Kermit the Frog is indisputably awesome. Ed the Sheeran (as Kermie called him) is, too. But pair ’em up on “Rainbow Connection” and, well, all of us are under its spell, no?
One of the night’s earliest sketches featured a laundry list of A-listers engaging in an accidental game of “telephone” — starting with co-host Seth Meyers enlisting Emily Blunt’s help in the Red Nose Day proceedings. The hit-or-miss action ended with Reese Witherspoon (armed with a tragic glass of ice water) calling Meyers — seeing if he’d help host “The Day They Stopped Making Rosé,” benefitting “animals with alcoholism.” The Hot Pursuit star’s line reading was so convincing, we almost opened our checkbooks for those struggling canines.
WEIRDEST CALL TO ACTION
Michelle Rodriguez went to Peru to film a segment showing child laborers working in the brick-making business — but the focus on just one little girl (and the way the same footage was repeated several times over) gave the vibe that her visit wasn’t especially in-depth. And while it’s sometimes nice to see a celeb go off script, Rodriguez’s closing remarks — “I’m disgusted” and “I never want to come back” — felt less than on-the-nose on a night that was all about shining a spotlight on the plight of under-priveleged kids.
The abs-olutely chiseled Kellan Lutz popped up in a hottub, disclosing he was wearing nothing but two, err three, socks — and that NBC would raise him three inches for every $1,000 donated. After the break, though, all we saw were the Twilight star’s calves hanging from below the rafters. For better or for worse, though, that third appendage didn’t extend into the frame.
MOST ANNOYING SHTICK
Would it be too mean to suggest Gwyneth Paltrow take a full year out of the spotlight to recalibrate her sense of what’s appealing (and what’s abhorrent) to the masses? Her labored intro — including a pre-shot segment in which she descended to the event from a helicopter, then got stuck hanging several feet off the stage — felt like one big advertisement for her chiseled arms, rather than a genuine act of charity. What’s more, the Oscar winner’s chiding remark that commoners who’d raised money in their hometowns need to “send it in soon!” raised the question: Does she think average Americans keep their fundraising dollars on their kitchen counters, then eventually use it for all-you-can-eat breadsticks at Olive Garden?
MOST SURPRISING JOKE
After a taped piece about Matt Lauer’s five-day fundraising bike ride, his Today co-anchor Savannah Guthrie presented him with a gift certificate for a soothing rubdown — “from a reputable New York City massage parlor.” Girl, we didn’t know you could get blue like that — but then again, it’s rare to see you on TV after 9am.
During an extended bit in which co-host Seth Meyers joked about British celebs playing subservient Red Nose roles (mainly because the charity originated across the pond), Helen Mirren was shown backstage serving tea. The English Breakfast, Early Grey and iced varieties all seemed to please her, but the Oscar winner’s horror upon uttering the word Chai was hands-down the telecast’s funniest unspoken punch line.
We can’t lie: There was something slightly discomfiting about Nick Offerman and Will Ferrell throwing down in a Voice “Battle Round” to see who could make a more moving appeal for donations. Still, we couldn’t help but howl when Jeff Goldblum dropped by to mentor Offerman in the fine art of transforming from “early-period funny Tom Hanks to late-period serious Tom Hanks” — or Ferrell’s total tantrum when the showdown ended in a tie.
BIGGEST SYNERGISTIC FAILURE
We loved seeing The Voice‘s Season 8 champ Sawyer Fredericks reprising his lovely rendition of “Imagine” — but how come the network cut away to commercial before the kid was finished singing? Here’s one case where an extra couple of minutes of airtime would’ve benefitted kids in need — and NBC’s bottom line to boot!
MOST SURPRISINGLY MOVING MOMENT
Jack Black isn’t necessarily the first celeb most of us would associate with heartfelt emotion, but if you didn’t shed a tear during his segment about spending a day with a homeless Ugandan orphan named Felix — which ended with the 12-year-old boy going to sleep in a landfill and expressing his desire to go home with the School of Rock actor — you might want to go to the nearest emergency room to have your ducts checked.
BEST COMEDY/WORST FUNDRAISING
Billy Eichner and Martin Short only raised $22 accosting strangers on the streets of New York City, but damn did those dudes make us laugh. Eichner kept calling out the comic legend’s brief arc on Weeds, while one random woman frankly/brutally remarked of Short, “To be quite honest, I have no idea who that is.”
LEAST ENTHUSIASTIC TELEPROMPTER READER
We know NBC needs to promote its summer drama Aquarius, but perhaps the network’s budget could’ve covered two or three Red Bulls to bring a little more pep to co-host David Duchovny’s delivery?
BEST META JOKE
Jane Krakowski kicked off her stint as co-host (for the final third of the telecast) by welcoming viewers to “the sixteenth hour of the Today Show,” and then “the fifth hour of The Voice.” Hilarious — even if you might be a little concerned those two franchises could account for 21 hours of daily programming a decade or two from now.
WORST MUSICAL SELECTION
A segment about a single mother of three relying on a Chicago food bank to provide nutritious meals to her kids was inarguably touching. We just wish somebody in the editing booth had nixed the use of Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now” — a plaintive ballad about an ill-advised booty call — as the soundtrack to this story of domestic despair.
BEST MUSICAL SELECTION
I wasn’t initially all that fond of a lengthy, Chris Martin-led Game of Thrones: The Musical parody, but once Kit Harington started belting, “Wildling! You pull your bowstring!” — followed by Emilia Clarke’s “Rastafarian Targaryen” — I found myself chuckling heartily, and wondering where I could buy a ticket.