Emmy episode analysis: Tom Hanks embraces his wacky side on ‘SNL’

It took Tom Hanks nine tries as host of “Saturday Night Live,” but he finally earned an Emmy nomination for his efforts. Shockingly, this is Hanks’s first Emmy nomination as an actor. He has 16 previous nominations for his work as a producer, director, and writer. He won six of those bids: for producing “Olive Kitteridge,” “Game Change,” “The Pacific,” “John Adams,” “Band of Brothers,” and “From the Earth to the Moon.” For this go around, he will compete against Riz Ahmed and Matthew Rhys (both from “Girls”), Dave Chapelle and Lin-Manuel Miranda (both from “SNL”), and Hugh Laurie (“Veep”) in the Comedy Guest Actor category.

The cold open for this Halloween episode casts Hanks as Chris Wallace, moderating the third presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump (Emmy nominees Kate McKinnon and Alec Baldwin). Hanks also performs his monologue as “America’s Dad,” equating current events of the country with teenage growing pains. Additional sketches include a white redneck on “Black Jeopardy,” a satirical recreation of Hanks’s character in “Sully,” a trailer for “Broken” (which lampoons the dramatic-skewing “Transparent” competing for Emmys as a comedy), and the brilliantly weird “David S. Pumpkins.”


Hanks is one of the most beloved actors in the industry. This fact is winked at to great effect by leaning into his “America’s Dad” character during the monologue. He’s just immensely likable.

After a string of dramatic film roles, it’s a joy to see Hanks embrace the wacky weirdness of his earlier comedic performances. The so-bizarre-it’s-funny David Pumpkins character demonstrates the actor having a blast on camera, and became a viral hit as a result.

Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake both won this category twice, due largely to the fact that “Saturday Night Live” structures sketches around its guest hosts. Like these men, Hanks will have more screen time to impress voters than several of his competitors.


Hanks must compete against two other “SNL” hosts: Lin-Manuel Miranda, still riding high from his “Hamilton” success, and Dave Chapelle, with arguably the most talked about monologue of the season. The three popular hosts could split the vote.

Hanks is saddled with a thankless role in the 10-minute cold open, with McKinnon and Baldwin getting all the laughs. Viewers have to wait until his monologue to see Hanks deliver any Emmy worthy material.

Be sure to make your Emmy predictions so that Hollywood insiders can see how their TV shows and performers are faring in our Emmy odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before winners are announced on September 17. And join in the fierce debate over the 2017 Emmys taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our TV forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

More News from GoldDerby