‘Saturday Night Live’ review: Sopranos Diaries, Ray Lewis, YOLO, and Andy Samberg

Saturday Night Live Logo“Saturday Night Live” was obviously hoping to have the next Justin Timberlake with host Adam Levine: a talented singer and sex symbol who is starting to get into acting, and willing to make fun of himself in the process. Unfortunately, what we mostly saw from the show is that while the Maroon 5 frontman is likable enough, he is not suited for live comedy. You can tell he has little experience reading cue cards, and his timing was off for a good percentage of his jokes … especially as the show went on.

Then again, we also has to say that the failures of this show at times were not completely his fault. We also have to blame the writing.

The tough spots

First of all, who else thought that the cold open was a little bit of a missed opportunity? There wasn’t really anything about Kenan Thompson’s Martin Luther King Jr. impersonation that was anything different than what Kenan traditionally does on the show, and the lines about Beyonce and Michelle Obama were pretty predictable. The upside? At least it was short. Speaking of missed opportunities, we felt the same way about a Rosetta Stone commercial whose sole punchline was that people do creepy things in Thailand. We saw “The Hangover Part II.” We get it.

The problem with the Levine-centered sketches were that there were never really opportunities for him to unleash the crazy. The one that involved singing had him playing himself, another one had him getting handsy with Bobby Moynihan while he was looking towards his lines, and a spoof of “Catfish” (especially appropriate considering the Manti Te’o saga) never really went anywhere thanks in part to his timing. Then, there was a firehouse sketch that was basically Bill Hader screaming for three straight minutes. Levine’s a great musician and we were rooting for him, but he may have been better suited to be a musical guest who popped up in a couple of sketches along with it.

As for the positives…

The opening monologue was at least a bright spot during the early portion of the show, as it was a clever use of “The Voice” to bring out people who were interested in being Levine’s comedy coach. Andy Samberg, Cameron Diaz, and Jerry Seinfeld all made funny cameos, with Samberg’s joke about only ever being in two actual sketches serving as the primary highlight. (We would have picked Andy, for the record.)

“Sopranos Diaries” – This, by far, was the best idea of the night. It was a wonderful riff on “The Carrie Diaries” in that it took another popular HBO show, and decided to suddenly move it into the 1980s. Every joke here was spot-on in mocking both the classic series and The CW’s “Sex and the City” revival, including a joke about how producers for “The Carrie Diaries” largely ignored the “Sex and the City” timeline to suit their own interest.

“Weekend Update” – We love the Arianna Huffington impersonation, and will advocate it just as often as we will Stefon or Drunk Uncle. Meanwhile, the Ray Lewis bit featuring Thompson was brilliant. When Lewis said that he would kneel at the 50-yard line and “ascend into heaven” if the Ravens win the Super Bowl, we were howling.


The Digital Short – Thanks to Samberg coming back, we saw the revival of The Lonely Island. The group, with help from Levine and musical guest Kendrick Lamar, turned the concept of YOLO on its head and made it into something that we would see on “Doomsday Preppers.” It wasn’t the best Digital Short ever, but we were glad for the memories.

What did you think about Levine’s show as a whole? Be sure to share your thoughts below! If you want to watch some other highlights from this “Saturday Night Live” season, you can do so here. We’ll have videos from this show in the morning.

Photo: NBC

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