Two weeks ago, “Saturday Night Live” returned to television with its first new episode of the at-home era: a collection of remotely produced sketches that were low on production value but high on spirit and innovation. It offered a window into what the show could do without most of its resources — and into the homes of its cast members, for those of us who always wondered what they looked like.
Now that “S.N.L.” proved that it could be done, what would it do for an encore?
In its second run at an at-home episode, “S.N.L.” got more ambitious, adding flashy graphics and editing tricks, and diving into its pool of celebrity contacts for some well-timed cameo appearances — perhaps none more surprising than the opening sketch, which featured Brad Pitt as Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
In a CNN interview earlier this month, Fauci had said with a laugh that “of course” he would love to see himself portrayed by Pitt, the Oscar-winning star of “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood.” Perhaps he believed it was never going to happen, but there, at the top of the show, was Pitt wearing a wig, glasses, suit and tie, speaking in a mock-Brooklyn accent and offering his thanks to “all the older women in America who have sent me supportive, inspiring and sometimes graphic emails.”
He also offered his commentary on “misinformation” regarding coronavirus and tried to clarify remarks made by President Trump.
Following a video clip in which the president said that there might be vaccines “relatively soon,” Pitt said, “Relatively soon is an interesting phrase. Relative to the entire history of earth? Sure, the vaccine’s going to come real fast. But if you were to tell a friend, I’ll be over relatively soon, and then showed up a year and a half later, well, your friend may be relatively pissed off.”
After another clip in which President Trump said the coronavirus would disappear “like a miracle,” Pitt said, “A miracle would be great. Who doesn’t love miracles? But miracles shouldn’t be Plan A. Even Sully tried to land at the airport first.”
A third clip showed the president stating that “anybody that needs a test gets a test,” and that the tests were “beautiful.” Pitt replied, “I don’t know if I would describe the test as beautiful. Unless your idea of beauty is having a cotton swab tickle your brain. Also, when he said everyone can get a test what he meant was, almost no one.”
Pitt then addressed rumors that President Trump planned to fire him, playing a clip of the president saying that he would not dismiss him, adding, “I think he’s a wonderful guy.”
“So yeah, I’m getting fired,” Pitt said.
Finally, Pitt ended the segment by removing his wig and thanking the real Fauci “for your calm and your clarity in this unnerving time,” and also offering gratitude to medical workers and their families. He added, “Live, kinda, from all across America, it’s Saturday night.”
‘S.N.L.’ Throwback of the Week
Under the limitations of sheltering-in-place orders, “What Up With That?” would seem to be the kind of recurring bit that should be avoided at all costs: It’s an overstuffed talk show with an indefatigable host (played by Kenan Thompson) and it is dependent on filling a stage with as many performers and celebrities as possible, most of whom won’t get to say more than a few words.
But by the grace of Zoom, “S.N.L.” pulled it off, working in recurring characters like an enigmatic saxophonist played by Fred Armisen and an enthusiastic, track-suited dancer played by Jason Sudeikis. (Bill Hader, who usually plays Lindsey Buckingham, appeared only as a frozen screen graphic.)
Charles Barkley, playing himself, summed it all up: “I’m not going to lie — this is weird.”
Music Video of the Week
Pete Davidson led off another of his musical segments by lamenting the tediousness of his home quarantine with his sister and his mother. (“Tired of sitting in the dark / Got nothing to watch, already did ‘Ozark’ ”). Then, unexpectedly, he threw the song over to Adam Sandler, the “S.N.L.” alum who, after almost 25 years away from the show, is once again becoming a fixture there.
Sandler added a verse about his own monotony, singing, “wife tried to kiss me, I straight up denied her / miss the NBA and I miss Rob Schneider.” And sure enough, there was Schneider, another “S.N.L.” veteran, to deliver the catch phrase he’s been shouting at Sandler for more than a quarter-century.
Fake Commercial of the Week
While it has been charming to see the grass-roots “S.N.L.” segments with homemade costumes and hand-drawn, taped-up posters on cast members’ walls, let’s also appreciate the more polished efforts on display in this advertisement featuring Aidy Bryant and Kate McKinnon.
They play two of the grocers at Bartenson’s, a store where staples like chicken, milk and bread are unfortunately out of stock, but where you can still find mint-flavored Pringles, fluoride bananas, Pepsi Crab and plenty of Dasani products. As McKinnon says, “We want to give you want you want, but first we need you to buy what we have.”
‘Weekend Update’ Jokes of the Week
This latest at-home edition of “Weekend Update” was a significant step up from its debut — gone were the weird audio inserts of people laughing at Colin Jost’s and Michael Che’s jokes, and the anchors now had the familiar world-map backdrop inserted behind them. (We did miss seeing Jost’s guitar, though.) The anchors riffed on Thursday’s coronavirus briefing at the White House, where President Trump floated dangerous and widely derided solutions for halting the virus’s spread.