As promised, we’re going to quickly dip our toes into the somewhat toxic pool of The Newsroom analysis. Like with any review or analysis, anything we say is ultimately futile and inconsequential, because, in the end, it’s not going to change the way you feel about the show, and it’s certainly not going to alter Aaron Sorkin’s vision or persuade him to reconsider his writing style. But in the case of The Newsroom, anything we say, any argument we make, feels especially meaningless in the wake of all the criticism and (less so) praise it’s received. But, hell, let’s be a Greater Fool and try anyway.
Let’s just say out of the gate that we like the show, and while that might put us in the minority we stand by our verdict. But what’s interesting or pertinent to us is not so much that we like it – or if it’s “good,” assuming there’s some kind of objective rubric which can calculate a show’s quality (which there’s not) – it’s the question of whether or not the show is worth watching. And we think the answer is: absolutely. Doesn’t that fact that the show seems to be so reviled (or snickered at) in so many corners yet still watched obsessively indicate there’s something of worth there? Certainly, The Newsroom doesn’t garner the same level of propulsive minute-by-minute Twitter reaction on Sunday evenings as Breaking Bad (nor does it come close to the AMC show’s unanimous, breathless praise), but it’s definitely one of the most talked about shows, even if much of that talk comes with head shaking, finger wagging and head scratching. And if the show was bad, unrelentingly terrible, it wouldn’t have lasted, or at least the discussion would have quieted down. We can’t imagine that if Work It had not been canceled after one week the din about its repugnancy would have continued. We would have had our fun and then watched it fade away, nary giving it another thought. But with The Newsroom the debate continued for ten episodes, and seemed to increase as we approached the season finale. Clearly, people were entertained by the show. Which, we certainly concede, isn’t necessarily the same as enjoying the show.
More as the story develops…
Go home (to Mars).
With the Saturday Night Live retrospective In the 2000s: Time and Again airing last Thursday, we thought it would be a great time to revisit our list of the best SNL sketches of the 00s from earlier in the year. If you saw the show, you might recognize some of our selections.
(Belated) Top 10 SNL of the Decade
And here’s a clip that didn’t make the broadcast, a behind the scenes look at the Sarah Palin rap. I will never, ever, get tired of seeing Jason Sukeikis as Todd Palin.
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And, for kicks, here’s one of our favorite sketches of the new decade. Been meaning to work this one in for a while, and this seems like a good excuse.
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For the record my dad loves Burn Notice.
(Title allusion here)
Unless you’ve been living under a rock you probably know that Tina Fey has a new movie out. Between her appearances on Oprah, Live!, and Late Night (leaving behind a wake of Jamie Foxx-Oprah rumors and charades losses), she’s been pounding the pavement drumming up excitement for Date Night. The last stop on the promotional tour was coming home to host SNL. However, in a way, it has seemed like her talk show visits have also been to build enthusiasm for her return to studio 8H. The means were also the end. And with tween phenomenon Justin Bieber rounding out the card as musical guest, this SNL, the first in a month, was shaping up to be a special instance of a white-hot host meets a white-hot musical act.
Did the show live up to expectations? I’d have to say no, especially after getting off to a slow start with a census-centered cold opening that probably wouldn’t have been funny three weeks ago when it was still relevant. And there weren’t any real knock out, “holy water cooler” sketches later in the show. But there was a sense of excitement with Fey and Bieber in the house, and what may have lacking in humor was made up for with a bit of electricity.
More: Who’s more evil, Sarah Palin or the Devil?
It was an up and down decade for Saturday Night Live, but then again it’s been an up and down 34 years for Saturday Night Live. The show started gangbusters in 2000, taking advantage of the 2000 election and perhaps becoming more relevant than it had at any point during the previous decade (media and communication majors and political scientists will be analyzing SNL‘s Gore-Bush debates for years to come, studying how the show interpreted the real events and how the sketches then in turn affected the election). Then the show kind of treaded water until the 2004 election when it once again made the best of the political fodder, although with the relatively benign John Kerry as a central character the political satire was not as entertaining or as incisive as 2000. But With a mostly new cast then the beginning of the decade the show returned to prominence in 2008, most notably mining the comedy goldmine that was the renegade Sarah Palin. However, although SNL’s strongest seasons were during the election years, the best sketches were scattered throughout the aughts, with a fair share of political material, but also crazy characters, inventive monologues, traditional bits and the now ubiquitous Digital Shorts. Here, in a particular but not necessarily meaningful order is a very subjective list of the top ten (and then some) Saturday Night Live sketches of the decade that was.*
I wasn’t blogging when this Alec Baldwin episode aired in early 2006, but if I was I would have no doubt touted it as the best show in years, and I would have been in good company. It stood out as the most buzzworthy episode since the 2004 election, and its success was due in large part to Baldwin, who excelled in sketches like a new “The Tony Bennet Show,” “Platinum Lounge” (with Steve Martin) and a Valtrex commercial parody. But the stand out sketch, for us, was “Carpool,” a duet with Kristen Wiig. Sharing a ride to work seemed like a good idea, until each person continuously and unwittingly brings up a painful wound from the other’s past. Simply, any sketch that can truly sell the line “Bobby McFerrin raped my grandmother,” deserves placement on a “best of” list. It’s the best sketch in what might have been the best episode of the decade, and perhaps the premier episode among Baldwin’s 14 turns as host (I guess because this sketch includes a brief cameo from a Celine Dion tune it’s prohibited from being posted on Hulu. Luckily, some random Russian site saved the day and has no such qualms about hosting a video that includes unlicensed music from the French-Canadian ice queen).
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See the rest of the list. Did your favorites make it???…