OPENING — CSPAN — OBAMA AND HU JINTAO PRESS CONFERENCE — 2
Wow, SNL decided to shake things up a bit by having a political sketch open the show. Fred Armisen does his usual bang up (and by bang up, I mean car crash) job of impersonating a bad impersonator of Obama. Will Forte plays Hu Jintao, with Nasim Pedrad playing his interpreter. Using her as an interpreter to do the jokes with Forte talking over her just makes the sketch a headache. The only joke seems to be variations on China saying “if you’re screwing us, at least (kiss me, buy me dinner, etc.) first.” Absolutely a train wreck. The worst kind of political humor, hitting you over the head with a lame joke time and time and time again.
MONOLOGUE — JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT — 6
Hey, it’s the kid from Third Rock From the Sun, still looking like a kid. Gordon-Levitt does Make It Laugh from Singin’ In the Rain on a set that looks a lot like the one from the movie. It’s energetic, and there is a bit of silliness with Bobby Moynihan (ugh) showing up to show his disapproval. But it seems more a demonstration of what Gordon-Levitt’s athletic prowess is than a decent monologue.
2012 — Movie Trailer –10
What is the disaster of 2012 that will end the earth? Without giving too much away, let’s just say it is the election. Funny usage of existing footage to recut a new 2012 trailer.
SECRET WORD — 3
Two sets of contestants without a clue try to guess a secret word, like in the game show password. Hasn’t SNL done both the game show and the clueless game show contestant bit into the ground? Why yes, they have. Yawn.
SNL DIGITAL SHORT — ANDY AND REBA — 7
Andy Samburg and “Reba McIntyre” (played by Kenan Thompson) link up in love to another Lonely Island song. Lots of dirty words and sex jokes in this one. It seems as though the Lonely Island crew is going down this road too many times. Still, it’s funny.
MELLOW SHOW WITH JACK JOHNSON — 6
It’s a meeting of the mellow minds as Andy Samburg plays Jack Johnson, Bill Hader plays Dave Matthews, Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Jason Mraz, and Dave Matthews plays Ozzy Obsourne. Dave gets the biggest laughs with his Ozzy impression, complete with his hunched back, mumbled British accent, and spot on singing. The rest of the sketch is a snooze.
WHAT UP WITH THAT — 4
Al Gore, Mindy Kaling, and “Lindsay Buckingham” (Played by Bill Hader) are in another iteration of the unfunny Keenan showcase, What Up With That which has him playing a soul singing talk show host. The only point of the sketch is to have Keenan interrupt his guests to riff off of what they say. It’s funny to see Al Gore give up his dignity for the sketch, and the absurdity of seemingly the entire cast showing up to dance, sing, or play an instrument is slightly amusing, but this is simply lazy sketch writing. And Joseph Gordon-Levitt sings again. What Up With That?
DAVE MATTHEWS BAND — YOU AND ME — 3
Endless rambling and weak vocals from DMB.
WEEKEND UPDATE — 6
Really Seth? A joke about Obama pardoning the Thanksgiving Turkey has a punchline of Biden saying, “Thanks, I didn’t know I did anything wrong?” Wow, the political humor on SNL keeps smokin’ with punchlines like these.
Al Gore shows up to talk about Green Week. Gore decides that he will change it up on politicians by “Going Crazy”. This includes playing global warming pranks, which are funny. Al compares himself to the Groundhog, except “when I see my shadow, the earth is dying.” He’s funny!
WU was mercifully short this year, with only Gore as a guest, which made it tolerable for a change.
JUDY AND THE THANKSGIVING DINNER — 8
Wow, we’d gone all night without a Kristen Wiig showcase, and now we get it, in the form of the recurring dysfunctional family dinner sketch. Wiig’s Judy gets a negative reaction to everything she says and gets up from the table, threatening to leave. It’s uncomfortable, odd, and yet somehow funny. And Joseph Gordon-Levitt sings….. AGAIN.
WOMAN TO WOMAN — 5
The host of Woman to Woman is sick, so her producer fills in, answering health and relationship questions for women. The only problem is that he can’t hear them, which means they have to yell their problems. Slightly amusing, but could have been much funnier.
DAVE MATTHEWS BAND — SHAKE ME LIKE A MONKEY — 6
Perhaps if DMB had a more dynamic and charismatic singer than Dave Matthews, they’d be appealing. This song has a nice grove, but Dave’s voice is just too flat to contribute anything meaningful to the song. The horn charts are also a bit too flat. Better than the first song, but not great.
SAY ANYTHING — 7
Jason Sukdeikis finally shows up to interrupt Joseph Gordon-Levitt as he reenacts the boom box scene from Say Anything. Jason plays the next door neighbor, who decides to engage him in discussion about why he’s doing it and Peter Gabriel’s relationship to Genesis. Very funny ending.
OVERALL — 6
This episode was not the disaster that last week’s January Jones episode was, and while there were some funny bits, nothing really stood out (beyond the 2012 ad) to make the episode a winner. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s manic energy seemed to have confused the writers, since he didn’t seem to have any sketches where he was more than a supporting player. Not the worst episode this season, but not a great one either.