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Every once in awhile I read reviews of SNL. Almost never do the reviews say
"it was OK". Unless it is a review by a frequent viewer, they always say
something like "SNL is great again!" or "SNL sucks now". Usually these
reviews are from people who never or rarely watch the show, and only
remember it from 5, 10, 15 or even 20 years ago. These types of reviews
have been the same for as long as I can remember. The periods that people
now call "classic" frequently met with poor reviews at the time.
One thing to remember is that the show is an hour and a half, longer than most any other TV show. It is hard to fill such a long show with consistently funny material. It is also hard to make every episode funny. Therefore the show (like most shows) wavers between great and awful, depending on the sketch or episode you are watching at the moment. To judge an entire series on one episode (or part of one) is a mischaracterization.
I've watched SNL for most of its life, and although it has ranged from hilarious to horrible, I would say the average show is "pretty funny". The bottom line: there's nothing better to watch on Saturday night, so until there is, I will always watch SNL!
The first five years of S.N.L. will always be the "golden era" of this show. Belushi, Akroyd, Chase, Curtain, Newman, Morris, Radner and Radner will always represent an era when some of the best comedic talent of the 1970's were all on one show and as a springboard for greatness. However, once the original cast was gone the show went in decline for me. Even though talents like Eddie Murphy, Joe Piscapo, Mike Meyers, Dana Carvey, Martin Short and Billy Crystal became big stars as a result of being on the show, the magic that the original Not Ready for Prime Time Players will never be duplicated. They made Saturday nights worth staying at home.
An earlier reviewer said this show sucks and that the "new cast" is terrible. What is interesting about SNL is how whenever there is a changeover of cast, it has become almost a tradition to hate the newcomers. In truth, however, many of the episodes that have aired in recent years -- even since the 1998 review I refer to -- have now come to be considered classics. And the cast members so many of us hated at first are now often seen in a favorable light alongside the "classic" cast of the late 1970s. And what cannot be denied is no TV program in history has been such a fertile breeding ground for future stars. Just look at the cast list and be amazed.
I like to describe this show like a on and off relationship because one year this show is funny and the next it sucks and it's like that year after year. Still it always manages to make you laugh and it has been the breakthrough show for some of the greatest comedians of all-time.
What promised well from the early seasons has become, more seasons than
not, a safe and homogenized sketch comedy. It's basically the McDonalds
of TV sketch that has pushed worthier competitors out of the way for
Performers and writers are basically encouraged to ruin sketches with one-note repetition/dragged-out premises, breaking character (essentially on purpose) and smug self-satisfaction... and all of this in the least interesting way possible. What could have been an American version of the avante-garde sketch-breaking started with Monty Python has instead evolved into the pettiest of petty irony "lol I'm in a sketch" onanism; professional 'high school pep assembly' sketches.
The teleprompter-life-support terrible acting that has plagued the show since the 80's or so deserves its own separate paragraph.
The next part may be tough to talk about in a year as politically polarizing and maddening as 2016 is, but I'm nothing if not willfully oblivious: The sketch and satire has picked a direction instead of bravely throwing punches at all valid targets. However, due to the nature of most kinds of satire, from the Ancient Greeks onward, this political directionality itself is forgivable, even if the occasional punch in the other direction would be more intellectually honest. But far, far worse is that instead of an open-minded, sharp, liberal satire, it has chosen, especially in the last 15 years or so, a sophomore-level, party-line Democrat 'satire'. So instead of leading in their own particular apologize-to-no-one way that satirists should do (and as South Park does and The Daily Show and Colbert Report almost always did- they are not always right, but they are always satirists), they follow the party line.
Instead of the 2/10 that I'm giving for the occasional good sketch, would you find it reasonable to give a 1/10 to a show that has for 40 years: had essentially its pick of the litter on writers and performers; had a decent budget; has cornered the market (merely by being first to market) on the national attention that no other show of its kind has come close to rivaling; and for all that has given us a batting average of good/rewatchable sketches somewhere around the 5% range?
So sad, I've been watching the show for over two decades and I can't deal anymore. I often get so frustrated I turn it off mid show. It use to be funny now it just tries to translate offensive behavior into humor. Tonight when they offended Christian spirituality, off it went. A couple weeks ago I watched and they refused to bring on any skits that did not whine and cry about the election results and they are still mentioning it in almost every skit. Get over it already! Other things are happening in the world. No matter who won, does that mean we have to bash the upcoming new president relentlessly. Sour grapes. You are losing a huge population of viewers, enough to apparently determined the election results. When Alec Baldwin came on in the beginning of the 2016 campaign show as Trump, I admit it was hilarious but it gave equal footing to poking fun at both candidates not just bashing one. In addition you really need writing adjustments, the material is dry and humorless. Miss the old shows.
Been watching all of SNL this season and I'm disappointed with the way the show is moving. The skit's aren't really that great and creative anymore. I don't find myself laughing at all most episodes aside from weekend update. The music guests have absolutely sucked this season - all people I've never heard of or that just stink (no big names aside from Coldplay). Every skit also finds it's only humor in sexual innuendo's. But it's just crass jokes and not even good ones (like Sweuty's Ball's). Gonna take a break from the show for now until the writers get their act together and find funny jokes instead of just jokes about sex.
