burn to ‘Downton Abbey’ by comparing it to ‘Sesame Street,’ and speaking of all this ‘Sesame Street’ talk… Big Bird stops by! I have chills right now, you guys. Big Bird notes that it’s seven hours past his bedtime and Twitter is how birds talk and ‘Sesame Street’ has WiFi. The joke here is that Big Bird is very uncomfortable with all the sudden attention and he won’t make a political statement because, you know, it’s ‘Sesame Street,’ and they’re not about choosing sides. That’s one classy eight-foot bird. He also tells one of the best bad jokes I’ve ever heard: “You know who likes the debates? Defishes.”

A Sorry Lot We Are

A BBC working class drama starring Daniel Craig, Bill Hader (where has he been all night??), and Bobby Moynihan.

Did it work? Man, those fake opening credits were on-point, weren’t they? Even in his native tongue, Daniel Craig is just bad at this live sketch show business. Hader and Moynihan do well embracing the alcohol-soaked misery of their characters — Hader, specifically, is sort of amazing. Aidy Bryant makes her only appearance this episode, and sadly, her big joke is about her weight. They really need to find better things to do with her because we really haven’t gotten to know her as an actress at this point.

Regine

Daniel Craig brings his new girlfriend, Regine (Fred Armisen) to meet his friends Vanessa Bayer, Bill Hader, Tim Robinson, and… surprise! Aidy Bryant! She still doesn’t get to do much, though.

Did it work? The gag is that every time Craig kisses or touches Armisen in a different place, his face goes bonkers. It works because Armisen plays such an awesome quirky lady, bringing his exaggerated facial expressions to the unexpected role of a woman. It’s classic ‘SNL’ stuff, but it really gets hilarious when Armisen sits on Craig’s lap and starts rubbing himself all over Craig’s lap like a stripper in heat. Craig even gets a solid laugh in when he gets to make a silly face all his own.

Undecided Voters

A pre-recorded bit featuring most of the cast as undecided voters, people who haven’t been paying attention and have a lot of questions, like, who are the candidates and what are their names?

Did it work? Nasim Pedrad asking if women are allowed to vote and Bill Hader asking what oil is starts the devolution into sillier questions, like Taran Killam asking if a woman can get pregnant from making out. It’s a short and sweet sketch with a simple concept — the perfect bit to end the episode.

And now we can officially say that no, Daniel Craig is not good at this whole comedy thing.

 

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