Saturday Night Live had a couple issues for its season premiere over the weekend. One: the host was Seth MacFarlane, known to everyone as the Family Guy (well, and Ted) guy. And because everyone knows him as the guy who does voices on Family Guy, that meant that at some point during the show (which turned out to be his opening monologue, unsurprisingly), MacFarlane was gonna have to do the Family Guy voices – at the expense of actual, you know, jokes – to please the crowd that tuned in to see the Family Guy guy.
Another problem, funnily enough, was the exact issue that plagues Family Guy to the point that it’s turned the show into an occasional punching bag – over-reliance on pop culture references (again, at the expense of actual jokes). Yes, that means you, Gangnam Style sketch, even if the Psy cameo near the end was great.
But that doesn’t mean all was lost. Occasionally, the show was able to combine those elements – McFarlane’s ability to do voices and cultural references – and make something out of them. One time the show turned the trick was during Weekend Update… and it all came together thanks to Ryan Lochte:
Brilliant all-around – MacFarlane didn’t do a half-bad Lochte, the “Goon” line was inspired, and both NBC and MacFarlane got to do some shameless self-promos. That’s, as another NBC show less in need of a Lochte bump once put it, a win-win-win. Wherever Ryan Lochte goes, good TV manages to follow. Even if it’s a fake Ryan Lochte.