Sunday, January 02, 2005
I guess it's time for another round of "Saturday Night Dead" pieces! There's certainly truth in criticizing the show for its "safe, wishy-washy" pop-culture targets, but when was the last time SNL offered much legit political fare in anything more than election-year flurries, a Fey WU riff, and Smigel cartoons? Seems like this article could have been written at any time in the last two decades. Anyway, excerpt:
Ultimately, Mr. McKay said, "S.N.L." is only as good as its guest hosts, pointing to its earliest seasons as a time when the show's sense of what was culturally significant could be guided by its own internal compass. "The reason we loved 'S.N.L.' when we were kids was because it was cooler than us," he said. "You would see someone like Elvis Costello on that show, or Buck Henry, and you could tell everyone thought he was cool, and you were trying to figure out why. The show should be a little cooler than its audience, and when it goes into that Justin Timberlake-land, it becomes less cool."
Nice try, Adam. While most the best shows of the last decade featured fantastic guest hosts (the classic Spacey show, the Walkens, the Goodmans, the Baldwins, the first Paltrow, the first SMG, the mindblowing Ian McKellan, who essentially turned the show into some kind of Broadway one-man -- he was even brilliant during the musical guest songs, sitting down against the wall just off the stage, bobbing his head to Kyle Minogue), those shows also had much sharper writing. The writing -- as well as the selection of the sketches that get on air, e.g., recurring characters/sketches that were mediocre to dreadful from the start -- is what usually derails this show every week, forcing an extremely talented cast (e.g., Poehler and Dratch have become the most potent female duo in the show's history) to flail about in the muckety-muck. Tag-team hosting by the cast of Arrested Development would probably not have been able to save a Mango (16 of them!) or Mr. Peepers sketch (12 of them!). The NYT piece contains a lot of laments that the hosting choices* skew towards younger stars (with, presumably, less talent), though the fact is that most of the hosts are fine, and the likes of the Olsen twins/C. Aguilera/Simpson-Lachey were far better than the awful Robert Deniro (he got wretched material, but still) who hosted for the second time a couple of weeks ago. The unexpectedly strong and fun guest host is one of the few delights this show can still offer, like, say, the great John McCain performance a couple of years ago.
*A few ideas for hosting choices for the second half of the season:
Lauren Graham (musical guest: Smoosh)
Jason Bateman (musical guest: Blue Man Group with Tobias Funke)
Beau Teague (musical guest: Dogs Die in Hot Cars) posted by Linus | 11:06 AM