Posted by Jesse December 13th, 2009 at 11:02pm In SNL
Saturday Night Live is supposed to pretty much function regardless of the host, but it’s been difficult not to notice how ill-timed its guests have been for much of this season. Megan Fox and Drew Barrymore appeared after the movies they were promoting had already bombed; Joseph Gordon-Levitt would’ve made a natural early-fall host to capitalize on his summer heat but instead came on in late November; and now Taylor Lautner shows up to host nearly a month after Twilight fever reached its peak.
Superficial/promotional considerations aside, I had other reasons to be apprehensive about Lautner’s gig, namely Lautner himself; he seems like a nice kid, but nothing in New Moon hinted at a talent for (intentional) comedy. But much like his special lady giant Taylor Swift, Lautner proved a surprisingly adept host, although his work fell more on the “didn’t screw things up” side of things than T-Swift’s “actually pretty funny on her own” triumph-relative-to-expectations. And for whatever reason, Lautner actually had better material than Swift, so his episode was a nice surprise.
SNL also seems determined to pigeonhole their guests this season whenever possible, maybe because it’s an efficient way to generate sketch ideas on a tight schedule. Megan Fox and January Jones appeared in sketch after sketch predicated on their hotness; Gerard Butler was a Scottish he-man over and over; and Taylor Lautner played a kid in no less than three sketches (four if you count the mildly amusing college football bit). Of course, Lautner is a kid, so fair enough, and also, I’m kind of a sucker for sketches where cast members play bratty kids or awkward teenagers.
So while it wasn’t particularly cohesive, I sorta loved the Christmas concert sketch displayed above, with its wonderfully cheesy performances and constant interruptions from Andy Samberg (I would watch a TV series based on these characters much more readily than I would another episode of Glee). I also dug the “eternal spark of love” bit with Kenan Thompson rolling in and out of a scene of young courtship on some sort of moving walkway; sometimes a host’s youth or awkwardness forces the writers to think of more inventive, strange concepts than the usual parade of faux-talk shows and multiple-take gags (though there was that football thing).
Even the easy go-to sketches were better than usual. Last time Kristen Wiig reprised her disastrous-surprise character, it was rote and half-assed, but this time the slapstick actually had some zing; similarly, I was ready to be done with Tiger Woods jokes, but the series of PGA Tour messages from a despondent Jason Sudeikis got the job done. This was also the first episode of the season to (finally) offer a broad showcase for all of the newer, non-Wiig female cast members, like Nasim Pedrad’s appearance on Weekend Update as the fifteenth mistress of Tiger Woods, a more fun grotesque of fame-seeking ditziness than her similar but less fresh Kim Kardashian impression.
Also, Jenny Slate did this:
So that was pretty awesome. Especially if you could fast-forward Bon Jovi to get there.
Episode Grade: B