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Date Posted: 10:58:15 06/24/17 Sat
Author: Stooge
Subject: January Jones / Black Eyed Peas - November 14, 2009 (S35 E6)
In reply to: Stooge 's message, "Retro Reviews - June 2017" on 06:24:59 06/02/17 Fri

I have to skip the Taylor Swift episode since I unfortunately can't find my review of that one. Too bad; I recall that being a pretty good episode for this season's standards, and for a double-duty host, Swift did a good job. Now we move on to this infamous January Jones episode, which may be one of the worst episodes in SNL history, hosted by one of the worst hosts in SNL history.... Here's the original review I posted back when this first aired.

---------------------------------------

RATINGS SYSTEM
***** = Excellent, a possible future classic
**** = Great
*** = Average
** = Meh
* = How'd this get past dress?


Cold Opening - A Message from Joe Biden
• At first, when I saw the presidential seal at the beginning, I was afraid this would be yet another opening featuring Fred’s non-impression of Obama, but I was relieved to see Jason’s Biden instead. Him as Biden always brings the laughs.
• Several great lines here, such as Afghanistan being even worse than Scranton, the comparison to the Biggest Loser, and the “stimulus is working” bit.
Stars: ***½


Monologue - January Jones
• Jason, Bill, and Fred did a good job as the “Mad Mennies”.
• Abby as Joan actually made me miss Casey a little. At least Casey didn’t have to wear padding to pull off the curvy look in the tight sexy red dress like Abby had to.
• I liked the weird way Bill slowly creeped down to the floor at the very end of the monologue. I actually didn't catch that until the second viewing.
• January Jones had possibly the easiest job that a host has EVER had to do in their monologue. All she did was just stand there on stage while Jason, Bill, and Fred carried the whole thing and only asked her to say “Don”. Little did I know that this was how January would be for the WHOLE episode.
Stars: ***


Sketch - Today
• AAAARGH!!!! Just when I mentioned in last week’s review of the View sketch that I hope they don’t continue the Today sketches this season, we just had to get one this week.
• Jenny Slate as the new Hoda? I thought SNL said before the season started that Nasim would take over the Hoda Kotb impression. I think that casting would’ve made more sense anyway, since Nasim looks closer to whatever ethnicity Hoda is.
• Normally, I’d be happy for Jenny that she has FINALLY been given a major role in a sketch for the first time since the infamous Biker Chick Chat sketch, but this is nothing to brag about. All she has to do in this sketch is play straight man to Kristen’s annoying-ass Kathie Lee.
• Yikes! When January was first shown, you could clearly hear her audibly mumbling an out-of-character “Which camera?”, then she took a long, awkward 15-second pause before delivering her actual first line. I’m getting bad flashbacks to Michael Phelps. Then January stumbled over several of her lines when she ran on the set while Kristen was singing.
• The Black Eyed Peas coming on in the middle of Kristen’s song and beating the crap out of her was completely unexpected and gave me a big laugh. That almost made this whole sketch worth it. Can we have the Black Eyed Peas do this during EVERY annoying Kristen Wiig sketch, only WITHOUT Kristen standing back up after the beating? Just leave her laying there and end the sketch like that.
Stars: *½

[2017 UPDATE: Nasim actually would later take over the role of Hoda, just once in 2011 in what ended up being the final Today sketch. Nasim would be the only Hoda impersonator who didn't end up suffering from the "curse" of getting fired when the season ends.]


Sketch - Rear Window
• Funny Alfred Hitchcock impression from Bobby. Jason’s Jimmy Stewart was surprisingly accurate as well.
• As promising as this seemed to start out, I did not expect this to devolve into a sophomoric fart joke sketch. SNL has pulled off a few rare actual funny fart-joke sketches in the past, but this sure as hell wasn’t one of them. The only thing saving this sketch from being a total waste were a few funny lines from Jason and Bobby like “Someone tell her to close HER rear window!”
• January seemed to have a hard time keeping a straight face during a few of Sudeikis' lines at the end. Only two sketches in, and I’m already starting to lose track of her many screw-ups tonight. Not a good sign.
Stars: *½


Sketch - WIIX News
• As soon as I saw the news station set with Jason sitting at the desk, I instantly realized this was going to be another Michelle Dison/lesbian reporter sketch, despite how long it’s been since they last did this sketch. They really went back far in the vault for this one; this sketch hasn’t been done since the 06-07 season… and it should’ve stayed there. This was only funny the first time with Jaime Pressly. The second one with Scarlett Johansson was just a complete carbon copy of the first, and tonight’s third installment with January Jones was a carbon copy of a carbon copy. Wasn’t necessary at all.
• I gotta admit, though, I still find the “WIIX News” title kinda cute.
• At least in the first two installments, Pressly and Johansson gave realistic and funny creeped-out reactions to Kristen hitting on them. January, on the other hand, had basically no visible reaction at all; once again, she just stood there. She might as well have been replaced by a cardboard cut-out in this sketch. Would anyone have known the difference? I’m really becoming unimpressed by her performances tonight.
• Only laughs in the sketch were all from Jason, with his frozen facial reactions back at the studio, and two lines from him at the end: “No, nothing about that went well at all” (which sums up this entire sketch) and “…aaaand there it is”.
Stars: *½


