SNL #38.3 RECAP: Host Daniel Craig, musical guest Muse

How would Bond, James Bond, hold up as a live sketch comedian against the onslaught of topical and absurdist humor put upon him by the writers of Saturday Night Live?

We found out last night.

The first 2012 Presidential Debate happened on Wednesday night, making it the obvious choice for the cold open. Since PBS anchor Jim Lehrer anchored the real thing, Lorne Michaels called in former SNL cast member Chris Parnell — who has played Lehrer before — to play him again, Sam. We see almost immediately how much better Jay Pharoah is at impersonating President Barack Obama than Fred Armisen was (no offense, Fred! seriously. no, no. seriously), and somewhat less immediately but only by seconds, that the weirdest thing was the rightest thing to focus in on early on. That is, Obama singling out his First Lady Michelle due to their wedding anniversary. Jason Sudeikis, as Mitt Romney, makes nice weird facial expressions. With every cutaway to Michelle, add 20 angry comments to every SNL message board about the show’s lack of black females. But don’t let that get to their heads. Just go inside their heads. That’s where the funny resides.

Daniel Craig’s monologue included an “In Memorium” montage of all of the people his James Bond has killed. But too much singing equals not enough musical clearances to pay for all of this. What a wonderful world? Shaka Hulu!!!

When we return, we’re at a construction site where Craig is the new guy and Kenan Thompson is the foreman and Bobby Moynihan and Tim Robinson are the co-workers. You know how construction workers love to sexually harass female pedestrians…well, they do. Still. Only Craig’s innuendos aren’t so in. And his attempts to fit in don’t fit. So says the boss’s boss, played by J-Suds. Flashback Blowback! Eh. At least the kid’s trying.

Fake ad time: Bond Turns 50. Step up and get the full DVD box set, including Bond Girls you may not remember. Impersonation time! Diane Keaton (Vanessa Bayer). Kate McKinnon nails Jodie Foster (!) and Ellen DeGeneres (!!). Nasim Pedrad plays Lea Michele in a scene with the “real” Bond. Bayer as Molly Ringwald. And in the one impersonation you’ve seen before, SNL fans, Fred Armisen as Penny Marshall, only this time in gold. Have I mentioned how great Kate McKinnon is? Oh, yes. Yes, I have. How long before the rest of you are on board?

MSNBC continues to look back on the “Obama debate debacle,” and Cecily Strong takes over the Rachel Maddow impersonation from Abby Elliott (who left despite also leaving behind a starring sitcom role in FOX’s Ben and Kate, which b-t-dubs is so far, so great). On the panel, the Rev. Al Sharpton (Kenan), S.E. Cupp (McKinnon), and in a bit of surprise…J-Suds is on remote as Chris Matthews. We say surprise here in recapland because even though Darrell Hammond left the 30 Rock building a few years ago, he always comes back when one of his classic impersonation characters is called for in a sketch. Just like we saw Parns do in the cold open. What gives? No time to Google this. Must keep recapping.

Now a promo for the upcoming episode of Long Island Medium. That’s not really a real show, is it? Really? So. OK. Full disclosure. I did have enough time to Google that. I mean. Really, TLC? McKinnon plays the TV show’s Theresa Caputo.

To the Moon, I tells ya! How about Mars? Alrighty then…

We’re in outer space with a crew that includes Craig, Kenan, Taran Killam and Strong as toughie Ramirez and Moynihan as Kirby, who misses his “little kitty cat.” I give this sketch nine meow lives!

Ladies and gentlemen, Muse. “Madness.” And yes, that’s a TV or iPad or the FUTURE on that guitar. Madness. Absolute madness.

Time for Weekend Update with Seth Meyers. He delivered the other “Winners and Losers” from this week’s presidential debate.

And in the biggest celebrity get of the night, SNL scores a visit from BIG BIRD. From Sesame Street to 30 Rock to tell off Mitt Romney. Plus the fake Twitter accounts, too — if you listen between the lines.

Did you see that old painting that, when restored, looked less like Jesus and more like Jesus Christ What Happened?!? McKinnon slides onto the Update desk as that re-painter, Cecilia Giminez, to deliver more gems.

When we return for the homestretch, it’s a BBC look at a working-class drama titled, “A Sorry Lot We Are.” We see Craig crying over last week’s match on the telly, while here comes Moynihan, and would you look at our supposed superstar Bill Hader gracing us with an appearance! I’m not complaining. It’s nice to have seen the new cast members such as McKinnon and Strong earn so much face time already in leading roles tonight. But back to this sketch. Which also gives a speaking part to newbie Aidy Bryant as “saucy Maggie,” and Robinson offering a job you should refuse.

Daniel Craig, as Carl, brings home his new girlfriend, “Regine” (Armisen), to show off to two other couples played by Bryant and Robinson and Bayer and Hader. Such a loving couple. “I have a front-row seat to her face.” Oh no. Oh no no faces. Please no. Get out. Go to commercial. Something!

Once again, Muse! “Panic Station.”

We see the return of the “Undecided Voter” ad to fill time. Plus, it’s just good to watch again and again until the election, don’t you think?

We didn’t see much crazy comedy or hijinks out of Mr. Daniel Craig, though we did see him enough tonight as a straight man, and that’s OK, right? To all of you comedy nerdballs out there, you can end your own “panic station” here and now, because John Mulaney’s name has returned to the writing credits. There’ll be more SNL next week. Tune in next time!

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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