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This is not going to be another one of those columns complaining about how "Saturday Night Live" isn't as good as it used to be. Everyone's written that one. I've written it. You've written it (or said it, or thought it). Declaring that the new "SNL" can't compete with the vintage stuff is about as insightful as a treatise on how the Earth revolves around the sun or why Paris Hilton is a blot on civilization.
And, to be honest, I'm starting to wonder if we're being too hard on the current show.
Every few years, I'll run into Lorne Michaels at a press event and badger him about various flaws in the show's operating system. Why does all the material need to be produced in the week of the show when only a small portion is ever topical? Why does almost all of it have to be performed live when some of the most memorable sketches ever were elaborately-produced short films? Hasn't "The Daily Show" made "Weekend Update" irrelevant?
And Lorne, in that implacable Dr. Evil way he has, will calmly explain that this is the way they've always done it, and that the show always has been and always will be uneven. He'll politely excuse himself to be badgered by someone else who wants a "More Cowbell" movie to be produced, and I'll stand around wondering how he can be so smug and oblivious to the show's problems.
Then I watched the bulk of the new DVD set, "SNL: The Complete First Season," and Michael's stubborn reliance on history began to make sense. Because the dawn of the "SNL" golden age was ... not so great.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Today's column, inspired by a viewing of the bulk of the new "Saturday Night Live: The Complete First Season" DVD set: