Sports · Television

Thoughts on SNL, and the end of another season

Saturday Night Live, the show that everyone seems to love to hate, just completed its 37th season. The 2011-2012 season will most likely be remembered as the final season for Kristen Wiig, Andy Samberg, and (possibly) Jason Sudeikis. I supposed it is better than the alternatives – either as the year they tried to showcase alternative and YouTube acts (and failed), or not being remarkably funny at all. Thanks to DVRs and hulu, it is really easy for critics to take potshots at SNL (and still claim to “not watch the show” to maintain their hipster snark cred). Critiquing comedy is easy. Performing comedy is difficult. Performing comedy weekly in front of an audience on live television twenty-two times in a thirty-plus week schedule is an excruciating grind. It is not meant to be done by an individual for seven seasons. That is why I embrace the imminent cast shake up. I hope that the 2012-2013 season will the advent of the Taran Killam-Bobby Moynihan era. But more importantly, I really look forward to a turnover in the writers’ room. In sketch comedy, it is not a question of the abilities of the on-air talent, it is a matter of the quality of the writing. The 2011-2012 season had two weak links, not counting the musical guests. One was Wiig’s recurring sketch characters. The other was Weekend Update. The former is already taken care of. The WU anchor desk needs either a co-host, or a new host altogether. Seth Meyers is not funny enough as a head writer or a performer to go solo. Perhaps they could hire his brother, MADtv alum Josh Meyers. I don’t think the show overall is bad, nor do I feel it should be replaced. But I do have an alternative option for the network for the summer, and on times the show goes on a break.

When I discuss SNL, many people love to dismiss it as a dinosaur that needs to go away, but I fail to hear any alternatives for NBC to air.  When I ask if they ever watched MADtv any of the 14 seasons it went head-to-head with SNL, I get a collective, “What?” as a response. So another sketch comedy show is not viable. And a variety is definitely a bad idea. Remember the Jay Leno experiment at 10PM a few seasons ago? Only because it was a disaster on the scale of Cop Rock and Cavemen. Back in the mid 80’s, before the Dana Carvey-Phil Hartman era, NBC went to Vince McMahon and the WWF (now WWE) for Saturday Night’s Main Event. That’s right, Hulkamania was running wild on Saturday nights. I do not see the network calling McMahon again since the XFL experiment failed so miserably. (Notice a pattern here?)

So sports entertainment is the answers, but perhaps sports is. I offer this as a suggestion: how about a 60 or 90 minute sports highlight show to rival ESPN’s “SportsCenter”? SC is ripe for the taking, and NBC is trying to establish their NBC Sports network as a rival to the WorldWide Leader (tWWL) in sports. NBC can cover the sports that SC is notorious for ignoring, (mainly because Disney/ABC/ESPN doesn’t televise it). For example: hockey. If they act now, they can use this as a platform to showcase the upcoming Summer Olympics, which is going to be televised on the Comcast/NBC family of networks. During the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks, this sports highlight show can showcase the upcoming Sunday Night Football Game of the Week. Most importantly, it gives newly hired Michelle Beadle a platform for her talents.

That being said, I may not watch SNL’s 38th season “live.” The only reason I watched the 37th season was that I was not watching adult swim’s lineup. I was not interested in Bleach’s filler arc, and I already have FMA:Brotherhood on DVD. But now that Toonami is coming back to the Cartoon Network, I might revert to one of those folks who catches the show on hulu.

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