Justin Timberlake made his triumphant return to Studio 8H this past weekend, delivering the episode that it felt like SNL and its fans had been waiting for all season long. The affair marked Timberlake’s fifth turn as host, inducting him into the esteemed “Five Timers Club” that includes such SNL luminaries such as Steve Martin, Paul Simon, Alec Baldwin and Tom Hanks. In fact, it was during Hanks fifth hosting appearance in December of 1990 (and before fifteen of Baldwin’s sixteen hosting turns) when we first learned about the existence of the exclusive club, with a young Conan O’Brien (going by the alias “Sean”) presenting Hanks with his club robe. For the first time in just over twenty-two years we revisited this VIP lounge this past Saturday night, with Timberlake receiving his robe from another O’Brien, SNL writer and 7 Minutes in Heavenstar Mike O’Brien. Martin, Simon and Hanks were once again present, as well as fellow club members Chevy Chase and Candice Bergen (and non-club but former cast members Dan Ackroyd and Martin Short). But shockingly absent from the distinguished proceedings was Five Timer Elliott Gould, who helped initiate Hanks back in ’90. Sure, by that time Gould hadn’t hosted for ten years, and hasn’t in the twenty-two since, but once a Five Timer always a Five Timer, right? In fact, Gould was the third host to join the club (behind Buck Henry and Martin), which essentially makes him a charter member. So why then has Gould essentially been excommunicated from Saturday Night Live? Why has someone who was so instrumental and loyal in those early SNL years become a persona non-grata at the Five Timers Club? Was it his role on Friends? A falling out with Don Pardo? Or, perhaps he and his friends stole from Lorne? Most likely, while fellow club members Martin and Baldwin climb higher and higher into the double digits, we’ll never know why Gould has been away for over two decades, whether by banishment or by self-righteous declaration of independence. No matter what though, they can never take away his pool privileges.
Btw, Lindsay Lohan is one hosting appearance away from joining the club. Should she be tapped for that fifth time, expect stricter membership requirements to follow soon after.
This is that time of the year when blogs across the countryweb sit down and decide on the top five or ten or seventeen sketches from the recently concluded season of Saturday Night Live (and we’ve done this too). But, for us, there was one sketch from the 2011-2012 season that stood head and shoulders above the rest.* It was simultaneously the best political satire and pop culture parody and was damn near perfect. And it made us so happy.
*Obviously any Stefon segment is exempt because he’s already been granted emeritus status.
For the last week we’ve been taking a look at NBC’s Thursday night comedies, but with Kristen Wiig’s sendoff on ‘SNL’ this past weekend we decided to add her departure to the conversation.
It’s not worth going into detail about how the season finale of SNL – and the season as a whole – was middling. The Mick Jagger-hosted episode was a hit-or-miss mixed bag which typifies nearly every episode and every season. As we’ve learned from several seasons of recaps and now over a decade-and-a-half of religious viewing, that’s the show. It will never be too far up or too far down, so just try to enjoy it. What is worth discussing, as all of the internet has been doing for the past two days, is the exit of Kristen Wiig after seven stellar seasons, leaving behind a body of work that positions her as arguably the strongest female cast member of all-time.
Four days have passed since Lindsay Lohan returned to host Saturday Night Live, and the benefit of time does nothing to portray her performance in any more of a positive light. Yes, in spite of her wooden, stumbling, at times helpless appearance, the show delivered some of its strongest moments of the season (including Bill Hader reaching new levels of brilliance as both Shephard Smith and James Carville, and an inspired, if somewhat haphazardly placed, “Music of the 70s” commercial parody with a retro-coiffed Jason Sudeikis), but those sketches don’t negate Lohan’s awkward struggle, her 90-minute death march, and nor has almost a week of reflection.
It wasn’t always this way. And that’s why this is so sad, so tragic. There was a time when Lindsay Lohan was a bona fide star, white-hot and electric. The next big thing while simultaneously being the “it” the girl. And, yes, she had curves, but she also had talent. Was she a young Jodie Foster? Outside of the freckles, no. But she had something that a young Jodie Foster did not. Sizzle. Sparkle. That special something.
There’s literally nothing we like more than Saturday Night Live retrospectives. Okay, well, maybe we like pizza, beer, the Muppets, 1986 Mets retrospectives and maps more. But really that’s about it. And it’s close. Which is why we were so extremely disappointed in last week’s “new” two-hour prime-time special SNL Backstage. We were eager for the broadcast all week, making sure to set our DVRs before heading out to Philadelphia for the weekend. We were far more excited about it than any regular episode of SNL all season, save for Jim Carrey’s return. And from those great expectations came a great letdown.
The show was billed as, or so it seemed to us, a look behind the scenes at SNL, which we thought meant going beyond the origin of sketches and past cast changes and instead delving further into the process of the show, bringing us stories and details not found in the previous behind the scenes specials (SNL in the 80s: Lost and Found, SNL in the 90s: Pop Culture Nation, SNL in the 00s: Time and Again). Indeed, judging from the promo, we were going to be treated to some new never heard before insights and, most intriguing to us, a glimpse at how they pull up a live show with so many set and costume changes. What we thought we’d be getting was a truly illuminating look under the hood of SNL, an expose on all its moving parts.
There were several valid options for this one (in fact, the more we think about it, the more we liked that episode), but we’re going to go with the sketch that was far and away our favorite, even though we used a few seconds of it last week. With pleasure, we welcome back Sex Ed Vincent:
To this day we consider Jim Carrey’s May 1996 hosting turn as the best SNL of our generation (with perhaps Alec Baldwin’s November 2006 hosting appearance as the strongest since, but certainly not better), so it was with great excitement that we learned that Carrey will be returning after almost 15 years to host the first SNL of 2011. Set your DVRs for 11:30pm on January 8, kids. If anyone could pull SNL out of its doldrums, it might be Carrey (although, the NBC website might want to get his name spelled name right).
Steve Martin was brave enough to visit the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC yesterday, and Lehrer easily proved that it is, IS, possible to conduct an interesting interview about art (or perhaps Martin felt comfortable that the NPR audience is composed of less angry, elderly Jewish Philistines and more of cultured, respectful, art appreciators).
See? That was informative and entertaining. No one had to lower their level of discourse, and listeners were not lulled to sleep. It can be done!
We guess this means that it’s time for our long-delayed thoughts on Martin’s recent appearance at the 92nd St. Y.