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October 6, 2015

Is SNL headed towards disaster this season?

by Bob Sassone, posted Sep 9th 2009 1:35PM
Lorne MichaelsShort answer: no. Longer answer: probably not.

It seems that every season is the "Saturday Night Live isn't what it used to be" (aka "Saturday Night Live sucks!") season, but it always survives. And some years, like last season when they had the election to riff on and appearances by Tina Palin and lots of buzz in the news, they thrive. But The Washington Post's Tom Shales visited with executive producer Lorne Michaels and finds that Michaels is worried about the upcoming season.

Not only is there no election this season, there is also the recent news that two cast members (Michaela Watkins and Casey Wilson) have been replaced.

OK, as Michaels says, they haven't been replaced by Jenny Slate and Nasim Pedrad), it's that those two were hired and Watkins and Wislon left "concurrently." But I don't see why the show has to be bad. I mean, doesn't it all come down to the writing? If the writing is good, there's no reason why they have to worry about it not being an election year or any similar problems. There's plenty of news and pop culture to riff on.

In related news, Salon wonders if SNL has a "lady quota."

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Including this new season, SNL currently has 3 more seasons on its NBC contract, ending in May 2012. Will it be back for the 2012 election in the fall? Only time will tell.

I believe that NBC will continue SNL as long as Lorne Michaels is alive, healthy and wants to do it. It continues to churn out big stars (and the rights to all their SNL characters and their first few movies), although nowadays its competing with The Daily Show for talent.

The real question, in the short term, is do they have a future huge movie star aboard right now, like the young Adam Sandler and Will Ferrell they once had? Andy Samberg?

September 11 2009 at 12:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'll always love SNL, and I'll continue watching and ignoring the bad sketches. But what I wonder is, why don't these guys ever leave SNL on their own. The girls go off to have careers, but these guys are just hanging around until they get fired.

September 10 2009 at 1:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Lorne Michaels can say whatever he wants. The fact remains that two women were let go and two others were hired. ("Left concurrently" my ::ahem::) Given that even with Tina Fey's reign as Head Writer, SNL is still considered to be a boys' club, it's going to look bad no matter how he tries to spin it.

Other than that, Elf brings up so many good points that rehashing them would be a waste.

September 09 2009 at 7:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Art Vandelay

It really does come down to the writing and that's where the show has failed for many years now.

I think the problem is a disconnect between the writers and the performers. In the best seasons of SNL you had performers who created their own charaters, wrote their own sketches or regularly teamed up with certain writers to help craft sketches. For many years now it seems that performers cannot create their own material or are not permitted to.

On the flip side, it seems like the writers have been marginalized. As a writer, there's little incentive to create the next great character/sketch when it's the cast member who gets all the publicity and the subsequent 2 picture deal at Paramount/Warners/Fox/etc. It seems like they have little incentive to truly collaborate with the performers.

I think that disconnect between the writers and performers has more to do with the "SNL system" than the talents (or lack thereof) of people involved.

Lorne Michaels runs the show like a dictatorship and has a long history of playing favorites with writers and performers.

For the show to succeed in the long run, Michaels needs to step aside and let a new showrunner come in to shake things up a bit.

September 09 2009 at 5:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The best episodes of late have been more of a credit to the hosts than to the writers or the cast. I'm thinking Anne Hathaway, Justin Timberlake, Neil Patrick Harris and, of course, Alec Baldwin.

September 09 2009 at 4:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think the environment might be changing to the extent that something like Saturday Night Live might be obsolete.

I've been watching on an off this past year and I can count on that almost every week that they are too slow on being able to comment on topical humor.

News breaks on Tuesday. Internet sites make fun of of it with-in 24 hours. The Daily Show and Colbert Report, Conan, Letterman, all get to make fun of it with-in 48 hours. And then 5 days later SNL gets to say something about it. The punch is kind of gone to anyone who hasn't been living under a rock.

News and information are moving faster, and so is the humor and pop-culture response to it. A weekly show on topical humor is just out-dated. Sadly.

September 09 2009 at 3:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
King Zilch

In before the usual "they should call it Saturday Night Dead!" crap...

The fact is, last season of SNL was the strongest they've had in a long time. Despite losing Amy Poehler, they've got some amazing talent in Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Will Forte, and the rest.

Yes, I'm going to miss Casey Wilson (though, admittedly, that's for more prurient reasons), and Michaela Watkins really shouldn't have been let go (her "Today Show" sketches with Wiig were fantastic), but I still have high hopes. The further we get from the Gilbert Gottfried/Denny Dillon year, the better :)

September 09 2009 at 2:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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