SNL: Daniel Craig the Closeted Character Actor!

Saturday Night Live S38E03: "Daniel Craig and Muse"

When it comes to picking SNL hosts, Lorne Michaels has always made a point of extending invitations to a cross-section of "types," from comedians (Will Ferrell, Melissa McCarthy) to tabloid stars (Taylor Lautner, Lindsay Lohan) to, you know, just whomever the crew wanted to hang out with for a week (Eli Manning, Mick Jagger). But as much as we all enjoy the hosts who are funny by trade, I think my favorite hosts are the dramatic actors. Obviously it's a kick to see serious actors put on silly wigs and behave foolishly for 90 minutes, but they also make great hosts for the simple reason that many of them are GOOD ACTORS. Maybe it's a result of their years of doing Shakespeare at royal academies or maybe they've just grown so tired of their day jobs, but most of these very serious thespians seem to give SNL 110 percent, and that's the kind of commitment this show needs more of, quite frankly. People who don't simply stare vacantly while reading cue cards, but rather take the time to memorize their lines and actually bring distinct characterizations to the sketches. This week, erstwhile serious actor Daniel "Bond James Bond" Craig arrived at Studio 8H for a very fun time indeed, guv'nuh! And he was great. Fully clothed, yet great. Let's talk about it!


[Apologies to international readers for these embedded clips, Hulu can be a bit of a jerk.]



Cold Open: Presidential Debate


As is tradition during the run-up to a presidential election, this cold open had to do with whatever the candidates were up to this week. In this case it was a debate. I am not an expert political analyst, but the joke seemed to be that Obama was distracted by myriad things and therefore didn't do well in the debate. I'm just guessing, I don't know if that was true or not! But as much as I don't love the political sketches, this one was good for at least a few chuckles, especially the cutaways to real footage of Michelle Obama looking unhappy, and also Jason Sudeikis-as-Romney's vacant stare during Jay Pharoah-as-Obama's speeches. I'm not sure the sketch needed to be 35 minutes long, but still. Good job!



Daniel Craig's Monologue


As of press time this sketch was not available online, probably due to its use of "What a Wonderful World" and also clips from various Daniel Craig films in which he killed people. In fact, that's what this was: Daniel Craig presenting an In Memoriam-style tribute to all the people he'd killed, including misnamed extras, a dog, and a sound guy (in real life). I especially liked the weird asides, like Daniel Craig insisting that "What a Wonderful World" was his favorite song but that he didn't know its title and could somebody please Shazam it for him? Also when he grew concerned about whether there was too much fake fog onstage. I already liked Daniel Craig, but I really liked Daniel Craig here.



Construction Workers


This sketch had one joke: A construction worker was terrible at sexual innuendo. But while his attempted sexy jokes were amusingly ridiculous, it was Daniel Craig's commitment to his wiseguy persona/accent that really entertained me. See what I'm saying about serious actors going for broke? I like it.



Lesser Known Bond Girls


This was a classic SNL-actors-doing-impressions-of-celebrities showcase and in my opinion it was one of the best they've done in a while. Lea Michele, Diane Keaton, Molly Ringwald: All of them were in lesser-known Bond films! (It made me laugh that a Bond film could be "lesser known.") But Kate MacKinnon's Ellen Degeneres was truly amazing and obviously Fred Armisen's Penny Marshall was hilarious too. We probably knew to expect a Bond parody, but I appreciated how Bond himself was beside the point in this sketch. Also: Quantum of Leap is a movie I REALLY wish had been made instead of Quantum of Solace.



MSNBC Commentators


Here was another politically oriented sketch which was about MSNBC's lefty commentators processing an unstellar performance by President Obama during last Wednesday's debate. Chris Matthews likes to shout, Rachel Maddow takes cheap shots, the conservative lady is boring. That type of thing. But I will never grow tired of Kenan Thompson's Al Sharpton impression, especially when he's describing something called "altitude poisoning" and insisting that Hawaii is "a mile below the Earth." Love that guy. (Kenan Thompson.)



Long Island Medium


This was a weirdly not-at-all timely parody of TLC's Long Island Medium series, but it did afford us another chance to see how great Kate MacKinnon is. Her impression was pretty solid and I also loved the jokes about how everyone bursts out sobbing whenever she tells them about their dead relatives. And the whole room full of people whose grandfathers choked to death on a "meatball parm." And I don't know how to break it to you, but Daniel Craig's Long Island makeover (complete with soul patch) made me feel funny. I don't know, it just kind of worked, you know?



Kitty Cat


"Mars Mission" was the sort of sketch that bored me at first, but by the end I loved it. After it took that turn where the lead character (Bobby Moynihan) began freaking out and screaming about his supposedly dead kitten, I was on board. But then throw a REAL KITTEN into the mix? Of course I loved this sketch. I am not a monster.



Muse: "Madness"


There is a chance I haven't heard a Muse song that I've liked since "Starlight," but this one came close. First of all, that bass guitarist had an iPad embedded into his bass guitar! The future! But also this song was understated (by Muse standards—there was still a guitar solo and screaming) and downright lovely. I liked it. Congratulations, Kate Hudson.



Weekend Update


Seth Meyers, everybody.



Weekend Update: Winners and Losers


Seth Meyers, everybody.



Commentary: Big Bird


Well, who doesn't love Big Bird? I was kiiiinda hoping there'd be a more eloquent plea for PBS's continued funding, but oh well. It's Big Bird!



Commentary: Cecilia Gimenez


Okay, this was just incredible. Kate MacKinnon is officially SNL's new leading lady (time to retire that "and featuring" designation, right, Lorne Michaels?). Man, this made me laugh. The conceit was that the Jesus-ruining elderly Spanish artist had intentionally painted him that way because when he came to her in a dream, that's how he looked. "I said 'Jesus, why you look like a shark?' And Jesus say, 'I think it look cool.'" So good.



A Sad Lot We Are


This sketch—a parody of a BBC working-class comedy—was not so much laugh-out-loud funny as it was a fairly brutal takedown of the BBC sensibility. From the disgusting-sounding British cuisine to the homely-love-interest-as-added-insult to the blue-collar wallowing, this sketch both felt like a real show that might exist and more importantly a show I would ignore when it eventually aired on BBC America. Great job?



Loving Couple


I enjoyed this sketch, mostly because it played like a live-TV version of Portlandia. Fred Armisen has always made for an unsightly woman, but here his character had the most loathsome, pretentious personality imaginable. Because the segment had to do with a man's new girlfriend making a terrible first impression on his friends, I couldn't help but wonder if whoever wrote this sketch was basing it on a real situation. You know? It just felt like it was coming from a place of righteous anger, and that might be why it worked so well. People can be awful!



Muse: "Panic Station"


This performance was much more like the Muse I'd come to know: Simultaneously over-the-top AND boring. And here everyone was so scared that the new Muse album would contain too much dubstep, but did anyone pause to wonder if there'd also be too much funk guitar? Because there apparently is! Sorry, Kate Hudson.



Undecided Voter


For whatever reason SNL skipped the new sketch they had in waiting and just re-aired this (admittedly fantastic) fake ad from a few weeks ago. No complaint here! It made me laugh all over again.


So there you have it, folks. Another solid entry in what's shaping up to be a very solid season of SNL. One of the world's most recognizable and handsome leading men fell in with the cast like just another excitable weirdo. Daniel Craig's performances were both fun and non-showy, like all those years of stolid leading-man drudgery were leaving him antsy to just be silly for a few hours. It worked! Who knows, maybe he should even make a comedy sometime?


How did YOU think Daniel Craig fared? And what was your favorite sketch of the night?

Comments (22)
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Craig was not on top of his game - as if I would know his game.

However, he was not on top; ok, maybe just barely if this would had been a reading (off [sic!] cards correctly) contest between him and Lindsay Lohan.
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Expected DC to suck, he did and then some. U can catch his eyes reading at something all the time in all his skits. So much for being an "actor" which begs the question on; shouldn't they all memorize their scripts b4 screen time? Kinda like lip syncing. Blah ! Nothing against DC in movies but some should not do comedy if there's no funny bone in them. Last SNL with Joseph L Gordon was a blast & very great comedic surprise. Not only did Gordon pulled most of the punches, it gave him a new found respectability for his versatility to play many roles CONVINCINGLY. Watch Loopers - cool & mind provoking - kinda like 60% of Inception.
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If you read Tina Fey's very funny book Bossypants it'll give you a lot more insight into just exactly how the show's put together. The comics are actually changing things all the way down to minutes before the show starts. All of the hosts & comics use the cue cards, but the regulars have gotten used to reading them without eye-wiggle. It isn't as easy as it might seem.
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Re: Loving Couple -- I KNOW that woman!! That was the first thing I thought when I saw Fred Armisen's character, my jaw nearly hit the floor. We have one that runs with our crowd (ugh long story) who is just that: faux intellectual narcissist who loves offending everyone in the hope of being "edgy." I laughed so hard and I nearly facebooked it for everyone to see (including her) but then I thought that would be the kind of d-bag move she'd pull off.
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I don't terribly like Daniel Craig as James Bond, he's a bit too teeth-grittingly angry just under the surface for the character, and his looks are much more in line with a henchman Bond would be beating the crap out of. So I wasn't expecting too much as I just haven't been able to get past my prejudices. I was surprised by his work in the monologue - the writing was pretty poor, but he played with it well.

