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Daniel Radcliffe made his way to Saturday Night Live last night, hosting the show for the first time. The Harry Potter star is familiar with the New York stage, just finishing a successful stint on Broadway in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, so he was well prepared for live television.
So what did the critics think about Radcliffe’s performance and the show overall? The host definitely met expectations, but his performance, most seemed to feel, was limited by the writing.
“Poor Daniel Radcliffe,” The Houston Chronicle‘s Therese Odell wrote. “He did everything right: great comic timing; cheerful, almost giddy participation; and unlike Sir Charles, he can actually read a cue card. And yet, the episode was dreadful — one of the worst so far this season. Radcliffe was obviously the victim of some… terrible writing.”
Mike Ryan, senior writer at Moviefone, wrote for Huffington Post, that Radcliffe’s Broadway experience had raised his hopes, only to fall while watching. “‘Oh, Daniel Radcliffe has so much stage experience, plus he’s just so charming — this week will be great!’ It was not meat to be. I mean, there were a lot of ‘OK’ sketches last night, but not a lot of moments that stand out. Which is a shame,” he wrote.
Kristin Wiig was in a number of sketches last night, but the normally well-recieved comedian disappointed many critics with the revival of her Target lady sketch. “When Kristen Wiig retired Gilly and Penelope, I wish she would have included Target Lady, too,” Ryan writes.
AV Club’s David Sims adds, “Sure, there was no Lawrence Welk Show, but along with Target Lady there was a series of political attack ad spoofs, the point of which seemed to be that they were never-ending. Plus the more-competent but overlong exit polling skit that closed out the night. Wiig was doing her best work there, but I was so sick of her shtick by that point that it didn’t really matter.”
“I get that the show’s producers feel they have to respond to the news of the week in sketches that necessarily have to be written in a hurry and therefore maybe not with as much care and effort as is possible with sketches that are less topical,” writes New York magazine’s Tara Ariano about the lackluster opening sketch with Jason Sudeikis‘ Mitt Romney. “But if those sketches must appear, maybe instead of boring us all straight out of the gate they could be in the middle of the episode sometimes.”
Entertainment Weekly‘s Aly Semigran wrote, “While the show itself was certainly worthy of criticism (as was musical guest Lana Del Rey) it’s hard to rag on The Woman in Black star, who gave it his all in spite of working with some rather subpar material.”
As for the poorly received “You Can Do Anything!” sketch, where the cast attempted to poke fun at the way people get a false sense of accomplishment when they become self-published online, Ariano felt it was out of touch with the show’s younger audience. “I don’t want to assume [it] was written by a cranky, bitter 50-year-old, but when the premise of the sketch includes the phrase ‘the YouTube generation,’ I really have no other choice,” she wrote.
Not every critic criticized. Crushable’s Molly Horan wrote, “Radcliffe was great as the host of SNL last night, not because he’s revealed he’s a comedic genius, but because he seemed so enthusiastic and committed in every skit.”
In what was perhaps Radcliffe’s best role of the night–as Casey Anthony’s adopted yorkie on Weekend Update with Seth Meyers–the actor was better received. “He really shined as Casey Anthony’s dog, not in small part because they let him drop the American accent he was saddled with for most of the other sketches,” Horan wrote.
“Both the writing and Radcliffe were hilarious, and I hope that it warrants him a return visit to SNL,” Odell added. “But he needs to be sure to demand better material.”
Watch the best and worst of Saturday night’s sketches below.
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