Saturday Night Live is bringing back three veteran (white male) hosts--plus another round of the Justin Timberlake Charm Offensive—to round out 2013.
Paul Rudd will host December 7 for the third time. The following weekend, John Goodman will be back for his thirteenth (!) time hosting. And then comes the double-whammy Christmas episode with Jimmy Fallon as host and Justin Timberlake as musical guest on the 21st. Let's be real, though: Fallon and Timberlake—who seem to think of themselves as sort of a latter-day Martin and Lewis—are by all means likely going to share some of the funnyman hosting duties. (Let us not forget Timberweek.)
In a season where SNL has been challenged for its lack of diversity, these hosts--who all could be excellent--are pretty safe choices. Paul Rudd will shill for Anchorman, John Goodman will kick off what's looking increasingly like an Oscar push for Inside Llewyn Davis, and cast veteran Fallon will be on his road to The Tonight Show. The musical guests are One Direction—who will draw screaming tweens to 30 Rock—for Rudd's episode and Kings of Leon for Goodman. But what about Timberlake?
Timberlake is sort of on the outs with the media these days. His GQ Man of the Year interview was bitter and openly angry about the digs people had been taking at him. ("I feel—literally—like a bunch of people just took a shit on my face," he said.)
It's strange to say it, but his stints on SNL —he joined the five-timers club this year—might be Timberlake's greatest recent achievement. Especially since his lackluster return to music-making in the past year, the TV show is the area in which he has been most consistently successful, his eagerness to please working well in Studio 8H. The question now is whether he'll still still maintain his grasp on his SNL legacy or whether the charm has worn off there, too. It's the Christmas episode, which means whatever impression he delivers will probably linger until new episodes resume after the new year.