Monday Morning Quarterback: SNL Season 35, Episode 17

Posted by Jesse March 14th, 2010 at 01:55pm In SNL

Jude Law’s second time hosting SNL felt a little light on material. Not, to my surprise, in the usual manner of this season, where half the sketches or more are recurring bits and characters. In fact, tonight only featured two such sketches, and one, the game-show parody “Secret Word,” is relatively reasonable on the SNL repeatability scale. (The return of Fred Armisen’s awful stenographer character tested my SNL completism, as I took advantage of my late watching to fast-forward the hell out of that shit.)

No, what made the show feel thin, I think, was its four different non-live bits: two funny fake ads (one of which I sort of assume was held from another episode, since they haven’t done a proper fake ad in several weeks); another Digital Short that was really a music video for a song already released on the Lonely Island’s Incredibad album last year; and a semi-inexplicable rerun of the (hilarious) “Under-Underground Rock Festival” ad, a longer segment than usually gets re-used. On their own, these segments were funny. So close together, though, they came off as filler.

There were also two bits built around Law’s run as Hamlet on stage last year, the monologue and the audition sketch; and two sketches built around old TV, the aforementioned “Secret Word” and a Twilight Zone riff. None of these were too terrible, and in fact the silly Twilight Zone sketch that put Jude Law into the famous “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” episode with Bobby Moynihan as a mischievous though not particularly destructive gremlin was quite funny. I also enjoyed the odd Vicky Cristina Barcelona semi-spoof, with Jude Law playing a charming Spanish man promising two girls a weekend of beautiful scenery, great food, lovemaking, and murder by poison, and “Talk Show with Ravish,” in which a young Indian boy is pressured to host a talk show rather than become a doctor.

But the good stuff was oddly centerless; while the last two episodes swung wildly between repeat-sketch hackery and oddball invention, this one felt more like an odds-and-ends compilation. Law was funny, but due to the show’s odd pacing and wealth of pre-taped material, he disappeared for long stretches. Further contributing to the unevenness, we saw lots of the featured players, particularly the wonderful Bobby Moynihan, as well as Hader and Kenan, but very little Forte, Samberg, or Sudeikis. Armisen turned up a few times, but mostly sleepwalking. I wonder if they’re subtly preparing for the fact that Armisen and Forte, at least, seem primed to leave the show soon, while Moynihan and the new girls all seem due for a promotion. As much as I adore Forte and admire Armisen, that may be for the best. SNL in 2010 hasn’t been awful (in fact, the Jon Hamm episode was the season peak so far), but by and large, they seem to be stuck in a rut.

Episode Grade: C+


March 2010
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