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Review: Saturday Night Live - January Jones/Black Eyed Peas

by Annie Wu, posted Nov 15th 2009 12:32PM
january jones snl
There was a strange moment of nodding recognition at the end of the night, as I watched Jason Sudeikis and January Jones in the cloud-gazing sketch. Throughout, the man pauses to consider the woman's weird behavior and then concedes, "Ohh, you're a very pretty, pretty woman." Yup. That's pretty much how I reacted the entire night, especially during really bad sketches like the farting Grace Kelly (take a moment to think about that: Farting. Grace. Kelly.)

Jones was kind of a stiff host with not particularly daring material, but, goodness gracious, her real-life 50s Barbie prettiness was mesmerizing. Her performances in the mid-century instructional video and the aforementioned cloud-gazing sketch were the best of the evening, but that's not saying much since the rest of her appearances were strange and wooden. Even her good night felt like it had been programmed in and auto-tuned for maximum polite insincerity.

I knew we were in for trouble even as I watched the monologue. Was it live television nerves? Was she just not comfortable with so little rehearsal? And in case you guys aren't aware, Fred Armisen's "I like Peggy" during the monologue was extra-great because he recently married Elizabeth Moss. Didn't know? Well, now you do.

It's been over a year and Jason Sudeikis's Joe Biden impression still hasn't progressed much. I like the character that they've created for Biden, but the accuracy just isn't there. It's similar to Amy Poehler's Hillary Clinton, who was funny but just sounded like an upper-class white lady archetype.

Also, his Jimmy Stewart actually started off kind of cute and then it turned into a bastardized Nic Cage. On that note, I spent a great deal of the episode trying to come up with reasons why this week's installment suddenly became so Sudeikis-heavy. Maybe January Jones is secretly a complete nightmare to work with and Sudeikis drew the short straw, forcing him to be in just about every sketch with her. I imagine most of SNL's backstage stuff works by drawing straws.

Also, they're letting Jenny Slate speak again, so we're finally going to get to see what she can really do. She didn't have much to work with this week as Hoda Kotb, but it will be interesting to see how she works with a character that Michaela Watkins previously perfected.

Weekend Update was okay this week, with my favorite line being Seth Meyer's half-chuckled "Come down to Rockefeller Center to watch a tree slowly die." Darrell Hammond once again stopped by to play Lou Dobbs, because I guess they still haven't found an impressionist half as strong as Hammond. Did you know that Hammond actually lives in Studio 8H on an old Coneheads living room set, specifically set aside for him?

The Digital Short this week was slow but had a fantastic punchline. I didn't laugh as much as I cringed out of my seat, but it was hilarious just the same.

Here are some clips from the evening:

Next time: Joeseph Gordon-Levitt and the Dave Matthews Band. I feel like this line-up could have existed in the late '90s. Anyway, I like JGL quite a bit, so I'm looking forward to this.

[Watch episodes and clips of Saturday Night Live and other shows over at SlashControl.]

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yea, she wasn't that funny. i was surprised by taylor swift though, funnier than I thought. She was easy on the eyes for sure.
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November 20 2009 at 10:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jay Adler

I still watch SNL at the age of 58 just as I was a viewer in my early thirties. i do not know who on this site remembers the brilliant impromptu skit comedy that emanated from tiny improv clubs and began way back as enablers such as Ernie Kovacs and Nichols and May. John Belushi, Laraine Newman, Danny Akroyd, Chevy Chase and the incomparable Gilda Radner were the Primetime Players and light years more skilled than what we fall asleep to today. I only remember him as Keenan but I think he may be the best comedic actor they have in 2009 SNL. Ms. Wigg who is omnipresent is a good solid Cape Cod Melody Tent or Broadway actress and it goes without saying that Lorne Michaels is employing good strategy by hiring top Adult Alternative bands and solo artists in the music set. Personally, I would rather see a concert hour with these same bands and singers, sort of like the Midnight Special. I prefer to see Norah Jones and Dave Mathews energize me at this point.

November 20 2009 at 2:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Hasn't anyone ever watched SNL before? The best actors always come off as stiff/bad. (I've always theorized that they felt themselves above rehearsing!) This episode, while not excellent was my favorite in a mediocre season. And if you didn't get the 'Peggy' comment, you've been hiding in a basement for the past year! Simply brilliant.

November 18 2009 at 5:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mr. Bungle

I saw January Jones with my wife on Jimmy Fallon the week before SNL. We both realized during that interview that she was lucky she was attractive because she was super boring. That came across in her SNL performance.

November 17 2009 at 7:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jimbo Jones

Just curious, but does anyone know for sure if these clips on hulu are definitely from the live version of the show? Reason I ask is I was at the dress rehearsal that night and I recall January Jones breaking character and laughing at all the same points during the Rear Window scene.

November 17 2009 at 12:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"which camera" that pretty much summed up all of January Jones' performance. I was kinda hoping that we would be able to see Elizabeth Moss in this episode. Too bad.
Kim Kardashian was really, really good. I'm not even sure who did that impression, it was really good though.
The Dinner Party "sketch"/film was probably the funniest part of the episode.

November 16 2009 at 3:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Pretty weak episode, and a sharp contrast to the previous week with Taylor Swift. Taylor was funny and really went for it (and even wrote some of the material); January was completely dull and didn't commit to the material. All she did was stand and look pretty. I don't think she's a bad actress on "Mad Men," but I guess she just can't do comedy. She'll be playing depressed and lonely characters for the rest of her career, I imagine.

Jenny Slate has yet to redeem herself for the "Motor Chicks" debacle from the season premiere, and this episode was no exception. As much as I am not a fan of Kim Kardashian, I'm even less a fan of Slate's impression of her. I mean the girl is kind of annoying, but her voice sounds nothing like that! An impression is never funny if it's not even remotely accurate. And I question the need to even feature the poor man's Paris Hilton as a character anyway.

January was lousy, but then so was the material. Did they really have to besmirch one of my favorite old movies (Rear Window) and actresses (Grace Kelly)? That one should have remained on the cutting-room floor. As for the monologue, the song was kind of dumb and I didn't get the part where they showed "Joan" taking a long time to was up to the stage. I half expected her to turn around and reveal that it was really Fred Armisen or something, but it turned out to be Abby. Oh. And she was tripping really awkwardly in her heels.
The Black Eyed Peas performed really well, though, so I think that was the one bright spot.

November 16 2009 at 11:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

JGL was great in 500 days of summer, so Im looking forward to that one. They should get Chevy Chase to host. Nice to him back on the set after his big comeback

November 16 2009 at 2:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to BLV's comment

I don't know if they'll invite Chevy back. I've heard he's been banned from hosting SNL ever again after some problems the last few times he's hosted, like being verbally abusive to the cast and writers among other things.

November 23 2009 at 9:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Funny thing right before the Rear Window sketch I was flipping through and on TCM was running a ad saying that November was Grace Kelly month. Too bad we had a little girl playing dress up right after that.

November 16 2009 at 1:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm just finally getting into Mad Men after that terrific season 3 finale. Going back and watching all the previous seasons.

Not having watched SNL last night, I can see how JJ would be seen as wooden and talentless. I think she is a real beauty but not at all convinced she has any acting ability. Neither did Ashton Kutcher (her BF from 1998-2001) who told her to quit the business.

November 16 2009 at 12:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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