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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 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
whenever i'm down or depressed, the one thing i watch to cheer me up? Saturday Night Live. every Saturday night, i'd have some pizza for dinner, wash it down with a good soda or beer, lay back on the couch and watch SNL all night long. SNL is the best show i've ever seen, very funny, creative, and it's a wonder that's as big a success now as it was 32 years ago. tina fey is really funny, as is amy poehler, seth myers and kenan thomson. kenan was one of my favorite childhood actors when he was in nickelodeon's "kenan and kel". sometimes i go on youtube and look for clips of the old SNL, and it's just as funny. so thank u SNL. thank you for making me look at the bright, comedic and slightly inappropriate side of life.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Saturday Night Live,also known as SNL, is a late-night live television
sketch comedy and variety show created by Lorne Michaels and developed
by Dick Ebersol.The show premiered on NBC on October 11, 1975, under
the original title NBC's Saturday Night. The show's comedy sketches,
which parody American culture and politics, are performed by a large
and varying cast of repertory and newer cast members.
Every episode is hosted by a celebrity guest, who usually delivers an opening monologue and performs in sketches with the cast, and features performances by a musical guest. An episode normally begins with a cold open sketch that ends with someone breaking character and proclaiming, "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!", beginning the show proper.
SNL used to be a great comedy show in the past especially when the likes of Laraine Newman, John Belushi, Jane Curtin, Gilda Radner, Dan Aykroyd, Garrett Morris and Chevy Chase were the regulars of the show.It is still good show now but not as great in the past.Also,their sketches and parodies are no longer as funny as it used to be when they were creative and Americans really look forward every Saturday night.Now,it has become less comedic and also more of a liberal media comedy outlet.But one thing is for certain despite the things that I have mentioned.That is:America loves SNL.That is because of what it has achieved in the past.
If you have Comedy Central, you're in luck. They show reruns of Saturday Night Live all the time. So whatever era you like the best, you'll probably be able to find it. The website will be able to tell you when certain episodes will be on, they usually go chronologically then start over.
Let's imagine we're discussing Bipolar disorder or manic depressive behavior. With this disorder, individuals go through cycles of being manic sometimes, depressed other times, and somewhere in between the rest of the time. But instead, let's say manic represents funny and depressive represents not funny and in between is, well, in between. That sums up Saturday Night Live pretty well. Sometimes funny, sometimes not, and usually in between. It does have its moments and, quite often, a good guest host makes a big difference. Justin Timberlake comes to mind. Many times, I admit, I don't make it past midnight because I figure if they haven't come up with 5-10 minutes of funny by then, I give up! I might also point out that most of the time, "Saturday Night Rerun" would be a more fitting title but I'll save that for another time. Oops! Too late! Oh, well, maybe that's why now they prefer the title SNL.
SNL hasn't been consistently funny for about 20 years or so. Of course the show will be occasionally funny - it happens, but not often enough. Loren Michaels tends to choose cast members who look like successful cast members from the past (anyone else notice?), trading off players' physical appearance for talent. He also has a policy of promoting writers from within who are just not able to carry the show. I'm talking about the Luke-warm comedy of Seth Meyers. Weekend Update is only mildly amusing on a good night. With the phenomenal talent pools in New York, Chicago, Toronto, and LA, Michaels could put together blockbuster ensembles, but that won't happen. Why? You'll have to ask Dr. Evil himself for the answer to that question.
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