‘SNL’ Scorecard: Martin Freeman is So Good He Could Be in the Cast
It’s always an interesting thing when actors host ‘SNL.’ You know, actors in the sense that there’s just no way to know if his or her talent will translate to ‘SNL.’ They are true wild cards. Two years ago, Christoph Waltz hosted ‘SNL’ and it was one of the best shows of that season. Who knew? And now here comes Martin Freeman as yet another true wild card. No one knew what to expect—and, as it turns out, Freeman is so quirky as a host, sometimes he just felt like a member of the cast. These are the best kind of hosts. This might not have had an Internet friendly signature moment, but, top to bottom, this is one of the best ‘SNL’’s in the last five years. (Put it this way, there was only one sketch in the “bad” category and it’s the first time in the five years of ‘SNL’ Scorecard that there hasn’t been an “Ugly.” There just wasn’t one this show.) Here is your Scorecard...
Sketch of the Night
‘Hobbit Office’ (Freeman, Moynihan, Killam, McKinnon) Is it time to start comparing Taran Killam to Bill Hader, as far as his impressions go? Maybe he’s not quite there yet, but Killam often gets heralded for his individual impressions, but strangely doesn’t get heralded as an impressionist. I suspect it’s because Killam can play anything on ‘SNL’ and is often in “everyman” roles, but this should change. Killam is legitimately one of the best four or five impressionists that ‘SNL’ has ever had and we are taking that for granted. He’s up there with Hammond, Hader, and Carvey.
‘Church’ (Davidson, Moynihan, Pharoah, McKinnon, Bryant, Mooney, Strong, Bennett, Jones) This is basically The Kickspit Underground Rock Festival, only for church. My favorite part was Beck Bennett’s quiet laugh to himself, because that’s a perfect “the priest just made a joke” laugh.
‘Sump'n Clause’ (Pharoah, Davidson, Thompson, Bayer, Mooney, Zamata, Strong, Bennett, Freeman, Bryant, Moynihan) The first of two “Kenan Thompson gets to sing” sketches to air. You know what? Let him sing in every sketch, because good things seem to happen when he sings ... which then means that even we get sump’n.
‘Cold Open: Charlie Rose’ (Killam, Moynihan, Mooney) How is the first time we’ve really seen Moynihan and Mooney riffing off of each other, because they are pretty darn good together. We’ve gotten to know Mooney as Beck Bennett’s comedy partner, but what those two do together now almost seems so ingrained for both of them, Moynihan brought something else out in Mooney that, frankly, I really liked.
‘Wedding Objections’ (Freeman, Jones, Bennett, Bryant, Thompson, Bayer, Killam, Strong, McKinnon) The unheralded MVP of this sketch was Vanessa Bayer’s delivery of the line reminding Martin Freeman that she is his wife. Not only was the delivery perfect, but it signaled the absurdity of what we were watching. Also: Martin Freeman and Leslie Jones should make a movie together.
‘Martin Freeman Monologue’ (Freeman, McKinnon, Killam) I mean, Freeman is just pure charm as host. And there wasn’t anything particularity memorable about this monologue, except that they can send Freeman out there, win over the audience and remind everyone that he was on the British ‘Office’ (setting up a later sketch). Also: How about Taran Killam’s Alan Rickman?
‘Waterbed’ (Freeman, Bryant, Killam, Pharoah) This sketch ends with Aidy Bryant looking through a large billboard of her face. Another weird sketch! Also: I will have her version of “beauuuuuueeessst.”
(Not online for song rights issues?)
‘Weekend Update’ (Jost, Che, Zamata, Strong, Bayer) This was Michael Che’s strongest outing on ‘Update,’ which was needed. He seemed happy instead of nervous. His interactions with Bayer’s Jacob seemed natural and his delivery on Dick Cheney being “hard” and the price of barrels punchlines were perfect. I’m not going as far to say that this team is “working,” but I feel more encouraged than I did a week ago. Zamata’s segment was good in that the concept was great, but Zamata seemed a little nervous. (To be fair, she doesn’t seem to do many ‘Update’ segments.) Strong’s One Dimensional character was a pretty great idea, but a lot of those jokes were straight out of ‘Not Another Teen Movie.’ This one might need another pass.
‘Holiday Gig’ (Thompson, Freeman, Mooney, Bennett, Bayer, Killam) This was so weird! But, hey, more Kenan Thompson singing! It was almost a bizarre cousin of ‘What’s Up With That?’ only instead of guests, there is a mysterious saxophone player who has a secret.
‘Assembly Line’ (Freeman, Killam) This played like an old Abbott and Costello bit. I mean that as a compliment. Why not?
‘Right Side of the Bed’ (Killam, Strong, Freeman, Mooney, Bryant, McKinnon) I’m going to admit to being a hypocrite on this one. I laughed hard during this sketch, near the end, when Freeman is doing his little dance next to Aidy Bryant, who is introduced as the sister of a man who was executed earlier that morning. But this sketch was two separate ideas mashed together and they probably would have been better off staying separate. Killam and Strong were solid as eccentric morning show hosts, but their eccentricities took away from what felt like the real joke of the segment: Martin Freeman’s heating expert who kept having to awkwardly wave at the camera when mentioned, which, in reality, really is one of the most awkward things human beings are forced to do.
Average Score for this Show: 6.89
Mike Ryan is senior editor for ScreenCrush. You can contact him directly on Twitter.