“I tried, and therefore, no one should criticize me.” That was one of the lines uttered by Daniel Radcliffe’s hopelessly ambitious character Brad during the people-with-no-self-awareness sketch “You Can Do Anything.” Still, the sentiment certainly applies to Radcliffe’s effort as a first-time Saturday Night Live host. While the show itself was certainly worthy of criticism (as was musical guest Lana Del Rey, but more on that in a bit) it’s hard to rag on The Woman in Black star, who gave it his all in spite of working with some rather subpar material. Read on for the sketch-by-sketch rundown of last night’s disappointing episode.
Last night’s SNL kicked off with a tepid cold open featuring a flat Jason Sudeikis as an even flatter Mitt Romney, which lamely addressed his troublesome firing comment. (Wouldn’t a meeting with fire-happy Donald Trump have been better here?) Things picked up once an enthusiastic Radcliffe hit the stage for his spirited opening monologue in which he shared with the audience his trepidations about doing a Harry Potter sketch. (Don’t worry, it still happened.) Radcliffe earned some solid laughs, but it was Taran Killam who stole the whole thing (something the rising star seems to be doing more and more of each week) with his version of a displeased Dumbledore. Watch as Snooki and “The Situation” drop in for a visit during the monologue, too:
While Sudeikis' Romney had no bite, his impression of a lip-biting Ricky Gervais was somewhat more on-point. His Golden Globes sketch should have been a scathing parody, but all it did was make me more excited to watch Gervais unleash hell during tonight's festivities. Then again, I can't really diss a sketch that shows the endlessly amusing Brendan Fraser clap clip.
Despite Kristen Wiig's best efforts, it may be time to lay off the Target Lady. (Maybe this is where Mitt Romney could have actually been of some use.) It was amusing to watch Bill Hader's deranged boss (who looks an awful lot like the one he played in the criminally underrated Adventureland) hit on Mullet-ed Radcliffe, but the recurring sketch has officially started to run its course. Still, for anyone who didn't get to the chance to see Equus, seeing Radcliffe tear his shirt open must have come as a treat.
The aforementioned "You Can Do Anything" bit fell victim to an ongoing problem with some SNL sketches as of late: It can't compete with Portlandia. Yes, our shameless YouTube generation is easy to make fun of, but its all in the execution, which this sketch desperately missed and Portlandia seems to be effortlessly pulling off in their new season. Of course, even in the midst of a mediocre sketch, Radcliffe shined as the hilarious Brad, a poor sap who majored in poetry and clowning and who's only talent was performing Irish jig while doing Chinese calligraphy. Pretty impressive stuff, really. Watch it here:
It made sense to have Radcliffe in a sketch called “You Can Do Anything” as the versatile actor can do just about everything, including locking lips with a series of sketchy hobos for the silly pre-taped Spin the Bottle segment. The sketch that followed, the Joe Biden-approved Jersey Boys rip-off Delaware Fellas further proved that Radcliffe should be in all Broadway productions, real or otherwise, but mocking the wildly popular musical felt a bit late to the game. Besides, no one has ever zinged Delaware better than SNL alum Mike Myers in Wayne’s World.
Next…Harry Potter and Lana Del Rey
At long last: A Harry Potter sketch! Not only that, but HP fans got to see their beloved wizard in the future without that terrible old man make-up. Turns out, J.K. Rowling never informed readers that by the year 2020, Harry was desperate to hold on to his glory days, Hagrid and Luna got married (an impressive Moynahan and Abby Elliot) and Snape regretted that whole secretly-looking-after-Harry thing (the genius Hader doing a fantastic Alan Rickman.) Re-live the magic:
If Radcliffe was making a strong first impression as an SNL host (I wouldn't be surprised if they had him back someday) first-time musical guest Lana Del Rey did anything but. Just ask the Internet. After both of the singer's warbly performances, first "Video Games" and then "Blue Jeans", the Twitterverse was doing anything but singing the controversial pop star's praises. (Not to mention misspelling her name, as Lana Del Ray was a trending topic until the early hours of Sunday morning.) Having never heard Del Rey perform live myself (which was probably the case for many viewers, considering the singer hasn't released her debut album yet) I'd venture to say she made her mark on SNL, but probably not the one she'd hoped for. Watch her "Blue Jeans" performance:
Radcliffe continued his theme of saving the night when he played Casey Anthony’s recently adopted Yorkshire terrier during a Weekend Update segment. Dressed as the terrified pup, Radcliffe handled a touchy subject with ease and earned the hardest laughs of the night from the patient SNL audience. (“Where was Sarah McLachlan on that one?” he pondered about his adoption. That actually marked the second Sarah McLachlan joke of the evening, proving those heart-crushing SPCA commercials ruin everyone’s day, including SNL writers.) However, there was no saving the dreadful sketch about a theater troupe from the future or Jay Pharoah’s misguided talk show sketch in which he could do nothing more than his stock impressions, which may just be an unfortunate analogy about his place on SNL. It was awkward for sure, but not in the good “Between Two Ferns” or “Chris Farley Show” kind of way.
I sincerely doubt anyone will be voting for more of Wiig’s Glenda Okones mayoral campaign sketches (SNL should lock down their impressions of current politicians before turning to fictitious ones) but I definitely got on board with her overly-intrusive and inappropriate exit poll-er. Watch Wiig (who I personally would love to see win a Golden Globe tonight for her phenomenal work in Bridesmaids) hassle an unsuspecting – and yes, male – Republican Radcliffe here:
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The show concluded with the enjoyable-enough fake commercial for the sadly-necessary Headz Up, a device for people who can’t help but looking down at their phones, no matter what. Sadly, the first legitimate smile I cracked all night came at the very end when Radcliffe signed off and a genuinely supportive Bill Hader hugged the star and exclaimed, “You did it!”
What did you think of Daniel Radcliffe’s episode of Saturday Night Live, PopWatchers? Which sketches did you love? Hate? Did you join the chorus of those utterly baffled by Lana Del Rey or do you think it was the sound in Studio 8H that did her no favors? Share in the comments section below.