December 22, 2013

THE SKED Review: “Saturday Night Live” with Jimmy Fallon & Justin Timberlake


The hits just kept coming on tonight’s SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, which packed a whole fall’s worth of glitz into the show’s final 90 minutes of 2013.  Technically, Jimmy Fallon was the host and Justin Timberlake was musical guest, but as anyone would have expected, the two were essentially a team–and if they weren’t enough for you, a Christmas stocking full of celebrity cameos showed up as well.

SNL wasted no time in getting down to business, casting aside the usual guest-less cold open for one of the classics:  Timberlake doing his rapping and dancing “Bring it on down to”–in this case, Wrappingville, with himself dressed as a roll of wrapping paper.  He had Fallon as a gift-bag wearing sidekick this time, and the two of them had some merry word play on the notion of how good Fallon is at “deck sacking” (Timberlake had a deck of cards, it needed it to go in a gift sack…).  Aidy Bryant didn’t have much to do as the kiosk competition but react to all the star power, but she had one nifty background moment where you could see her dread Timberlake’s giant costumed finger as it descended toward the boom-box button that was going to play his next song.

You say Fallon and Timberlake aren’t enough of an A-team?  You demand celebrity cameos?  Ladies and gentlemen, Sir Paul McCartney, strolling onto the monologue to join Fallon for “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”  The initial set-up, which was going to be Fallon running from microphone to microphone, doing all the voices of a quartet of himself, McCartney, Bob Dylan and David Bowie, might have been funnier, but star value is star value.

Fallon and Timberlake were back for a Family Feud parody that featured CBS stars vs. NBC.  It had some good meta gags, including Team NBC playing for NBCUniversal as its charity and host Kenan Thompson (as Steve Harvey) refusing to believe that contestant Brooks Wheelan was actually an SNL cast member.  Kate McKinnon and Taran Killam were sharp as Jane Lynch and Ashton Kutcher, and another new cast member, Noel Wells, did a fine Alyson Hannigan, but the sketch was all about Timberlake doing a hyper-enthusiastic Jimmy Fallon, an impression that had Fallon himself (who was supposed to be Jim Parsons) ducking behind the podium because he was cracking up.

The team returned for a rendition of The Barry Gibb Talk Show, which had walk-ons by Cecily Strong as Megyn Kelly and Killam as Paul Ryan, and–wait, is that the real Madonna?  It certainly was, and while she wasn’t the best-prepared guest (some cue-card problems, bad timing on pulling a prop out of her pocket, and boy, was she in a hurry to get out of her seat when the sketch was ending), she was, you know, Madonna.  (Her appearance did rouse a discuss-amongst-yourselves moment of wonderment at how Madonna and Timberlake are both music superstars, yet Timberlake is a born sketch comic and better-than-decent actor as well, while Madonna’s failure at any kind of acting is the signature failure of her massive career.)  Had enough?  Wait, there’s more!  The real Barry Gibb came on to sing with Fallon and Timberlake at the end.  With all that stunting, it didn’t matter much what Fallon and Timberlake actually did in the sketch, which was pretty much what they always do.

Weekend Update pulled one more celebrity out of its hat with Mayor Michael Bloomberg turning up for an end-of-term bit (with a joke about small-size soft drinks, naturally) that provided Fallon with the opportunity to officially welcome Seth Meyers to what will soon be his former gig on Late Night, as Fallon moves up to The Tonight ShowUpdate‘s comedy, though, came from McKinnon as an ebullient Billy Jean King, thrilled to be one of the openly gay members of the US delegation to the Russian Winter Olympics.  (If she gets arrested, just send Navratilova and the cast of Orange Is the New Black.)

The show didn’t settle down into something like normal until its last half-hour, which led off with a recent favorite, Waking Up With Kimye, with Nasim Pedrad and Jay Pharoah as the power couple.  We learned that Kim refers to Kanye’s father as “Mr. Black Guy,” and saw the gingerbread club she’d built, complete with licorice ropes to keep out the riff-raff.  A Christmas Carol sketch where the only joke was that Scrooge (Fallon) was a repressed mincing gay man didn’t add much, but the last piece of the night was one of the most charming of the season so far:  Fallon and Strong doing “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” with new lyrics that had the guy in a hurry to get rid of his date (“Baby, It’s Warm Outside”) once he was done with her, but then perhaps changing his mind.  The couple played it beautifully, and it was clever and funny without ever going over the top, a precision point SNL rarely hits.

The pre-tape squad contributed two solid pieces tonight.  One featured the female cast members bringing their boyfriends home for the holidays, eager for sex in their childhood bedrooms (the best touch was the looming 7th-grade photos of the women), and the other was a That’s What I Call Christmas! set of music parodies that unaccountably didn’t feature Timberlake, but had more than its share of Fallon (as everyone from Michael Buble to Pitbull), and most memorably McKinnon as Alanis Morisette and Bobby Moynihan (otherwise barely present all night) as Andrea Bocelli.

SNL is taking off a full month for the holidays, returning on January 18 with Drake as both host and musical guest.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."