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"SNL": Saturday Night Long

Posted by Matthew Gilbert  March 17, 2008 05:37 AM

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Of course "Saturday Night Live" did some heavy goofing on Eliot Spitzer this weekend, and of course it was just OK -- a germ of a good idea (Spizer's future legal career rescuing people from humiliation) given too much time. That's the "SNL" way: Take a little something, blow lots of air into it, and make it into a big nothing. Even the now-famous Hillary sketch (see Joanna's related piece), in which the press loved Obama so much more than HIllary, was too long, and then done in a slightly different version all over again the next week.

I really think it's time to take "SNL" down to an hour. The cast is really good right now, they seem to be having fun, they feel more like a united troupe than the "SNL" cast has in years. I don't have proof, still I sense that there is a lot less competition and showboating among the comics than before. And the news segment has finally found its legs, after a season of awkwardness while Seth Meyers learned how to deliver fake-news humor. Seth and Amy finally feel like a team. And this last weekend's Obama op-ed by Tracy Morgan was perfect -- a concise response to Tina Fey's op-ed for Hillary a few weeks back.

But the cast is very small, and they should be consolidating their talents, not stretching them out too thin and using them to kill time and to create skits that promote shows on NBC and its corporate cousins. These guys have the potential to be excellent, to shine up the show's reputation for being so consistently underwhelming, if they can be pushed to condense.

What about the advertising situation? Oh yeah, that's a problem. Of course. Unless more people start tuning into an hourlong show live every week, because it's so funny and timely and tight. And then everyone will benefit, for the long run.

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5 comments so far...
  1. Your underlying assumption seems to be that by reducing it by a third, the remaining hour will be that much funnier. I don't think that that's a safe assumption.

    Posted by Chris Muir March 17, 08 12:01 PM
  1. I think that's an easy (and obvious) assumption to make, and I've realized it for years just by noting how the show tends to nosedive after the news, when (roughly) the last half hour begins. It should be an hour show, and that's still including two songs, TV funhouse, the short film, and fake commercials. The sketches that can be fit in edgewise among all that will only be tight and as funny as they can be.

    Posted by Rick March 17, 08 01:28 PM
  1. Reducing the show down to an hour is a great idea - allowing SNL to become more tight with bite that may very well bring the viewers back. There is only so much material to be had in a week of news - and so much stretching an audience both in the theater and at home will take before they walk out or switch to another channel. So go down to an hour, tighten the routines and throw out the "so-so" stuff! -Andrew, MALL727net-

    Posted by Andrew March 17, 08 05:59 PM
  1. i like that the last half hour's worth of material is usually of the off beat and out there variety. Its refreshing to see that not all sketch comedy humor on the show has to be topical or of the recurring character variety and that there is some what the hell type thinking done by the writers during the normal work week on behalf of trying to make the show funnier for the people out there who like weird things like that.


    It'd be stupid to cut that last half hour because you'd be reducing the number of skits each week to about 3 or 4. that's not a smart use for what you call a talented and more united cast. if you notice during that first hour inbetween the opening, monologue, musical guest, and news, it doesn't leave much room for the actual sketches to come through, you need that last half hour, if only to give some breathing room for the actual performers to get in some air time. Also while i do think what you said about the actors this year is true, they all seem to be in simpatico with one another more then in years' past, I do think the show does sort of feature Amy Poehler a little too often (sort of the way they used to have Will Ferrell dominate.) but other then that, i do like the way they havn't had one of the new up starts dominate the show overall. (i'm thinking of samburg.)

    Posted by matt March 17, 08 10:33 PM
  1. I would love to see SNL do this scene:HILLARY HAS WON ELECTION AND IS PRESIDENT. Camera inside oval office. Oval office,. late at nite.Doorknob
    slowly turns. Door opens and Bill enters in PJ's and robe. He looks around cautiously and softly closes the door.Walks over to desk and sits in Presidents chair.He caresses the armrests. Has faraway look in his eyes, as though reminicing the past.He puts a cigar in his mouth, sighs and snuggles into the chair, hands clasped behind head.The screen becomes wavy and we know a dream sequence is coming by the harp miusic.Then ,Momica is standing next to Bill in her black dress.We hear a click and the room is flooded with light. The door flies open, Monica Vanishes. Hillery enters, clad in a nightrobe,, her hair festooned with grotesque curlers, a rolling pin in her hand.She brandishes it at Bill and shouts angrily,"I Told you never to come in here without permission! I''m the President now! Put out that filthy cigar and get up to your room!

    Posted by Art Williams April 27, 08 04:13 PM
 

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