Well, it’s only been about 15 months since Mr. Jon Hamm last took over the hosting duties for Saturday Night Live, but he seemed to have a lot of fun then and was an apparent joy to work with. With all that combined, it seemed like it would only be a matter of time before Jon returned again to helm the long-lasting comedy institution’s 671st broadcast and the 13th one of this season.
Since the average reader doesn’t really know what I think about the rest of the season since I don’t have any reviews from this season written up and posted, but I’m going to briefly explain my stance.
Most people I know have said that the show has taken a creative slump this year ever since the fantastic season they had last year. I tend to disagree with that idea though as I thought this season has started out strongly, took a bit of a quality dip mid-way through the season but after a couple of episodes ago, it has seemed to perk back up again and will hopefully stay that way for the remainder of the season.
Enough about that, though. On with the show!
1. Cold Open: State of the Union 2010
Well, what better way to start off than with a politically-themed sketch? In a set that reminds me of the original ‘State of the Union’ sketches with Dan Aykroyd as President Carter, Obama lays out the state of…well, the union while telling everyone that at this point, he really doesn’t care either way about the health care bill. Of course, Joe Biden (Sudeikis) and Nancy Pelosi (Wiig) sit behind him and clap at almost everything, as does the rest of the audience. B
The Hammster makes his way out and looks as suave as ever in a dapper suit. Instead of making lots of Mad Men references like the first time he hosted, this time Jon introduces clips of several shows that he “appeared” on before Mad Men including a Degrassi-type show, an appearance on QVC hawking jewelry, and finally some stand-up at the Def Comedy Jam (“Wash ye’ ass!”). Of course, all three appearances basically have him playing Don Draper. Jon once again shows that he has a natural presence when it comes to do doing comedy. A-
3. Don’t Make Me Sing
A dinner party in the 1920′s quickly evolves into a performance piece by one of the guests (Hamm) on the piano. Before he really gets a chance though, his wife (Wiig) insists that she sing along with him in a sort of non-assuming way. Wiig’s performance is great as usual while Jon does a good straight man. Another decent sketch. B
4. Digital Short: Sergio
Ahh, yes the good ol’ digital shorts. Every week, these are usually the best thing on the show (with a few exceptions that stink up the joint of course), but last night was no different. A businessman (Samberg) crushes an ancient hobo’s (Armisen) dreamcatcher and refuses to pay for it, so therefore he is cursed. Cursed with what, you may ask? Why a shirtless saxophone player named Sergio (Hamm) bursting through the walls and laying down some sweet tunes. The twist ending in this filmed piece was the icing on the cake. A
5. New Senator
Republican senator Scott Brown has been in the news lately. Here’s a charismatic young guy who is CONSERVATIVE and has a few Obama-like qualities when it comes to his speeches and candor. Here, Scott (Hamm) keeps “accidentally” bursting in on a democratic meeting with Robert Byrd (Hader), Barbara Boxer (Pedrad), Nancy Pelosi (Wiig), Barney Frank (Armisen), and an unnamed senator (Forte). Because of this incident, each senator ends up having their own little daydreams of Scott in various forms of undress, the highlight of which being Frank’s and Byrd’s fantasies. B-
6. Michael Bublé sings “Haven’t Met You Yet”
I had no real semblance of how good or bad Bublé would do on the show since I’ve only heard about two or three songs in his repertoire, but tonight he proved that he could channel Frank Sinatra fairly well and entertain the crowd at least. B
Great show so far, huh?
