TV Recap: Martin Freeman Crosses ‘The Hobbit’ with ‘The Office’ on ‘SNL’

Caution: This review contains spoilers.

In case you missed it, Martin Freeman (“Sherlock”) hosted “Saturday Night Live” on NBC last night. Like his “Sherlock” co-star, Benedict Cumberbatch, Freeman is everywhere in entertainment news on both UK and US fronts. The hosting gig coincides with this week’s release of “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” the final installment of the series. The best skit was probably “The Office: Middle Earth,” which SNL is now referring to as “Hobbit Office.” You can view it below:

Had Tolkien not written “Lord of the Rings,” we would certainly wonder what became of Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf, Gollum, and the rest of the characters we know so well. We’re asked to forget the sequel for a moment and play along with the premise of the “Hobbit” crossover with “The Office.” American viewers may know that Freeman was in the UK version of “The Office,” a series that is different than its highly successful American counterpart.

The sequence feels a little uneven, but it offers quite a few laughs. I think it’s strongest in the beginning as Bilbo explains how he saved Middle Earth and then moved on by joining a paper company. You may also double over with laughter at the “Precious” moment. Taran Killam is perfect at capturing Andy Serkis’ intonation and frustration as poor Gollum, who is now a Dwight figure. The opening “credits” replace the BBC letters with JRR as a clever reference to author J.R.R. Tolkien. The costumes and ear extensions are a nice touch as well, but maybe the Orc wins in that overall category. Gandalf (Bobby Moynihan), the manager, could have been much stronger.

Nonetheless, the segment was a funny alternative to how things could have played out. Though it seems to function largely as a one-off, it leaves open the possibility that such a world might be revisited in the future by NBC. One might easily envision a rivalry with a paper firm led by Sarumon or Frodo starting out as the newbie that sorts and distributes the mail. SNL could find a way to develop new anecdotes, particularly if Ian McKellen or Elijah Wood serve as hosts down the line.

It seems to be the year of crossovers, with recent hyped events such as “The Flash” and “Arrow.” It’s only a matter of time before other shows are pulled into the fray. Or at the very least, the “Hobbit” and “Office” crossover leaves some of you with ideas on how to organize that Halloween party next year at the office.

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