This weekend's Saturday Night Live, with guest host Edward Norton, starts out with a bit of catch-up. While the show was on hiatus for a week, the government shutdown ended and America's focus turned to the rocky rollout of Healthcare.gov, the online marketplace for ObamaCare insurance.
The cold open takes its share of whacks at the glitchy website. Kate McKinnon's Kathleen Sebelius is pretty good, and there are some fine gags, but SNL's a little late to the game, and a lot of the jokes have been used elsewhere. The writers even appropriated The Daily Show's spinning beach ball of annoyance (which is apparently the new Windows blue screen of death):
If the ObamaCare opening skit was amusing but a bit stale, the Halloween-themed digital short isn't at all diminished by its appearance a week after the news event — "news event" in this case being the release of the trailer for Grand Budapest Hotel, the new Wes Anderson movie. Norton is in the cast of that movie, but in SNL's parody of the Anderson oeuvre, The Midnight Coterie of Sinister Intruders, he does a spot-on Owen Wilson. (Watch above)
The horror-themed tribute includes a number of references to past Anderson films, as well as some of the giants of the horror genre. If Grand Budapest Hotel were a Halloween movie, this is a plausible stab at what it might look like.
Critics and fans have been asking for years why SNL basically only uses Jay Pharoah to portray President Obama. In another movie homage, Pharaoh gets his starring (non-Obama) role. The premise of 12 Days Not a Slave is pretty simple, and the execution is pretty funny:
If the Miley Cyrus cameo above is a little jarring, she didn't just show up to twerk in the 12 Years a Slave parody — she and Baldwin helped a very well-prepared Norton with his monologue. Usually in the monologue, the host mentions the movie or TV show or other endeavor he or she is promoting. Norton left that part out, but Cyrus and Baldwin have themselves covered. Watch: