Can Justin Timberlake Get SNL Back On Track?

Tonight's Saturday Night Live will be hosted by Justin Timberlake, who has consistently turned in stellar performances while hosting the show. So if tonight's show is bad, we'll know it's not Timberlake who's to blame.

We resurrected our SNL Live Threads about a month ago, when Tracy Morgan hosted, hoping that the show, which had hit a steady decline in quality since the election last fall, might once again be worth watching. But Morgan's show was dull and relatively unfunny: for every bright spot, there were ten clunkers, and it appeared that the pattern of wasting a hilarious host (see: Hugh Laurie's abysmal episode, Neil Patrick Harris' forgettable appearance) in favor of showing commercials that weren't funny the first time around (edible diapers) and skits that wore out their welcome on arrival (Kenan Thompson's prisoner skit, Fred Armisen's Barack Obama impression) as well as mean-spirited, homophobic, violent skits that relied more on blood and guts than, you know, actual laughs. There's a talented cast here—they just aren't being given anything to work with.

SNL gets a pass mostly because of its longevity and reputation for producing memorable material, as well as being a legendary institution that's given us Bill Murray, Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and current cast member Bill Hader. But the "SNL sucks now" train has been chugging along for years now (decades?), and though the election period showed promise, it looks like business as usual at 30 Rock. There are only two episodes left this season: tonight's episode, with Timberlake, and next week's, with host Will Ferrell. Let's hope the show goes out on a high note, and that this season can end the way it started, with at least a little glimpse that the next season will provide more laughs than exasperated sighs.

In any case, we'll have a live thread up for tonight's episode. To get you ready, here's one of my favorite Timberlake skits: