Saturday Night Live: Benedict Cumberbatch, Arcade Fire
May 8, 2022 11:07 AM - Season 47, Episode 19 - Subscribe

Arcade Fire performs "Unconditional I (Lookout Kid)" and "The Lightning I, II". Elizabeth Olsen appears in the pre-recorded "The Understudy" sketch.
posted by geoff. (19 comments total)
Pretty solid. Seemed to be weirdly timed -- were the (first) musical performances and WU much later than usual? And there were no guest spots on WU either.

Cumberbatch seemed to be up for whatever, and rolled out a real passel of accents. That's all I can hope for.
posted by Etrigan at 11:41 AM on May 8, 2022

I saw this episode described as patchy and I believe that's generous. Not as bad as the Lizzo episode but it is glaringly obvious that something needs to change at SNL. I've been watching this show long enough to know that some silly sketches don't appeal to me but would have appealed to the 7th grade version of myself, so I try to watch each episode knowing that it often targets a much younger audience.

That said the opening sketch on Roe v Wade was obligatory and as much as I like McKinnon, her signatory entrance is tired. I get it is hard to make light of the situation but they pulled (1) a really obscure reference and (2) if you're going to make fun of stare decisis and Bracton you have to go all in because now you're making jokes that aren't funny to those of us who get the reference and probably not funny to those who just think Middle Ages were all witch hunters.

Beyond that the Weekend Update was solid as can be and I found the Amy Barrett joke entertaining though I have no clue if "do your nine" is a TikTok thing I don't know about or if she just made it up, anyway I enjoyed it. I think Chloe Fineman really needs a lot more airtime so I'm glad to see that happened. After that the sketches devolved into silliness and I still don't like Bowen Yang, he's always hamming it up. Like he's a guest host instead of a player on the show.

On another note I'm wondering if it is time for McKinnon to move on. She definitely steals any scene she's in and that's not necessarily a bad thing, but I wonder if it is hampering other players from moving in and experimenting with characters? Kenan Thompson at this point is basically a Lorne Michaels and can stay there as long as he damn well pleases, but I feel there's a point where certain stars of the show get to the point where they're too good for the show.
posted by geoff. at 11:43 AM on May 8, 2022 [2 favorites]

Yeah, this is at least the second time this season they seemed to cut Weekend Update short. It's weird because that's always been the best part of the show.

Cumberbatch was a good sport. I like when the host is up for anything.

Arcade Fire has too many people in the band.
posted by bondcliff at 11:46 AM on May 8, 2022 [4 favorites]

Dear Win Butler: There are too many members of Arcade Fire. Please eliminate three of them. I am not a crank.

Actually I honestly feel that way about the size of the SNL cast. It used to be, what, seven people? Now it's twenty or so?? It's sad that (for instance) Punkie gets a single line in the Understudy sketch and Aristotle has a single wordless walk-on. Too many lights being hidden under a bushel!

This season definitely seems weirder and sillier than usual, which I appreciate. (I assume part of it is Sarah Squirm but she can't be responsible for all of it.) Love that they built a sketch around a chain gang song yet didn't have a single game show parody. The ice cream focus group sketch is the kind of left-field humor that really works for me—I would love to hear the writer explain how they came up with the idea. The recliner toilet commercial was hilarious. The Chuck E. Cheese sketch was also up my alley though the cutaways to Chloe and Mikey worked best when they were not just commenting on the weirdness but participating in it ("I know that carrot. I was that carrot").
posted by ejs at 2:26 PM on May 8, 2022 [3 favorites]

I enjoyed this episode. Cumberbatch is good at being a host and game for anything (wigs + accents usually) and we saw a lot of most of the regular cast (except Pete). I did kind of miss the "cast shows up with their moms" part but it's such a large cast and it's been stable for so long (and some people's moms never showed or maybe weren't round/alive) that maybe it was time for it to be retired. I like Arcade Fire just fine but I'm never sure why they get to do different stuff (i.e. show-ending songs) when no one else does. It's cool how they mix up all their instruments but I feel that Weekend Update might have been longer if they weren't playing that Oops All Crecendos! song.
posted by jessamyn at 8:03 PM on May 8, 2022 [3 favorites]

I've partaken heavily tonight, and this was an "A" SNL episode for me, Cumberbatch is the straight man's straight man but he deliciously mixes it up. Respect gained. He seemed to enjoy it a lot.

The luxury toilet is a retread of an old episode, isn't it? Or was it the same one?

Love the surly C-hatted mouse animatronic background.

Solid Fineman impersonation skit.

Gardner's boots in the closer were super cute.
posted by porpoise at 8:39 PM on May 8, 2022

The luxury toilet is a retread of an old episode, isn't it? Or was it the same one?

Koohl toilet
posted by BungaDunga at 9:09 PM on May 8, 2022 [2 favorites]

Way too many cast members. I tune out during the excruciatingly long intro/credits sequence. And then people appear once in a while and I have no idea who they are. The show isn't terrible. It's just too many people, too rushed for time.
posted by SoberHighland at 4:37 AM on May 9, 2022

The luxury toilet is a retread of an old episode, isn't it?

Additional toilet bits include the Toilet Death Ejector and the Undercover Office Potty.

...and never forget, The Love Toilet.
posted by LooseFilter at 8:24 AM on May 9, 2022 [4 favorites]

I feel very seen by the Chuck E Cheese skit. Chloe Fineman's impressions skit was spot on as well.
posted by travertina at 9:00 AM on May 9, 2022 [1 favorite]

I thought it was pretty good and Cumberbatch seems like a good guy and he definitely did the work as well as was called for.
posted by rhizome at 10:11 AM on May 9, 2022

I didn't watch this and if Aristotle doesn't really take part, I don't want to. The few times he's done something substantial, I feel a strong connection to the days when I really enjoyed SNL. I think he has SNL-star potential, but they have to USE HIM!

Lorne: I'm on strike from watching until Aristotle gets regular sketches.
posted by sylvanshine at 1:49 PM on May 9, 2022 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I liked this and the previous episode well enough. Solid B-grade stuff, nothing snoozy or wincey. Benedict Cumberbatch's cowboy was a highlight. He was as committed and professional as Lizzo was just giggly thrilled just to BE there, like watching a kid see their first fireworks show or whatever. The flip side to this is that it hasn't got much of an edge when it needs one. The Amy Coney Barrett desk bit was funny, but was it as smart and incisive as it could have been?

The short film of Chloe's impressions of everyone is one of the highlights of this season. And yes, MORE ARISTOTLE PLEASE and MORE SARAH YES YOU DO SOUND LIKE THAT SARAH

My Problem with Arcade Fire
By Jimmy, Grade 5b
I love the Arcade Fire's music, and everyone in the Arcade Fire—except their frontman. So, I don't like the Arcade Fire. For some reason, the band leader is the one blocking me from liking the band. I keep thinking, "This would be great if they had _____ fronting this band." Anyone but that guy. Other than that, yeah heap on the instruments, I like the wall of sound. At least it drowned out the crappy 12-string he was playing.
posted by not_on_display at 5:55 PM on May 9, 2022 [2 favorites]

It used to be, what, seven people? Now it's twenty or so??

The cast was seven people when it started, and seven in the big reset of 1980. Resetting like that is risky and you don't always find an Eddie Murphy to save you. So the average cast size looks to be around 14? That makes sense. A main cast of around 7 and a backup cast trying out and learning their craft to take over. But you actually need to cycle people out.

This year's cast is 21 people. Too many sticking around even after they have a successful career outside of SNL. I like Kate, Aidy, and Cecily a lot but they don't leave much airtime for the other women. Colin and Michael have been update anchors longer than anyone else. Kenan has a self-titled sitcom on NBC right now. Kyle ran out of SNL ideas a while ago.

That 21 doesn't even include the "Please Don't Destroy" guys who are ok I guess? But I'd rather Punkie or Aristotle get some actual lines.
posted by Gary at 9:36 PM on May 9, 2022 [2 favorites]

Is it just me or was Cecily Strong in every single sketch? Also it was unusual to have the musical guest play a third time, especially over the good-nights.
posted by bendy at 11:52 PM on May 9, 2022

Also it was unusual to have the musical guest play a third time, especially over the good-nights.

They've done that a couple of times now. I think U2 was the first one to do it a few years ago. I guess if they get a band big enough they give them more time. But is Arcade Fire that big? Obviously I know of them and they've played on SNL a few times but I don't have a real grasp of how popular they are. Maybe they're just one of those bands that the show really loves, I dunno.
posted by bondcliff at 6:49 AM on May 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

Arcade Fire seems to be a Lorne favorite—there was one special episode a few years back where the ending credits (almost like these) ran into a whole extra (planned) Arcade Fire Special Live Concert. I have no idea if AF are that relevant anymore, but they were all over Napster I'll tell you what

I did not stay tuned.
posted by not_on_display at 10:19 AM on May 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

Is it just me or was Cecily Strong in every single sketch?

I feel like Cecily has been in more of the show than makes sense with such a big cast recently and I'm wondering if it's a last hurrah before she leaves. I hope some of the more tenured cast members leave after this season to make more space for the newer talent.

Chloe the Understudy (or whatever the sketch name was) was really funny and a nice showcase for her.

Chuck E. Cheese was easily my favorite of the night. I'm a New Wave fan and that was actually a good New Wave song and was sung pretty well. The extra characters tossed in were the right kind of wacky for me. I noticed as they pulled the camera back on the way to commercial you could see that the audience and the singers were on separate stages. I'm sure that's common in their weird constrained space but you don't get to see it too often so that was neat.

Bennedict Cumberbatch is a great host and this was a solid episode. I am also in the camp of: I'd really like Arcade Fire if not for the lead singer.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 5:22 PM on May 11, 2022 [2 favorites]

It's being reported that Kate, Aidy, Kyle, and Pete are leaving at the end of the season.
posted by Gary at 4:00 PM on May 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

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