What, Lorne Michaels Worry?

And SNL week continues:

In honor of the release of Beatles Rock Band

This photo is relevant. Beatles Rock Band. Duh!

In yesterday’s Washington Post columnist Tom Shales previews the trepidation that is coming with the soon to arrive 35th season of Saturday Night Live.  He is right on when he asserts that SNL

“…has been up and down in ratings and quality (never falling as low as it has risen high) over the decades…”

It does seem that every year there is the traditional “Saturday Night Dead” headline, but then SNL rises from the ashes and continues to the be preeminent sketch comedy in our popular culture.  Where Shales I think missteps is suggesting that Lorne Michaels is nervous about the upcoming season, since they will no longer have the election to exploit.  Shales writes,

“Still, for Michaels, the good news can barely hide a world of worry. ‘It comes and goes like everything else,’ he says, with his usual nonchalance, of the show’s success.  But this season seems predestined to be worrisome. There’s no election, for one thing.”

To me, that doesn’t sound like someone who is worried.  Shales, himself, seems to indicate this, noting Lorne’s signature “nonchalance.”  No, despite the fact that the cast and writers can no longer mine the cultural and political zeitgeist that was the 2008 electoral drama, I don’t think Lorne Michaels is worried.  SNL goes through this cycle every four years; it has sourced material from nine presidential elections and it’s always managed to survive, even if it sorta treads water for three seasons until the next round of primaries.  But the truth is Saturday Night Live is now an institution, a fabric of our culture and just as permanent a television fixture as 60 Minutes.  The cast will change, and so will the targets and the comedic sensibilities, but as long as there is TV (or semblance of it.  Hello Hulu.), there will be SNL.

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Shales also attributes concerns over the news season to Tina Fey’s commitments to 30 Rock and in effect her inability to reprise her defining (and campaign derailing) Sarah Palin impression.  Well, despite the fact that Tina Fey is the nexus of 30 Rock, and that appearing on SNL last season exhausted her, and the added responsibility of being a mother, her show shoots at Silvercup Studios in Queens, and I think if Lorne asks really nicely she can manage an appearance or two.  But you know what?  Sarah Palin was so 2008.  If SNL wants to repeat a fraction of its success of last year it needs to stay relevant.  And to do that it needs to forget last season, no matter how acclaimed it was.  Because if they try to imitate 2008 it’ll be just that, an imitation, a poor, disappointing copy of the original.

However, that being said, here is my favorite politically themed sketch from S34:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Filed under Analysis, Saturday Night Live, Who's the Boss?

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