SNL 39.10 Review - Jimmy Fallon, Justin Timberlake
For the last month, everything that has been happening on Saturday Night Live has been leading up to this episode. Ever since they announced that this combination of host and musical guest would be its last episode before the Holiday Break, every new episode was more anticipated because it meant we were one week closer to what could only be described as a dream lineup. With as high as the expectations were, it was bound to disappoint, right? Fortunately, it did not. This might be one of those episodes where you just skip all the little clips I put in here and just skip to the end when you can watch the whole show.
One of the things that made the idea of this episode so awesome was the fact that the musical guest is a member of the "5-Timers Club" and possibly the most popular host of the last 10 years. With the great relationship between Fallon and Timberlake (see the Late Night Show and classic SNL sketches), you basically had a co-hosting gig set up with a well-loved host and a well-loved former cast member. Everyone hoped this would be what would happen, and it was confirmed with the opening sketch being one of Timberlake's classics that Jimmy joined him for. A perfect start to what was set up to be the best episode since Timberlake's last appearance. "Bring It On Down to Wrappin-ville!"
One of the things that made Jimmy Fallon such a popular cast member back in the day was his endless impressions. He shows them off in the monologue as he sets up to sing some Christmas classics with music icons David Bowie, Bob Dylan, and Sir Paul McCartney. However, they are stuck in traffic which leaves him to sing all the parts by himself until one of them shows up for a special guest appearance.
Weekend Update used one of their guests to make one of their few political statements of the night by bringing out Billie Jean King, played by Kate McKinnon (who else). King was recently named to the US delegation to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia next year. The controversy is King is openly gay going to a nation that has basically made it illegal to be gay. McKinnon turned Billie Jean King into a grand instigator that tells Russia and Valdimir Putin to "Bring it!" The second guest spot was, as predicted, Jimmy Fallon to pass the torch onto Seth Meyers who will be taking over Late Night after Fallon moves up to The Tonight Show. Along with Fallon was New York mayor Michael Bloomberg as each of them talked about leaving their current jobs in the next month. Apparently, Bloomberg is really excited to enjoy his small soda on the beach. One small tidbit we picked up out of this bit is a little insight into the eventual departure of Seth Meyers from the Weekend Update desk. Many people thought this would be his last show, however it was stated that he has a few shows left before he leaves Cecily at the desk by herself. I predict Bill Hader's first post-SNL appearance will come on Seth's last show as Stefon needs to send Seth off right. I will say that Cecily has proven the Weekend Update desk is going to be left in good hands.
It was impossible to pick one sketch that was the best. With Jimmy and Justin taking over the first half of the show together (Timberlake didn't appear in a sketch after his first musical performance), the first handful of sketches were near perfect. I'll mention two of them here. First came Celebrity Family Feud hosted by Kenan's Steve Harvey. It put CBS vs. NBC in the classic game show giving cast members another chance to show off their impressions. For the CBS team, you had Jim Parsons (Jimmy Fallon), Ashton Kutcher (Taran Killam), Jon Cryer (John Milhiser), and Alyson Hannigan (Noel Wells). All of these were spot-on (as long as Ashton Kutcher doesn't have to do anything but yell). I love how SNL loves to make fun of the network that writes their checks. They do that again here in a couple ways. First, the contestants are Jimmy Fallon by way of Justin Timberlake (yeah, that happens), Kate McKinnon's Jane Lynch (who apparently now hosts a game show on NBC no one watches), Jay Pharaoh showing once again he can impersonate any black man in pop culture with Ice-T, and Brooks Wheelan ... playing Brooks Wheelan. It was a good joke having a little used featured player represent SNL in the NBC lineup. It also showed that NBC doesn't have enough stars to have another regular impression. The NBC dagger came when it was announced that the charity the NBC team would be playing for is NBC itself. Although all this was funny, the magic comes when Timberlake goes face-to-face with the man he is impersonating (who, by the way, is well known as the worst SNL cast member at keeping a straight face in the history of the show). At one point, Jimmy had to hide behind his podium because he was laughing too hard to control it.
The other sketch tied with Family Feud brings back an old classic from when Fallon was a cast member and Timberlake was hosting for the first time. It's the Barry Gibb Talk Show starring the brothers that started the Bee-Gees, Barry and Robin Gibb, interviewing their political guests. This sketch is so silly that you just have to laugh. It brings one of the great tragedies of the last presidential election back to the forefront, and that is we don't get to see Taran Killam's Paul Ryan on a regular basis. It's so good. We also get to see a couple more Christmas cameos from the one and only Madonna and the real Barry Gibb. My guess is they asked his permission to do the show since Robin Gibb passed away recently, and he wanted to show his support by appearing in the sketch. It worked beautifully.
Finding the worst sketch of this episode was actually pretty easy because only one of the sketches from the night fell flat. It was a take on A Christmas Carol as Scrooge is shown a scene from his past that is quite revealing. It is quickly discovered what is being revealed as Jimmy Fallon plays young Scrooge channeling Richard Simmons. Oh I get it, Scrooge is gay. Why was that supposed to be funny? Oh well, this sketch can be forgiven looking at the rest of the show.
Dark Horse Sketch
I couldn't pick again for the Dark Horse so we have another tie. First comes another showcase of impersonations which always seems to be a favorite of mine. Here we have a highlight of Christmas music done by a variety of random artists. My favorites out of here are Noel Wells's Zooey Dechanel (which was actually one of her claims to fame on youtube pre-SNL) and three Jimmy Fallon impressions: One Direction's Harry Styles, Professor Snape played by Alan Rickman, and Pitbull. Oh how I love good impressions!
The second Dark Horse Sketch involves the holiday favorite song "Baby It's Cold Outside" sung by Jimmy Fallon and Cecily Strong. They act out and sing through the first verse beautifully. Then it skips ahead to what happens after the girl has been convinced. The roles are now reversed as the man tries to kick her out while the girl just wants to stay and cuddle all day. It was a perfect way to finish Christmas according to Saturday Night Live.
If you couldn't tell, I loved this episode. This not only is the best episode of the year so far, but it is one of the best I have seen. It really can't get much better than this. There were only a few sketches I didn't mention already, one of which was a music video about how awkward it can be to take your significant other home for the holidays. However, this sketch would have won the best sketch award in any of the last three or four episodes. The quality was just so high from start to finish. It really seemed to be true that the writers mailed it in the last couple weeks to make sure this episode was as great as it could possibly be. It had the potential to be an instant classic, and it definitely proved that it was.