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Review: Saturday Night Live - Charles Barkley/Alicia Keys

by Annie Wu, posted Jan 10th 2010 12:45PM
charles barkley
Charles Barkley isn't much of an actor. I knew that even as a little kid, when I saw him pop up in Space Jam for all of five minutes. If anyone was expecting to be blown out of the water by Barkley's performance, they really need to reconsider if their entire life is plagued by self-sabotage, as that was clearly a silly thing to hope for and a set-up for inevitable disappointment.

Going in with low expectations made this episode easier to watch. There were a few points here and there where Barkley seemed more comfortable, and some of his pre-taped segments were pretty funny. Overall though, this wasn't a particularly memorable episode, apart from the fact it was bumped by over thirty minutes, thanks to something called the NFL.

And yes, as a young person that isn't very well-versed in sports Space Jam is my go-to reference for Barkley.


MacGruber: As we saw, Barkley works better when he's edited. There were a lot of good moments in these sketches, including the pronunciation of "Darrell", "Hand me that Asian pen! The Chinese pen!" and the repeated "Ahh! He's got a gun!" One of the highlights of the evening. Err, I guess three of the highlights of the evening. "MacGruber" is turning out to be fairly reliable for laughs these days, though I'm still not prepared to accept that there's a full-length feature in the works.

Reel Quotes: I'm going to put this here just because of "shark bag." Kristen WIig also had some good lines.

Scared Straight: Kenan Thompson's over-enthusiasm and the sheer inappropriateness of the jokes really make this sketch. Barkley didn't do much, but his stature alone convinced me that I'd probably start sobbing uncontrollably if he shouted at me. Also, even though this sketch can sometimes be a bit much, it has given me one of my new favorite things, seeing what Thompson does to try and make any of the three "boys" break character. This week included a wet willy and sudden shoe removal. Of course.


Monologue: First of all... Lutz! Secondly, Barkley's pacing was a problem throughout the entire evening. He sounded a lot better in sketches where he was yelling or getting all worked up, but when he's just talking at you it's kind of weird to watch. However, I will give him points for having Kenan Thompson come on and do his Barkley impression for a little while and also for making some jokes about his financial problems.

Ski Retreat: Man, oh man. When Wiig did this character in the John Malkovich episode (over a year ago!?), I thought that was the last of it. I'm still not entirely sure if my reactions to this sketch counted more as laughter or groaning, but I know that this sketch could have afforded to be several minutes shorter. Plus, Barkley didn't seem to be entirely sure as to what was happening in this sketch.


Cold Open: Jason Sudeikis's Wolf Blitzer is always fun to see, and it was inevitable that they address the Yemen issue. Funny premise but it was paced very strangely.

Peepers Insurance: Such a weird idea. I'm sure I heard some fangirls out there begging their televisions to let Bill Hader be their peeping tom.

Weekend Update: I knew they would have to talk about the whole mess with Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien, and I liked that they objectively pointed out the absurdity in such a simple way and didn't have to resort to taking sides. The rest of the jokes were so-so (good Gaga joke, though), and then things picked up with the appearances of Bill Hader's snake-faced Jim Carville and Andy Samberg's Nicolas Cage. This is only because Nic Cage is inherently funny. By the way, if you haven't visited this blog already, I must insist that you go ahead and do so: Nic Cage as Everyone.

Sports commentary: Barkley got a few good lines out when he was yelling at Samberg's character. Also, "world-class baloney head" sounded like something that would have been written for Thompson's Barkley, so it was perfection.

Digital Short: Talk about a wasted opportunity! I liked that they brought in Alicia Keys's sexy phone voice, which she users often enough in her music, but the sketch itself wasn't terribly interesting or funny. After that weird "Shy Ronnie" song with Rihanna a few weeks ago, I kind of got excited thinking that Keys was there to sing with Samberg. That's what I get for having hopes and dreams.

Barkley Golf and Barkley's Bank: More self-deprecation! Good for you, Barkley. Points off for not smashing a real cake and for having to suddenly cut off a sketch, though.

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

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Nothing about the NY Gov Paterson parody? Too vicious?
Thought that one had the old time bite to it. Guy is a stone bore anyway plus state is broke under him. Overdue for a rip.
Delay of show was a big no no. Poor NBC.
Ski retreat also had a mixed reaction from me. Pole dance worked but overall too long & weak.
Cage routine whaaa dat?

January 10 2010 at 10:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I recorded this just for Alicia Keys' performances. Because of the game, I only got one of them. And it looks like Hulu isn't allowed any of them. That sucks.

Like NBC didn't know that football games never end on schedule. When will TV grow up with the rest of us?

January 10 2010 at 9:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I thought last night's episode was lame. There is so much potential in the cast, but it doesn't seem they use it very much.

I was in high school when SNL first started. Of course, those episodes were the classics. But there have been good things on SNL all along the way.

I like the Digital Shorts. I especially like the character "Penelope." Maybe I am just too old for some of the humor. But then again I love watching "The Simpsons."

Who knows? But I think they could do better on SNL.

January 10 2010 at 9:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ellen Higgins

I thought this was a great episode, Mr. Barkley is quite
entertaining. Thanks for a much needed laugh SNL.

January 10 2010 at 8:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"If anyone was expecting to be blown out of the water by Barkley's performance, they really need to reconsider if their entire life is plagued by self-sabotage, as that was clearly a silly thing to hope for and a set-up for inevitable disappointment."

This is one of the funniest lines I have ever read. Ever. Thanks for the laugh!

January 10 2010 at 8:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I really liked the Digital Short this time, Alicia's phone voice is really damned sweet. And Andy got some good lines 'from the daipers?'

January 10 2010 at 6:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I thought this was great episode. I have to admit that iI wan't expecting much either, but Charles Barkley was horrible in kind of an endearing "aw! look at him trying!" kind of way thst made it work. I loved the golf swing sketch. I think you guys are too hard on this show.

January 10 2010 at 4:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

what, no 'barkley vs. barney II: the reckoning'? boo.

January 10 2010 at 3:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Any SNL episode where the cast or guest cracks up during a sketch gets a thumbs up from me.

January 10 2010 at 1:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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