It’s December 2011, and just like Jimmy Fallon and Saturday Night Live had predicted many years ago, Fallon is back as the host. Fallon has returned a couple of times previously in cameos to join Justin Timberlake in the Barry Gibb Talk Show sketches, but this is different. For one thing, we knew in advance that a few of Fallon’s cohorts from a decade ago would join him in a mini-reunion (thanks, Twitter). We just didn’t know how many of them would show up. How many? A lot.
Right from the top in the cold opening, we’re taken back to SNL past as Sully (Fallon) and Denise (Rachel Dratch) — the Boston Southie loudmouths who document their hard-partying ways via VHS — attempt to sneak into their vocational high school’s party. Dratch is on point. And Amy Poehler makes a surprise appearance. But something is off with Fallon’s delivery tonight. Is he not into it, or is he playing it as an older, mature version of Pat Sullivan? Argue your positions!
Fallon is really into the monologue, though. So clearly honored to be back and to be hosting. And give him a guitar and he’s even more comfortable. And willing to make fun of his history of laughing during the live shows when he was younger. I wonder if the cast had their pick of Christmas sweaters, of if they held a draft lottery for them?
I wish this Capital One ad were a fake SNL ad. Who doesn’t want more cash. Really.
Who’s happier to be mocked more by SNL: Kathie Lee Gifford or Hoda Kotb? That’s a meta-level inquiry, as the Today Show sketches tend to focus on how Gifford (Wiig) torments Kotb (Nasim Pedrad) at every turn, and how cartoonish Gifford acts on camera. But wait. Here comes Regis Philbin (Fallon) out of retirement, and before you know it, he has pushed Kotb aside to reunite with Gifford, for old time’s sake.
Michael Buble is singing, but not as the musical guest. He’s in a sketch shilling a Christmas duets CD. With Sting (Fallon), Taylor Swift (Wiig in constant surprise face mode), Justin Bieber (Fallon), M.I.A. (Pedrad), Russell Brand (Fallon again). And Ke$ha (Abby Elliott), Scotty McCreery (Taran Killam). Thom Yorke (Fred Armisen), Lady Gaga (a tree?), Kanye West (Jay Pharoah). Pleasantly surprised both by Fallon’s Russell Brand impersonation, as well as Killam’s one-note McCreery (did you know that that kid won American Idol? He did! Soul Patrol, the prequel!).
Hello, production assistant! Now we’re taken “backstage” with Fallon in his dressing room. Giving himself a pep talk in the mirror during the show. With Andy Samberg as his mirror counterpart. Dueling impersonations. And mirror exercises. Um. OK. But why so early in the show? This seemed more like an end-of-the-night sketch.
Who buys themselves two Kindles, and why? Discuss. In better advertising news, season two of Portlandia is almost here on IFC. Yay! Such a great use of Fred Armisen outside of SNL. Anyhow.
And we’re back. With that old-timey dinner party sketch in which Kristen Wiig keeps saying, to no one’s appeal, “Don’t make me sing!” This time she’s joined by Fallon, who asks, “Don’t make me dance.” Did people like this sketch the first time around? Or was this a personal request by Fallon? Either way, you can skip past this. You’re not missing much. Don’t make me write more about this.
What’s this? An ad for an off-Broadway one-man show, “Half-Jewish, Half-Italian, Completely Neurotic,” starring Tommy Palmese (Armisen)? Sounds plausible. Let’s see how this goes. Hey. You there. Reading this or watching TV online or on TV. You do realize that not all one-person shows are crap, right? Because this sketch does not send out that message. So please don’t let this discourage you from seeing one. Just make sure it’s a good one. OK. Public service announcement over.
We knew last week that Fallon was going to do his Christmas song with the old gang (Horatio Sanz, Chris Kattan and Tracy Morgan) thanks to Twitter. Did this reunion make you smile? It made the live studio audience roar in approval at the start. Morgan looks like he was forced into this. Sanz looks great. Kattan looks, well, he looks like he’s craning his face to stay in the shot. They could have been a little bit more joyful about the whole thing. Or maybe they really did want it to be Christmas today, and were mad that it wasn’t. And that there’s no snow in New York City. I don’t know. I can’t put words in their mouths.
Michael Buble sang “Holly Jolly Christmas” for his first performance of the evening.
Things got really dynamic, however, during Weekend Update. Both Tina Fey and Amy Poehler joined Fallon and Seth Meyers behind the desk, representing the past decade of Update all in one sitting.
But first, Nicolas Cage (Andy Samberg) sat down with real-life Jude Law. What movie is he promoting, again? And do you like his beard better than mine? Burning questions. Oh, the Sherlock Holmes sequel. That’s right.
Joke off! And also sound-effects off! Aw, hugs and kisses all around.
Beethoven wants to introduce his band, er, I mean, orchestra to us. Which reminds us that with all of these mini-reunions happening tonight, it’s left little room for the current cast to shine. They’re left in the background. Literally.
This regional theater production of “War Horse” cannot afford giant puppets. So Jimmy Fallon is the horse? At least Bill Hader, Jason Sudeikis, Taran Killam and Kenan Thompson get something to do here. Silly, yes. But silly good? That’s for you to decide.
Unexplained musical interlude? That can only mean one thing. Somebody screwed up the timing. Live TV, people!
Once again, Michael Buble. This time, he’s singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”
It’s late in the fourth quarter of the show. Which means it’s Tebow Time! Taran Killam does Tebow, while Sudeikis shows up at Jesus. And he gives praise…to the kicker? And Tom Brady. With a slight dig on Mormons, I’m surprised the religious people are making a big deal about the Christian aspect of this sketch.
Good nights from the Rockefeller Center ice rink? That’s a new one! Fallon told fans afterward that the bee costume he was sporting had belonged to Bill Murray. Fun fact.
People — media and otherwise — in my social media feeds mostly raved about this episode. Don’t let nostalgia cloud your judgment too much, though. Because nostalgia fueled a lot of tonight’s SNL.
Well, that does it for 2011. See you in 2012 with the next new episodes.