Miscellaneous - A Lady’s Guide to Throwing a Party
• At first, I thought this would be like the “Being Don Draper” film from Jon Hamm’s episode but with January playing her Mad Men character instead; however, she ended up just playing a random 1960’s housewife in this. In some ways, this still was kinda similar, but this had its own unique take.
• This was a nice old-school documentary parody, and I love how they made this look exactly like a 1960’s film, right down to the visual quality. And this was easily January’s best performance of the night, simply because it was pre-taped so she couldn’t fuck up anything.
• The funniest parts were the lines about all cats being girls and all dogs being boys, what to do if a black person arrives, and the bit at the end about going to the bathroom.
Stars: ***½


Weekend Update - Seth Meyers, featuring Lou Dobbs, Kim Kardashian, Jon Bovi
• Best jokes: Sarah Palin, Pilot drunk, costumed robbers
• As soon as Seth told the Lou Dobbs/CNN joke, I had a feeling a Lou Dobbs commentary would follow, which would mean another cameo from Darrell, and of course, there he was. I’m not going to complain, since the Lou Dobbs commentary was actually pretty funny with several good lines. Although I noticed Darrell’s Dobbs voice sounded awfully close to his Ted Koppel.
• The Bernie & the Shiekh bit was pretty clever.
• When Seth was introducing the next commentary and started talking about the Kardashians, I knew we’d be seeing Nasim playing one of them. She’s still getting much more to do than Jenny Slate, who has yet to appear on Update, while Nasim has already had two Update commentaries so far.
• The Kim Kardashian segment wasn’t all that bad, but it was too one-note. I think I’m just going easy on it because… well, I like Nasim and she looked very cute here. But I’m not sure what she was going for with the voice; it seemed too overexaggerated. I’m not too familiar with Kim Kardashian’s voice, but I don’t recall it sounding remotely like that.
• Every time the Jon Bovi guys appear, I always find myself groaning “These guys again??!!” at first, but Forte and Sudeikis always end up winning me over with just their performances as these two. The writing in these is ALWAYS the same, yet Jason’s great energy and Will’s funny facial expressions with that huge fake moustache are just enough to keep me laughing. And I admit, I liked their opposite version of Single Ladies, especially the “p, p, p…” part. The Jet Magazine/Irish Spring bit was worth a chuckle as well.
Stars: ***


Sketch - Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
• I was very interested in this at first, and Bill Hader is always perfect for these black-and-white old-school parodies. But then as soon as Bill mentioned doing gay stuff as Mr. Hyde, I mumbled to myself “Oh, god, here we go…” Did they have to waste a potentially clever Jekyll/Hyde parody just to do yet another gay-themed sketch? Seriously? This was like deja-vu with tonight’s earlier Rear Window parody being used as an excuse to do a simple fart-joke sketch. I would expect the writers to be at least a little more high-brow than this. These sketches tonight are giving me a serious 04-05 vibe.
• Oh, and of course, we have Fred doing his usual walk-on as a flamboyant gay character - his second one tonight ALONE. Good lord. I love Fred, but this is really getting old. If I were him, I’d be pretty pissed at the writers ALWAYS casting him whenever there’s a gay role. He’s not Chris Kattan, guys.
• Yet another role for January Jones in which she just sat there the whole time and only had about three lines, none of which were memorable or funny. I’m starting to wonder if she was even there at Studio 8-H this whole week, or if she didn’t show up until Friday or Saturday, as she really only needed one day to rehearse all the lousy parts she got in this episode… and she didn’t even seem well-rehearsed for THOSE!
• Sudeikis looked a lot like Chris Parnell in this sketch. I almost had to do a double-take when they first showed him.
Stars: *


Digital Short - Get Out!
• Okay, this was stupid as hell and the epitome of one-joke… yet I still laughed my ass off. Why? I don’t know. I felt like I shouldn’t have liked this at all, but something about the execution of it just cracked me up. And by this point in tonight’s episode, I was desperate for a good laugh.
• I still think Andy looks kinda weird with his new shorter hairstyle. And speaking of Andy, his only two appearances all night were both pre-taped. His airtime this season has been so strange; he either appears in almost every single sketch (Ryan Reynolds and Taylor Swift episodes), or he’s completely MIA (Gerard Butler and the live portion of tonight’s episode).
Stars: ***

[2017 UPDATE: For those who don't remember, this was the digital short where Fred kept unintentionally walking in on Andy sitting on a toilet, not just in the bathroom but in increasingly unexpected places (living room, elevator, sidewalk, etc.). Really silly premise and it fits with this overall episode's unfortunate theme of low-brow juvenile humor, but the Lonely Island’s usual charm made this short work somewhat, plus, as said above, I was desperate for a good laugh at this point in the show.]


