Hanks, who has previously hosted SNL eight times, returned to Studio 8H in support of new film Inferno. And though he hasn’t hosted since May 2006, the versatile actor was at the top of his game, thanks in part to an episode where just about every cast member and every sketch was firing on all cylinders. Similarly, Gaga wowed with the one-two punch of “A-Yo” and “Million Reasons.”
Hanks’ energy never wavered, even during the few less-than-stellar sketches that called on him to reprise his role as Captain Sully Sullenberger and impersonate frequent collaborator Ron Howard. On that note, we’re doing away with our tradition of picking the best and worst sketches, and simply highlighting our faves.
BEST: FUNNY NEW COMEDY
This commercial — which served as both an indictment of the Television Academy, and a satire of the “dramedy” genre — was absolute gold. It consistently served up belly laughs as it mocked the decision to keep nominating shows like Transparent for Outstanding Comedy, and CBS for its failure to produce more cutting edge half-hours. While we doubt we’ll see Broken, a series about “a family of adjunct professors all diagnosed with depression” on the air anytime soon, we wouldn’t put it past one of the broadcast networks to develop something similar in an effort to rain on Transparent‘s award season parade.
BEST: WEEKEND UPDATE
We’re still on the fence about Colin Jost and Michael Che as anchors, but there’s little doubt that Leslie Jones and Cecily Strong did some of their best-ever work this week behind the Update desk. Jones’ monologue on cyber security and her own nightmarish hacking scandal was equal parts funny and courageous; Strong’s “Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With At a Party” had us ROFL-ing as she barked at Che about how “Kevin Can Wait, but Syrian referees can’t.” (Watch and discuss Jones’ segment here.)
BEST: HAUNTED ELEVATOR
If you loved Larry David’s Kevin Roberts (“Can a bitch get a donut?”), you probably enjoyed Hanks’ David S. Pumpkins, the least scary attraction at “100 Floors of Flights.” It’s the type of sketch that requires you to turn off your brain, but if you do, you can easily appreciate a man in a tuxedo covered in jack-o’-lanterns doing “his own thang” with two B-Boy skeletons. Its juvenility is what makes it great.
BEST: BLACK JEOPARDY
Hanks was perfect as a Trump supporter who, instead of being nervous about being the only white contestant, wound up doing better than his African-American competitors — that is until it came time for Final Jeopardy. The category? “Lives That Matter.”
BEST: PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE NO. 3
Unlike most hosts, Hanks was present even before his opening monologue, turning up as Chris Wallace in the third and final presidential debate sketch. Though admittedly not as strong as the previous three cold opens to feature Alec Baldwin, we continued to be tickled by his performance as he embellished on The Donald’s “bad hombres” and “nasty woman” gaffes, and went meta when naming his favorite Baldwin brother. (Watch and discuss the sketch here.)
What were your favorite sketches of the night? And what missed the mark? Grade the episode via our poll, then hit the comments and make your picks.