His work in the Construction Workers sketch was excellent and held up while I was looking away. I don't think another sketch used him as strongly, he played parts with commitment and found the humor, but they weren't written for him as directly (even Sad Lot We Are felt like a very ensemble joke).

Holy crap, a musical guest clip on Hulu? Color me surprised. I didn't watch the musical bits even though I like Muse, watching Madness it seems like the mix is way off but it could just be Hulu.

Price, you and I may not agree on everything, but it makes me glad to know we're on the same page when it comes to Seth Meyers shouting the fake news at the camera. Keep on keeping on, Mr. Peterson.

Kate McKinnon's accent was clearly Italian and not Spanish. :-P

There is no such thing as too much funk guitar.

Reusing that fake ad suggests they mismanaged their timing, the director probably should have shoehorned it in anyway as this felt like a light episode in number of sketches and laughs, could have used a punch at the end.
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I laughed at very few things this episode, it was pretty horrible. The worst kind of sketch/tv/movie scene for me is one where they keep milking the same repetitive joke over and over, and that Bobby Moynihan "Kitty" thing personified it.
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Madness from Muse was the only thing that made the episode worthwhile. Yay for Muse.
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There is a significant possibility that this is the first time I've ever seen Daniel Craig smile.
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is good to know how James Bond's orgasm face looks like ..

that teaches me to never do that face in front of any girl that i am with .. or should i ?

i mean he gets all the hot women , no wonder that face is priceless
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Good call on Daniel Craig being the host! Funny stuff! There was a whole lotta Kate McKinnon in there also...there are other females in SNL right? ;-)
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SNL has always been politically-oriented from time to time, and they're usually good at it, but I feel they spent a little too much time on the debate, between the 2 sketches and Weekend Update. Also, I enjoyed Big Bird, but I swear Update dragged on so long that by the time it was over, I forgot who the host was. Then "A Sad Lot We Are" started and I was like, "holy crap, it's Daniel Craig!"
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I was pleasantly surprised by how good Daniel Craig was, he seems so serious but he went all out with the accents and whatnot. Overall, a solid episode. However, I am so thoroughly tired of 1) Bobby Moynihan playing various imbeciles who talk like babies, and 2) Fred Armisen in drag... time to send both to the SNL graveyard.
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I think Craig was better than large group of people expected.But yes I agree,it was McKinnon's show
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This was SNL, starring Kat McKinnon, featuring Daniel Craig. She completely stole the show. Just about everything she did was very funny!

And, again, I get that you don't like Seth Meyers' Weekend Update, but "Seth Meyers, everybody" still does not constitute a review!
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I think Daniel Craig is hilarious-- did you ever see the sketch he did on The Catherine Tate Show? If not, it is amazing and not to be missed!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4AgzQvFNZs



Unfortunately, it seemed like SNL was off this week. None of the sketches were very funny, except for when Bobby Moynihan started screaming about his dead cat. The rest were OK, but I was disappointed Craig didn't get a better chance to show off his comedic chops.
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Ha! great clip :) missed that one. thanks
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I thought it was a terrible episode. Barely laughed at all.
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Also,

Dear Muse, you used to be great. Please go back in time and not make your last two albums,

Yours Sincerely

Nick Ward
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Pretty hit and miss episode. I'll just run down the hits and misses.

Hits:

-Opening skit: hillarious, especially having watched and invested in the debate. Was hillarious hearing, "Mr. President, Romney just said HE shot Bin Laden. Your response?" "Uh *looks up* you two go along."

-Daniel Craig's monolouge

-MSNBC commentators

-Weekend Update

-Undecided Voter

-Lesser Known Bond Girls

Misses:

-Construction Workers

-Loving Couple

-Kitty Cat skit (sorry that was AWFUL)

-Long Island skit

-Muse performance: I've liked Muse for a while, but this new material/dubstep style just isn't working for me. Go back to your roots guys.
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I didn't laugh once. Plus, I was kind of offended by the 'A Sorry Lot We Are' bit...
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I also really enjoy good actors as hosts. I thought craig was awesome. I didn't have high hopes for his american accent after he let it slip in cowboys and aliens so many times but doing particular american accents seems to have worked for him. my favorite sketch was either the bond girls or long island medium one. for the first time i grew to appreciate MacKinnon and it happened fast and in a big way.
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That last bit sounds incredibly sexual...
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