In the great tradition of “Space Pants” – the insane Devo-inspired track by Peter Dinklage that the show finally released as a single – this week Saturday Night Live offers another knockoff of a deeply 80s aesthetic.
Mikey Day and Chloe Fineman are the parents of a charming young extra playing their son in a Chuck E. Cheese. Guest host Benedict Cumberbatch is one half of synth-pop duo Reflection Denied, replacing the restaurant’s animatronic band — probably because that retro tour with Duran Duran and New Order hasn’t had time to call yet. His partner is Bowen Yang; both wear mouse ears and plastic noses over their classic new wave outfits.
Like his work throughout the episode, Cumberbatch exceeds expectations with a commitment to the track that surpasses even some of the regular performers. The seriousness of the musical genre demands the same from a parody and it nails it. The high-pitched falsetto he achieves is both silly and awe-inspiring.
Sarah Sherman gets a brief but memorable appearance as the band’s manager (/dancer?), Julie. Aristotle Athari plays Pasqually, the pizza chef — perhaps better known now as Chuck E. Cheese uses on delivery apps when they’re operating as a ghost kitchen. Alex Moffat is the superfan/manager of the store.
But no musical SNL sketch would be complete without Cecily Strong showing us all how it’s done. She plays Katie Carrot, abandoned inhabitant of Chuck E. Cheese’s salad bar. Like Cumberbatch, his commitment to early ’80s techno-pop drama is a terrific throwback to the days of Depeche Mode and Pet Shop Boys. Fineman’s character says, “I know that carrot. I was that carrot,” and damn it, we believe her.
Elsewhere in the episode, the series touched on the possible Roe v. Wade with a trip to the Middle Ages.
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