'SNL' recap: Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake's Christmas bro-down

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Image Credit: NBC

Now that’s what I call a Christmas show!

Saturday’s Jimberlake joint wasn’t perfect. It certainly wasn’t as consistently wonderful as Jimmy Fallon’s last Christmas episode, which set the standard for SNL holiday cheer two years ago. And it did contain one sketch offensively bad enough to almost ruin the whole night’s effect. Pound for pound, though, Fallon and his unofficial cohost Justin Timberlake did present one of this season’s best overall episodes — thanks largely to their unflagging energy and enthusiasm, which gave a jolt of joy to even the night’s less inspired bits. (We’re making fun of Paul Ryan? Still? Now?) Last week’s holiday-themed John Goodman episode was a letdown; this week’s holiday show felt like a pleasant corrective.

But interestingly enough, the night’s biggest triumph actually didn’t rely on Fallon and Timberlake’s chemistry at all. I’m talking, of course, about the episode’s…

Best Sketch
“(Do It On My) Twin Bed” wasn’t just the funniest part of last night’s SNL; it may be the best thing the show’s done all season. (It’s certainly the show’s best post-Lonely Island music video, give or take a sloppy squish.) Everything about this pretape was on point –  its funny-cause-it’s-true premise, its Pussycat Dolls-esque music, those awesome shots of the show’s ladies (and Fallon) dancing up on their middle school class photos. (Bookmark this link.) And the lyrics were so funny that I’m having issues even picking a favorite line: “If you want an old cat to watch you bone/Then you’re gonna want to get down in my parents’ home.” “She got a cough (cough)/She got it from Jean (Jean)/And now it’s a whole thing with Jean.” <3 u, Lil’ Baby Aidy.

Honorable Mention
“Baby It’s Cold Outside” is the only holiday standard that’s routinely labeled “rapey.” But Fallon and Cecily Strong’s new spin on the song drops any creepy undertones, choosing instead to illustrate what happens after the singers actually get busy. Sure, the result is full of rom-com clichés (men are only interested in sex! Women are needy!), but it’s also charmingly done — and a happy ending (he was just afraid of commitment!) makes up for any eyeroll-inducing lines.

Worst Sketch
Ugh, that tone-deaf Christmas Carol thing. The joke: “Mincing gay stereotypes, right?!” You’d think that in the year 2013, SNL would resist the idea of a sketch like this — especially the same week as the whole Duck Dynasty homophobia kerfuffleVanity Fair columnist Richard Lawson probably puts it best:

Best Musical Moment
Timberlake’s seizure-inducing, Kanye-esque performance of “Only When I Walk Away” and gentle, Llewyn Davis-inspired acoustic “Pair of Wings” were all well and good – but my vote actually goes to “Wrappinville,” the latest iteration of what’s become a classic Timberlake sketch. This time, Fallon joined in on the fun as another goofy mashup mascot — and wonder of wonders, the bit is actually legally available online. It’s a Christmas miracle!

Cameo Corner
As predicted, Fallon and Timberlake brought some big guns with them — including Paul McCartney, Madonna, Barry Gibb, and New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg. (Though Bloomberg’s been in office for a record three terms, he somehow never appeared on SNL until last night — just days before he hands the city’s reins to Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio. Evidently, his long absence may be due to the fact that Bloomberg usually spends his weekends in Bermuda. Billionaires!) The night’s most delightfully surprising drop-by, however, didn’t happen in a sketch — it came during the goodnights, when Chris Rock inexplicably showed up. Chris Rock! Now I feel cheated that we didn’t get to see Jay Pharoah doing his uncanny impression next to the real deal.

The Your Mileage May Vary Award
Speaking of Gibb: His cameo was the highlight of Fallon and Timberlake’s latest “Barry Gibb Talk Show,” a sketch I’ve never really seen the point of. (Except the harmonies. The harmonies are always tight.) But hey, they keep doing it — so some people somewhere must like watching Timberlake and Fallon talkin’ it up in all their leisure-suited glory. Are you one of those people? If so, enjoy!

Cast MVP
Fallon and Timberlake dominated the evening’s proceedings, meaning that none of the show’s repertory players had a particularly big night. So instead of defaulting to Kate McKinnon or Taran Killam, I’m going to go off the grid a bit and award this honor to Noël Wells, who snagged more screen time than she’s ever had thus far. And every time Wells showed up, she had something fun to do — between her Alyson Hannigan impression, her spot-on Zooey Deschanel, and throwing to her weird uncle in “Twin Bed,” we should look forward to seeing more of her in 2014.

Extras:

- Jimmy Fallon knows that Jim Parsons and Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper aren’t actually the same thing, right?

- Poor Brooks Whelan, who finally gets a speaking role… where the joke is that he barely ever gets to do anything on SNL. The twist: Right after that bit, he gets more air time than ever before.

- “There is no demographic that gives less of a flip than 70-year-old lesbians.”

- Speaking of, though, is there a rule that only Kate McKinnon is allowed to play lesbians on the show?

- Another reason SNL desperately needs a black woman in the cast: Nothing about Beyoncé’s surprise album?!

- “The Internet announced that it will be open all the time always forever.”

- The Kimye talk show thing is already wearing thin, but I did like Nasim Pedrad’s “gingerbread night club” — complete with Twizzler velvet rope!

- If Fallon’s Alan Rickman and Bobby Moynihan’s Andrea Bocelli  decide to cut an album, I may end up buying it. #NoShame

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