Saturday Night Live

Season 29 Episode 17

Janet Jackson

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Aired Saturday 11:30 PM Apr 10, 2004 on NBC
7.9
out of 10
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25 votes
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Janet Jackson
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Live from New York, it's... Janet Jackson! Sketches include "Cheney and Condoleezza Rice," "Brian Fellow's Safari Planet," "Starkisha in the Ticket Line," "SNL Easter Song," "The Prince Show," "Cork Soakers," "Good Times," and "Boom Boomer." The host/musical guest performed "Strawberry Bounce" and "All Nite (Don't Stop)."

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • The Further Adventures of Flippy the Flip-Flopper, or, Flashes of Inspiration

    6.0
    "...and an amateur critic shall lead them" (HelloStuart 19:84)



    After surviving the Chinese water torture of last's week Donald Trump debacle, I suddenly find my creative juices feeling strangely invigorated. Maybe this might have something to do with this being the seventeenth episode of the season, as that happens to be my lucky number. Either that or I can smell a good episode that can cleanse my palate. Of course, I'm not completely concerned about writing two or three reviews a month; I am worried, however, that I'm getting repetitive.



    Tonight's host is none other than controversy-monger Janet Jackson, she of sunburst nipple piercing fame. Also serving as musical guest is scrutinized pop star Janet Jackson, who may or may not be the same person. Fondly remembering the near-genius of the Justin Timberlake episode of six months ago (only?), I hope her first SNL appearance in ten years can salvage this lopsided season. Oh yeah, and rumor has it Simon Cowell of American Idol fame is supposed to drop by (damn you, spoilers!).



    And now, let's rip -er, zip- our way to the sketch-by-sketch analysis:



    COLD OPENING: The caption on the screen reads "9 AM Thursday Morning" or something like that, so we know this going to be a political sketch. We open to Dickie Cheney (DH) chatting with El Presidente on the phone, mostly because the show is currently lacking a real Bush impersonator. Dubya calls John Kerry some weird nicknames, and then Dick hangs up. And then who should walk in but Condi Rice (Janet), who gets some awkward advice: flash a "funbag" during her testimony later in the day. In a sly homage to her last live television appearance, Janet/Condi somehow flashes (and gets pixilated) with her flesh-tone bra still intact. A breast above the rest.



    MONOLOGUE: Janet starts off by reminding everybody that her family is very much a normal and happy one, and shows old family films to prove her point. In what happens to be some very authentic-looking films (kudos to James Signorelli), we learn that some members of the Jackson family were ostracized for not having talent, and then we see a very young Janet have a "swimsuit malfunction." Simply put, I liked this intro- it was funny without selling her family out.



    "Brian Fellow's Safari Planet": What the f***? Now that it seems that he has no place to go (especially now that his sitcom is unofficially cancelled), Tracy Morgan nabs a little screen time to justify his sad propensity to continue hanging around Studio 8H. He does seem chipper, however, as he fanaticizes flying around on a carpet with a talking squirrel and his comely guardian (Janet). And, as previous accounts will tell you, it interferes with his chat with a French Poodle expert (WF). Personally, it didn't really do anything for me until Brian kissed Forte just before commercial break.



    "Ticket Booth": Remember the BAP-alicious Starkisha (FM) from the Halle Berry episode? Well, she's back, and now "she" and her alienating friends are giving three Janet Jackson fans (AP, CP, KT) headaches while waiting in line for concert tickets. Despite my campaign to see Finesse appear in more sketches, it's suffice to say he's wasted here, as a scalper brings an awkward, though much-needed end to this sketch. Oh, and am I imagining things or did I hear Janet utter the s-word at least once?



    "An Easter Treat from SNL": My buddy in Massachusetts (from what I know, he's the only person in the state who's not in a gay marriage) must've gotten a kick out of this. Not only do we have Morgan hopping about tonight, but Chris Kattan's career must've gone stagnant as well, so he's appearing too. Reprising the "band" they formed with Fallon & Sanz, they perform a song about Easter that sounds almost exactly like that other song they play. Then we learn that there's an ulterior motive to their little boogie: they're performing for Simon Cowell, who gives them a much needed-criticism. After "Ho" tells him that he's a jackass, Simple Simon breaks down, and he joins them onstage to play the maracas. And like they have several times tonight, the audience eats it up.



    MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: I always have problems trying to figure out the name of each song the musical guest performs, as I tend to steer away from Top 40 radio stations. All I can say for now is that Tracy Morgan introduced Janet, the song may or not have been called "All Night," and that the choreography was really goofy.



