Monday, March 03, 2008

SNL - Two in a row was too much to expect

Last week's Saturday Night Live was good, good enough that I was almost eager for this week, a band, Wilco, that has always intrigued me, and young Ellen Page from Juno, I was optimistic. Saturday Night Live on a good run is like a Cubs winning streak, rare but not impossible, and something to behold. This week even started out with a bang, Hillary Clinton in a trademark brown pant suit, matching the one Amy Pohler had just worn in a skit, as Hillary.

It was one of the few moments of the broadcast, a huge let down from last week. I'm disappointed but I have figured out why.

The strike was good for them. Is it a coincidence that the first week back from a long layoff had skits full of bad television icons. Donald Trump, the creepy Jon Benet Ramsey guy, and the late night Riddler knockoff from the infomercials? This show was the fruit of a bunch of writers that had sat home and dredged the depths of popular culture, the foundation of Saturday Night Live's best production. That show was the product of writer's that rediscovered what got them their jobs that they were sitting out of. They came in with fresh ideas and bitter sarcasm, and pushed them through, then they spent a week on set, and had actors and producers in their faces, and they wrote skits like "Virginiaca."

The show wasn't a total disaster, but it was a significant downgrade. "The Obama Files," parts of weekend update, and an appearance by Rudy Guiliani all rose above the usual terrible fodder SNL has put out in recent years. In two weeks, there has been the equivalent of a year end compilation show. But honestly, half this show was about the elections, and most of the other half stank. Cheap laughs at the expense of media icons is good for a handful of material at best, after that, you can squeeze some laughs out of recycled former stars, like Tina Fey the first week, and lampooning your guest.

This week, Ellen Page, star of "Juno," which I haven't seen, fell far short. Yes, she's a teen age girl, but her Miley Cyrus impersonation was even annoying her partner in the skit. The little girl was a little over her head. Then again, that happens.

The regular cast has no excuse for putting out an episode that I am glad that I DVR'd so that I could skip through the bad stuff. I'm not a huge fan of political skits, but those were easily the best here. I'm hoping this week the writer's went home and watched some bad TV, read a lot of cheesy magazines, and ignored the voices all around them at the studio.

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