Even Christopher Walken Can’t Save SNL Cold Open Trainwreck
The third time wasn’t a charm for Saturday Night Live. The show is still settling into its new season—but its third episode just couldn’t stick the landing with the latest cold open.
The bit started out promising enough, with Mikey Day making a strong debut as Joe Biden. (James Austin Johnson, Alex Moffat, Jim Carrey, Jason Sudeikis, and John Mulaney are among the more than half-dozen actors who have played the VP-turned-POTUS in years past). But from there, it all seemed to go downhill.
As Biden decorated the Oval Office for Halloween, new Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (Michael Longfellow) stopped by to say hello to his new boss, and remind him that he is now just two heartbeats away from the presidency. Johnson’s “adult Black son,” also named Michael (Devon Walker), briefly joined him. “He often compares our situation to the movie The Blind Side, and everybody knows that story held up great,” said Michael (the younger).
But the big surprise was a crash cameo from Christopher Walken as The Spirit of Halloween, a.k.a. The Ghost of All Hallows Past, a.k.a. Papa Pumpkin. Why was Walken there? To help Biden understand the meaning of Halloween—which is something no one has ever wondered about, and certainly never will again.
Though it’s hard not to be amused by Walken, no matter what he’s doing, even the Oscar-winning actor seemed perplexed as to his purpose. He delivered the lines as scripted, but appeared on the verge of breaking at any moment—though no one else seemed to be laughing.
When Biden asked how Walken had gotten into the White House, he said he arrived via the toilet. “It’s the Halloween way,” he explained. “It’s what the holiday is all about. Sure, there’s spooky goblins, creepy crawlers, hocus pocus. But it’s about camaraderie really. Meet the neighbors you don’t want to see again on any other day.”
Viewers seemed as perplexed as Day’s Biden, just before Walken claimed that “you can’t spell ‘Halloween’ without ‘Hallo!’” Then he announced he had a poem to recite: “Trick or treat. Smell my feet. Give me something good to eat.” You know the rest.
Ultimately, the sketch’s desperately unfunny attempt to somehow tie into the upcoming Halloween holiday—in any way it could—seemed like a last-minute thought and played like an amateur Improv 101 class. Though, if horrifying was the goal: mission accomplished.
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