‘Saturday Night Live’: Tom Hanks gits-r-done on ‘Black Jeopardy.’

Saturday Night Live
“Tom Hanks & Lady Gaga”
October 22, 2016

Tom Hanks is a known quantity. The man has, as of last night, hosted Saturday Night Live nine times now, which somehow is not the record. (Alec Baldwin has hosted 16 times — not including his guest appearances; Steve Martin some 15 times; John Goodman 13 times; and, fascinatingly, Buck Henry has hosted 10 times.) So I don’t really have much to say about Hanks as a host other than, you know, he’s good? You don’t get invited back 8 times if you’re not good?

tom hanks shrug i don't know.gif

The night began predictably enough with another debate parody — presumably the last of this election season (praise the saints the debates are over) and it was good enough, but let’s be honest, the other debate sketches were better. Highlights include the entire planet laughing at Trump’s assertion that no one has more respect for women than him; Hillary Clinton dropping the mic on her 30 years of experience and the nod to The Very Worst Baldwin, Stephen. You’re the worst, Stephen Baldwin! Never forget that, Stephen Baldwin!

Grade: A

Tom Hanks assumes his role as “America’s Dad” in his monologue, assuring us that everything is going to be fine. And this bit was fine! It was fine. It wasn’t great but it was fine. But can we talk about his closing note: “that kid is going to be fine because that kid is a HANKS!” Um, Tom? Have you met Chet?

Grade: B

Saturday Night Live has done “Black Jeopardy” before but never has it been this brilliant. Tom Hanks plays the requisite out-of-place white guy, this time a Donald Trump-supporting, Git-R-Done type, whom the host and contestants come to realize has more in common with them than they expected. Hilarious and insightful, every single thing about this sketch is perfect — they even stick the landing.

Grade: A++

H’oh boy, this bit. Neighbors have a meeting about the upcoming Halloween block party, and one family performs the “show” they have planned and expect to be paid for. This is just not my jam. I understand that some people must find these semi-absurdist musical sketches hilarious, but I am not among them. I literally gave up on the episode and went to bed halfway through this sketch.

Grade: C-

And it’s a shame I went to bed at that moment, because they followed that dreadful sketch with one that felt like it was written exclusively for me. In this bit, CBS promotes its new comedy, Broken, its bid to stop being shut out of the Emmys by “comedies” like Transparent and Orange is the New Black.

“Because it’s 30 minutes, it’s a comedy!” Indeed.

Grade: A+

In this sketch, a couple visits a haunted elevator attraction which among its ghouls and monsters features a confusing character by the name of “David Pumpkins” who is not in the least bit scary. At first I thought David Pumpkins was supposed to be that Larry David character, “Kevin Robberts,” a douchey shooting gallery target featured in a sketch last season. But he’s not? But he’s basically the same character, just with backup dancers? I don’t know how I feel about any of this.

Grade: B, mostly for Bobby Moynihan’s dancing.

Here’s the “Weekend Update.” It’s alright, I guess.

Grade: B+

Better is Leslie Jones’ fierce take on being hacked this summer. Leslie Jones is a badass and don’t you forget it.

Grade: A

We are also paid another visit by “The Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation with at a Party,” who is fresh off her stay on Bachelor in Paradise. She has some thoughts on the election, you guys.

Grade: A-

In this overly-long bit, Captain Sully, American hero, is relegated to co-pilot on a flight, and he doesn’t handle it well. It’s a funny enough concept playing off of Tom Hanks’ recent film role, but it feels slooooooooow. It just doesn’t pop.

Grade: B-

In “A Girl’s Halloween,” the story of three friends’ night out is told in bookends: as they are getting ready to go out, and then the disastrous conclusion of the night. I loved everything about this digital short with the exception of the last gag which felt obvious. Or maybe I’m just a prude. Who knows.

Grade: A

The episode ended with another recurring bit, “America’s Funniest Pets.” (Although the first time it aired on Adam Driver’s amazing episode, it was called “America’s Funniest Cats.” You’re welcome for that completely useless fact!) In this bit, Tom Hanks does his Ron Howard impersonation which he clearly thinks is much better than it actually is. He doesn’t sound or look ANYTHING like Ron Howard. Clearly doing this sketch as Ron Howard was Tom Hanks’ idea, but why didn’t anyone stop him? NO, TOM HANKS, JUST DO IT AS SOME GUY, YOUR RON HOWARD IS TERRIBLE.

Anyway, the conceit of the bit is that the French version of a show about funny pet videos is full of existential ennui and I would totally add that show to my series recordings.

Grade: A

Final grade: A- 

Next week: It’s looking like a rerun, guys. But then on November 5th, it’s going to be Benedict Cumberbatch and Solange, so we’ve got that to look forward to.

Saturday Night Live airs at 10:30/11:30 p.m. Saturdays on NBC.

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