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Saturday Night Live Episode Recap

Episode 3812: Adam Levine/Kendrick Lamar

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Adam Levine hosts Saturday Night Live
Photo courtesy NBC

For a little while, it seemed like this week's Saturday Night Live, hosted by Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine, would be a step up after last week's disappointing Jennifer Lawrence episode. But by the time the cold open, monologue and commercial parody ended, those hopes began to melt away, with one disappointment after another. Levine was entirely a non-factor in his first outing as host -- there were jokes comparing him to Justin Timberlake, but he was no Justin Timberlake -- and while his performance was only outright bad in one sketch, it's never much of a vote of confidence when the show has the host play him or herself multiple times. While most of the sketches ranged from bland to bad, there was usually at least one good joke lurking inside of each one. Getting to it could be a test of patience, but at least it was there. Some weeks don't even have that much.

Sketch Highlights

  • "Cold Open: Obama and MLK" - I would have expected SNL to tackle a number of aspects of this week's historical inauguration of Barack Obama for a second term, but instead the show went with a conversation between him and Martin Luther King Jr. It was altogether pretty predictable, with the joke being that MLK is up on a lot of current events and (especially) pop culture. Almost every sketch this week had at least one good joke, and this week's was the segue into the "Live from New York!" announcement, when Kenan Thompson as MLK said "It's not every week they let a black ghost open the show." He's right, too, unless you count the 2006 appearance by Redd Foxx. (Watch the "Cold Open: Obama and MLK" video)
  • "Adam Levine Monologue" - SNL loves to have the hosts sing in the monologue, so it seemed like a no-brainer that Adam Levine would burst into song this week -- especially since he wouldn't be performing later in the show with his band, Maroon 5. But, no, everyone showed restraint -- at least until the part where he took of his shirt, and all of America suffered douche chills. Instead, the show did a decent takeoff of The Voice, complete with spinning chairs and surprise guest stars Andy Samberg, Cameron Diaz and Jerry Seinfeld. The best joke was Samberg saying he had appeared in hundreds of Digital Shorts and three live sketches. The second best joke was Cameron Diaz's hat. (Watch the "Adam Levine Monologue" video)
  • "Rosetta Stone" - Things felt pretty off all night this week, making this commercial parody one of the episode's better sketches even though it's pretty flawed. The premise is that a bunch of creepy guys are learning Thai on tape so they can go overseas to do...something that's never really specified. It's a funny premise, and all of the cast members playing the creepy guys find different ways to be funny, but it's never fleshed out as much as it should be -- it's more set-up than follow-through. The best gag involves someone (I think it was Bill Hader?) packing a mannequin head for mysterious purposes. (Watch the "Rosetta Stone" video)
  • "Circle Work" - Sigh. The first proper sketch of the night was a pretty clear indication of how things were going to go for the rest of the night. It was another tired talk show bit, with Kenan Thompson and Levine playing gay men giving love advice, though all of their advice was just to suggest that all straight men are secretly gay. Levine struggled with the one actual character he had to play all night, and even seemed to flub a few lines. It was pretty rough all around, with Vanessa Bayer's producer (and Kenan's best friend, openly in love with him) being the sketch's only saving grace. (Watch the "Circle Work" video)
  • "Firehouse Incident" - Somehow, things managed to get even worse here in a sketch that features one of the few horrible miscalculations I've ever seen Bill Hader make. Playing a fireman that freaks out when someone makes a move on his wife, Hader's performance was just a lot of effeminate exaggerations and queenish screaming. Having said that, the one thing that made me laugh was his insane overreaction (a running theme of the piece) upon learning that ABC had canceled Don't Trust the B in Apartment 23. It was just the right show to use for the joke. And it really was just canceled. (Watch the "Firehouse Incident" video)
  • "Sopranos High" - The joke here was a really stupid one -- that, with the success of The Carrie Diaries (is it a success?), the CW is going to take other HBO shows and put them back in high school. Still, it was amusing, mostly because the cast impressions were either spot on (Kate McKinnon's Edie Falco is something to behold) or completely ridiculous. Every little touch on the cafeteria table -- from the checkered table cloth to the stripper pole -- was inspired. Like a lot of stuff this week, it went on about two times longer than it should have, but still made for one of the night's brighter spots. (Watch the "Sopranos High" video)
  • "Digital Short: YOLO" - With the return of Andy Samberg comes to return of the Digital Short, and this was one of the best I've seen from the Lonely Island in a long time. The joke was pretty obvious -- you only live once, so be VERY CAREFUL and avoid pretty much everything -- but both the gag and the music built in a very satisfying way. It was also incredibly impressive as a piece of filmmaking, beautifully shot and cleverly edited. Adam Levine, who was basically just around to sing the chorus, turned in his best work here. (Watch the "Digital Short: YOLO" video)
  • "Biden Bash" - Ugh. Most of the pre-taped stuff was the best this week's show had to offer, but that doesn't apply here. It might be time for Jason Sudeikis to retire his Joe Biden, which isn't likely since the guy's in office for another four years (Sudeikis will be gone before then). This might have been the episode's low point, but that's a tough call. There are several good choices worthy of that distinction. (Watch the "Biden Bash" video)
  • "Catfish" - I don't watch the MTV series Catfish, because life is short and filled with enough pain as it is. But apparently the host, Nev Schulman, makes the show about himself? I don't know. At least it gave Aidy Bryant a chance to be funny, and the little clip of the "coming up" where she freaks out but you can't tell if her reaction is positive or negative, was amusing and a very astute takedown of the way that so many of these reality shows are promoted. (Watch the "Catfish" video)
  • "Adam and Janet" - Bobby Moynihan's "Janet" character resurfaced in another sketch in which Levine played himself (another, in which he at least goofed on his own image in a battle with other wuss-rock musicians like Train and John Mayer, is not available on the NBC site because of copyright issues), and -- surprise! -- it wasn't very funny. I liked the line about how Janet's diet consists mostly of peach Snapple, and another joke about how she looks like E.T. when the kids dressed him up as a woman. Because that one is kind of true. (Watch the "Adam and Janet" video)
  • Original Air Date: 1/26/13
  • Host: Adam Levine
  • Musical Guest: Kendrick Lamar
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