See John Cena Wrestle With His Debut Saturday Night Live Hosting Gig
See what we did there? Still transfixed by those gigantic biceps.
We all know that sports figures as hosts on Saturday Night Live are typically a mixed bag, and by "mixed" I mean "mostly terrible." But pro wrestlers tend to be the exception since they are typically more actor/entertainer than athlete (hey, why not both?), like Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. John Cena, whose nicknames include "The Cenation Leader," "The Doctor of Thuganomics," and "The Face That Runs The Place," acquits himself just fine on the show, not straying too far from his strongman image, but displaying just enough personality and likability in the cold open to make you root for him throughout. I mean, how do you not root for a guy who's constantly being challenged to fights against his will and having fake chairs smashed against his back?
The show's sharpness definitely petered out as it went, bottoming out on late sketches including one too many game show/competition show pieces and a really muddled and politically weak-sauce "Through Donald's Eyes." But there was enough good cheer to keep it from being a complete fiasco. Please don't punch me through multiple walls for saying so, Mr. Cena!
Funniest Sketch Of The Night
Your mileage on this one may depend on how big a fan of Breaking Bad you were or if you're totally over that whole phenomenon, but Bryan Cranston is never not a treat and his timing and delivery as Walter White/Heisenberg has not missed a beat since the show ended in 2013. We learn not only that Mr. White faked his own death, but that as head of the DEA in Donald Trump's cabinet he plans to make the country cook again. And it was smart to give Alec Baldwin's Trump a break for a week.
Best Quick-Hit, One-Joker
The show's been doing a lot of video pieces in the guise of '80s television (and on CBS, it seems), and while they're not always as great as the Andy Samberg-era "Digital Shorts," they usually get to the point right away and don't overstay their welcome. This week it's a mock cop show, Dyke and Fats, in which Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant as Les Dykawitz and Chubbina Fatzarelli. It's a dumb, obvious set of jokes leading to a sublime moment of outrage at the end and then it's over. Get in, get out, get your laughs. Well done, officers.
Most Cecily Strong
Maybe you like it when Cecily Strong does her slurry, punchdrunk characters on "Weekend Update." Me, I have to rely on the closed captioning to even get the jokes. Well, at least Michael Che seemed to be having a good time. Seems like a cheap way to get some Trump punches in in the softest way possible.
By contrast, McKinnon typically hits it out of the park on "Weekend Update" with her off-kilter energy. Best moment in this week's Angela Merkel take: her rampaging, silent-scream-into-stomach crush on President Barack Obama.
Best By-The-Numbers Movie Homage
This take on The Karate Kid scores with Cena's near-perfect take on jerky jock Johnny Lawrence (as infamously played by Billy Zabka) and, thankfully, no attempt to try to have someone portray a caricature Mr. Miyagi. Exactly the kind of punch-heavy sketch you'd expect for an episode hosted by a pro wrestler, but visually strong and well-executed.
Most Repeated Business
Here's a format of SNL sketch that should probably be retired: game shows built around the premise that the guest host is so incredibly attractive that it takes over the entire program. Oh, and also, sketches that end with the punchline that two characters are gay and start kissing. Really, guys?
If NBC felt this sketch had any legs, they might have put it on YouTube and Lorne Michaels might have pushed it further up in the show. Instead, this dreamy point-of-view video with John Cena as Donald Trump is just weirdly unfunny and strangely depressing. It feels like a strong premise that just didn't have enough great new jokes to make it fly.