Archive for January 31st, 2010

Monday Morning Quarterback: SNL Season 35, Episode 13

Jon Hamm’s first gig hosting Saturday Night Live, around this time last year, was held in almost weirdly high regard. It was a decent episode, to be sure, but I feel like most of the appreciation stems from (a.) general Mad Men love, (b.) the fact that January Jones made him look even better in retrospect, and (c.) the hilarious ad for “Jon Hamm’s John Ham.” But as with Justin Timberlake, who hosted a completely mediocre episode that was inexplicably well-liked, only to come back and host a second episode that was nearly as good as everyone thought the first one was, Hamm made a triumphant return to the SNL stage this week, backed by some of the season’s best material.

I was afraid that Hamm’s quick return would mean a lot of clumsy rehashing of what worked about last year’s episode (or maybe even what didn’t), but the writers found an excellent way of sorta-reprising “Jon Hamm’s John Hamm” with “Hamm & Buble,” a pork-and-champagne-themed restaurant based on Hamm’s creepily insistent mispronunciation of musical guest Michael Buble’s name.

Throughout, the show played up Hamm’s capacity for well-dressed menace and/or sleaze, as in an unusually excellent monologue showing clips from his pre-Mad Men career, including a hilarious reference to Martin Lawrence’s ill-fated monologue from some fifteen years ago. I have to give it to Hamm: something about his dashing good looks seems to inspire the writers; they even attempted a second political sketch after the characteristically limp opener about the State of the Union address. The Hamm-assisted riff on newly elected Massachusetts senator-hunk Scott Brown was probably the most inventive political sketch they’ve done since The Rock Obama.

The show got even better and weirder after a strong Weekend Update. For example:

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