September 15, 2012 11:47pm PT by Aaron Couch
'SNL' Recap: Seth MacFarlane Mocks Ryan Lochte; Clint Eastwood Takes Invisible Obama on the Road (Video)
The man behind this summer’s crassest character pulled off one of the classier Saturday Night Live opening monologues since Joseph Gordon-Levvit channeled Singin’ in the Rain.
In the season 38 premiere, Seth MacFarlane used a song to acknowledge the strangeness of seeing him in the flesh when audiences were more used to hearing his voice in Ted or Family Guy.
MacFarlane sang about the many voices that run through his head in a tune full of impressions, including George Takei (“After I came out of the closet, they wouldn’t let me touch the captain’s log”) and Marty McFly (“Doc, you don't just walk into a store and buy plutonium).
During Weekend Update, MacFarlane channeled Olympian Ryan Lochte, playing up his reputation for not being too bright. MacFarlane’s Lochte was called upon to give his analysis of the Fall TV lineup, where he praised Monkey Hospital (he mean’s Animal Hospital), though he complained it was unfair that the monkey gets all the best lines.
Lochte also confused commercials with mini-TV shows.
The season premiere marked the first episode since Kristen Wiig and Andy Samberg departed, as well as the first since Aidy Bryant, Tim Robinson, and Cecily Strong joined the cast. Each of the newcomers got a little screen time, with Robinson as MacFarlane's boyfriend during Sex After 50 the most memorable.
The premiere also gave us our first taste of Jay Pharoah as President Obama. Pharoah’s Obama paints the Commander in Chief as endearingly corny and seems like a promising replacement for Fred Armisen’s longstanding impersonation.
The cold open also unveiled Taran Killam as Republican vp nominee Paul Ryan, a character which will undoubtedly come into play during SNL's two primetime political specials this month.
But the sketch politicos likely guessed was coming ever since Clint Eastwood’s Republican National Convention speech did indeed make it into the episode. Bill Hader reprised his role as Eastwood, this time to take the Oscar winner on the road with a stage show, “Clint Eastwood and Chair.”
Hader’s Eastwood (wearing high-wasted pants as usual), berated the chair, but also performed a song and a juggling routine with it. He also pretended other politicians were in the chair and gave them a piece of his mind.
President Jimmy Carter: “Nice work on those hostages. That turned out great.”
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg: “Just let people eat soda.”
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie: “We’re going to need a bigger chair.”
Musical guest Frank Ocean’s performances were significantly lower key than last season’s closer, Mick Jagger, but how could they not be?
SNL is new next week with host Joseph Gordon-Levitt and musical guest Mumford & Sons.