barkley shaq nbc 'Saturday Night Live': Charles Barkley hits a few shots, has a few turnoversWhile in the NBA, Charles Barkley earned a reputation as one of the league’s funnier and more quotable players. He’s taken this approach to his work on TNT’s “Inside the NBA” and, on Saturday (Jan. 7), to “Saturday Night Live.”

This is actually the third turn on the sketch comedy show for the slightly less “Round Mound of Rebound” (thanks to his highly publicized diet), and he’s as charming as ever. But outside a few good sketches, it was a series of lost opportunities.

Here’s best, worst and otherwise of what happened:

The Good

The Monologue: Barkley killed while making reference to his gambling problems, weight problems and all his other foibles. If only he hadn’t had periodic difficulties with the teleprompter. But he’s Sir Charles, so we forgive him.

Inside the NBA: “SNL” has a long history of taking guest stars and having them play a different character in the show they’re well known for. With Barkley, they had him play his new co-host Shaquille O’Neal while Keenan Thompson played Barkley. They hit the nail on the head for the show’s propensity for never actually talking about basketball.

The Charles Barkley Post-Game Translator App: Perfect. Sports personalities speak gibberish and this tool makes sense of all of it. Is it for sale on Android too?

The Average

White People Problems: It was cute, but it was basically a rip off of “Stuff White People Like.” You’d think the folks in the writers’ room would have recognized that.

The AVN Awards: A clever idea for a sketch, but rather than as the “In Memoriam” version they did, we would have rather seen the fake award show and the ridiculous acceptance speeches that might follow.

The Bad

Cold Open/A message from Rick Santorum: As the presidential race heats up,”SNL” needs to find cast members to play the potential nominees. The show picked Andy Samberg to take on the role of the mostly drab Rick Santorum. As Samberg has little material to work with here, the routine stunk and was a disappointing way to start the show.

Joanne the Lesbian: Barkley dressed as a women. Is this the best they could come up with?

The News: Probably the best joke of the entire show came at the expense of the Girl Scouts for the introduction of their cookie “Savannah Smiles.” Seth Meyers astutely points out that it sounds a heck of a lot like a porn name. The rest of the news cast was about as funny as the regular news.

Musical Guest

Former “American Idol” winner Kelly Clarkson performed a couple of tunes from her new album “Stronger.” She was as you would expect from Kelly Clarkson, polished and with no real surprises.

So Zappers, what did you think?

Posted by:David Eckstein