In his first appearance on Saturday Night Live this weekend, Daniel Radcliffe not only declined to torpedo his image as a cheerful, eager-to-please little dynamo; he embraced that image to such a degree that, in one sketch, he literally played a puppy. Though there were (as always) some sketches that fell flat, none of those could be pinned on the very energetic Radcliffe, whose time on Broadway in How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying prepared him well for live TV.
Best Steering Into The Harry Potter Skid:
Radcliffe will be Harry Potter until the day he dies. You know it, I know it, and he most certainly knows it. So even though the monologue hinged on the idea that Radcliffe didn’t want to do a Potter sketch (and also made the unpopular but extremely salient point that the books were for children, people), this sketch found Radcliffe, as Harry, still hanging around at Hogwarts in 2020, clinging to the glory of his youth.
It’s a good old-fashioned game of Spin The Bottle at a junior high party! What could go wrong? Nothing but having the bad luck to keep landing on the party’s least appealing guests. And don’t try to get out of that kiss, either: “It’s the rules!”
Best Homage To A Legendary Sketch:
The census-taker sketch Tina Fey wrote for Betty White’s 2010 guest-hosting gig was such an instant classic that it was featured in the celebration when Fey won the Mark Twain Prize that year. This final sketch of the night, in which Radcliffe’s character takes an exit poll after voting in the New Hampshire primary, doesn’t match the heights of the census sketch, but it’s pretty good.
Worst Political Sketch:
Last week’s cold open was an über-topical sketch in which one of the Republican candidates addressed the camera directly, and it was endless and terrible. Guess what happened this week? The same thing, pretty much, except with Mitt Romney (Jason Sudeikis) in place of Rick Santorum (Andy Samberg). I get that the show’s producers feel they have to respond to the news of the week in sketches that necessarily have to be written in a hurry and therefore maybe not with as much care and effort as is possible with sketches that are less topical. But if those sketches must appear, maybe instead of boring us all straight out of the gate they could be in the middle of the episode sometimes.
Worst Social Commentary:
I don’t want to assume that “You Can Do Anything!” was written by a cranky, bitter 50-year-old, but when the premise of the sketch includes the phrase “the YouTube generation,” I really have no other choice. In case you don’t consume media: millennials are over-confident dilettantes, and we should all hate them. This one was reminiscent of the “Internet Comments Talk Show” sketch from earlier this season, only meaner and less funny.
Worst Homage To A Legendary Sketch:
I loved “The Chris Farley Show,” because the premise was that Farley was weird and awkward and starstruck around his celebrity guest, and was therefore endearing to the audience. The premise of “The Jay Pharoah Show” seems to be that Pharoah can do four pretty good impressions and thinks he’s better than his celebrity guest, and is therefore off-putting to the audience.
PS: As I predicted, the episode also addressed Ricky Gervais’s return as host of the Golden Globes tonight; this is a pretty brilliant take on how boring Gervais’s “edginess” has become.