October 7, 2012

THE SKED REVIEW: SNL with Daniel Craig


The heart sank when 15 minutes into tonight’s SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE–the part of the show that’s still supposed to be funny–the first post-monologue sketch was a labored, silly bit that went nowhere with host Daniel Craig as a construction worker unable to come up with coherent catcalls when women walked by, instead praising her “two big breasty squish-rags.”  The sketch, which even featured a black-and-white backstory explanation of Craig’s problem, was the kind of thing you’d expect to groan at in the final half-hour, and it didn’t bode well.

As it turned out, rightly so.  This was easily the worst SNL of the season so far, and it sets the bar for terrible episodes the rest of the year.  The catcall sketch came after a cold open that was the first of 3 or 4 ineffectual attempts to get laughs out of last week’s debate–a target that one would thought, between Romney’s unexpected win, Obama’s somnolence, and Jim Lehrer’s incompetent moderation, would be easy pickings.  But while Jason Sudeikis got a laugh from Romney’s wild-eyed intensity, and Jay Pharoah still has the President’s mannerisms down pat, there were no laughs to be found in the writing, which hit instead on Obama’s wedding anniversary and the Denver altitude.

Craig’s monologue was a deadly (pun intended) montage of killings he’s committed in his various movies, where for example someone he shot on a staircase is identified as “Mr. Stair.”  Some serious actors prove themselves to have an antic side when they host SNL (recent examples include Channing Tatum and Jon Hamm, for the latter of whom the show has practically kicked off a parallel career as a comedy star), but Craig wasn’t one of them.  He gesticulated like crazy during the monologue, as if trying to physically force laughs into it, to no avail.

Weirdly, Craig wasn’t even used much in the show’s one Bond sketch, a pre-taped piece about “little-known Bond girls” that was highlighted by Cecily Strong’s unerring Annie Hall-era Diane Keaton, and both of Kate McKinnon’s turns, as the Silence of the Lambsian Jodie Foster and an Ellen DeGeneres wearing pantsuit under her bikini.

The show took more swings at the debate.  First there was an MSNBC aftermath sketch which did have a hilarious Sudeikis as a practically rabid Chris Matthews (not even that much of an exaggeration of the real Matthews post-debate), but mostly was a less funny version of Jon Stewart’s “Polish That Turd!” piece on Thursday’s Daily Show.  Then, of course, Weekend Update had some one-liners that fell fairly flat, and an OK, if unoriginal, Winners & Losers bit.  Strangest was a desk piece with Big Bird that stayed so determinedly away from any political or PBS funding humor that one wondered if avoiding politics was a specific condition to SNL‘s license to use the Big Bird costume.  Update wound up with another desk piece featuring the suddenly ubiquitous McKinnon (also the star of a pre-taped “Long Island Medium” bit) as an Italian woman who “improved” a painting of Jesus.

The rest was worse.  A spaceflight sketch started as though it might be a parody of Aliens, but turned out instead to be an endlessly repeated single joke about Bobby Moynihan’s fixation on his “kitty-cat,” and anyone hoping for a surprise punchline at the end just got… a kitty-cat.  (Craig also had terrible trouble with his cue-cards during this one.)  The best thing about a British soap parody was its title, “A Sorry Lot We Are.”

The 12:45AM slot went to a sketch where Fred Armisen, in drag, was Craig’s date.  This was confusing because when Craig introduced her as Regine, “the female form of Reggie,” it seemed like we were getting a transvestite or transsexual joke, but that was never picked up–instead, Regine was just obnoxious, and the sketch seemed to exist so Armisen and Craig could do orgasm faces.  (The only bit that actually got laughs appeared to be an accident, when Armisen’s skirt rode up around his waist after he stood up.)

They can’t all be gold, and in a month Skyfall will open (the marketing has been first-rate so far), and no one will even remember Craig was ever a host.  Next up is some cross-promotion for NBC (and executive producer Lorne Michaels), as Up All Night star Christina Applegate hosts, with musical guest Passion Pit.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."