‘Saturday Night Live’ Review: First-Time Host David Harbour Gets as Weird (and Grouchy) as He Can

IndieWire | 10/12/2019 | Staff
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For the second week in a row, “Saturday Night Live” had the task of working with — and trying to figure out how to use—a first-time host. Last week, it was Phoebe Waller-Bridge (“Fleabag”), and this week, it’s David Harbour (“Stranger Things”), which means the war between Amazon and Netflix rages on. Or something like that.

As far as a first-time host like David Harbour goes, his opening monologue could’ve gone a number of ways. “SNL” could’ve brought back the old “audience” Q&A (with a cameo from any of his “Stranger Things” castmates) or gone back to the old crutch of the musical monologue or even just done the simple “‘SNL’ cast members show up and interrupt” bit. Instead, they went with the most obvious one in hindsight, the “SNL” studio tour turned Upside Down.

Bits - Monologue - Upside - Down - Pete

The top three bits of the monologue from best to worst: the Upside Down being where Pete Davidson has really been this hold time (and not all that committed to actually turning up on the show, which rings true to life and this actual episode); Harbour calling Aidy Bryant “Barb”; and Kenan Thompson being the one truly in charge of “SNL,” not Lorne Michaels (because Kenan shouldn’t be the one to fall on the sword for all of the bad decisions and sketches that have been made on Michaels’ actual watch).

The first sketch of the night, “Little Miss Teacher’s Friend” (discussed below) sets the tone of the episode, specifically in the form of the type of characters David Harbour would end up playing: any weirdo the “SNL” writers want him to inhabit. “Principal” Weirdo, “Grouch” Weirdo, “Coked-Out” SoulCycle-ist” Weirdo, “Horny Italian” Grandma “Weirdo,” and “Folk Singer” Weirdo. Which is actually impressive, considering Harbour’s career broke out as a relatable and likable (if gruff) police chief in “Stranger...
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