‘Saturday Night Live’: Channing Tatum, ‘Lana Del Rey’ lead strong night

Channing Tatum delivers!

Saturday Night Live” took a little bit of time off in January to prepare for the February sweeps … and at this very moment, we couldn’t be happier that they did. This weekend’s edition brought more laughs than arguably any other show this season — and while there were still duds (see the Cee Lo Green sketch), the highlights were so strong to make up for it.

First things first, kudos has to be given to producers for figuring how how to make a political cold open funny. In taking Newt Gingrich’s comments about wanting to start a moon colony in his second term as President (if he is elected, of course), the show had such a stellar launching pad for great comedy — and they took advantage through and through. In addition to some effective Newt zingers (which is a pretty funny two words to say out loud) about his marriages and policy, Mitt Romney and Herman Cain were also targeted effectively.

Another sign of a good “SNL” show is when they don’t need the host to have to do too much in order for the show to succeed. By and large, most of Channing Tatum’s laughs came when he was either dancing inappropriately or taking off his shirt. He was not the most dynamic of hosts, but some of that may simply be because of so many regulars being on the top of their game.

-Kristen Wiig completely took over the Secret Word sketch this week with her over-the-top actress character, while Channing was the perfect foil as an astronaut who downplayed many of his achievements.

-The “Weekend Update” this week was rolling-on-the-floor funny — but thanks to Wiig’s stellar impersonation of Lana Del Rey, we really can’t remember details about the rest and it doesn’t even matter. While the show did take a few jabs at her here and there, it actually was a pretty nice way for Seth Meyers and the show to defend the singer by reminding people that there have been so many musical guests on the show who were far worse than she was last month singing “Video Games” — and that Del Rey is just naturally strange, so this criticism didn’t really make a great deal of sense to begin with.

-In addition to Wiig, Bobby Moynihan had a stellar week in between his Gingrich, his “Update” version of chef Guy Fieri, and an overweight woman hitting on Tatum’s Tom Bardy in a Super Bowl bar-themed sketch that was once again mostly about dancing.

As for the moments we’re still trying to forget, the only two criminal offenders were the Green sketch and one themed around a “club for ladies” late in the show. Unfortunately, these two sketches felt longer than just about anything else that we saw.

As for this week’s musical guest, Bon Iver was a major step upward from Del Rey’s previous performance — while it probably will not make anyone love the band if they came in as a hater, it was the sort of folk / synth hybrid that reminded us that there can be good memories of the ’80s in the 2010s.

Overall, we’ll be thrilled with “SNL” if they can bring the sort of strong writing and acting to the table that they did this week — if you do that, just about any host can have the tools to succeed. In this case, Tatum was given perfect material to hide his talents and his presence only made the show sillier. (At 12:30 in the morning, “silly” is oftentimes exactly what we need.)

What did you think of this episode? Take our poll below, and check back later for some videos from the episode.

Photo: NBC

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