Published Jan 27, 2019James McAvoy and Meek Mill were overjoyed to be guests on the show, but in one of its most uneven episodes of the year, the writers at Saturday Night Live did not reciprocate. Here's everything that happened this week.
The cold open
The gifted Alex Moffatt portrayed Fox News host Tucker Carlson and initially interviewed Cecily Strong's Judge Jeanine Pirro, which was mostly an excuse to highlight how terrible these two actual people are. Kate McKinnon played the decrepit, out of touch elitist Wilbur Ross, Trump's Secretary of Commerce, but barely said anything more outlandish than what the actual Ross said about furloughed workers over the past few weeks. Steve Martin made a cameo to play recently indicted Trump advisor Roger Stone, and briefly alluded to one of his old, "wild and crazy" SNL characters. As satire goes, this was all toothless; making fun of Fox News and Trump's journalists is like shooting fish in a barrel.
James McAvoy turned up in a kilt and shared some jokes about his Scottish heritage and Ewan McGregor. This had its charms, but was also tepid and unmemorable, though McAvoy received some mercy applause for mucking up his cue card reading.
All SNL parodies of Bachelor shows in recent years have featured the women in the cast playing deranged and clingy competitors vying for the affection of the show's star who, in this case, was played by McAvoy. Beyond stealing Michael Ian Black's old "PR/Puerto Rico" joke, there was nothing notable about this rehashed idea.
This remote was amusing, upending the standard hood-to-Harvard storyline that we've become used to. McAvoy played a high school teacher seeking out a young student played by Chris Redd, who is hanging out with his fellow drug-dealing friends. He assumes McAvoy is there to praise him and beg him to apply himself more at school. But it turns out he's not as smart as he thinks he is and his teacher is just looking to score.
Scottish Accent Airplane Sketch
When a private plane's pilot is struck unconscious, a brand integrationist played by Mikey Day is connected with McAvoy's air traffic controller, who has a very thick Scottish accent. That was the be all and end all of this lazy thing.
A good musical remote featuring Leslie Jones rapping about how great living on the Upper East Side of Manhattan is. Special props to McAvoy playing a rapping German baker and Kate McKinnon, as herself, admitting that no matter how much Jones wants to hang out, she'd rather stay home with her cat.
A focus group is asked about a commercial for Charmin toilet paper by a consultant played by Aidy Bryant. The weird group is fixated on the Charmin bears and McAvoy stole whatever kind of show this was, repeatedly generating new scripts and scenarios for better commercials for TP.
Meek Mill was dynamic and strong during his debut performances on SNL. "Going Bad," featuring Drake's disembodied voice and two women dancing, was energetic and compelling and turned into a medley, as Mill dug into "Uptown Vibes," with a real-life assist from Fabolous. Later in the show, Mill tore through the weighty, confessional title track from his acclaimed new album, Championships, and you can see him reveling in the moment and, given his release from prison last April, perhaps even appreciating his freedom.
Colin Jost began Update by playing clips of Trump making an ass of himself trying to talk about his wall. Michael Che made jokes about liberals not assuming they beat Trump because he caved on the government shutdown, but also made a good COPS riff about Roger Stone getting arrested in an early morning raid. Later, Che made a few glorious jokes about Stone hiring black men to have sex with his wife in the mid-'90s. Chris Redd appeared as Soulja Boy, riffing on the latter's viral appearance on The Breafast Club, but subbed out his incredulity about Drake for Trump. Cecily Strong reprised her role as Cathy Ann, Che's eccentric neighbour who opines about all manner of current events and here she spent time scrutinizing Trump's planned wall.
The Chronicles of Narnia: Return to Narnia
Three students played by Aidy Bryant, Kate McKinnon and Cecily Strong travel to meet with an otherworldly object of their affection in this strange, inside bit of nerd lust. McAvoy played the magical goat and this odd thing was at least mercifully short.
Jarret & Spencer
Beck Bennett and Kyle Mooney brought back their pair of rambunctious brothers who, in this case, appear at their parents' Super Bowl party. This is often a pretty dark and yet physical bit, and it was again with the kids clearly acting out because of some deep trauma, and McAvoy, as their step-dad, spraying the pair with a hose and airing them out with a leaf blower, just to make it all the more bizarre.
An unusually late-in-the-show music video remote, Chris Redd, Pete Davidson and Kenan Thompson played rappers praising their dogs, though not with as many intense feelings as McAvoy's Mark shares. And then all of this was countered by Ego Nwodim's verse on the virtues of pet bunnies. All very strange, some of it funny.
Deirdre and Reynolds
Heidi Gardner has played this pretentious character before, who travels to some city in the world with her man-friend and returns to her baffled friends, spouting some accent or holier-than-thou attitude about the place. In this case, McAvoy played her partner and they're just back from New Orleans, which they call N'Awlins, much to the chagrin of everyone, but particularly for a character played by Thompson who was raised in the city and disputes most of what they have to say about it. McAvoy could barely keep it together, which marked his first real break during the show, even though this wasn't a particularly funny sketch.