“Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!” I remember when those words used to mean something. Now, they are simply empty echoes of a once-vibrant sketch comedy program. “Saturday Night Live” once reigned supreme as the undisputed triumph of intelligent weekend satire for nearly three decades. In theory, the show could never grow stale by constantly evolving and reinventing itself with fresh new hosts, music and cast members. It worked brilliantly…until now.
It’s a bit hasty to judge an entire series by just the season premiere (which was terrible) but I’ve been observing this trend for a while. SNL has continued to decline and spiral downward over the last few seasons. SNL has always been hit-or-miss, but never before have there been so few hits compared with so many misses resulting in so little laughter. Even Winston Churchill would agree. Then again, perhaps my tastes have changed. There’s also more quality programming out there. If I want irreverent silliness, I can watch Conan O’Brien (a former SNL writer from the good old days). If I want biting political humor, I can watch the clever, Emmy-winning “Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” I’ll also confess that SNL doesn’t really fit well into a college lifestyle, so maybe I’m just not around enough to appreciate it. Yet when I am, it is simply not funny and always disappointing.
So what’s to blame? I’m not quite sure. I’d suggest a massive overhaul of the writers, the cast and maybe bringing back G.E. Smith. He was pretty sweet. While we get him, maybe also throw some narcotics into the mix as it seemed to work well in the past. The great potential and enduring-legacy are certainly factors that can keep SNL amazing television for another 25 years and beyond. Yet from the looks of it, it’s pretty much “dead from New York, it’s Saturday Night Blah.”