7. Weekend Update with Seth Meyers
Wow, Seth was on an absolute roll tonight. After an incredibly hilarious take/rant on the Obama Q&A at the Republican headquarters, Meyers welcomes two guests this week. First off is Justice Sonia Sotomayor (Pedrad), who talks of the great diversity within the Supreme Court (which includes white guys and one black guy who “might as well be a white guy”). The second guest sees the return of Snooki (Moynihan) from Jersey Shore. The impression coupled with the hair “poof” and bright orange skin is enough to have one laughing for ages, but the commentary itself is pretty funny too. A+
8. Game Time With Randy And Greg
In its third outing since the inception, Randy Dukes (Thompson) and Greg (Hader), who “is not an alien”, host a sports call-in show where several of the people calling in start off with a sports question but then quickly veer off-topic and ask if Greg is indeed an alien. Randy is quick to switch callers and deny these claims, but Greg’s antics are not very helpful in that regard. Soon enough, the aliens multiply (Hamm is one of them) and things go awry. I liked that they added a minor twist here in regards to the last two versions of this recurring sketch, but it fell a little short of being truly worthwhile. C+
9. Hamm & Bublé
In a sort-of repeat from the last time Jon Hamm hosted, his name is used as a pun again. This time, it’s for a restaurant that only serves ham and champagne (Get it? Bubbly = Bublé?). At first, this bit seemed like it was just coasting on one joke, but Michael proved himself a worthy sketch actor by feigning terror at Hamm having kidnapped him and forced him to participate in this strange go-nowhere business venture. The portrayal of Jon Hamm as an insane criminal is enough to send this one over the top. A-
10. Closet Organizer
Talk about bizarre. I thought the digital short was strange, but this commercial piece involves a man dressed in a blue spandex one-piece that catches everything you throw into your closet and “organizes” it. It starts off with everyday things you would put in there, but eventually it gets so ridiculous to the point of hilarity. A-
Okay, I have to admit that I liked this one despite its general weirdness and feeling of laziness at times in the writing. Here, Fred Armisen plays a female court stenographer (who is using a typewriter, by the way) who is having trouble keeping up with the case and at several points, has to halt the proceedings to find important items in her purse. This could have been an annoying, grating character sketch, but Armisen makes it work and Hamm plays straight man very well. B
12. Michael Bublé (Ft. Sharon Jones) sings “Baby (You’ve Got What It Takes)”
I think I am going to be in the minority here and say that I did not enjoy this song as much as some people did. Bublé’s insistence at never speaking directly into the microphone got a little annoying and the two just did not seem to mesh together very well. C
13. Closet Organizer in a Bar
Wow. That’s all I could say at this point. In this sketch, they actually make a callback to the “Closet Organizer” piece by having Will Forte being recognized in a bar by someone (Hamm) who realizes that he was in said commercial. It is an absolute rarity on SNL to make a callback to previous sketches like that. In fact, I believe the last time that happened was about twelve years ago. Either way, this sketch escalates to a great peak and kills. B+
14. American Enterprise
And finally, we come to the last sketch of the night. It’s a quick CNN fluff-piece on Barnes (Hamm) & Noble (Hader) and how they got their business started as a homeless person’s bathroom, but then realized they actually needed to sell something so they chose books. It’s a very one-note joke, but it’s funny nonetheless. B+
And that’s the end of the show. Hamm thanks everyone for helping him perform a great show and waves goodnight to one and all.
Essentially playing variations of Don Draper throughout the night in most of the sketches, Hamm was no Steve Martin or Alec Baldwin, but he is still a very welcome addition to the show whenever he wants to make an appearance. I would not be opposed to Mr. Hamm hosting every year or couple of years as he brings his innate natural charisma and a knack for comedy no one would expect to the forefront. Bublé was also a surprise. Who knew he could be a half-decent sketch player before appearing in “Hamm & Bublé?”
The cast also rocked the house this week even though there were a few that didn’t get too much screentime (Abby, Jenny, Suds, Kenan). The writing has definitely perked up again after a bit of a midseason lull and it’s great to see everything in full swing again.
Host Rating: B+
Musical Guest Rating: B
Show Rating: B+
NEXT WEEK: Ashton Kutcher hosts while Them Crooked Vultures are representin’ in the category of musical guest.