In the grand tradition of “Space Pants” — Peter Dinklage’s insane, Devo-inspired tune that the show eventually released as a single — this week’s Saturday Night Live offers another knock-off of a deeply ’80s aesthetic.
Mikey Day and Chloe Fineman are the parents of a delightful young extra playing their son at a Chuck E. Cheese. Guest host Benedict Cumberbatch is one half of the synth-pop duo Reflection Denied, subbing in for the restaurant’s animatronic band — probably because that retro tour with Duran Duran and New Order hasn’t got around to calling yet. His partner is Bowen Yang; both are wearing mouse ears and a plastic nose over their classic new wave attire.
Like his work throughout the rest of the episode, Cumberbatch exceeds expectations with a commitment to the bit that outdoes even some of the regular performers. The self-seriousness of the musical genre demands the same from a parody and he nails it. The high falsetto he reaches is both silly and impressive at the same time.
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 the name Chuck E. Cheese uses on delivery apps when they run as a ghost kitchen. Alex Moffat is the superfan/store manager.
But no musical SNL sketch would be complete without Cecily Strong coming in to show us all how it’s done. She plays Katie Carrot, abandoned denizen of Chuck E. Cheese’s salad bar. Like Cumberbatch, her commitment to the drama of early ’80s techno-pop is a terrific throwback to the days of Depeche Mode and Pet Shop Boys. Fineman’s character says, “I know that carrot. I’ve been that carrot,” and damnit, we believe her.
Elsewhere in the episode, the series tackled the possible Roe v. Wade reversal with a trip to the Middle Ages.
Thoughts on this week’s Cumberbatch installment? Grade the episode, then drop some comments.