SNL #34.22 with Justin Timberlake, Ciara

Or should I say, SNL #34.22 with Justin Timberlake, Jimmy Fallon, Susan Sarandon, Patricia Clarkson, Zachary Quinto, Chris Pine, Leonard Nimoy and Ciara? After some time away, Saturday Night Live returned with a flurry of celebrity cameos, as if to remind us that to be culturally relevant, you need to not only watch this show, but also appear upon it.

But first. We opened cold with politics (and considering everyone in politics and the press was in D.C. celebrating at the White House Correspondents Dinner, it may be a day or two before they pick up on any of this). Will Forte as Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner announces the feds decided to issue a written test to banks in addition to the "stress test," but had difficulties coming up with a fair grading system. The result may be obvious, but the writers had more fun with the false answers some of the banks penciled in for the 50-question test. Watch:

Now then…onto the show. Justin Timberlake took his third turn as SNL host, but if you think he has been on much more than that, well, you're right, because Timberlake has made multiple cameos in the past year. He is so, so comfortable there. So comfortable, in fact, that as he sang his opening monologue, he had a quick comeback for a fan's shout-out, and hopped into the lap of…who was that, again? Guy looked liked a cross between George Clooney and Jon Hamm, without being either of them. Weird. Moving on. I think the cast of SNL gets as excited for writing for and performing with Timberlake as he does for joining them. How does this excitement translate into comedy?

Ad spoof is timely, and spot-on. Happy Mother's Day! Would you like a Mom Celebrity Translator? (Note: My mother has gotten much better at ID'ing celebrities since I got into the businesses of entertainment and journalism) Most of the cast gets to help sell it. It even works backward!

Target Lady (Kristen Wiig) is back, weirding out customers (Bobby Moynihan, Abby Elliott, Kenan Thompson) and chatting it up with her friend "Peg" (Timberlake in drag). His "classic Peg" manages to mimic Wiig's manic shake-shake.

The Ellis Island sketch has Timberlake, Moynihan, Forte, Bill Hader and Casey Wilson standing on a boat, wishing upon the hopes and future American dreams of their great-great grandchildren. It spins instantly when we find that Timberlake is playing his own great-great grandfather, predicting his own fate. A millionaire through singing pop songs in a female voice? Having him explain this to people in the 1880s, it sounds like crazy talk. The audience whoops for perhaps too long at his reference to having sex with Britney Spears, there's an insidery joke about his appearances on SNL, and even an allusion to him being a bisexual? Andy Samberg pops up in the end, and somehow they go from great-grandfathers to grandfathers. Whoops.

OK, people. This is probably what you all were waiting for. Samberg and Timberlake do a sequel to "Dick in a Box." This time, the SNL Digital Short opens "five months later" at the jail in downtown Brooklyn — conveniently located mere blocks from The Comic's Comic HQ, which only makes me frustrated that I didn't walk past while they were filming any of this — and they forgot to get their mothers gifts for Mother's Day. They have their boxes when they leave the jail, but that's not what they have in mind. Nope. They want to make love to each other's mother (and when they're played by Susan Sarandon and Patricia Clarkson, it makes it OK, right?). There's a lot more going on musically in this song, although not as instantly catchy as the original. Then again, they had plenty of time to work on this one. It's offensive, but just enough funny lines thrown in to keep it from the fail bin.

If you enjoyed Timberlake out-sing Santa (Forte) a couple of seasons ago when he took you down to Homelessville as a cup of soup, then you'll enjoy seeing them return in a different motif. Forte plays a dumbbell (ha!) trying to get folks to sign up for the gym. Timberlake, as a breast implant (34DD), wants you to bring yourself down to Plasticville. Forte ups his singing game; Timberlake even more so, as he and the writers have come up with jingles covering several current top 40 singles. Did "Weird Al" join the writing staff this week?

Jessica Biel shows up to introduce Ciara for her first song, which just so happens to be that Love Sex Magic song she does with Timberlake, who's on the backing vocals and keyboards. Turns out I do love sex. Magic!

Weekend Update, after a few weeks off, tried to play catch up. Case in point: You could have Photoshopped Air Force One with the Statue of Liberty. Then again, a lot of Photoshopping going on in Update. Then again, nothing like a dick joke to get the crowd on your side. But Update is all about the guests. First up, Fred Armisen's blindly offensive yet funny take on N.Y. Gov. David Patterson, joined by the ex-Gov. Spitzer (Hader), and the pair focus their aim on New Jersey. Meh. The "high five" was stupid, but also funny. "Horndog and Blurry"! If only they didn't still let Armisen wander in front of the camera (though having Hader join him made it less in poor taste, this time):

Let's see. Everyone in America has been talking about Star Trek, so it only made sense for the new Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto) to show up, right? Too soon for them to bash on Trekkies (played by Thompson and Moynihan). More like, too contrived. Especially with the "surprise" interruption by Leonard Nimoy.

Speaking of trying too hard, let's talk about the return of The Barry Gibb Talk Show, shall we? Timberlake welcomes Jimmy Fallon back briefly into the SNL fold. While Timberlake focused on doing his best Robin Gibb, Fallon worked harder in his six minutes than he has in a couple of months on his own NBC talk show. Oh, Thompson, Armisen and Wiig are also in this sketch as their celebrity guests, but Fallon dominates the sketch both verbally and physically that you probably forget who they were playing.

It's getting late, but SNL takes on the Somalian pirates in an amusing way, having them get their weapons shipment mixed up with the DisneyWorld cast for Pirates of the Caribbean. Armisen and Thompson in Somalia get stuck with toys and call customer service (Michaela Watkins). Moynihan, Wiig, Hader and Timberlake get real assault guns in DisneyWorld. Timberlake and Hader play their roles as gay actors who'd rather be on Broadway? Wiig's character flips out, but not in the way you'd expect from her (hooray!). And Sudeikis, as the straight man, handles his sarcastic lines with ease. Forte, meanwhile, isn't afraid of getting his boat hijacked. Unsurprisingly, this sketch likely will not make it to the Internets in a legal manner.

Ciara chose Never Ever as her second song.

Someone messed up in the timing department, because instead of a final sketch, we get a short interlude from the band between the final commercial breaks. That's our ballgame! Did you notice a lack of Darrell Hammond in this week's episode? Transition almost complete. And yes, Leonard Nimoy did wave goodbye with Vulcan fingers. We noticed that, plus Jimmy Fallon showing off his new college diploma. See you next week for the finale with Will Ferrell!

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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3 thoughts on “SNL #34.22 with Justin Timberlake, Ciara

  1. Good summary. I have to say that you could have summed this whole episode as just lazy. It was a complete rehash of the other timberlake episodes. Up to this point I had been shockingly impressed with JT on SNL, but good lord must they rehash everything? However hearing Leonard Nimoy say dickhead made it almost worth while!

  2. Can Justin Timberlake make a better appearance in SNL than he had with his you know what in the box? a great and funny clip that I’ll never forget 🙂

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