Posted by Jesse February 28th, 2010 at 03:36pm In SNL
Jennifer Lopez served as both host and musical guest of Saturday Night Live this week. The last time she pulled double-duty on the show, the episode was delayed forty-five minutes by an XFL game. That’s not a bad Weekend Update joke. That actually happened back in the heady days of 2001, when Chris Kattan was still doing recurring characters and “Love Don’t Cost a Thing” ruled the airwaves.
J-Lo’s career in 2010 isn’t quite at XFL levels, but it’s getting there: she’s parted ways with her music label, her new album is in some amount of limbo (and various states of completion/commercial readiness, depending on how you ask), and her new movie is yet another in a series of romantic comedies, this time from CBS films. The show didn’t bother going after any her career woes, though, instead joshing Quincy Jones and company for the embarrassment of “We Are the World 2” with the apology single “We Are the World 3.” This opening sketch was refreshing on several levels: it recalled the full-cast benefit singalong spoofs of the early nineties, and it broke the show out of its tired single-weak-political-sketch opener (of course, for some reason not having a political opener lately means that the show can’t do any political sketches at all, although given their quality I guess that’s probably not so bad). The female cast members in particular unleashed some uncanny imitations, like Abby Elliot’s Melissa Etheridge and Kristen Wiig’s Gwen Stafani.
Of course, after that it was back to repeating sketches like crazy, with no fewer than five reprisals, including, seriously, the fourth ESPN Classic sketch in fifteen episodes. Sudeikis and Forte get a lot of leeway from me, but when the best part of the sketch by far is Sudeikis flubbing his pronunciation of “vaginal” and having a little fun with it, maybe it’s time to stop giving the Spartan Cheerleaders a run for their money as most-recurred characters ever. Also, I’m not sure if you know this, but Jennifer Lopez has a Latina background, which apparently necessitates a revival of the toothless Univision spoof “Besos y Lagrimos.” Not to be confused with the Telemundo sketch. By the way, did you hear that Jennifer Lopez has a Latina background? Actually, that Telemundo bit with reporters flummoxed by the Winter Olympics, was pretty funny, especially because it will be at least four years before they attempt to repeat it. Probably.
Better choices for revisitation, even if they make the Taylor Lautner episode seem less inventive in retrospect, included Kenan’s “Eternal Spark of Love” sketch, which, if it’s going to become a recurring thing, at least has the advantage of automatically needing two new characters each time it’s done; and Jenny Slate’s doorbell entrepreneur returning with a selection of car horns (my favorite is ambulance: “get out of the way, a baby swallowed a penny!”).
Also, sweet baby Jesus did this make me laugh:
I generally enjoy Armisen’s ridiculous take on David Paterson; having him revive his Upstate New York jokes after a few go-rounds featuring only New Jersey jokes made my night.
So yeah, I did laugh a fair amount, and probably moreso than I expected to while killing time waiting for Zach Galifianakis (with Vampire Weekend!) and Jude Law (with Pearl Jam!) to show up in March. Very little completely died, except maybe J-Lo’s singing; apparently her new direction is more organic, sort of singer-songerwriter meets power ballads, which is a terrible, terrible choice for someone who was a dancer and an actress before she was a singer on account of not being very good at singing.
But as with a lot of recent episodes, it seems to take the show the better part of ninety minutes to reach a point where they write brand-new sketches; once again, the last sketch of the night, in which a little girl is frightened of Smash Mouth appearing in her bedroom at night, was one of the episode’s best. This could’ve easily been a Family Guy style pop culture non-sequitur, but the outdated reference had a kind of deranged commitment and specificity — I loved Lopez and Sudeikis trying to suss out Smash Mouth’s subgenre — that actually made use of the decade or so since Lopez was a huge star. I didn’t even mind how old it made me feel.
Episode Grade: C+/B-, depending on your ability to fast-forward or ignore J-Lo’s singing, and also depending on your expectations for her acting (surpassed! Even though she couldn’t keep still in that car-horn sketch).