Upon changing the channel to NBC, I immediately recognized the opening set as the stage of Texas' Democratic debate between Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama that took place two nights ago. The role of Barack Obama, was played by Fred Armisen, who, at first glance, looked the part. The salt-and-peppered hair, slim build, and the slightly protruding ears all contributed to a living, breathing Obama caricature. However, one component of Armisen's Obama bothered me, and that was the omnipresent frown that he wore as he spoke and grunted in response to questions directed at him from the "CNN panel."
Now, Barack Obama is loved by the camera, yet this one characteristic was ignored by the SNL directors, producers, and, most noticeably, Armisen. In fact, not a single smile was cracked throughout the entire introduction to Saturday Night Live. This certainly isn't the Barack Obama that Democrats, Independents and (even a few) Republicans have come to know and love.
In fact, not that this was the sole decision of Armisen, but he displayed Obama as a quasi-awkward character. This was blatantly displayed as he reached to grab the rested hand of Hilary Clinton, played by Amy Poehler. During the awkward exchange, Poehler ripped her hands away from that of Armisen in disgust. The scene drew few laughs and, personally, made be wonder what politician the writers and producers of SNL had been watching over the past few months, because this depiction certainly was not Barack Obama (despite Armisen providing a really good caricature).
Later, during "Weekend Update" with Poehler and Seth Meyers, a surprise guest appeared on set. Governor Mike Huckabee appeared to Meyers' left, introduced as an unofficially official former Presidential Candidate. Huckabee, once again providing the great humor that debate viewers have come to expect, displayed charm and likability during the bit. In a micro-second of seriousness, Huckabee told his supporters and the American people that he would bow out "gracefully" when he "knew it was time." Meyers hinted that the time may be near as he was "mathematically eliminated" from Presidential contention.
Overall, the first episode of SNL was lackluster, but provided a decent look into the political atmosphere that the show had missed out on for so long. In the end, Mike Huckabee saved a sinking ship during the "Weekend Update" segment with his wit and charm. On the bright-side, at least the show can go nowhere but up in subsequent weeks.