Saturday Night Live

Season 34 Episode 21

Justin Timberlake/Ciara

Aired Saturday 11:30 PM May 09, 2009 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (6)

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  • A night of way, way too many stars

    A Review by "HelloStuart," Amateur Critic and Beleaguered Mexican Pig Farmer

    I've never cared for Justin Timberlake as a musician per se, but he's a tour de force whenever he appears on SNL. He has an immense presence and he brings out the best in the cast and writers, so it seems fitting that the singer/dancer/actor/puppeteer/shoe cobbler extraordinaire would host the show in the mist of May sweeps. Given that JT has already been on the show three times this season, you'd think he was more of a comedy dilettante than a pop superstar, or at least auditioning to join the cast a la Billy Crystal. Hopefully his bright, shining star (and equally-proportioned ego) doesn't overshadow his musical guest, Texas-bred R&B singer Ciara, or warp the show into a ratings-busting celebrity extravaganza.

    And now, the sketch-by-sketch analysis:

    COLD OPENING: Sec. Timothy Geithner (WF) announces the results of the second bank stress test, a 50-question exam on the state of the American banking system. Problem is the men that control our country's savings aren't fully willing to take this test and treat Geithner like a jittery student teacher. Citigroup thought this is all a joke and answered "Geithner sucks" to all the questions, while GMAC scrawled "taxpayer bailout" across the board. This was a surprisingly subtle yet well-informed stab at the banking industry, an unrepentant jibe at a corrupted multitude and its narcissistic, boys-club mentality.

    MONOLOGUE: Now in his third time hosting (and fourth overall scheduled appearance on SNL), Justin claims that he knows he way around the show and performs a big, sweeping musical number to prove it. Granted, there's been more than a few song-and-dance monologues this season, but the energy that's put into producing and choreographing the numbers makes the repetition well worth it. Plus, it's pretty cool knowing Bill Hader also has a peanut oil allergy.

    "Mom Celebrity Translator": An ad spoof for a handheld device that translates your mother's bungled attempts at looking hip and with-it. Can baby boomers help it if they can't pronounce the ethnicity-friendly surnames of today's stars? This might not have been fully grounded in reality, but it was noble in the attempt.

    "Target Greatland": Apparently, a certain clueless, ADHD-stricken cashier (KW) has a best friend named Peg (JT), a feisty raconteur with a serious neck injury and an impenetrable obliviousness to her surroundings. Her antidotes wrap around the usual Target sturm und drang, from a man buying fertilizer (BM) to a jaded regular customer (KT) who knows the Target Lady inside out.

    "New York Harbor, 1883": Stuck at Ellis Harbor, five Irish immigrants openly ponder the futures of their great-grandchildren, though Cornelius Timberlake (take a wild guess) has the most vivid vision for his descendant. After five minutes of promising to "bring the sexy back" and wholesale confessing to boinking Britney Spears when he was 16, Corny is joined by Rabbi Moishe Samberg (again, guess who) and his similar imaginings.

    DIGITAL SHORT: Speaking of "Antin Samtimberberg," the SNL faithful is treated to a not-wholly-necessary sequel to "**** in a box." This time, the '90s-loving white-soul singers honor Mother's Day by having physical relations with each other's moms. Susan Sarandon and Patricia Clarkson break the celeb-cameo ice as the unwitting MILFs; oddly, it doesn't feel obligatory, as they are hilariously fair game for Justin and Andy's dry-humping. This could've been god-awful, yet the execution was almost perfect.

    "Plasticville": An energetic intern (JT) in a silicone boob costume draws the ire of a fellow mascot (WF) that wants to promote looking good the honest, hard way (i.e. a gym). Yes, this is a rehash of the "Omeletville" and "Homelessville" sketches from Justin's previous hosting stints, and this is precisely what Justin was mocking in the Weekend Update commentary last November. However, his manic energy and clever song parodies are enough to keep you captivated, and Will is atypically understated as Justin's straight man.

    MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: Jessica Biel introduces Ciara and Justin, who perform their hit duet "Love Sex Magic."

    WEEKEND UPDATE: The one-month layoff has been surprisingly kind to Seth, with clever jabs at Air Force One, Manny Ramirez, and same-sex marriage in Maine. The barrage of Sarsgaard-Gyllenhaal wedding jokes? Not so much. Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer (BH) and his unpopular successor David Paterson (FA) join forces as a gonzo comedy team, tossing around a hodgepodge of blind, prostitute, and New Jersey jokes as they shrug off a Republican resurgence in the 2010 elections. Somehow, that commentary upstaged another salvo of cameos. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto drop by to plug the "Star Trek" prequel and address their Trekker harassers (BM, KT), than Leonard Nimoy wanders out of nowhere for reinforcement.

    "Barry Gibb Talk Show": Tonight, Barry (yep, Jimmy Fallon) berates Speaker Pelosi (KW), Roland S. Martin (KT), and an NYU professor (FA) while Robin (JT) just sits there, deep in thought. So, what else is new?

