Here's Why MacGruber Works on Saturday Night Live But Not On Peacock
As per tradition for former Saturday Night Live cast members-turned-hosts, Will Forte brought back his most famous character in MacGruber. While his Peacock TV series stays within the family at NBC Universal, the character returned to pristine form to the platform where he originated from with the long-running late-night series. The recurring sketch's premise often retains a theme of a backdrop of a bomb that Mac is often tasked to disarm in the MacGyver spoof. There's often a female lead and a third person who try to keep him focused though they always fail, meaning the bomb ALWAYS goes off.
In Forte's return, the scenario also featured the return of his MacGruber co-stars in SNL alum Kristen Wiig as Vicki St. Elmo and Ryan Phillippe as Dixon Piper, the first time he's played the character on SNL. Previously during Forte and Wiig's stints as SNL cast members, the third person playing the original third character was usually played by the host. The sketches this time in MacGruber: Coronavirus show Mac's contentious attitudes on COVID-19 as well as his descent into the alt-right and Q-Anon. Not surprisingly, this is where Forte and Wiig shined the most (their duet in another SNL sketch that night also highlighted their talents). It wasn't simply a perfectly encapsulated display of buffoonery, but also the sketch's most focused message.
Seeing Mac going through all the progressions as Vicki and Dixon helplessly try to talk him down all the way through his final form as the QAnon shaman was spot-on, reminding us why MacGruber was at its best on SNL than as a film or even TV series. The 2010 Universal film and TV series tries to motivate the title character out of being some remedial caricature by creating rejected Bond villain movie clichés played by Val Kilmer and Billy Zane. Not that the two actors are at fault for being pigeonholed for substandard writing, but at least the Austin Powers franchise villains look like more than five minutes were spent developing their characters. What creators Forte, John Solomon, and Jorma Taccone failed to realize is that MacGruber is quite literally his own worst enemy. Losing sight of that churned out what felt like a less-than-inspired series take on Peacock. The character was at his best on SNL, now let him live out his run there. Maybe some online shorts every now and then? Because with MacGruber, a little does go a very long way.