Recap: Josh Hutcherson on Saturday Night Live (with video)

First-time host Josh Hutcherson (Peeta Mellark himself!) is at the helm of tonight’s episode of Saturday Night Live. It was an uneven episode with three pre-recorded bits (there were four last week when Lady Gaga hosted – is the show changing its name to Saturday Night mostly-Live?) and a host that was almost always overshadowed by the cast members. It’s not all bad news for Hutcherson, though. There were some very funny bits and there wasn’t anything truly dreadful – plus, Catching Fire is slated for a $150 million opening weekend.

Here is a recap of the episode, sketch by sketch, with videos of the monologue, Baby CEO sketch and Aidy Bryant’s “Worst Lady on an Airplane” bit from Weekend Update.

Cold open

Slow news week? The show opened with Taran Killam reprising his great impression of Piers Morgan. This episode of Piers Morgan Live focused on George Zimmerman – specifically his girlfriend, a Florida cop and George Zimmer, founder of Men’s Warehouse. There were a few jokes that landed. Mostly, Zimmerman’s girlfriend played by Kate McKinnon was fun to watch (“I have a thing for bad boys”) and the cop, played by Bobby Moynihan, quipped that this whole George Zimmerman mess will make people forget that Florida gave the world Limp Bizkit.

Monologue

That didn’t take long. A Hunger Games joke at the top of the show. Hopefully this means no ghastly parody for the rest of the episode? Kate McKinnon, who was just in the cold open as George Zimmerman’s girlfriend, is dressed up as Effie Trinket from The Hunger Games. One male and one female cast member will fight to the death! Noël Wells is chosen as the female tribute; she’s worried at first, but then happy that this will probably get her a few extra minutes of screen time. Josh Hutcherson, the apparent host, was totally overshadowed by everyone else on stage.

Video via mediaite.com.

Girlfriends Talk Show

A sketch with a simple premise – two high-school girlfriends talk about boys and fashion – that always ends up relying way too heavily on Aidy Bryant’s delivery of one-liners (“I think I’m entering womanhood right now!”). Bryant and Cecily Strong are two high-school girls who host a talk show: Bryant’s awkward, sweet Morgan expects the show to be a two-host team, but Strong’s character always invites a guest without Morgan’s knowledge (usually the episode’s host). Hutcherson is the “cutest boy in the school;” ultimately, this isn’t any different than any other Girlfriends Talk Show SNL has done. It might be time to retire it; Bryant and Strong are better than this. 

Baby CEO

Beck Bennett (hey, one of the new guys gets some screen time!) is a CEO of a startup – he has the IQ of a genius, Josh Hutcherson’s character, who’s his new assistant, is told. But he has the body of a baby – he’s barefoot, has a floor desk and puts people’s fingers in his mouth. Later, he even makes a mess in the office with some spaghetti. It’s a cooky enough character that I can see Baby CEO returning, but it rests of Bennett’s physical commitment. He’s all in.

Matchbox 3

A pre-recorded segment about a trio of subway dancers who strategically get on trains when they’re full – more customers, duh. It’s a weak episode, so this is one of the funnier bits tonight. Jay Pharoah, Kenan Thompson and Hutcherson make up the troupe. There are one or two good physical bits here, but the line that got me was Thompson explaining how they cope with the crowded trains’ reduced space: “You can’t stir the pot on the train; that’s why I stir the espresso.” Here’s the clip, via mediaite.com.

Weekend Update

Bless Aidy Bryant. You can always count on Update during a more dull episode of SNL, but it’s Aidy Bryant and her “Worst Lady on an Airplane” character who stole the segment. Wearing a neck pillow and carrying her luggage and Chinese food in plastic bags, Worst Lady gives viewers her travel tips – they include setting up in the bathroom and laughing hysterically at the movie playing off your 27-inch laptop (“Can you make Monsters University less hilarious?”). A too-short Update, in my opinion, with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford making it into two items this week.

Josie / The 80s

Hey, there’s Nasim Pedrad – though she’s a glorified extra in this sketch about 80s’ teens. Vanessa Bayer has a crush on Josh Hutcherson’s character, who lip-synchs The Outfield’s “Your Love” to her. This is a fun and silly sketch. Here’s the clip, via Tumblr.

Best Buy

Cecily Strong and Bobby Moynihan are Dana and Niff, two Best Buy employees who think they’re about to be fired and start bashing their co-workers, all gathered nearby for a staff meeting. This is the third time Dana and Niff appear on SNL. The first was on the Anne Hathaway episode in 2012 at a McDonald’s, the second on the Kevin Hart episode last season. Strong and Moynihan carry this; much like Kristen Wiig and Jason Sudeikis’s Two A-Holes characters, Dana and Niff are loud, mean, exaggerated.

Dancing

A pre-recorded bit with Beck Bennett and Kyle Mooney that I would rather forget than write about.

Animal Hospital

A trio of animal hospital nurses who have to tell owners that their pets are dead. Tiffany the rabbit “went peacefully after screaming for an hour,” Hutcherson’s nurse reassures one pet owner. This sketch was much funnier than I expected this late into a mediocre episode. Hutcherson was just one of three characters who split the jokes, but for the first time tonight, it seemed like he was getting some of the better lines. When a customer yells that this is the worst animal hospital in town, Hutcherson’s nurse shoots back: “We know, our Yelps are terrible.”

Winston Sam Bass Investigative Report

A third pre-recorded bit on tonight’s show: this time, we see Mike O’Brien’s Winston Sam Bass on the street asking bugs the tough question: “Where are you going?” I think it’s fair that SNL is experimenting so much with pre-recorded bits in the post-Lonely Island era, but they should be doing more “Matchbox 3” bits and less of this – and way less of “Dancing.”

Turkey girlfriend

Hutcherson’s character is coming home for Thanksgiving dinner with his girlfriend – a turkey. Literally. A fine final sketch in a sort-of weak episode: Vanessa Bayer is the turkey girlfriend who eats corn out of Hutcherson’s hand, but she is mortified when she asks what’s for dinner and finds out it’s her neighbour – but she didn’t know the guy.

Haim was the musical guest on tonight’s show.

The next new episode of Saturday Night Live will be Dec. 7, with Paul Rudd hosting for the third time and musical guests One Direction. On Dec. 14, John Goodman will host his 13th SNL, with musical guests Kings of Leon. And on Dec. 21, SNL alum Jimmy Fallon hosts for the second time since he left the show. The musical guest that week will be Justin Timberlake – I get the feeling the two will end up co-hosting; at the very least, I’m expecting some other SNL alums to make appearances. Fallon will be gearing up to take over The Tonight Show on Feb. 24, 2014.

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