    WEEKEND UPDATE: Despite the obligatory "Bush am dumb" jokes, this was one of the better Updates of the past year. It was almost as if there was not a single joke that bombed; the accuracy of the jokes could be best described as pinpoint. One highlight would be Maya Rudolph's turn at playing Condi Rice, suggesting that she might be herself a BAP. But that doesn't mean it had its flaws tonight: Jimmy made a borderline-offensive joke about the Jews that utilized a really bad Woody Allen impression, and later he sang the "theme song" to the non-existent James Bond film "Jeweleye," in homage to a weird craze in Europe. On the bright side, Finesse rebounds from the Starkisha sketch with a hilariously sad portrayal of fed-up "Tonight Show" bandleader Kevin Eubanks.



    "The Prince Show": I had a feeling they would turn this into a recurring sketch. Big Purple (FA) and his lovely co-host Beyonce Knowles (MR) force a bubbly Paula Abdul (Janet) to pose for a painting, while Johnson Family Vacation star Steve Harvey (KT) shows us why he's one of Hollywood's most overrated comedians. And best of all, you have Prince showing off all of his weird and borderline libidinous quirks.



    "Cork Soakers": Hey kids, let's have a play on words! A small army of tourists (led by Janet and CP) visit an Italian villa bearing a strong resemblance to where a wine tasting was held during the Jack Black/John Mayer episode, and the workers regale them with stories of soaking cork. While you would expect a sketch similar to, say, "Colonel Angus" in Season 28, for some reason this didn't work of me. And then I realized something- I'm not 15 anymore.



    MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: More theatrics, huh? Well, if you want to make a multiethnic homage to "Cabaret," make sure you find a better song than "Strawberry Bounce," all right?



    "Good Times": Hey, a 70's sitcom parody. And what do you know- you not only have the original Penny Woods hosting, but you have enough black actors to sustain the entire cast! It was fascinating to watch, what with Tracy Morgan and Kenan Thompson doing dead-on impressions of Florida and Bookman, though JB Smoove's JJ was best kept in the background. Though if I had to carp, I would say the sketch ran longer than it should have.



    "Boom Boomer": I guess this sketch would explain Tom Davis' name in tonight's credits. It's the 1970's (still, apparently), and a group of friends are playing a parlor game that makes sense to everyone except the host of the party (CP). Lucky for him, he was a surplus of coke in the other room, and his high not only improves his game but also ruins it for everyone else.



    As I bring this review to a close, I will admit that I was flabbergasted by how much of a trooper Janet was as host. You would have imagined her wrapped in a ball like an armadillo, but instead she managed to roll with the punches. After the cast nearly sold out themselves with Donald Trump, they controlled their destiny and actually put in a decent effort. True, the cameos by Kattan and Cowell were on the brink of pointlessness, but Tracy Morgan seemed to carry some weight in the three sketches he appeared in. And a special message to the NAACP: please help me find a way to stop referring to black female characters as "BAPs." It's enough that they had to make a cruddy Halle Berry movie out of it.



    Sketches That Will Probably Be Removed For Reruns: "Strawberry Bounce," "Good Times," and "Boom Boomer."



    In 3 Weeks: Former child actress (and Tina Fey cohort) Lindsay Lohan promotes "Mean Girls," while R&B star Usher Raymond melts you with his rhymes.



    The writer formerly known as "Heystu" is based in Downer's Grove, Illinois. He is commonly described by his friends as an "ugly John Corbett." He does not tape past or present episodes of SNL for renting, borrowing, or selling. Contact this big ol' cuddly bear at sma17kc@netscape.net.moreless
Janet Jackson

Janet Jackson

Herself

Guest Star

Simon Cowell

Simon Cowell

Himself

Guest Star

Chris Kattan

Chris Kattan

Himself

Recurring Role

Tracy Morgan

Tracy Morgan

Himself

Recurring Role

JB Smoove

JB Smoove

JJ Walker

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (3)

    • During the Winery skit, "Soaking Corks", it looks like Janet is the ONLY one nervous about flubbing her lines, and keeps breaking up because of it. Rachel Dratch is the only other actor to mess up/flub her lines, and it has nothing to do with "cork soaking".

    • In the cold opening, Condeleezza Rice accidentally addresses Dick Cheney as "Mr. President", instead of "Mr. Vice President".

    • Since Janet Jackson was the host and musical guest, Tracy Morgan and Jimmy Fallon announced her two musical performances.

