Published Oct 23, 2016Saturday Night Live's fourth straight week in production without a break found the show sharp and in good hands with returning stars, Tom Hanks and Lady Gaga. Here's a look at everything that went down on this episode.
The Cold Open
The third presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump had some memorable moments and SNL pretty much hit them all. Hanks played moderator Chris Wallace, but mostly just set up Kate McKinnon and Alec Baldwin to deliver punch lines. Joke highlights included Trump's face serving as birth control, the entire planet laughing at his suggestion that no one respects women more than he does, and Trump listing his tremendous array of D-list surrogates, including "the best Baldwin brother, Stephen Baldwin."
Tom Hanks, famously of SNL hosts' "Five-Timers Club," proudly announced his ninth turn as host and, after citing a magazine's recent pronouncement that he's "America's dad," proceeded to give America a pep talk, like it was a petulant child. There were a couple of okay jokes here (i.e. "You're a lot gayer than you used to be…and that is trill,") but, unless you're a totally depressed American citizen, the best part of this comfort session was that it was mercifully short.
Hanks played Doug, a white contestant in a Make America Great Again hat, on this show geared towards African-American interests and concerns. Doug's answers, laced in incredulity towards government authority, paranoid suspicion, and betraying a certain amount of street smarts, seem to align a lot with those of the question board and he fares surprisingly well. Instead of going awkward with racism for the whole thing, the sketch saved it for the final category, which demonstrated some pretty admirable comic restraint.
Halloween Block Party
An upper class cluster of neighbours plan a block party but one couple, played by Tom Hanks and Cecily Strong, plot a scheme to get paid for putting together a terrible musical based on "Don't Stop Believing." In the end, they kind of win but, in the utter randomness of this thing, we didn't.
This parody of awards shows that consistently nominate dark dramas in their Comedy categories was short but well done. Clips of a fake show, Broken, captured all of the gravitas of Transparent or Orange is the New Black and, given just how completely and clearly dramatic such shows can be and yet still be contested with pure sitcoms, was the real jewel of this idea. As SNL knows all too well, some people really don't understand comedy.
100 Floors of Frights
Someone on the SNL writing staff is obsessed with bizarre, vaguely '80s-ish figures,, because they keep inventing interrelated new ones like this week's David S. Pumpkins. Hanks played this loudly dressed, cartoonish, catchphrase-spouting ("Any questions???") apparition who could've been in the Burger King limo from last week unless he was too busy hanging out with Larry David's Kevin Roberts from last season. I dunno. They're funny and odd but the Max Headroom aesthetic continues to be as puzzling as it is entertaining.
Dressed as a cross between a cowgirl and Liberace, Lady Gaga sang "A-Yo" with a country twang, moving her body like she was riding an invisible mechanical bull. Mark Ronson played guitar solos for this bizarre genre mishmash of roots and electro and hip-hop. For the comparably low-key "Million Reasons," Gaga sang an earnest ballad seated at an upright piano, somehow draped in a lot of fabric but also appearing half naked. She eventually mounted the top of the piano and performed exactly like you might expect a drama camp kid to, emphatic air-punching and all.
Colin Jost and Michael Che dug right into the third and final presidential debate, with Jost comparing Trump to Seinfeld's Kramer/Michael Richards for his wild schemes/capability of saying the N-word in public at any given moment. Jost got off another good one, contrasting Trump's suggestion that the media's rigged against him with the fact that a President Trump would mean way bigger business for media outlets than Clinton in office might. Leslie Jones stole the segment with a sit-down bit on cyber security, drawing from her own recent victimization by hackers. She hilariously and repeatedly suggested that if anyone really wants to see her nude, "Just ask!"
Hanks reprises his film role as the famous American pilot who saved a passenger plane by crash landing it into the Hudson River. Sully's back, ready to fly again, and seated in a the captain's chair for a routine flight, only to discover that he's been downgraded to second-in-command behind a captain played by Baldwin. Things are tense for Sully, a pseudo-celebrity who gets sent Apple Watches for free and feels a little entitled. It's a well-written bit of awkwardness and Hanks and Baldwin play well off each other.
This remote piece did a clever time-jump thing about a Halloween outing for three young women that starts out innocently enough but ends up being a drunken, debauched all-nighter. Aidy Bryant, Vanessa Bayer, and Cecily Strong play the friends and their desperate dizziness during the 4 a.m. scenes is genuinely disturbing. That said, they don't end up getting up to anything too terrible beyond puking, falling down, and sobbing a lot. Oh, one of them may have slept with the Incredible Hulk too.
America's Funniest Pets
Hanks vaguely impersonated his friend, filmmaker Ron Howard, who hosted this show, which took a turn for the subversive when Strong and McKinnon played a pair of pretentious Europeans whose voiceovers for the pet clips were morbid and clinical. This was just total filler but went over well in the room and had the surreal wackiness of your usual 12:55 SNL sketch.
Tom Hanks does such a bad Ron Howard. He should host the pet show as David Pumpkins.— Cee Angi (@CeeAngi) October 23, 2016