September 17th, 2012
10:35 AM ET

Seth MacFarlane hosts 'SNL' - what's the verdict?

Expectations were high for the 38th season premiere of "Saturday Night Live" this weekend, but host Seth MacFarlane did his best to meet them.

With "SNL's" retooling, there was a lot riding on the season opener, which had Frank Ocean as the musical guest. In addition to three new cast members, this is a political season, and Jay Pharoah now does the impression of President Obama instead of Fred Armisen.

We didn't have to wait long to see how well Pharoah would do, as Saturday's premiere began with Armisen passing the torch.

Entertainment Weekly's Ken Tucker charged that Pharoah, while nailing Obama's voice and speaking habits, needs to work harder to develop a "coherent take" on the president.

"If the show can’t do better than increase the amount of gray hair the President has acquired over the past four years, it needs to get out of the political satire business," Tucker,  who was also unimpressed by Jason Sudeikis' Mitt Romney and Taran Killam's Paul Ryan, said. "The notion that Romney is a fool is foolishly short-sighted. Time for the show’s political-sketch writers who re-sharpen their pencils."

The L.A. Times, meanwhile, was more forgiving, allowing that Pharoah is understandably still tweaking his character. "Pharoah’s Obama may need a bit of fine-tuning and subtlety, but he brought more humor and satire to the impression (especially in terms of the president’s eyes, grin and pauses), whereas Armisen tended to play Obama fairly straight."

The Huffington Post's Mike Ryan agreed that Pharaoh's Obama is a marked improvement, calling the cold open one of the best skits of the night, along with Bill Hader's impression of Clint Eastwood and his empty chair. "[I]t's a tad dated, but Hader's Eastwood is just too good for this not to happen." MacFarlane, meanwhile, was "fairly excellent," HuffPo complimented.

The highlight was MacFarlane's impersonation of Olympic swimming champ Ryan Lochte: "He nailed Lochte's signature brand of goofy, aloof ditiziness," said Time, while TVOvermind observed, "If no other sketch had made me laugh the whole night, Seth MacFarlane hosting would have been worth it just for this alone."

What'd you think of "SNL's" season opener?

soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. Red Pison

    This man is a rising star. From cartoon creator to voice actor to comedian to filmmaker and now hosting the Oscars? All the best to you, Seth.

    October 1, 2012 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Amy S

    The opening political skit and the Eastwood sketch made the show! MacFarlane was ok, but I don't think they used him enough in the skits. Thought he had more to offer and SNL didn't capitalize on them

    September 20, 2012 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Clee

    Absolutely love Seth MacFarlane! Talented, funny, good-looking–what more could a girl ask for??? The Lids sketch was off the rails, I'm still dyin' laughin! GO PSY!!!! The guy that got fired for "being a complete bush"!!!!!! LMFAO!!!!!!

    September 20, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Bill

    SNL blew a golden opportunity to start the new season with such a big-bang-of-a skit that it quite possibly could have been one of the funniest, if not the funniest, of all time. Why they didn't do a take off on that stupid and pitiful Eastwood bit at the RNC I will never know. When they finally did do something about it it just wasn't funny. "Clint Eastwood & The Chair Tour" coming to a city near you – it was no where near being funny and the result was terrible writing. Yes, the SNL writers missed a huge boat on this one and the written material that used to be super is now getting closer and closer to the curbside right beside the garbage waiting to be collected.

    September 19, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mark

    Pharoah’s Obama impersonation was impressive, and we can expect better from him as the season continues. I did like MacFarlane’s Lochte impersonation too, but the part that made me laugh the most was the Gangnam Style sketch. I’m glad that I recorded the premiere on my Hopper since every time I watch the episode I still keep laughing. The 2,000 hours of hard drive space helps me keep up with shows when I work overtime at Dish. I wonder if Lochte would ever be asked to host SNL, and more importantly, would he accept the chance to do it.

