Friday, October 17, 2008

SNL: Thursday night live, take two

Quick thoughts on last night's Thursday "Saturday Night Live" primetime thingee (or whatever it's called) coming up just as soon as I say hi to my imaginary friend...

Not too good, I thought. In fairness, having the debate on Wednesday and a show on Thursday meant they had less than 24 hours to turn around virtually all their material, which is tight even by "SNL" standards. But they still don't really know what to do with either Obama or McCain, and at this point it seems like they're doing debate sketches just because they're expected to, and not because someone had a particularly inspired take on each debate. If they were going to center the whole thing around Joe the Plumber, I would have much rather seen them try to do some kind of sketch from his POV, either showing him during or immediately after the debate as he briefly became the most famous plumber in the world.

And while I like Seth and Amy, putting Weekend Update in such close proximity to "The Daily Show" -- especially in this DVR age where someone might watch Jon Stewart first, then "SNL" -- does the old warhorse no favors. Stewart's breakdown of the debate and, especially, John Oliver's breakdown of the media obsession with Joe were both much sharper than anything we got during the extended Update segment.

This is a brutal stretch for the "SNL" gang, as they've now presumably used up all their election material for the week and have to start over from scratch for Saturday night's show with Josh Brolin. But even factoring in degree of difficulty, last night's show was a disappointment.

What did everybody else think?


Anonymous said...

I think I am looking forward to Jon Hamm hosting the show next week, and a (hopefully) hilarious "Mad Men" sketch where Don't Ad team gets really wild and drunk in the middle of a client pitch.

I also think Armisen's Obama is just really weak. Hammond's doing a bang up job on McCain, but both pale to Fey as Palin and Poehler as Hillary.

Nicole said...

I don't think they should be including weekend update segments on the Thursday show because they are much weaker than the Daily Show and Colbert Report, both of whom have the same amount of time to work on the humour as the SNL crew. I watched it and sorta chuckled a bit, but when the Daily Show aired at 11pm, the weaknesses were even more obvious. Amy Poehler is funny, but her strengths are in the skits and not the political commentary. Seth Meyers is just kinda useless in general. Just like Stewart avoids doing skits on his show, SNL should avoid doing the political commentary on theirs.

To make it worse, this is replacing 30 Rock, which needs to start now.
I don't know who is making programming decisions on NBC, but they have been terrible this year.

J said...

at this point it seems like they're doing debate sketches just because they're expected to

OTM. At some points, it felt like they were reading a transcript of the actual debate.

Oliver's bits on The Daily Show run hot or very, very cold, but this one was on-target. TDS is at its best when it goes after the media. Sometimes I miss Vance DeGeneres' absured Dateline breakdowns.

Anonymous said...

I would take SNL specials written by special needs monkeys over "Kath & Kim".

Oh, I agree, "30 Rock" should have been on the air and Ben Silverman is the biggest boob to run something major (NBC) into the ground since, well, Bud Selig (oh wait, that moron is sitll in charge of Baseball...), but "30 Rock" should displace "Kath & Kim".

SNL maybe weak in comparison to "The Daily Show", but a few chuckles is still better than "Kath & Kim", arguably the worst thing NBC has done on Thursdays, well, since about 25 shows including "Inside Schwarz", "Madman of the People", "Suddenly Susan", and "Boston Common".

Seriously, think about it, currently have the most talked about woman in comedy in America right now as the star of your network...Tina Fey...doing a dead on impersonation of Sarah Palin, and getting ratings galore for the ratings-starved network.

Plus, the show she writes and stars in, just brought home the Best Comedy series emmy, and emmies for her and star Alec Baldwin. So, SURE, why not leave it on the bench while "Earl", "Kath", and a mediocre SNL suck the life force out of Thursdays.

Poor Brandon Tartikoff must be rolling over in his grave.

Anonymous said...

@J: At some points, it felt like they were reading a transcript of the actual debate.

I didn't see this one, but I've seen some of the ones with Palin, and I have to agree. Palin has been complaining that Tina Fey's impersonation is hurting her; I find that it's very difficult to see the difference between the real Palin and Fey's Palin until rather late in the game.

Anonymous said...

It was rough timing for SNL: not only was the Daily Show funnier, but so were the actual candidates, at the Alfred E. Smith dinner.

Anonymous said...

The problem with the SNL Thursday update specials is that they don't work to the show's strengths. Instead of reading headlines and doing a recap of the debate (both of which are done better the Comedy Central shows using tape of the event), use the cast to play situations that get to the core of the comedy of the election season.

It can be very frustrating to watch a Daily Show episode that immediately follows a debate (or similar prime time news event) that was taped at 6 PM. But the John Oliver in Long Island bit was hilarious for no other reason than John Oliver doing an over-the-top Lon Gisland accent is inherently funny.

Mac said...

I liked it more than you did, I think... but I do believe that last night's debate sketch was a first. They didn't even try to make fun of Obama -- it was just one McCain/Joe the Plumber joke after another. Armisen was pure straight man throughout.

Anonymous said...

"Obama" and "Jesse Jackson" were both played by white dudes, right? I think the joke was that they didn't even try make Jesse look black?

That was the only moment that caught my attention.

Unknown said...

I've seen some of the ones with Palin, and I have to agree.

I think that's just a natural recontextualization, putting the comedy where it belongs. Fey cops to quoting a stretch on tonight's Letterman where she got "lost in a corn maze."

John Oliver in Long Island bit was hilarious

I thought it was just a lame, extended Sopranos imitation.

Tom said...

Not great, but it had its moments. I was tickled by the crazy "he's an Arab" lady wandering around the debate. They made her addled and kind of sweet, which wasn't the obvious choice but worked.

Agree that they weren't even trying to mock Obama. Is NBC in the tank? Or is it that Obama is just not easily caricatured? Hard to push 'calm, unruffled' to comic extremes.

I hope to see Joe the Plumber on Saturday Night. Potential comedy gold there.

amitytv said...

I thought it was terrible. Not only were the "jokes" not funny, but Seth Meyers stumbled over so many of his lines it was distracting. Somebody fire that guy!

Anonymous said...

Agree that they weren't even trying to mock Obama. Is NBC in the tank? Or is it that Obama is just not easily caricatured?

I think the latter, as Lorne Michaels and some of the writers are Republicans/conservatives. They, like a lot of other comedic shows, don't seem to know what to do with Obama to make him funny (except MAD TV, which does a pretty good job of it).

Anonymous said...

I thought it was hilarious. I love Armisen's Obama. Just the pacing and emphasis on certain words was hilarious.

Darrell Hammond is hilarious in just about everything he does but I had to raise an eyebrow at his Jesse Jackson. Was Kenan really not available?

Anonymous said...

Palin has been complaining that Tina Fey's impersonation is hurting her

Where was this? According to every story I've seen about it, she enjoys it and thinks Fey is funny.

Anonymous said...

Aside from Krisin Wiig, I thought this was a pretty weak episode. I felt like they could have done a lot better with the whole Joe the Plumber angle. They got a bit too absurd with the whole McCain/ invisible friend thing.

Jennifer Boudinot said...

Is it really so hard to find funny black men? I just want to know what was going through Darrel Hammond's head as he sat in the make-up chair getting black face applied to him. Wouldn't you just have a "somethings not right" here moment? Not to mention, they took the time to make him darker, but not anywhere near as dark as Jesse Jackson really is. Is it supposed to be LESS offensive if you only make him A LITTLE black? To me that's akin to whitening images of Beyonce for ads. That is, it makes me kinda ill.

Pamela Jaye said...

is MadTV still on? My DVR hasn't noticed.