“Expecto, hilarium!” Pity poor Daniel Radcliffe, who without the benefit of any Harry Potter-style spells at his fingertips, was forced to make do with a mixed bag of sketches as he hosted this week’s Saturday Night Live.
Don’t blame Radcliffe for the lack of magic, though. After all, he managed to score laughs where a lesser performer would’ve struggled: In a “Spin the Bottle” short where he kissed hobo after hobo after hobo (a payoff way too similar to Matt Damon’s homeless dude in the “Best Friends” digital short the week Katy Perry hosted); during a charming monologue where his self-deprecating shtick proved funnier than the supporting antics of the regular SNL cast; and especially in a Weekend Update segment playing Casey Anthony’s dog, a dubious bit brought to life by Radcliffe’s alternating petulance and terror (and willingness to sport a truly ridiculous costume).
Below, my picks for the week’s best and worst:
Best: You Can Do Anything!
A talk show that “celebrates the incredibly high self-esteem of the YouTube generation.” I kinda wish hosts Vanessa Bayer and Bill Hader had been less vague with their intentions — and fully committed to either mocking their guests or blankly cheering them on — but Radcliffe’s combo of Irish dancing and Chinese calligraphy was priceless. “I tried, and therefore no one should criticize me!”
Best: Exit Poll
I loved the randomness of pollster Kristen Wiig’s questions to Republican primary voter Radcliffe. (Best of the bunch: Will the future include “monkeys still in cages,” “monkeys in charge,” or “no more monkeys”?) Radcliffe could’ve used a few zingers of his own, but I laughed more at this one than I have at any live closing sketch this season.
Worst: Delaware Fellas
A Jersey Boys parody so incredibly lame, NBC hasn’t made it available for morning-after Internet viewing. When the best you can do is turn “Walk Like a Man” into “Strut Like a Guy,” maybe you should consider running three minutes of test pattern?
Worst: Harry Potter 10 Years Later
OK, this sketch wasn’t as bad as X27B Theater or Target Lady, but it draws my ire for wasting Radcliffe’s Potter on the most clichéd of setups — Harry returns to Hogwarts in an effort to return to his high-school glory days — and being unwilling to take the beloved character into a dark and twisted direction. Why not have him hitting on current coeds, or huffing whipped cream cannisters in the corridor, rather than merely playing Quidditch alone and providing his own cheering section?
What did you think of this week’s SNL? How would you rate Radcliffe as a host? Sound off in the comments, and for all my TV recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!