  • QUOTES (10)

    • Tina Fey: Ingvar Kamprad, the Swedish man who founded Ikea, has overtaken Bill Gates as the world's richest man, with a fortune of $53 billion dollars. He plans to use the money to finally buy some nice furniture.

    • Jimmy Fallon: On Tuesday, the Alabama senate voted to make whiskey the official state spirit. This replaces Alabama's old official state spirit, racism.

    • Tina Fey: This Wednesday marked the 100th anniversary of New York's Times Square. To celebrate, a bunch of tourists got in everyone's way.

    • Tina Fey: Bravo is planning a spinoff of "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" called "Queer Eye for the Straight Girl," in which a group of gay men will help a heterosexual woman confirm her fears that she's fat and disgusting.

    • Tina Fey: The renowned Carnegie Deli failed its third health inspection in three months this week.
      Jimmy Fallon: Oh man, I love the Carnegie. That's where they have those huge sandwiches named after celebrities. You know, they got a sandwich named after me, the Jimmy Fallon.
      Tina Fey: Yeah, it's 170 pounds of ham with a bad haircut.

    • Male Tourist: Um.. could you teach me how to soak cork?
      Giuseppe: You know.. when-a you walked in here.. I could-a sworn you already an expert cork soaker!
      Male Tourist: (flattered) Thank you! I dabbled in college. Um.. but, let me ask you this - do you ever run out of corks to soak?
      Marcello: Oh, yeah, I'll never forget this one that was unusually large. And I thought Giuseppe would need extra cork.
      Giuseppe: And I thought Marcello would need more corks.
      Marcello: So we soaked-a each other's corks at the same time! (to Giuseppe) Do you remember that?
      Giuseppe: Can you imagine that? Me-a soaking his cork.. while-a he soaked mine?
      Marcello: Oh, boy!

    • Giuseppe: Monica.. tell-a these-a nice-a people.. how you soak the cork.
      Monica: Well, ever since I started soaking cork, I'm the most popular girl in school!
      Marcello: It's-a true - men come-a from all over just to watch her soak a cork. And Grandma Carmella still-a soaking cork at age 87! I got to say that, too!
      Carmella: (speaking with her gums) It's crazy! Ever since I lost my teeth, people tell me I soak the cork better than ever!
      Female Tourist: Wow, this soaking corks really seems like a family business. So.. does your wife like soaking.. (laughing) ..s-s-soaking cork?
      Marcello: Well.. she used to, when we were dating. Now, not so much.

    • Female Tourist: (stumbling, on the verge of cracking up) So, how did you learn to sork.. corks -- suck -- soak corks?
      Marcello: You know, I'll never forget the first time I soaked-a cork. I was fifteen, in-a summer camp.

    • Giuseppe: The great-a thing about the cork soaking, is that while you are-a soaking the cork, you can also.. massage-a the grapes, until the cork is ready. (holds up a bunch of grapes)

    • Female Tourist: So.. are all corks the same?
      Marcello: No, no, no..
      Cork Soaker #1: I like-a to soak the big-a, thick-a corks!
      Luigi: I like-a the long-a, skinny ones.
      Cork Soaker #2: I like-a the dark-a ones.

  • NOTES (10)

    • The episode won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Technical Direction, Camerawork, Video for a Series.

    • This was the most-watched broadcast of the 29th season.

    • Staff writer J.B. Smoove is uncredited for his appearance in the "Good Times" sketch. The former "Cedric the Entertainer Presents" star played JJ Walker to Janet Jackson's Penny.

    • Arrested Development star Jason Bateman was in the audience for the live show. He hosted SNL a year later.

    • Sketches not shown in the 60 minute version : "Brian Fellow's Safari Planet," "Cork Soakers," "The Prince Show," "Boom Boomer," and Janet Jackson's performance of "Strawberry Bounce."

    • The producers begged Simon Cowell to host this episode, but he declined the offer. He eventually gave in to making a "special guest" appearance.

    • A sketch featuring Amy Poehler's recurring character Kaitlin having a sleepover for a popular girl (played by Janet Jackson) was cut after dress rehearsal. A redone version can be found on the Lindsay Lohan/Usher episode.

    • A sketch called "Control" was cut after dress rehearsal. It featured Fred Armisen and Chris Parnell trying to convince Janet Jackson to let them use her song 'Control' for an adult diaper commercial. She declines.

    • Simon Cowell was cut from Weekend Update after the dress rehearsal in a bit where he played Tina Fey's emotionally abusive boyfriend.

    • This episode marks Tracy Morgan's second cameo this season and Chris Kattan's third.

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