    "Pirates": Complications arise when a shipment of weapons meant for Somalia-based hoodlums (KT, FA) is mixed up with toy guns and plastic swords intended for Disney World cast members (BH, BM, KW, Justin) recreating a certain Johnny Depp movie franchise. That end result, while somewhat predictable, was hilarious; Kristen evokes George Peppard circa "The A-Team" as her fellow actors feign injuries and their heterosexuality, while the Somali pirates look like buffoons.

    MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: "Never Ever" is another 80s-style synth-heavy dance tune, this time built around a Harold Melvin sample.

    For a night heavy on long sketches, the show went by like a breeze. Some of the common pitfalls of an average live show were nowhere to be found tonight –the anemic ten-to-one sketch, for example- yet retained several other unsurprising twists, but for once it benefitted the show rather than bring it down. The potpourri of cameos was expected, and again it was more delightful than hindering. When recurring characters and impressions were brought onstage, they didn't just rehash their old shtick, but rather had something new to say. (Okay, maybe not "Barry Gibb Talk Show," but every rule has its exception.) In short, tonight's show was wonderful in ways that it wouldn't normally be.

    Segments That Will Probably Be Removed in Repeats: everything after Update.

    Next week, the joy ride that has been Season 34 comes to an end when all-time great Will Ferrell hosts with musical guest Green Day.

    "HelloStuart" has been writing reviews of SNL episodes since 2003. Contact him at, or leave him a PM if it's more convenient.
  • Timberlake lived up to my expectations!

    I love seeing Justin Timberlake on Saturday Night Live. Whenever he's on SNL, he never EVER plays the straight man like all the other hosts! He's always the comic! Every single sketch made me giggle. I definitely burst out when Jimmy Fallon returned to do another installment of "The Barry Gibb Talk Show". The mascot segment was always a riot. I'm also glad that the Digital Short was a follow up to "D**k in a Box" and was just as funny.

    On Weekend Update, I really loved Seth Meyers' "can-you-top-that-joke" treatment of Maggie Gyllenhaal's marriage. I was also surprised when Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and Leonard Nimoy came on in promotion of the new Star Trek movie.
  • Publicly, they'll claim to be virgins, but, privately, he hit it.

    Wow, it's the home stretch already. May Sweeps is closing the season out in style with JT this week, then Will Ferrell next week. Musical guest is Ciara.

    Making it quick, I'm expecting a pretty good show tonight. May I also note that this is the first show since when I first started watching that I did not stay up for the whole episode. I was on a family trip. But, do not fear. I DVRed the rest.

    The Bank Address: Will's Geithner comes back for showing how they're doing. The responses to the questions were very funny, and it's just hilarious to watch Forte do these.

    Monologue: A pretty great monologue, if you ask me. Justin just walks around the studio running into cast members and even Lorne. It's just reminding us that Justin isn't unfamiliar with SNL. Especially after this season, next to Tina Fey, he can probably be a honorable mentioned cast member.

    Mom's Celebrity Translator: This was a pretty average commercial parody, along with all the others this season, save for Jar Glove, which, I found, pretty funny.

    Target Greatland: I know many are tired of this sketch, and yes, Kristen alone carrying this sketch has ran it's course even before the LAST time Justin hosted. But, Target sketches are now used as a focus saying "look how good this host is" rather than "look how good Kristen is", which is the way it should have gone. Just like Affleck back in November, this sketch was revived successfully once again with Justin as a hilarious old lady.

    The New World: A very funny sketch, if you ask me. My summary sentence basically tells my favorite part of the sketch, but other wise, this was hilarious. The "Jew" line at the end towards Samberg made me laugh too, especially with Andy's reaction being "there it is."

    MotherLover: Thank GOD they did not do **** in a box again. I was afraid they were going to do that. A very sudden hilarious change in pace. The appearances by Sarandon and Clarkson were great too. The performances by all 4 were gold.

    Plasticville: In what you think is going to be that same old annoying sketch, the mascot takes it to a whole new level with parodies of some of the current top pop songs (Lady GaGa, Kelly Clarkson, etc.) Very enjoyable.

    Musical Perforamance: Beil's appearance was exciting. Other than that, I've never digged Ciara.

    Weekend Update: Jokes were great, and so was the Star Trek commentary with the two current cast members and Leonard Nimoy! But, honestly, the best part was the Spitzer/Paterson commentary. Man, was that just great hilarity.

    Barry Gibb Talk Show: In what is shaping up to be a great show, it takes a bit of a dive when Fallon stars with Justin in this almost dead recurring sketch. As I went to bed I knew there would be one after Update, but I figured "well, they just revived 3 other Justin recurring characters. They're on a stride", but honestly, they did not revive this. Same old sketch.

    Pirates: This was a really silly sketch. Everyone in this was just so funny, even the random Michaela as the telemarketer.

    Musical Performance: mhm.

