Saturday Night Live's second show of the year featured an impressive job by host Daniel Radcliffe, with minimal leanings on the Harry Potter franchise. And while musical guest Lana Del Rey certainly didn't win any new fans (hers was possibly the worst performance in SNL history), a steady stream of laughs kept the episode upbeat.. Here’s a recap of the best (and worst) moments of the show, with clips included.
Cold Open: A Message from Mitt Romney— Sudeikis needs to step up his Romney impression if we're going to be seeing the would-be GOP candidate for the rest of the year. Trying to make light of Romney’s “firing” comment, the sketch was strained for laughs. However, I'm loving the subtle appearance of the Brokeback Mountain jacket that Rick Perry wore in his gay marriage attack ad.
Monologue: Daniel Radcliffe— Big kudos to Radcliffe for poking fun at adult superfans of the Harry Potter books – just a small notch below the ultracreepiness of middle-aged Twilight maniac fans. We're thankful enough that they didn't make him sing something to forgive the fact that these people are still reminding us of Snooki and The Situation. In 2012, that doesn't seem right at all.
Ricky Gervais Hosts Everything— Sudeikis hit a much better stride in his absolutely cheekilicious take on Ricky Gervais, who was spoofed as the host of various awards shows – including the Philadelphia Flower Show and the BET Awards. The funniest part is that Ricky would likely be pretty similar to the parody laid out here.
Target Lady— Here will be our final coverage of the Target Lady, a character beloved to fans of Kristen Wiig but one badly in need of a long cryogenic freeze. With a ponytailed Radcliffe as an employee with a crush, and Hader as a manager with a creepy lust for Radcliffe, the skit worked, but the only particularly chuckle-worthy moments arrived when Wiig ran off to get a new sled. Love the accent and quirky enthusiasm, but this one needs a rest.
Best Sketch: You Can Do Anything— Every so often SNL will hit a grand-slam, lampooning modern society's most significant ills with a parody that hits every mark in the most badly needed ways. "You Can Do Anything" is a talk show about the children of the digital era, a send-up of the celebration of mediocrity and the hugely inflated self-esteem of the Youtube Generation. It is pure satirical brilliance.
Hogwarts Castle 2020— The obligatory Harry Potter sketch centers on the fact that, years after graduation, Harry just won’t leave Hogwarts. Paul Brittain's Malfoy is golden, while Hader's Rickman is even better.
Musical Guest: Lana Del Rey— Undeserving, meticulously crafted viral internet phenomenon Lana Del Rey made her U.S. television debut on SNL, and the outcome was a painfully embarrassing mess, a collapse of inflated promise. Watch it for yourself. Her performance was an implosion of hype, a girl with no place whatsoever on a nationally televised stage laying out her painfully amateurish wares in half-babytalk, singlehandedly dismantling months of genius build-up by Interscope (who will be putting out her Born To Die album on Jan. 31).
Weekend Update— Kim Jong Un’s Two Best Friends From Growing Up stopped by. You remember them from their totally unfunny appearance a year ago. Here's all that needs to be said about the rest of Weekend Update:
Yeah. Casey Anthony's dog.
Worst Sketch: The Jay Pharoah Show— Jay Pharoah finally gets his own sketch, and it falls terribly flat. Apparently seeking a clever way to showcase his impressive impressions, a skit was designed in which a nervous Pharoah slips into accents and characters to get through the segment. It's awkward, as we haven't spent enough time with Jay to grasp who he is – so our attention anchors remain with his Denzel and Will Smith impressions. They're great, but if that's all you've got…
Best Commercial Spoof: Headz Up from World-Tel– Finally! An app to let you know what’s going on around you while your face – and attention – is buried in your phone.
With the excepction of a shiteous Lana Del Rey and Jay Pharaoh's floundering, the second SNL episode of the year shows the series to be quick on its toes and eager to clean up its own messes. It's a promising sign for 2012 – but let's stick to musicians who have established themselves a bit first, eh? And maybe bring some new blood in for Weekend Update. We love Seth Meyers, but it's time to grow.
CraveOnline Rating: 7 out of 10