SNL: Weekend Update Special Edition – “Episode One”

An NBC Special

Well, you can’t say that Saturday Night Live doesn’t have guts. Perhaps, though, they could use a lesson or two in comedy.

In a season where Saturday Night Live is emerging as a cultural powerhouse in an election year, tonight’s special was a chance to further the show’s cause with some politically topical humour that captures the things that have made SNL work this season.

That thing, though, is Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin. And the one thing absent from tonight’s episode of SNL Weekend Update: Special Edition?

Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin.

I’m baffled at what Lorne Michaels was thinking here: yes, the debate was the most recent political event, but it was also categorically considered a boring debate, and the sketch had only one real joke: that Tom Brokaw interrupted them a lot. Otherwise, it featured one weak Obama impression, a fair amount of weak jokes that didn’t amount to anything, and an entertaining if unfunny Bill Murray cameo. None of that felt special, but rather what the Obama/McCain sketches have been all season: mid-show filler compared to Fey’s opening show magic.

It didn’t help that Weekend Update didn’t feel relevant: my good friend Angie said it best when she noted that this isn’t The Daily Show, and as much as I personally enjoy “Seth and Amy’s “Really?!”” segment the rest of it just didn’t feel like anything different than otherwise. It wasn’t an awful Weekend Update, but without a real reason to watch (And two throwaway characters in Hall/Oates and Keenan’s character).

And we really do need a reason to watch, Saturday Night Live: there’s a lot of competition in the time slot, and next week my time might be better spent catching up on the night’s earlier programming than sitting around waiting to see if Tina Fey is going to show up.

Oh well – at least they closed the hour with an extended pimp spot for 30 Rock – if that show can manage a few hundred thousand more viewers as a result of this, perhaps all is not wasted.

1 Comment

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