I was a huge "SNL" fan back in the days of Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Dan Ackroyd, Gilda Radner and many other memorable stars. But every time I've tried to watch it in the past more than ten years I've been very disappointed and sometimes even disgusted with it. Ten years ago I believed the show couldn't possibly survive, since it had become so utterly bereft of the sort of humor I could understand, and yet it kept plugging along, which I've always found dismaying, wondering how in the world anyone could possibly find its lame humor at all funny. Whenever I've tuned in over the past decade I've never once been glad that I did. Indeed, I've always been annoyed at myself for staying up and wasting my time. For me, the absolute low point came several years ago when a popular young male actor I liked a lot was the guest host. At one point that night he played a big star, perhaps himself, and in the skit, the character "Mongo," I think, played by Chris Kattan, again I think, ended up in the backseat of a car with him. What followed was Mongo being forced up and down and up and down on the actor's lap, with him screaming hysterically as he was presumably sodomized. The audience was laughing their heads off and I'm shaking my head, amazed that they could find that remotely funny, amazed that NBC would even broadcast such a thing. In the years since then I've repeatedly tried to approach the show with an open mind, hoping that it might regain the sly sense of humor I adored for so many years. But, up until just a week ago, for me, it hasn't done so. Not even close. One exception: During the 2008 presidential campaign, I thought that Tina Fey was fantastic, and she was the one performer who kept me tuning in. But those Sarah Palin skits, while hysterical, were still not enough to save the rest of the 90 minutes and I would always regret not turning it off as soon as I heard the familiar "It's 'Saturday Night!!!'"
What was unique about "NBC's Saturday Night", in 1975, was that it
brought back the ninety minute variety format-except for that now it
was late night TV. "Your Show of Shows"(1950-54) was the previous
comedy-variety 90 minute show. There were other regular 90 minute
programs over the years, as well: boxing events in TV's earliest years,
and later, late night TV("Tonight", which would eventually become "The
Tonight Show"), a dramatic anthology("Playhouse 90"), cultural
fare("Omnibus"), westerns("The Virginian", "Cimarron Strip"), an
adventure series("Name of the Game"), other sporting events, & a
rotating detective 'movie'(NBC's Sunday Mystery Movie), all running 90
minutes. However, "NBC's Saturday Night" was, really, the heir to the
Sid Caesar throne, so to speak. Since 1954, there hadn't been another
comedy-variety show of such length.
Also, since the early days of live comedy and theater drama, there hadn't been a live television staple, pretty much since the early sixties. That all changed in October 1975. The writing was a bit biting: besides the standard continuing comedy sketches, there was political satire, too-often seen on the 'Weekend Update' news sketch, which was handled by regular Chevy Chase, and was reminiscent to earlier shows like "That Was the Week That Was" and "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour". There was a musical guest, sometimes a talent act, and a short film(comic filmmaker Albert Brooks started out here, and later, the 'Mr.Bill' shorts were a standard). To give an idea of the multitude of variety format, on the second broadcast, the guest host was singer Paul Simon, Albert Brooks offered one of his film shorts, the musical guests for the evening were Randy Newman and Phoebe Snow-with a special surprise by Simon and Art Garfunkel, and a sketch with Jim Henson's Muppets(Henson was trying to break out from under the weight of the kiddie programs "Sesame Street" and several 'family' specials). In that day, the regulars were tagged 'The Not-Ready-for-Primetime Players', and included Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, and Chase(who were all, eventually, part of the writing staff, as well). The show was definitely unique, a breath of fresh air in the midst of a pop-culture takeover(similar in what was happening to cinema, as well, @ the time).
Over the years, the show has gotten thru some tough times, but has never really seemed as challenging as in those early days. Perhaps this is the norm when something so unique and new becomes the common, but, it seems, that once the originals went their own ways, after having broken thru certain cultural taboos, their followers just seemed to be more set on breaking through the language(four letter words) & innuendo barriers. True, the writing was never perfect, and could be quite silly, in fact, even in those earliest days. However, much of it was satire handled like nothing else on TV at that time. It was often quite innovative and challenging. There have been times, actually, where the writing has gone beyond the late night standard(as in the late 80s-Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman, Jon Lovitz era-and, recently, with Tina Fey, Jimmy Fallon, Chris Parnell, Daryl Hammond, and Horatio Sanz), but, overall, it was more focused on the likes of adult diaper sketches and, like most TV-lots of sex. Now, the show has really never been short of good comics, but when it comes to the actual comedy, it's often been sub par. It's good to see that there actually are some brains behind the show, again, though. Except after so many years, does it really matter anymore? I mean, is it really the same cutting edge broadcast it was so many years ago, now with a vast budget and few surprises? The writing may be better, again, but where's the creativity gone? Ironically, with all the evidence available, maybe 'The Not-Ready-for-Primetime Players' were more ready than ever. -Concerned viewer
You just cant touch NRFPTP! The new crop is just awful. The jokes are not funny. Some of the troupe make me want to stop watching TV all together. Lorne - you have let your creation go down the toilet. The guests sometimes are good, the bands are mostly garbage. Weekend update, Seth has to tell the audience when to laugh.....Seth would get a proper reception in a Baghdad cafe though...Make sure Andy goes with him... The show has about 10 jokes in all and they just keep rehashing them over and over. Even the segments that are obviously not funny. Offending people has become the name of the game, but they cant even do that right. Just offensively. I am so disappointed with what has happened to the show, but now I also know it is safe to go OUT on a Saturday night!
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