    September 18, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Rachel

    he was oscar material the other night

    September 18, 2012 at 6:07 am | Report abuse |
  7. Me

    I thought he did impeccably well. Perhaps he should host the Emmys or Oscars?

    September 17, 2012 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jim

    The new guy had Obama's voice down perfect – good job! Bill Hader was the gem of the show, between his Eastwood impression and the puppet guy. MacFarlane was a good actor, but the material was flat. Frank Ocean was the dullest music act I have seen in years. All in all, I guess I miss Chevy Chase even more than before.

    September 17, 2012 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
  9. mackboog

    I did notice that when the News Update was done they did a skit on Latinos voting, well that bit was taken from some youtube charectars named Angel Baby & El Rocky..shame on them!

    September 17, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Laurie Partridge

    was that for me? - you kinda sorta miss a gross, unmarried, wenchlike disgusting way.

    September 17, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Joseph

    If thats the best you can do with finding a new guy to do Obama,Then its time to pull the plug on this show.You no longer push the envelope.Your skits bore me.If sweaty balls is your latest and most outragest skit then fire your writers and hire past actors from the 70s to write skits and bring the show back to what it was.

    September 17, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. MouMou

    there was never a plug

    September 17, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  13. great movie...

    its up babe–go

    September 17, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
  14. its a rocket

    get it done....

    September 17, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  15. you hack into phones and computers...

    whoever you you understand that..cnn?

    September 17, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  16. jane


    September 17, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Toucan Sam

    Wow, this show is still on? Who watches it anymore?

    September 17, 2012 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  18. Understand what?

    This is an entertainment blog. YOU ARE NOT ENTERTAINING ANYBODY BUT YOURSELF! You must be one of the lamest trolls to grace the Marquee. Exactly, what are you trying to gain here? Nobody in their right mind would believe any of your dribble anyway. Give it a rest, grow up, & try to act like a normal person, if that's at all possible. Talking to yourself all day long is a sure sign of trouble. Take your meds! You need them.

    September 17, 2012 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  19. its suggested this be handled professionally

    understand me? remember stop incorporating you personalife into blogging...and i am roped into this.
    whoever it is i want it this stopped do you understand me?

    September 17, 2012 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
  20. Intimidation does not affect me...

    there are only 3 people on here...i want it retified do you understand what i am saying to you....i cannot see other blogs..
    do you understand what i am saying to you....

    September 17, 2012 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  21. this is a 3 way conversation confirmed...

    i want it fixed...understand? do you understand what marie osmond is saying to you...shake and bake?

    September 17, 2012 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  22. Marie Osmond

    i want the blocks off this computer do you understand me...its a 3 way conversation ...i want this to stop.
    do you understand me.

    September 17, 2012 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  23. i want the blocks off

    do you understand me? i want the proper plugs in the right you understand...

    September 17, 2012 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  24. mommie 2

    are you getting what i am is the landline mystery...understand what i am saying right?

    September 17, 2012 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  25. mommie 2

    are you getting what i am is the harrassing phone you understand me...i want all completed ina professional you understan what i said to you

    September 17, 2012 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  26. mamafake

    my ip is blocked do you understand you undstanewhat you have done...i want this repaired..
    do you understand what can come next?

    September 17, 2012 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
  27. mama2

    do you understand what i am saying to you. your not baked mama your you understand what i have said to you.

    September 17, 2012 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  28. Scorned Mother

    do you understand what i am saying to is the you understand what i am saying to you.
    do you get it. i do not fall into manipulation because your are scorned not i.

    September 17, 2012 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Understand what?

      Again, stfu! Quit posting your garbage. Thread after thread, there you are posting non intelligent responses to yourself. Do you have a mental disorder? Seek help before it is too late!

      September 17, 2012 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  29. Brian Mouland

    Watched it for the first time for awhile. Better than it was but still very dated think its time to pull the plug

    September 17, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |

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