If last night’s episode of Saturday Night Live were an edition of The Hunger Games, then host Josh Hutcherson would have been one of those poor kids who dies in the melee outside the Cornucopia — just minutes after the Games begin.
I’m not trying to imply that Hutcherson bombed. Quite the opposite is true: he had the sort of on-camera ease that any first-time host would envy, never visibly suffering from nerves or being too obvious about reading cue cards. The problem is that after Hutcherson’s monologue, he largely faded into the background, playing a succession of un-showy characters in a series of less than memorable sketches. (Beyond the cold open, the monologue, and a tacked-on 12:55 sketch about Thanksgiving, there was nothing topical in Hutcherson’s episode. While it’s nice to see SNL try new things, all that evergreen material made the show feel like a collection of leftovers from previous weeks, rather than a set of sketches written this week and designed to show off the host’s skill set.)
A viewer who missed the monologue and interstitial photos of Hutcherson easily could have confused the Catching Fire star for one of the show’s five new white male cast members. On one level, that’s a compliment — Hutcherson totally blended in. On another, it’s not — Hutcherson didn’t stand out.
Well, with one exception — which I’ll get to right after naming last night’s…