Is there no place that Justin Bieber hasn’t infiltrated? After watching him switch places with Jon Stewart at "The Daily Show" and bring a Lakers game to a grinding halt due to a mini fit of pre-teen Biebermania in the crowd, our generation’s Donny Osmond showed up on "Saturday Night Live" to go one-on-one with the Church Lady.
The Church Lady I’m referring to, of course, is host and SNL alum Dana Carvey’s revived "Church Chat" bit, one of several from the bygone early-nineties era of the show which was, arguably, the finest run of seasons the show’s ever had. With a special appearance by Bobby Moynihan’s Snooki character, the guilt-dishing grandma was brought roaring into the 21st century, her hellfire damnation as badly needed as ever.
While most of us have yet to reach the point of sad nostalgia where we’ll leap out of our skins with juvenile glee at seeing the old Aurora Cable 10 placard preceding the doughy return of "Wayne’s World," but it was a pleasant feeling to see Carvey – who’s been shunned from Hollywood after a series of abominably unfunny films – and Canadian laugh-factory Mike Myers reviving their old roles. Sure, it was a little sad to see these old guys acting like the kids we remember them as, but a little Memory Lane walking goes a long way. And the most golden line of the night came from it: "I could make a Mila out of her Kunis."
After a terribly awkward monologue in which Carvey declared his run on the show the best cast period, as well as the aforementioned "Church Chat" skit, Justin Bieber appeared once again – this time in a Digital Short that parodied The Roommate, with Biebs playing a college student moving in with a super-creepy spaz roommate, played by Andy Samberg. For the love of God, can we please stop humoring this kid’s pre-pubescent beauty? We’re not eight year old girls. When grown-ass men do it, it’s dangerously pedophyllic in nature. No good.
Following was the "Sports Bar" skit, in which a sports-bar owner lets his brother-in-law’s European band The Fingerlings play, after endless hassling from his wife. Effeminate, ’80s-influenced, trenchcoat-clad nonsense, fronted by Carvey and Fred Armisen, is hardly on the list of things a bunch of Super Bowl fans want to see at a sports bar. The reaction shots from Kenan Thompson and Jason Sudeikis were just as funny as the track itself, “Embrace Me,” featuring such football-centric lines as “Weeping in the pouring rain with blue mascara running down my face” and “Smearing my lipstick on the bedroom mirror while I cry about you.”
On the failing side of the funny was the "Celebrity Teen Crisis Center" skit, which boasted "Real Celebrities Answering Real Teen Calls". Fertile comedic ground (think of all the vapid, self-absorbed "crises" today’s teens experience) was squandered in favor of various cast member impressions of heavily varying quality.
Carvey and Thompson’s "Little Miss Little Girl Pageant" skit was far too creepily realistic to actually be truly funny (seriously, why doesn’t someone shut that whole human-doll industry down?), with the two creepy creepersons introducing little Southern princesses in a redneck beauty pageant. The selling point was the little boy forced to compete in the girls’ division, something Mr. Andy Samberg delivered with awkward brilliance:
A new impersonation debuted on a particularly strong "Weekend Update" by way of Paul Brittain, who debuted a James Franco mimicry that could still use some work, but nailed this year’s Oscar host/nominee Franco’s tendency to be a casual overachiever with a carefree attitude: "I just love everything!"
Unfortunately, the funny was undermined by Kristen Wiig’s turn as disco-star-turned-meteorologist Angela Dixon. Wiig is amazing in her own right, and has singlehandedly pulled SNL from the fires of total worthlessness several times in recent years, but this character was far too limited and immensely annoying.
Musical guest Linkin Park brought their fashionable Apple-Store-revolution soundtrack to the SNL stage to deliver a spin on their new single, “Waiting for the End,” a laser-light infused performance that preceded “When They Come for Me,” a slightly reworked version that possessed some fire.
While Carvey’s revival doesn’t measure up to the Anne Hathaway episode (after all, Carvey’s washed up and Hathaway’s hitting her high stride), the return of a few famous characters and impressions from the carefree days of the nineties was a warm welcome of nostalgia. Sadly, it’s not likely to do much for Dana’s career, which is best suited for the kind of pre-9/11 harmless humor that relies on the charm of the old greats – an underappreciated comedic element these days.
On its own, the show is still a mess. But if they can keep bringing in the compelling guests, Lorne Michaels & Co. might be able to cover that fact up until next season’s cast change-up. And would you look at that! Chris Brown is next week’s musical guest. Have we sunk so low that we’re willing to accept not only Michael Vick back into our entertainment ranks, but a man who unmercifully beat Rihanna until she was bruised and bloody? Wow, NBC, that’s bold. If only we could get Ike Turner and Rick James back from the dead for a *real* slugger of a performance….