For the penultimate episode of its 34th season, Saturday Night Live brought out the big guns. Not only did they bring on Justin Timberlake -- who has quickly become something of an honorary cast member with all his surprise appearances -- but a long list of guest stars that kept me in suspense for most of the show. Who's going to show up next?
Here's my problem with Justin Timberlake. It's not enough that he's a handsome millionaire. Or that he's a talented singer, songwriter and excellent dancer. He's really got to show up on SNL and be be one of the funniest, most charismatic and engaging hosts they've got these days? Can't this guy suck at something?
I might sound like I'm gay for Justin Timberlake. I'm not. Everyone knows I'm a Joey Fatone man. But JT (that's what he told me I can call him) really is good on Saturday Night Live, and I resent him for it.
Saturday's show was overall pretty strong. I've said over and over again this season that all the show needs to do is have one or two really good sketches and no terrible ones; while there were a few clunkers this week (leading off with the Target lady? Really?), the episode rarely failed to entertain.
- "Geithner Cold Open" - They may have been off for several weeks, but the writing staff at SNL didn't use the time to come up with a new way of opening the show. It's another "politician behind a desk" opening, once again featuring Will Forte as Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner discussing the recent stress test of U.S. banks. It's not the worst sketch I've seen all season, but it was essentially one joke repeated and overstayed its welcome. (Watch the "Geithner Cold Open" video)
- "Justin Timberlake Monologue" - SNL loves to do songs for the monologue, so following the whole "ain't broke/don't fix" trend already in place for the night, Timberlake kicked the show off with a song and dance. Because we already know he can sing, there was less of a surprise factor; therefore, the jokes had to carry the piece. Luckily, there were a few good ones, and the payoff of a Lorne Michaels cameo almost made the whole thing worth it. Plus, that Justin Timberlake is just so entertaining. (Watch "Justin Timberlake Monologue" video)
- "Mom Translator" - A funny idea, and one which you can almost hear the origins of in the writer's room, but the execution is missing something. Still, it's short and I'm pretty sure I saw Abby Elliott in there. "She's on TV, and she's crazy." (Watch the "Mom Translator" video)
- "Immigrant Tale" - I liked this sketch, probably because it was one of the few original sketches of the night. And while it was largely self-aggrandizing for Timberlake, I found the few instances where he took shots at himself to be funny. What makes this sketch really funny to me, though, is how sort of true it is; could anyone coming to America in the early 1900s ever believe that the facts listed about JT in this sketch were possible? How far we've come. (Watch "Immigrant Tale" video)
- "Surgery Center" - It's pretty impressive that Timberlake has his own roster of recurring characters, given he's not actually a cast member. This sketch was a lot funnier the first time, probably because it was predicated on the handsome, cool Timberlake being dressed up in a ridiculous costume (Was it a hot dog? A giant egg? Someone help me out...). I know the breast implant getup is supposed to be outrageous because of what it is, but it's not that funny to look at. He would have looked funnier in Will Forte's dumbell suit. (Watch the "Surgery Center" video)
- "Digital Short: Motherlover" - Timberlake and Andy Samberg try to recapture the "D-ck in a Box" lightning. This one's not quite as funny, but it's still pretty great and provided the high point of the night -- plus, it bears repeat listens just to catch all the jokes. I'm of the camp that thinks a "bleep" would have been funnier than the word "lover," but that's because I still think swearing is funny. Also, would the short have worked better if the actresses playing the moms weren't already sexy and famous? I appreciate the onslaught of guest appearances and the fact that Patricia Clarkson and Susan Sarandon are game, but who wouldn't want to sleep with them -- moms or not? Especially Susan Sarandon. Holy cow. (Watch the "Motherlover" video)
- "Weekend Update: Gov. Paterson and Spitzer" - I'm a little burned out on the Gov. Paterson/blind humor, but this segment worked largely because it was just what my friend John would call a "joke carrier" -- just a series of one-liners strung together with a thin premise. The "Update" guest segments aren't usually as funny as this one. (Watch the "Gov. Paterson and Spitzer" video)
- "Weekend Update: Star Trek" - And the surprise guest stars just keep on coming! I'll let this one slide, because it was the cast of Star Trek and I really, really loved that movie. Plus, we got to hear Leonard Nimoy say "dickhead." (Watch the "Star Trek" video)
- "Barry Gibb Talk Show" - Here's a sketch that both Timberlake and former cast member Jimmy Fallon will come on to do whether they're hosting or not. I'll admit that the theme song is catchy and funny, but there's not a whole lot else. I kind of like Fallon's odd speech pattern, but it's really the same sketch every time. Like I said, I respect that Timberlake has characters that people expect him to do (it also makes it pretty easy to write an episode when he hosts, as he pointed out earlier this season). But "Barry Gibb" has never been one of my favorites. (Watch the "Barry Gibb Talk Show" video)
- Original Air Date: 5/9/09
- Host: Justin Timberlake
- Musical Guest: Ciara