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by Jason Nummer
Episode 9: Justin Timberlake (12/16/06)
CONEY RATING SYSTEM
0-10 Coneys – Garbage
OAD = Original Air Date*
(*To be fair, coneys will be awarded the same as they were the first time they aired)
When JT did double duty as host and musical guest back in 2003, tv.com (then tvtome.com) reported that SNL director Beth McCarthy-Miller went on record as saying "Justin Timberlake was one of the best hosts ever. Expect him to host again in the future". Just over three years later, Miller's premonition has come true.
The '03 episode may not have been flawless, but you can't deny there wasn't a certain energy to it. This was largely due to most of the show being written around Justin's main strength: singing. Not only did Timberlake get three musical segments ("Rock Your Body", "Seniorita" and "Cry Me A River"), but most of the sketches were excuses for him to sing as well. Case in point, "Benny's vs. Omletteville", "Timberlake and Kermit" and even to a lesser extent, "Barry Gibb Talk Show", all had musical numbers for JT to run wild with. As a result, JT was always in his comfort zone and came across as a very capable host.
How will JT fare in 2006? Since he's pushing not only a CD, but a movie as well, I'm guessing there won't be as much singing. This shouldn't be a bad thing, Bening's episode showed somewhat of an upswing in sketch writing, so hopefully Justin will get some strong material to have fun with. I'm also betting the farm Jimmy Fallon will show up to resurrect Barry Gibb. Bottom line, after the Matthew Fox/Tenacious D show somewhat tanked, I'm guessing this will be the best of the December 2006 episodes.
|THE GOOD||THE BAD|
Dick in a Box! Tonight’s best segment was Samberg and Timberlake in a faux early 1990s, Color-Me-Baddish video spoof. After last season had that great run of musical Digital Shorts with “Lazy Sunday” (12/17/05), “Young Chuck Norris” (1/21/06) and “Natalie Rap” (3/4/06), they sort of hit a wall with “Testicles” in the 5/6/06 Tom Hanks episode. Between tonight’s installment and John C. Reilly’s “Harpoon Man”, I’m glad this season hasn’t had a misstep with them yet. Thanks to the Grizz for revealing NBC.com posted “The Exclusive Uncensored Version” shortly after the episode aired.
Tonight’s other choice sketches were the return of both Wiig’s “Target Cashiers” and Fallon’s “Barry Gibb Talk Show”. I’ve pointed out many sketches that feel very “paint-by-numbers”, and these two are no exception, but the difference here is how much they get spaced out. Tonight was only the third appearance for both and they each felt just as strong as their original incarnations. Timberlake was especially good as the Stock Boy with a lip problem in Cashiers, and Fallon’s overzealous Gibb, especially when reacting to President Carter (Hammond) and Sandra Day O’Conner (Wiig) made me momentarily forget how much I DON’T miss having him on the show every weekend.
After last year’s Jack Black/Neil Young episode set the bar for how music keeps a Holiday themed show moving along, tonight kept the tradition alive. The opening segments, “Santa’s My Boyfriend” and JT’s “Christmas Song” monologue with Alvin & The Chipmunks, may not have been as catchy as Robert Smigel’s “Christmastime for the Jews” from 2005, but they helped set the mood for what proved to be a fairly festive episode. On a side note, JT’s 2003 episode had him singing with Muppets and tonight he joined forces with the Chipmunks. What childrens favorite will be tackled next time?
Finally, I’m happy to say Bill Hader finally got some face time that didn’t involve him hanging out in the background or playing a supporting character. Aside from appearing in five segments overall (including a great take as a frustrated Alvin during the Chipmunk monologue), he took center stage as the host in “Dry Eyes”. The sketch won’t ever make a “Best of Bill Hader” special, but it was still nice to see him out in front.
I thought Maya’s “World Series National Anthem” sketch from Hugh Laurie’s episode was going to be the season’s worst. That was before I saw Poehler’s latest turn as Nancy Grace in tonight’s “A Holiday Message From Nancy Grace”. In stark contrast to “Target Cashiers” or “Barry Gibb Talk Show” who took months (or in Gibb’s case, years) to get to a third installment, Poehler did it in the span of just seven episodes. Apart from the hilarious accent, I haven’t found the actual content of these funny yet. Centered on the nine-month old Duke Lacrosse rape scandal, most of tonight’s segment felt like a rant that Weekend Update probably didn’t have room for.
Tonight’s two non-Christmas musical segments also killed the show’s energy for me. My fiancé loves JT, and I’ve given him multiple chances, by I just can’t get into his music. Looks like the musical guest slump that started last week with Gwen Stefani and Akon rolls on. Oh well, at least we got a Cameron Diaz cameo for the intro of “My Love”.
I was also sorry to see that the follow up to 2003’s “Benny’s vs. Omletteville” wasn’t extraordinarily creative. For me, the original was only good for a few laughs, and I’ve always been surprised to see how popular and memorable it was for a lot of viewers. Perhaps seeing JT in tights just has a lasing effect on people?
|THE BOTTOM LINE!|
Timberlake’s episode was fun and above average, but it was basically a revisit of his 2003 hosting debut. He sang or danced in a majority of his scenes, and the rest were filled out with an over abundance of MTV style ghetto slang (having “Hip Hop Kids” and “Elf Audition” back to back may not have been the best idea). However, I’m sure my thinking is in the minority. Judging by audience response, this episode seemed to go over huge as even the most throw away lines seemed to kill. JT will no doubt be back next time there is an album to sell, so hopefully we’ll see a bit more evolution.
Thus closes the book on 2006 SNL. The crew now gets three full weeks off (their longest break so far this season) before returning on 1/13/07 with Jake Gyllenhaal and The Shins.
1. Cold Opening: Santa’s My Boyfriend
2. Monologue: Timberlake
3. Sketch: Homelessville
4. Sketch: Target Cashiers
5. SNL Digital Short: Dick in a Box
6. Sketch: Barry Gibb Talk Show
7. Sketch: Dry Eyes
8. Music: Justin Timberlake “My Love”
9. Weekend Update
10. Sketch: Hip Hop Kids
11. Sketch: Elf Audition
12. Sketch: A Holiday Message from Nancy Grace
13. Music: Justin Timberlake “What Goes Around”
31 / 52 Coneys