Mainly we feel his general charisma and willingness to act silly helps, and the best moments from the Oct. 30 episode don’t feel forced. Musical guest Rihanna does better with her digital short than in her song performances.
Cold open – Before getting to the monologue, we’re treated to Jason Sudeikis as Joe Biden, preaching about how we Americans should take a page from the Chilean miners and have a more positive attitude about the government. “Don’t be whiners; think about the miners.” At one point, he calls President Obama a robot.
Monologue – Hamm claims that he’s so influenced by his “Mad Men” experiences, he now thinks up advertising slogans all the time in real life. “Audience members” suggest different products, and he comes up with some pretty silly slogans: “Diapers: Don’t worry, little homey. We’ve got your butt”; Refrigerator – “A box of winter for your food to live in.” We love when he gives himself a pep talk, “You can do this, Hammer! Yes, this is what I call myself.” Just light and goofy enough.
Shy Ronnie and Clyde – It’s the return of Shy Ronnie. Rihanna does her singing narration thing while trying to rob a bank, and Shy Ronnie is supposed to give the orders, but of course no one can hear him. Frankly, we think Rihanna is the one that steals the scene this time. Not only does she look awesome in her faux gangster clothes wielding a fake Tommy gun, but the lyrics she sings are just hilarious. After leaving the bank with cash, she comes back for more adding “and also this guy,” grabbing Jon Hamm. “We’re gonna have sex.”
Vincent Price’s Halloween Special – Ugh, Kristen Wiig’s Judy Garland is just obnoxious. Both Hamm as John F. Kennedy and Fred Armisen as Liberace are innuendo-ridden horndogs, plaguing the whole proceedings. The dirty jokes just seem too easy. As the only real Halloween sketch of the night, this one is disappointing.
“Back to the Future” DVD auditions – This is an excuse for the actors to pull out their ’80s stars impressions. For the most part they’re just okay, but we have to admit that some of them were surprisingly good, at least vocally if not visually. Some of our favorites: Jay Pharoah’s Eddie Murphy and Hamm’s Robin Williams.
Audition – Wiig once again does the gross-out thing, this time as a lady auditioning who pretty much will do anything to get a part, including spreading her butt apart, pushing her boobs together, showing her vagina, eating “a small bowl of bird waste,” etc. Hamm as her husband also gets into the act, and it’s only vaguely interesting to hear what they might come up with next.
“Weekend Update” – Bill Hader as James Carville is frightening, but amusing. “Look at me, Seth. I’m a mean peanut.” We won’t miss singers Garth and Cat (Armisen, Wiig) if they never come back. Tonight’s news felt uninspired.
“I Didn’t Ask for This” – We weren’t feeling this at first, but it definitely grows on you. The concept is the people who have embarrassing videos posted to the Internet that have gone viral get a chance to plead their case, that they aren’t meant for ridicule or remixing. They’re real people with real feelings. By the time we get to Hamm’s “Best. Cry. Ever” with Auto-Tune, we’re actually giggling along with the others.
“Highway Cops” – Sudeikis and Hamm are long-haired ’70s-style cops who ride tandem on a motorcycle but get sidetracked from fighting crime by the idyllic nature they ride through. Kenan Thompson’s character is the police chief whose grey spot on his afro grows in direct relation to their incompetence. This doesn’t feel fully realized yet. It’s haphazard and does’t go anywhere.
Darlique and Barney – The pair of bad lounge singers a familiar formula, but this time the twist is that Hamm and Wiig’s characters like to “fake fight” to draw in the audience. So the whole skit is about whether or not they’re serious. Lots of “Or are we?” or “Or did it?” going around. We think Hamm looks like he’s having fun, but we needed the lines to be better.
Rihanna – “What’s My Name” and “Only Girl” – Although she sounds fine, her performances were somewhat low energy and less interesting than the bright outfits she wears. In the second song, she looks like she’s going to prom, and the disco lights cutting shapes into the background increases that feeling. She’s just okay. Her “Shy Ronnie” skit is much more interesting.
Dog in Purse – This little cartoon centers on a male dog that’s treated like an accessory, adorned with tiara and feather boa. David Spade provides the voice, which fits the rather wry observations. We want this to push the boundaries just a little bit more, but otherwise, it was short enough to leave us wanting more.
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Photo credits: NBC