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‘Saturday Night Live’ Review: “Jimmy Fallon”

SNL Jimmy Fallon Justin Timberlake 2013 Snow Preview
NBC

SNL‘ veteran Jimmy Fallon returns to the 30 Rock stage tonight for a very special episode — that’s right, we’re just a few days away from Christmas, it’s the last episode of ‘SNL’ of the year, and Justin Timberlake is the musical guest, so we’re sure Fallon and the crew have all kinds of surprises in store tonight! We can’t wait to see what — or who — might pop up on tonight’s all new episode. Will Fallon fall back into his old habit of cracking up mid-sketch? Will Horatio Sanz make an appearance? Read on for our recap and review of the last ‘SNL’ of 2013!

Wrappingville

I love the idea of putting an exasperated and sassy Aidy Bryant up against Justin Timberlake’s singing and dancing mascot — and the twist is that she happens to be his mom, with the added bonus that Jimmy Fallon joins him as his gift bag mascot buddy. Timberlake’s mascots have become such a treasured classic over the last several years, and he even manages to take that tired Gotye song and make it funny again. It’s an instant crowd-pleaser, as evidenced by the shrieks from the audience, and I’ll be honest: I had a huge grin as soon as he made his entrance in full mascot gear. Just can’t help it, man. Timberlake has serious charisma and energy, and Fallon has great chemistry. If this sets the tone for the rest of the show, we’re in for a treat, but I’m trying to keep my expectations in check.

Opening Monologue

Fallon is stoked! The audience is stoked! Let’s do this. He immediately grabs his guitar and says he’ll be singing with three of his music icons: David Bowie, Bob Dylan, and Paul McCartney — all of whom he’ll be playing himself. It’s pretty cute, but then McCartney himself interrupts, and the pair sing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” while fake snow falls on stage. Rather charming stuff, guys. (Even though Fallon flubs a line, but we’ll forgive him — it must be intimidating to sing with the mighty Macca.)

Family Feud

Kenan Thompson’s wacky Steve Harvey (aren’t all of his characters oblivious and wacky?) hosts a special celebrity edition of ‘Family Feud,’ with some pretty spot-on impressions: Fallon as Jim Parsons from ‘Big Bang Theory,’ Taran Killam as Ashton Kutcher, Timberlake as Jimmy Fallon (cute), Kate McKinnon as Jane Lynch, and Jay Pharaoh as Ice-T. Not so great are Noel Wells as Alyson Hanigan and John Milhiser as Jon Cryer, which … why? It feels like an attempt to not overcrowd the stage with celebrities, so they chose a couple of filler impressions, though I do like the idea of Brooks Wheelan playing himself. Of course they immediately pair Fallon and Timberlake-as-Fallon with each other, and strangely I sort of prefer Fallon’s weird and creepy Parsons impression to Timberlake’s over the top and obnoxious version of Fallon — which feels more like a bid to get the real Fallon to crack. And maybe Killam’s Kutcher isn’t that spot-on, but he’s got that douchey human equivalent of Scooby-Doo energy down.

Let’s Do It On My Twin Bed

Normally the shorts and music videos are a boys’ club on ‘SNL,’ which is why this music video is extra special and exciting — and it doesn’t hurt that it’s pretty damn funny. The premise: the ladies of ‘SNL’ are home visiting their families and they’ve brought their boyfriends, but where are they going to get freaky at the end of the night? Their childhood bedrooms, of course, which are filled with all their childish things: ‘X-Files’ VHS tapes, posters of Jonathan Taylor Thomas and baby-faced Leonardo DiCaprio, twin beds (and trundle beds!), monkey print sheets, stuffed animals, and the family’s old cat, among other embarrassing and inappropriate things that make getting down kind of awkward. The song has that girl band vibe (I particularly like Aidy Bryant’s verse about mom borrowing the car from Jean — “And now that’s a whole thing”) and Fallon even gets a cool rap guy verse, and we get cute pics of the girls when they were little. But even better is that ‘SNL’ highlights its ladies and gives them a song and short all their own that’s not a commercial parody. Bravo!

