Review: Saturday Night Live - Charles Barkley/Alicia Keys
by Annie Wu, posted Jan 10th 2010 12:45PM
(S35E11) 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.
NOT SO GREAT STUFF
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.
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