'Saturday Night Live': Tom Hanks brilliantly assists Elton John in a Brit-skewering outing
But before we get into that, can we acknowledge that something is amiss at 30 Rockefeller Plaza? There hasn't been a political cold open in episodes, and we're starting to wonder if the series is making a formal break from tradition.
(Not that we don't love any opportunity to watch Kristen Wiig play the baby-handed singing sister on "The Lawrence Welk Show.")
So after the curiously non-political opening sketch and a monologue John spent making jokes about gay fatherhood, we got our first dose of Hanks.
Joining Carmelo Anthony and a returning Will Forte, Hanks played the equally clueless brother to Forte's absent-minded sportscasters. KY jokes, however crass, never get old.
Nor does making fun of British TV, like in the night's easy highlight, a layered sketch in which an episode of "Fancy a Jar, Do You?" is interrupted by a BBC News that London is being attacked by a dragon. Cut to Elton John's house, where the only knights left to defend the kingdom are celebrities, like himself and Sirs Michael Caine (Hanks), Bono, Richard Branson and Ian McKellen -- in full Gandalf mode.
They argue over ways to slay the dragon before Sting finally intervenes and kills the beast by "jizzing all over it." (Have we mentioned we liked this episode?)
Hanks sticks around for another "Laser Cats" digital short, and the series' umpteenth snap at the beleaguered "Spider-Man" musical.
After that things settle down into the muddled post-midnight hour, with an appropriately Elton John-y Elton John performance an a Weekend Update featuring Fred Armisen's awesome Muammar Gaddafi (should have been the cold open!), a slightly delayed crack at the Bronx Zoo Cobra and Jake Gyllenaal playing off of Andy Samberg's Nick Cage impersonation.
Topical humor alert! Elton John plays himself again, speaking with the gauche versions of Queen Elizabeth (Armisen) and Prince Phillip (Bill Hader) we first met after news of the Royal Engagement. John really plays along with the Royal slams -- including our favorite, "She must be the only Queen that wears Ann Taylor." He best be careful, though. We hear you can be de-knighted.
After reaching the saturation point of Brit-mocking, they return to gay jokes, with a (presumably) fake Logo show about an elderly gay couple talking about movies and bickering. We laugh, somewhat reluctantly, but mostly because this has to be somewhat inspired by John and husband David Furnish's home life.
Then... more gay jokes! For the final sketch, Bruce the Rhinestone Cowboy rides into the Old West on a fickle unicorn, looking for a mojito. We don't know if we're tired, frustrated with lazy gags or both.
But thanks, Tom Hanks. You made the whole thing worth it.