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October 13, 2015

The Five: Annie's fall picks

by Annie Wu, posted Aug 14th 2006 1:31PM
Tina FeyAhh... Fall... The season of red leaves, panicked college Freshmen, spankin' new shows, and returning favorites. Here are my Fall Picks.

Return of Saturday Night Live: Honestly, I've never been fond of Tina Fey and I'm quite glad that she's moved on. Now that she's gone, SNL has the chance to completely remake itself as something... um... good. Or maybe we'll find out that the program has already moved way past its prime and Tina was the (very weak) glue that's been holding the fort down for the past few seasons. So, either SNL's going to be the best its been in years or it's going to fall completely flat on its face. It's a very exciting time and I'm looking forward to seeing what will happen.

Green Wing Christmas special: Okay, it's not really in the Fall... It's during, of course, Christmas time, but I doubt TV Squad's going to do a "Christmas Special Picks" series. Anyway... The last Christmas special I bothered to catch was The Office's, back in 2003. It wrapped up the entire story so beautifully that I don't want any more episodes. Really. That's how amazing it was. And now that Green Wing's not doing any more episodes, I am desperately hoping for a good resolution. Who's going to die? Who's Caroline going to choose? Why is that stupid ambulance hanging off a cliff again? I must know! C'mon. Is it Christmas yet?

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip: This is one of the most anticipated series of the year, and for good reason. For the first time in a long time, I'm really looking forward to a new American TV show before it has even aired. See, I was too young to get into Sports Night and the West Wing, so this is my first Aaron Sorkin experience... and I couldn't be more excited.

Return of Lost: Although Season Two wasn't as strong as Season One, it still left me Lost-crazy. Every time a new element is introduced, the story develops another crazy twist and I'm left even more anxious to see how the hell the writers are going to wrap up the show. Plus, that Brazillian guy from Love Actually is going to be a new character. Ooh. Even more to look forward to.

Return of Extras: I need my Ricky Gervais fix. I mean, although Extras isn't quite up to the level as The Office, it's still Gervais/Merchant humor and that's better than most crap on TV nowadays. The A-listers lined up for the cameos are also quite impressive (from Daniel Radcliffe to Sir Ian McKellen). If any of them are as funny as Patrick Stewart's appearance last season, count me in.

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Chris Shifty

SNL should be moved to MTV with the rest of the trash that litters television. SNL died when Adam McKay, a few other writers and lastly when Will Ferrell left. Like it was mentioned earlier, someone will love it and then they will hate it eventually. The writing has been terrible for the last four years but now they're including sketches for the female tweens. Fey peaked after 2001-02.

August 16 2006 at 3:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Alex Ware

I would like to make a few points.

First off, SNL has not been good in the last few years. You can look at the critics' reviews (for the first time ever Dane Cook's episode landed on EW's worst list), public opinion, and ratings to back up this fact. Strangely, this creative let down started when Fey took over the writing chair.

I think SNL demise is the result of both poor talent and poor writing, and not the fact that NBC has had budget cuts, your stipulation.

If you look at the talent issue, I think it is the result of both changes in the marketplace and NBC's contracts. There are many new avenues for "improv comediennes." More standups are making a living on stage, cable shows such as "the daily show," and "reno 911," and other options limiting SNL's talent pool.

Couple harder-to-find talent with terrible contracts and poor writing conditions, and you have a bad show, the current state of SNL. After losing so many stars (Chevy Chase started the migration) SNL started to impose longer and longer contracts. Currently, stars have to sign a 6 year commitment. After their 6 yearcommitment, they are forced to due up to 3 SNL movies (Superstar, the ladies man) for very low pay, and must at the request of NBC, sign up for a sitcom anytime 6 years after they leave. That's a 12 year commitment, and about 4 lifetimes to any young performer. Is there no wonder that each "The Daily Show" correspondent would beat any SNL cast member in a laugh off?

Additionally, many SNL cast members and writers have complained about the recent creative environment at SNL. Many complain of overwriting scripts, forcing repeat scenarios (how many times did we get the artist skit in the last 3 years with the same jokes) and a more mainstream approach. This all ties back to Fey, and can be seen in the types of skits performed. In its early years, SNL had many "situation" skits, where the improv actors would take over. Now, skits are extremely "talky" due to the overwriting that occurs. This leads to the stiff deliver, and cue card reading that plague today's skits.

A culture war between the sexes exists in improv comedy, and I think most journalist like the idea of Tiny Fey. A smart, sexy lady at the reigns of the show. But if you look at the quality of her work objectively, and you compare today's skits to 10 years ago, I think you'll agree that Tina Fey isn't a superwoman. This is why I share most of my friend's opinions that SNL will be better off without Fey.

One final stat I would like to leave you with. For the first time ever, more "tween" girls watched SNL last season than young adult men. So maybe, like MTV, they just moved to a more lucrative audience. But most of the time "tween girls" are not at the cutting edge of comedy, no due they make up the sophisticated audience that SNL has been known to have.

August 15 2006 at 11:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You couldn't be more dead wrong about SNL, and I couldn't give a shite about your fancy opinions on anything else.

August 15 2006 at 5:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I must be one of the only people not the least bit interested in Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Everything I read makes it sound like it's going to be this great show and maybe that's why I'm skeptical, but barring the reviews it just doesn't look interesting to me. I guess that's why there's more than one channel.

August 15 2006 at 12:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

yes yes yes... we get it! SNL will NEVER be better than this cast. or that cast. Or this year. With Belushi or without Ferrel.

SNL will always endure, and someone is always finding it funny when your not. Get over it.

August 14 2006 at 7:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mark Stevenson

Does anyone know when season 1 of extras is going to be released in America? I would love to re-watch season 1, but haven't heard any news of a US DVD release.

August 14 2006 at 2:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

While we wait for Extras, we can rejoice that The Ricky Gervais Show podcasts return on August 22nd!

August 14 2006 at 1:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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