The Barry Gibb Talk Show

Whoa. I am shocked. With Robin Gibb’s death, I didn’t think they’d be doing the Barry Gibb talk show sketch anymore, but I guess enough time has passed that they feel comfortable with it, and it’s definitely a fan favorite and Timberlake and Fallon are on tonight, so why not? Tonight’s guests: Cecily Strong as Fox News’ Megyn Kelly (oh boy), Killam as Congressman Paul Ryan, and Madonna — like, yes, the real Madonna. Fallon’s Barry sounds even more schizo and shaky than ever, like he’s on a steroid and cocaine cocktail. And hey, when did Madonna stop talking like she’s half-British? Do we have a timeline on that? It seems like it may have just been way too long since Fallon has done this character because he is just out of control. It’s certainly entertaining to watch, and we get a delightful visit from the real Barry Gibb himself. Lots of surprise musical guests tonight, but no Horatio Sanz yet. Also, has anyone seen Bobby Moynihan, or was he barred from the stage because he’s too funny and might be distracting?

Weekend Update

Kate McKinnon plays tennis champ Billie Jean King, commenting on Vladimir Putin’s radical anti-gay laws in relation to the upcoming Olympics taking place in Sochi. McKinnon does a pretty feisty King, but then again, all her characters are often feisty and brassy and it’s just something she does really well.

Her visit is brief, and next up are Jimmy Fallon as himself and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, here to discuss their upcoming changes in employment. For Fallon, he’ll be hosting ‘The Tonight Show,’ which will eventually lead to hosting the nightly news, the ‘Today’ show, and maybe eventually becoming Carson Daly. For Bloomberg, he’d just like to enjoy a small soda on a non-smoking beach. The more this episode goes on, the more it’s taking shape as a crowd-pleaser: the kind of episode that caps off the year with lots of special, big name and accessible guests, and a safe but energetic host. Is it that funny? Not particularly, but recognition and familiarity makes people excited and gets them to smile, which equals success. I can’t fault ‘SNL’ for this approach, but if we’re being honest, this isn’t a show that’s built for lots of laughs, and Fallon was never an MVP — sorry, not sorry. He’s likable, he’s fun, he’s got the energy and charisma, but he’s not funny like a Bill Hader or a Bobby Moynihan. And again, where the hell is Moynihan? I think his absence really does say a lot about what they’re doing with this show.

Waking Up with Kimye

Okay, I’m pretty glad they brought this back, although I’m not sure it needed to be back so soon. We just saw it in October when Lady Gaga hosted. Jay Pharaoh does his Kanye West and Nasim Pedrad does her nasally and grating Kim Kardashian, with Kanye fawning over Kim’s silly, childish non-accomplishments (a very basic gingerbread house) like she’s a genius. They also recreate the infamous “Bound 2″ video with a Christmas theme, and that’s about it. They keep it pretty brief, which is good, since a little of this Kimye business goes a long way.

Now That’s What I Call Christmas

Here’s a fun pre-recorded faux commercial for a Christmas music compilation that features some pretty fun little impressions, like Fallon doing Professor Snape (why not) and Michael Buble, and also teaming up with Kate McKinnon as Lorde and a guy from One Direction. There’s also Kyle Mooney as Axl Rose (with Timberlake as Slash, I think?), Noel Wells doing her spot-on Zooey Deschanel, and finally, FINALLY, Bobby Moynihan makes an appearance as Andrea Bocelli, doing an angelic rendition of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” It’s an unoffensive little sketch that I feel like sums up the entire tone of this episode. Shrug.

A Christmas Carol

Killam is Ebeneezer Scrooge and Thompson is the Ghost of Christmas Past, who has taken him to look back upon his folly as his younger self, played by a very effeminate and excitable Jimmy Fallon. Moynihan and Mooney are present for this sketch (yay!) along with McKinnon as Ebeneezer’s baffled love interest. I’m thankful for this funny little sketch, which finds Ebeneezer confused about where he went wrong in life, thinking he was obsessed with money, when really he was a closeted gay man. It’s all about celebrating your true self and not repressing who you really are, lest you wind up a lonely, miserable old person. Brooks Wheelan makes a pretty funny Ghost of Christmas Present right there at the end, too.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Cecily Strong and Jimmy Fallon do a rendition of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” that old classic Christmas song about getting a girl to stay over because it’s too cold outside for her to leave. But what happens, you know, after they hook up? She still insists it’s too cold outside, and the two bicker in sing-song about her leaving, while he acts like a jerk who just wants to ditch her. It’s definitely not what I expected — typically the joke about the song is that it’s sort of sexually aggressive and icky, but this puts a cute twist on it for Christmas, and Jimmy Fallon gets to sing some more so everyone is happy.

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