Scarlett Johansson hosted Saturday Night Live for her third time this week, and while she has grown better and more comfortable with each appearance (perhaps to her own detriment; this week she seemed downright manic during the show's opening. It's good to see that she's supporting Conan O'Brien during his first week on TBS; I say this because she's sporting the same hairdo), the show has been on a consistent decline. This week, we got a whole bunch of half sketches -- pieces that maybe had an idea and a first half, but which would then abruptly end when the writers got to the end of the page. No punchlines, no resolutions. They just stopped.
And, truth be told, the more times Johansson hosts the show, the less successful she is. It's not her fault, really; like I said, she seems looser and more at home, but the novelty has worn off and now she comes with expectations. When she first hosted, it was a pleasant surprise to see that she could be funny at all. This week, Saturday Night Live really let her down with an episode that might as well have been a rerun. I'm not so sure it wasn't.
- "Cold Open: G-20" - I liked this sketch the first time they did it, when it was the exact same sketch (there was a line of dialogue at the beginning that admitted as much). And, no, I did not like this sketch the first time they did it. (Watch the "Cold Open: G-20" video)
- "Millionaire Matchmaker" - I don't watch Millionaire Matchmaker on Bravo, because life is precious and short. I can assume that the woman who stars on it is awful, though, because she has her own show on Bravo. That means this sketch didn't teach me anything. It did offer featured player Vanessa Bayer the first of several showcases this episode, and I haven't yet made up my mind about her. For everything she does right, she also does an odd vocal affectation that's downright Wiigian. She's like Hayden Christiansan as Anakin Skywalker, torn between two sides and making me nervous for what may not be the right reasons. (Watch the "Millionaire Matchmaker" video)
- "'Untoppable' Trailer - Yes, we've seen that Jay Pharoah does a good Denzel Washington impression. And guess what? Denzel has a new movie out this weekend! Forget that no one has seen it yet (except the rabid Tony Scott fans who went out Friday night and caught the first showings) and that it's a sketch making jokes about a movie no one's seen. Listen to that Denzel Washington! I'll admit, the running joke about the Chrysler Building wasn't bad. That's literally the best I can do. Anything more will kill me. (Watch the "'Unstoppable' Trailer" video)
- "'16 and Pregnant' Spinoffs" - The highlight of the night as far as I was concerned. There were some funny jokes here, and they were quick and all packed together. Vanessa Bayer's (there she is again!) Cribs joke was my favorite, but it's always good to see Bobby Moynihan's Snooki making an appearance. That's a sentence I never thought I would write. That's what SNL has done to me. (Watch the "'16 and Pregnant' Spinoffs" video)
- "Manuel Ortiz Show" - I liked this sketch the first time they did it, when it was the exact same sketch. And, no, I didn't like this sketch the first time they did it. (Watch the "Manuel Ortiz Show" video)
- "Hollywood Dish" - I liked this sketch the first...oh, F it. (Watch the "Hollywood Dish" video)
- "Middle School Kids" - Here's a third of a sketch, stretched out and then abandoned entirely. It takes one idea -- that Kenan Thompson has a broken knee and keeps falling down (his "Leave me be!" close-up was actually funny), then repeats it three times without changing it even a little. Then it just stops. There's no change, no punchline. Either they ran out of time (no) or got bored with it (yes). (Watch the "Middle School Kids" video)
- "Stars of Tomorrow" - My second favorite sketch of the night. Vanessa Bayer was really on to something here, getting a lot of the inflection and physicality of child actors right (let's overlook the over-the-top vocal affectation). She must have watched Annie a lot this week. Scarlett Johnasson, on the other hand, seemed to just be in the sketch because she's the guest host. I suppose I shouldn't complain, as she wasn't really used all that much elsewhere. This, like "Middle School Kids," just stopped at a certain point. Endings have always been a weak point on SNL, but this week was particularly terrible. (Watch the "Stars of Tomorrow" video)
- "Ceramic Busts" - I liked this sketch the first time they did it, when it was about chandeliers. I actually did like it, too, because it was odd and Scarlett Johansson's stiff line deliveries were funny. They've since done a variation on this every time she's hosted, with rapidly diminishing returns. Even with familiarity and the midnight slot on its side, this one died even in front of the studio audience. Time to retire it. (Watch the "Ceramic Busts" video)
- Original Air Date: 11/13/10
- Host: Scarlett Johansson
- Musical Guest: Arcade Fire