The inconsistency of "Saturday Night Live" is hell on the nerves of anyone who’s gone far beyond the comfort zone in giving the benefit of the doubt to the longest-running sketch show in TV history. The last episode, Jan 17th’s Gwyneth Paltrow/Cee-Lo installment, was just short of an unmitigated disaster, showcasing the many, many things that the program has long had wrong with it. This most recent installment, featuring Jesse Eisenberg from the smash film The Social Network and skyrocketing Hip-Hop star Nicki Minaj, was an act of at least partial redemption that brought the laughs, but left conflicted feelings about a show that badly needs a change-up of shot-callers.
The cold open featured Kristin Wiig as an ever-clueless Michelle Bachmann, but failed to portray her psychotically neurotic public persona and instead focused on her second-camera delivery in unsolicited response to President Obama’s State of the Union speech. Eisenberg was aided in his monologue by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who Jesse of course played in the Social Network film (and received a Best Actor Oscar nomination for, no less).
The bit was prefaced by a bit in which Zuckerberg is standing backstage next to SNL’s executive producer Lorne Michaels.
"Why can’t I go in there? I’m the real Mark Zuckerberg!" he says to Michaels. "That guy is like my evil twin, and that’s just Andy Samberg. Those guys are such nerds. Come on. I invented Poking!"
When he took the stage for the awkward meeting, the hoodie-clad billionaire looked like an awkward, entitled but not altogether hatable kid, despite his portrayals as a ruthlessly conniving savant. Add a dash of Andy Sandberg to the mix and you’ve got a triple-Berg showcase:
Transgenders have undoubtedly flooded NBC management offices with complaint letters, but the new Estro-maxx commercial, featuring the one-a-day estrogen pill for pre-op men looking to switch genders, was damned hilarious. And yes, a good part of me is just thankful they didn’t rehash that same damned pube-toupee commercial they’ve used so often recently.
Musical guest Nicki Minaj performed two of her hits, “Moment 4 Life” and “Right Thru Me,” off her debut platinum-selling album Pink Friday. The album is an absolute mess, but Nicki translated the songs very well to the stage.
The caboose queen even brought some acting flare to a skit as the brow-beating "Bride of Blackenstein,” complete with a black bee-hive wig and requisite white streaks. The skit centered on a supposed lost 1972 blaxploitation classic that featured Jay Pharoah playing Dr. Frankenstein with the voice of Bootsy Collins, Kenan Thompson as the monster and Eisenberg as Igor, the malformed assistant.
Wearing a blonde wig and spectacles, the Harajuku Barbie also made a cameo in the latest Lonely Island song "The Creep," which featured an intro from famed director John Waters and kicked all sorts of annoying ass, featuring a new dance craze based on John Waters’ look and Marty Feldman’s posture:
The Mr. Wizard skit was cute, with Eisenberg sporting a prince valiant haircut as his hormones got the most of he and a classmate:
The newscaster skit was trying on the nerves at first (how many times have we seen the senile-tv-reporter skit?), but seeing Bill Hader revive the popular Herb Welch character was made sweeter by the fact that he could barely hold it together by the time the bit hit its full stride. Eisenberg was the good-natured victim of Welch’s aimless microphone-bashing, while the news show’s anchor Jason Sudeikis had to put up with Herb’s insults, such as “Why don’t you sit on your jacket and I’ll do the news!” Once again, Welch faked his death at the end of the sketch.
MTV’s bottom-feeding teen-sex show "Skins" attempts to compensate for its lost ad sponsorships by integrating product placements, which include Trapper McGee’s Squirrel-Skin Condoms, the Sweater Dump, and BerlusconiIsInnocente.net, among others:
Although Eisenberg stuck chiefly to his standard temperament all night, he still did an great job in his first shot at hosting SNL. Overall, Saturday’s was a relatively strong episode that didn’t stray too far off the mark or suffer from endlessly elongated sketches. We know better than to get excited for Lorne Michaels to wise up and straighten out the kinks permanently, but this one was a pleasant excursion.
Next week will feature a new episode, hosted by SNL alum Dana Carvey with musical guest Linkin Park.
CraveOnline’s Rating: 8 out of 10