    And, here, we see the band start a song for 5 seconds. I guess it's fair. It would be hard for SNL to cut another sketch into 5 seconds.

    And that's the show. Aside from the Barry Gibb Talk Show, and the musical guest, and the awkward band segueway, this was a really good show! Justin brought his A-Game as usual. A bunch of recurring characters which have been speculated as characters that no one wants to see were actually pleasures to see (once again, aside from Barry).

    If Justin hosts again, though, which he will, I really hope they don't go for all the recurring characters again. I mean, at least not the 90s pop lovers, and Barry Gibb talk show. I guess the mascot still has a little left in him, though. But, maybe new characters would be good.

    But, I shall not worry about that right now. All that matters is that tonight was a fun show.

    Next week is our season finale. Will Ferrell hosts with musical guest Green Day!
  • Justin Timberlake is back

    An amusing episode. The plasticville songs were pretty funny. The target woman was terrible, as well as the Barry Gibb talk show. JT and Andy Samberg were hilarious in the Mother Lovers song. Not as good as D*** in a Box, but still a highlight. The boat sketch was okay, JT's future was predictable and a bit funny, but what I liked was the Rabbi as Andy Samberg's great-grandfather. Ciara is very talented, and her dancing skills showed in Love, Sex, Magic. I would have liked to see JT dance too, but i guess that didn't happen. The WU was ok, but I'm getting tired of David Paterson. Where's Air Force was funny as a news story. Geithner's monologue was funny. JT's song was an interesting way of opening the show, but it was made him seem overrated.
  • Tonight JT solidified his reputation as the most overrated host. He brings nothing new to the show and his infamous "energy" is easily overshadowed by his equally infamous ego.

    Geithner Address – As somebody who has been following the banking scandal and the not-so-stressful tests with great interest, I liked this sketch. The sketch kept it simple and didn't focus on the questionable assumptions in the test. Good representation of the general level of the cluelessness of the banks and their contempt for anything remotely approaching regulation. Grade: B

    Timberlake Monologue – Justin sings during the monologue. I didn't see that coming. It's kind of an amusing backstage sketch. The best part was the "wardrobe malfunction" reference when he yanked off part of Kristen's dress. Grade: B-

    Celebrity Name Translator – Mildly amusing commercial of a situation we have probably all experienced. The product was clever and the parts were well played. Grade: B+

    Target Lady – The JT episodes are becoming too predictable. I guess we should hold him accountable for bringing back this sketch since the host has a lot of input on what sketches air and this one was on last time. I found this to be the worst of this horrible recurring sketch. Nothing funny here and a terrible choice for the first post-monologue live sketch. Grade: F

    Coming to America - I guess you gotta be a JT fan to love such an ego piece as this one. Nothing more than a recounting of his life under the guise of a sketch. What's with all of the little girls screaming in this episode anyway? When Andy walked out it was if Brad Pitt just stepped on stage. The only good part was when Bobby asked it would lessen the excitement if JT kept reappearing on the same show. If they keep doing crappy sketches, then yes it definitely lessens the excitement. Grade: D-

    Mother Lover digital short – The DIAB guys are back but not quite reformed. Doing each other's mother as a Mother's Day gift is a funny concept and the video was well done. Not as shocking or catchy as Dick but still pretty good. Love the Susan Sarandon cameo. Grade: A-

    Plasticville – Wow, what a surprise! They bring back the street singer. It was funny the first time when JT was an omelet, but they have bled this turnip dry. Even Forte looked bored with this one. The refrain "Bring it on down to Plasticville" seems forced and is no longer funny. Grade: D

    Weekend Update - The jokes were decent especially the Photoshop jokes. Patterson is definitely getting old but it was much more tolerable to see him together with Spitzer. Hader and Armisen make a good comedy duo. Even though I love Star Trek and Spock is my favorite all-time TV character, I winced at the obvious paid promotion during Weekend Update. Even more obvious, the "commentary" was immediately followed by a Star Trek commercial. Grade: B+

    Barry Gibb Show – And no JT template show is complete without the highly annoying Barry Gibb Show. As usual, buddy Fallon returns but this time without Drew or Cameron. Grade: F

    Somalian Pirates - Perhaps the only really original sketch tonight and easily my favorite. The idea that the shipments got mixed up between the real pirate and the Disney pirates is a good one. And it was well played by all. Kenan makes a great pirate and JT seems natural as a gay pirate (Orlando's character). Grade: A
  • JT doesn't bring laughs back to SNL.

    I think the 1883 Ellis Island sketch hit the nail on the head. His frequent appearances do lessen the excitement and I went a good half hour without laughing. The cold opening continues to be childish and the recurring Timberlake sketches are as overdone as can be. I don't want to see anybody dancing to "Poker Face" on national TV.

    I think the problem is that this felt more like an ego stroke than an attempt to recreate past glory and really get people laughing during Saturday Night Live again. Ah well, hopefully Will Ferrell is better than this next week.
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