Saturday Night Live S42, E5: Magic Sorely Needed To Liven Up A Boring Episode

I saw Doctor Strange and it was great. Will this episode of SNL cement Benedict in the rank of the successful first-time hosts or will we wish that he stayed in Greenwich Village? Whatever happens, it’s going to be a big show. At the time of this writing, there’s only three days to go until the election ends. With no late-breaking leaked audio recordings, it’s up for grabs as to the main focus of this episode’s cold opening, but I’m calling it as something related to Hillary Clinton and the World Series. Alternately, maybe they’ll throw a curveball and reveal that they’ve finally cast someone to play Barack Obama. It’ll definitely have some political content. Right now, I’m just concentrating on not stressing out about the election.

Cold Opening: Oh, right, the emails. Even with Donald Trump kissing an FBI agent and Vladimir Putin, it barely feels like they’re exaggerating the election. I have a feeling that a screenshot of Trump kissing a KKK member will appear on the news tomorrow. By this point, no matter what dialogue they write for Alec, it just starts to feel repetitive and disturbingly similar to actual things that have been said.

Thankfully, the ending subverts it all, with Alec and Kate breaking character to deliver a plea to the viewers at home to get out and vote. They even go into a pre-recorded bit featuring them hugging various possible planted writers and extras across New York. I wish the whole episode had been like this. In any case, even without their ‘get out of the vote’ message, I’m definitely eager to go the polls. It’s my first time being able to vote in a presidential election and I’ve been waiting for my chance for years.

Monologue: Weirdest Doctor Strange deleted scene ever. What better way to follow up a passionate plea to vote than with a slow jam of Benedict describing himself to the audience? Okay, to be fair, I am one of the people who doesn’t know too terribly much about him. I can’t say that the sketch actually helped with that, but it had more entertainment value than his Wikipedia article, presumably. You can watch it here.

Koohl Toilet: And, lo, the branded content has arrived. It really just feels like a standard commercial that just happened to star some cast members from SNL and Benedict. It couldn’t go as far as usual in the comedy level because it’s advertising for a company, but it couldn’t go too real without sacrificing the jokes. I’m not the biggest fan of toilet humor, but I think that a few sound effects could have made it funnier. As it is, it’s a fake ad for a real company. Somewhere between good and bad, it’s just there. It has the odd quality necessary for a ten-to-one sketch, but the advertising needs it to appear earlier.

Why Is Benedict Cumberbatch Hot?: Beck is playing a “bro” version of himself and made a sketch just to ask some of the cast members why he’s so hot. They awkwardly gush over him, embarrassing Beck. This was the other highlight of the episode, mostly because I choose to imagine that the fictionalized version of Beck set this entire thing up just to awkwardly hit on Aidy, Vanessa, and possibly Benedict. Next week, maybe we’ll see a fake game show with Kyle insulting Beck. You can watch it here.

Office Hours: Dim student meets professor. Professor attempts to kiss Chad, said student. The professor backtracks and begins delivering a passionate monologue while Chad answers only in a monosyllabic format. It’s the anti-love story for our generation. The audience is confused. You can watch it here.

Accidental Bachelorette It’s the all-female Weekend At Bernie’s remake we all wanted. Maybe it’s just me, but I think the sketch could have been better with more morbid jokes, especially if they actually realized that Aidy’s character died. Still, props to Aidy for not breaking character, especially with the, ahem, ‘close contact’ between her and the other actors in the scene. How did they convince the Cubs players to do this?

Solange Performance #1- "Cranes In The Sky": I like her outfit. The head-piece’s design reminds me of snowflakes, gently drifting down. You can watch it here.

Weekend Update: Colin and Michael had some good zingers, including an extended mock-patriotical speech about the election, but who cares about that? CHURCH LADY IS BACK! Unfortunately, the familiar catchphrases and snide insults don’t come off as particularly funny this time, except when Colin is being accused of smoking pot and abusing alcohol. With the exception of the Church Lady singing “What A Wonderful World” over pictures of the election, it just comes off as harsh and mean spirited. As for the other Cubs cameo-fest, I liked Bill Murray’s bit. You can watch it herehere, and down below.

Gemma & Ricky: I never liked the Jemma sketch in the first place. Today’s installment has almost no redeeming value, I’m sorry to say. You can watch it here.

Criminal Mastermind It had some potential, with Benedict playing a Riddler knockoff and the aimless chatter between the villains. Still, it just felt like two ideas for a sketch that were mashed together. You can watch it here.

Solange Performance #2- "Don't Touch My Hair": I enjoyed the background music. You can watch it here.

Meeting With Mr. Shaw: I guess it can get weirder than a dystopian toilet ad. It’s not ‘Baby Boss’, it’s ‘Falcon Boss.’ I prefer to think that the boss is just a statue and that Benedict is hallucinating the whole thing. I’m just tired at this point. Why? Why is it funny, why did they pitch it, and why was did Benedict’s character only own a single flipper and a soccer ball? That moment was funny, the rest was mystifying. You can watch it here.

Overall Thoughts: Part of the main conceit of this week’s sketches seemed to be putting a highbrow actor into increasingly dumb situations and somehow mining humor out of it. Needless to say, it didn’t entirely work out. Even if a Doctor Strange sketch did suddenly appear, I’m not sure that it could have saved the episode. Quite honestly, I’m fairly disappointed. The cold opening was a highlight, but I feel like the rest of the episode should have kept it up. Instead, we just had aimless sketches and sports jokes. Happy election weekend?

Doc, we needed some of your magic to increase the humor potential. Then again, given the events in the Gwenpool comic, your movie just came out and you’re currently helping her with an issue. The episode wasn’t necessarily bad, just boring. It felt like they needed some more time to hash out the sketch ideas and plan out the specifics. Benedict wasn't bad, they just needed more time and focus.

Zachary Krishef is an evil genius. Do not question his knowledge of Saturday Night Live trivia or Harry Potter books.