Posted by Jesse November 16th, 2009 at 01:16am In SNL
I’m torn between sighing about the continuing poor quality of this fall’s SNL episodes and celebrating Jason Sudeikis. It wasn’t a banner episode for him, or anyone, but was certainly front and center in a lot of sketches. Watching this utility player grab a bunch of screen time was more fun than thinking about how host January Jones looked vaguely ill at ease through most of the episode, or that this November’s run of episodes has been particularly lazy, and how much it will suck if Joseph Gordon-Levitt isn’t handed some decent material next week.
So, right, Sudeikis: what a versatile and funny guy, even when the material isn’t anywhere near there. He had one of the better of this season’s obligatory okay political cold opens, because the writers seem to actually enjoy writing goofy stuff for Joe Biden to say, as opposed to the ginger tiptoeing they do around Obama. He got to show off a decent Jimmy Stewart impression in a Rear Window sketch that I otherwise don’t want to talk about ever again because it was super-duper terrible. He went for stupid-enthusiasm in the now-officially-overplayed Jon Bovi bit on Update. And he did his flummoxed-straight-man thing twice: first, and to lesser effect, as the lead anchor of the news program where Kristen Wiig’s barely-closeted lesbian reporter attempts to interview extremely attractive women, one of those things that was funny once but because Kristen Wiig does it, must be revived at least once a year. He played semi-straight again for the final sketch of the night, one of the only decent ones, where he cloudwatched with a sheltered female companion. I’d link to that sketch here, but it’s one of the few that didn’t make it on to NBC’s SNL site.
In that (minor but funny) cloud sketch, January Jones was cast as a strange girl that Sudeikis put up with because she’s hot; she also played the object of Wiig’s affections in that reporter sketch, making this the second-most reused trope of the night. These sketches basically built around the fact that January Jones is attractive vaguely resembled the writers’ fumbling of Megan Fox in the season premiere, but they were overshadowed by the most-reused trope of the night, which, oddly, had January Jones playing the epitome of old-time glamour. The monologue was, as expected, a riff on her Mad Men role, fine; but then she was playing Grace Kelly in that sketch that, again, I’d really rather not think about; and the night’s other actually-good sketch “A Lady’s Guide to Throwing a Party,” had her playing a fifties/sixties housewife.
Sometimes the term “lazy” is bandied about so often by critics, including myself, in reference to SNL, that the description begins to feel, well, kinda lazy in and of itself. But I can’t think of another way to describe the thought process that goes: “January Jones, oh yeah, she’s on Mad Men and she’s pretty, so I guess we have to write a bunch of sketches where she’s in the fifties and sixties, and a bunch more where she’s pretty.” I mean, January Jones isn’t actually Grace Kelly or even Gwyneth Paltrow. She doesn’t actually have a particular reputation you need to play around with. Chick was in American Pie 3.
Of course, some writers would apparently take that to mean that they should be writing sketches about her being in American Wedding. Instead of sketches that are, you know, funny first and pop-culture-related second if at all. I’m usually quick to defend the show for its built-in hit-and-miss quality and degree of difficulty, but yikes, these last few episodes have been making it pretty difficult.
Also, the Black Eyed Peas were there. Not good.
Episode Grade: C-