Quarantined couch potatoes apparently were desperate for a new episode of “Saturday Night Live.”
The remote “At Home” episode — featuring many regular cast members, surprise host Tom Hanks and musical guest Chris Martin — was a ratings winner for the NBC sketch show, landing 6.7 million viewers, according to the Wrap. It was the second-highest rated episode in Season 45, trailing the 10 million fans who tuned in for host and “SNL” alum Eddie Murphy and singer Lizzo in the highly-anticipated Dec. 21, 2019, episode.
Saturday night’s nearly live show — the first since the coronavirus put the brakes on the NYC production last month — featured many of the cast members streaming from their homes. Sketches included a send-up of work video calls via Zoom, “Tiger King” nemesis Carole Baskin (played by Chloe Fineman) giving slow-biking lessons and Kate McKinnon’s latest take on Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and how she’s staying fit while working from home. Colin Jost and Michael Che also tag-teamed their usual “Weekend Update,” though social distancing from their respective homes.
The Zoom sketch especially seemed to hit home for many viewers, who perhaps have been dealing with technology-averse co-workers during video meetings. “OMG. The bit about co-workers using #Zoom for the first time was so on point! (Not naming names, but I’ve had at least one meeting where a person had their camera pointed at their feet during half the meeting.),” said one Twitter poster. Another simply called the segment “GOLD!”
Another tweeter offered thanks for the respite from the pandemic, saying she was a registered nurse on day seven of quarantine after COVID-19 exposure, adding, “This episode just made my heart happy. #snl #thankyou.”
The episode even got props from comic and former “The View” co-host Rosie O’Donnell, who last month raised $600,000 for struggling artists affected by the shutdown of Broadway. Just after 1 a.m. Sunday, O’Donnell tweeted, “well #SNL that was perfect — thank u.”
But the best part for some fans may have been seeing host Hanks kick off the show from his kitchen.
“I have been the celebrity canary in the coal mine for the coronavirus,” said Hanks, 63, during his opening monologue. The “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” star and his wife, Rita Wilson, were among the many celebrities who spent time in isolation after contracting COVID-19.
“Seeing @tomhanks host @nbcsnl from home is something I didn’t know I needed,” offered one Twitter admirer, while another hailed his appearance as a “very lovely surprise.”
During the show, Coldplay frontman Martin also offered an acoustic cover of Bob Dylan’s 1975 song “Shelter From the Storm” — a fitting number as “SNL” viewers tuned in to seek shelter from the COVID-19 storm.
The episode closed with a touching remote salute to longtime “SNL” music producer Hal Willner, who died last week at 64 after suffering symptoms of the coronavirus. The segment featured McKinnon, who kicked off the tribute, as well as many former cast members, including Adam Sandler, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Molly Shannon, Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph, Ana Gasteyer and more.