Sketch - Cloud-Watching
• A simple sketch, but actually quite decent compared to most of the crap from tonight and was acceptable as a low-key 10-to-1 piece.
• The funniest moments here all came from Jason as the straight man; in fact, Jason’s been the saving grace of many sketches in this episode. It was great seeing him dominate the show tonight, while we got a much-needed break from Kristen Wiig in the second half of this episode. I think SNL lately has finally been realizing that Sudeikis and Hader are their true stars and should be carrying the show.
• I especially liked the part with Jason looking around and asking “Am I on Punk’d?”
• When you think about it, Jason’s observations about January’s character in this sketch actually quite sum up all of January Jones’ performances tonight in general: the only good thing you can say about her is that she’s pretty. That’s it.
Stars: ***

[2017 UPDATE: I was probably way too generous in my review of this sketch (I recall most of the other reviewers back then panning this sketch), but again, when you've sat through an episode filled with lowest-common-denominator crap and you start becoming desperate for a laugh, a sketch like this can come off better than it would've if it were in an actual good episode.]

_________________________________________________________

Episode Highlights:
• A Lady’s Guide to Throwing a Party
• Cold Opening
• Digital Short
• The Black Eyed Peas beating the crap out of Kristen Wiig in the Today sketch

Episode Lowlights:
• the rest of the Today sketch
• WIIX News
• Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
• Rear Window
• January Jones’ performances in general

Best Performer of the Night:
• Jason Sudeikis


FINAL THOUGHTS
Not a good episode at all tonight. Very disappointing. There was nothing here that stood out as truly great; the best we got was just “good”. And the worst we got was REEEAAALLLYYY bad. Like I mentioned earlier, some of the lowbrow writing with overreliance on fart jokes and gay humor felt like a bad throwback to the 04-05 season, which is the last thing SNL needs right now. And some of the other sketches were unnecessary retreads of typical annoying Wiig bits. This episode overall was probably even worse than the Drew Barrymore one earlier this season, and considering how much I disliked that episode, that’s saying something.

And as for January Jones… wow. She has got to be THE blandest, most awkward host in recent memory. She makes Megan Fox’s hosting effort look brilliant by comparison. I already wasn’t looking too forward to Jones since I had no idea who the hell she was before this week (I’ve never seen Mad Men, as I currently don’t have cable), but I was still willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. After all, I had no idea who Jon Hamm and Bradley Cooper were when they hosted, yet Hamm turned out to be incredible and Cooper at least brought energy and enthusiasm. January Jones brought nothing but stiff awkwardness, boring forgettable performances, and countless line flubs, missed cues, and character breaks. You almost would think she was a typical athlete host if you didn’t know she was an actress. But hey, let’s remember, like Sudeikis kept saying throughout the Cloud-Watching sketch, she’s pretty, so that's... SOMETHING, I guess...

[2017 UPDATE: I believe every bad season of SNL has that one defining "point of no return" episode a month or two in where it becomes official that something is going horribly wrong with the season. For 09-10, it was THIS episode from mid-November. For 04-05, it was the Kate Winslet episode from late October. For 94-95, it was UNDOUBTEDLY the Sarah Jessica Parker episode from early November. I'm not sure when it happened in 85-86 or 80-81, though.]


CASTMEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
ARMISEN: 5 sketches (Monologue, Rear Window, Lady’s Guide, Dr. Jekyll, Digital Short)
FORTE: 3 sketches (Lady’s Guide, Update, Dr. Jekyll)
HADER: 4 sketches (Monologue, Today, Lady’s Guide, Dr. Jekyll)
MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)
SAMBERG: 2 sketches (Lady’s Guide, Digital Short)
SUDEIKIS: 7 sketches (Joe Biden, Monologue, Rear Window, WIIX News, Update, Dr. Jekyll, Clouds)
THOMPSON: 0 sketches
WIIG: 3 sketches (Today, WIIX News, Lady’s Guide)

ELLIOTT: 3 sketches (Monologue, Today, Lady’s Guide)
MOYNIHAN: 2 sketches (Rear Window, Dr. Jekyll)
PEDRAD: 2 sketches (Update, Digital Short)
SLATE: 2 sketches (Today, Lady’s Guide)

JANUARY JONES: 7 sketches (Monologue, Today, Rear Window, WIIX News, Lady’s Guide, Dr. Jekyll, Clouds)

[2017 UPDATE: Hmm, I guess this is what Tina Fey meant when she said "If you take out Kenan Thompson, the studio will explode"... if by 'the studio will explode', she meant 'the show will have a horrible episode that will go down in SNL infamy'.]

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