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Justin Timberlake brings back Saturday Night Live

Saturday Night Live poster

Written by : published Sunday 17th March 2013

NBC's Saturday Night Live has good episodes and bad. In recent years, after the 2008 election, the bad weeks have outnumbered the good by quite a few. But all it takes is a fantastic host and a bevy of wonderful guests to turn things around, and last week's episode, which features Justin Timberlake as both the host and musical guest, does just that.

Right from the opening where Timberlake does a wonderful Elton John impersonation with a "Candle in the Wind" parody, the episode takes off. Timberlake is obviously a musician, having contributed to many of the best musical numbers in the series in previous episodes, and he uses that skill again in this gig. A good episode plays to the host's strengths, and this one most definitely does.

Besides the opening, he also sings with recurring characters like the parody-singing advertising mascot (this time a block of tofu, and ending with a Harlem Shake in Veganville) and a return of the "D*** in a Box" guys with Andy Samberg. Sure, it takes time to build up a recurring character's popularity, but the ones that the writers and actors love are usually the ones that the fans love to, so the effort is worth it. Timberlake manages to have a couple of very popular characters with only a limited number of appearances. It's quite impressive.

Besides Samberg, many other Saturday Night Live alumni dropped by. This is done in celebration of Timberlake joining the "5 Timers Club," since this is his fifth time hosting, so other frequent hosts including Steve Martin, Candice Bergen, Tom Hanks, Alec Baldwin, and Chevy Chase appear. The cast of SNL is a very important clique. But so is the job of host. Only a few have reached this pinnacle, invited back over and over again, and they all ooze with talent. Seeing them gather together, along with Martin Short, Paul Simon, and Dan Akroyd, is not only thrilling, but hilarious, as these are some of the funniest people of their generation.

Sometimes, though, guests can be wasted. That is not the case in Timberlake's episode. It isn't practical to include all of those named in other sketches, of course, because too many showed up. But Martin and Akroyd dust off their Wild and Crazy Guys for a bit, and Martin, Chase, and Short don their Three Amigos costumes, thankfully altered to accommodate their current bodies. It's these kind of touches that make the episode memorable, and worth the time of these non-hosts who show up.

There are plenty of sketches in this episode that will provide laughs for years to come, unlike the "5 Timers Club," which is fantastic, but not inherently funny. These all have one thing in common: a current cast member holds their own against the host and/or veterans. The dating game show, where poor Bobby Moynihan competes against two pairs of recurring characters is amusing, especially because of Moynihan's role in it, not in spite of it. He knows he can't compete against the others and embracing it, making him a valuable part of the sketch, rather than a throw-away. And the commercial where Timberlake dates a girl with a penis (played beautifully by Nasim Pedrad) will elicit a giggle or two.

I'm not a fan of the musical performances, and often skip them. I will say, though, that I stuck with "Suit and Tie," despite being lukewarm on the song itself, and it was a terrific performance. The stage looked great, the dancing was incredibly impressive, and tone was perfect.

Overall, Justin Timberlake once more delivers for Saturday Night Live. Let's hope they invite him back soon.

Saturday Night Live airs Saturdays at 11 p.m. ET on NBC.

Watch Episode 16 - Justin Timberlake online

About the author JeromeWetzelTV

JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome Wetzel is a huge fan of stories, in both books and television. He writes TV reviews and fiction. He currently posts articles for TheTVKing, Seat42F, and BlogCritics, as well as his own personal blog, as well as writing fiction. His website is www.jeromewetzel.com Follow him on twitter @JeromeWetzelTV

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