A great Christmas episode of SNL can be one of my favorite parts of the holidays. Two years ago, when Jimmy Fallon hosted the Christmas episode, not only did it become one of my favorites of the year, but it went down as one of my favorite SNL episodes in the last decade or so. So now that Fallon is returning two years later for another Christmas episode, this time with Justin Timberlake as musical guest, what could go wrong?
It’s not that “Jimmy Fallon/Justin Timberlake” wasn’t enjoyable at parts, since it’s always fun to see a former cast member returning to their old playground, but this time around the episode consisted just of somewhat predictable skits and few new ideas.
Of course it’s obvious when Timberlake is on the show, even as a musical guest, he’s not just going to stick to his two performances. Right out the gate came Timberlake as his constantly changing Omeletteville character, this time dressed as wrapping paper for Wrappingville with Fallon as a Christmas bag. Timberlake’s character doesn’t quite have the great snark he used to, and with Fallon along, it played out like an addendum to one of their musical montages. (Plus, isn’t it about a year too late to be doing a Gotye parody?)
The opening monologue had Fallon planning on singing Christmas songs with three of his favorite musicians, David Bowie, Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney, but all three were stuck in traffic. But of course McCartney shows up to sing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” with Fallon in a cute way to start the show proper.
For some reason the show decided to throw in a non-holiday bit Celebrity Edition Family Feud, with CBS vs. NBC. The CBS featured impressions like Fallon as Jim Parsons and Taran Killam as Ashton Kutcher, while NBC had Justin Timberlake as Jimmy Fallon and Brooks Wheelan as Brooks Wheelan. Most of the impressions were okay to fine, and Timberlake’s Fallon was only great because of how it broke Fallon.
“Let’s Do It In My Twin Size Bed” was okay as well, and I’d love to see this SNL ladies group more often, but I doubt this song will get to “Dick in a Box” level of holiday video.
The Barry Gibb Talk Show might have been one of the shakiest versions of this skit ever, with Madonna ruining every line she has and being even more awkward than usual, then ending the skit with the real Barry Gibb joining Timberlake and Fallon, yet almost entirely inaudible.
Timberlake’s two performances were pretty good. The first, a laser-filled “Only When I Walk Away,” had so much stuff going on, it was hard to tell if JT was even still on stage. The second was a nice acoustic version of “Pair of Wings.”
Weekend Update was pretty good, with Kate McKinnon showing up as Billie Jean King and Jimmy Fallon and Michael Bloomberg appearing to talk to Seth Meyers about moving on to new jobs. I’m sort of glad Meyers isn’t leaving quite yet, since I want him to have a wonderful send off, akin to what Stefon received.
I don’t really think we really needed another “Waking Up With Kimye,” and we especially didn’t need another “Bound 2” parody, especially after Seth Rogen and James Franco pretty much nailed it. If we see Kimye again, it’ll probably just be because it makes Jay Pharaoh crack up.
Back to aged musical references, we got a “Now That’s What I Call Christmas” compilation, which would’ve made much more sense if it had aired in the late ’90s. As to why we had impressions of DMX, Al Rose, Alanis Morrisette and Billie Joe Armstrong is beyond me.
Then came “A Christmas Carol” parody, which was just awful. Turns out young Scrooge was gay. That’s really all you need to know.
To cap the evening was a surprisingly cute “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” sequel that takes place twelve minutes after the original song ends. Fallon and Cecily Strong were adorable as the two leads, and the bit came to a nice conclusion that was a fine way to end the episode.
Sure, there’s plenty of things to like about this latest holiday episode, especially one steeped in as much nostalgia as this one was. Yet it would be nice in future holiday SNL’s for there to be more room for new ideas and new traditions to begin. Otherwise, we’re just doing the same thing, year after year.