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February 16, 2015- By Steven E. Greer
The Sunday broadcast of the Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Show was nothing but a display of self-congratulation. It was horribly directed and lasted three-hours too long.
Unless you have no access to media, you knew about this event from the weeks of hype. Lorne Michaels, the creator of the show, also now controls NBC entertainment (producing The Tonight Show, Late Night with Seth Meyers, 30 Rock, Portlandia, Up All Night, and others). Since the entire NBC network is struggling, Lorne has seized upon the crisis to expand his power. The result was an embarrassing four-hour display of narcissism in the 40th Anniversary Show.
The audience was bad for a live show. It was all of the former cast members and other big celebrities. They were not laughing at the skits like the regular audiences would.
Then, in order to cram as many people on stage a possible, they relied on the walk-in gag, where one person would be delivering a monologue and be interrupted by another comedian. The show started off this way with the untalented Jimmy Fallon trying to sing and dance and was then interrupted by Justin Timberlake. Ha ha. There were nine walk-in gags throughout the evening.
The majority of skits were not funny and made the viewer cringe, but there were a few good moments. Chris Rock’s introduction to Eddie Murphy was epic, as good as one of his HBO comedy specials. Mr. Rock correctly pointed out that Eddie Murphy was hired when Lorne Michaels was not producing the show, and when ratings were down. Eddie and his class saved Saturday Night Live, he explained. However, when Mr. Murphy himself took the stage, he let down the viewers by doing absolutely nothing but say “Thank you”, essentially.
Bill Murray’s lounge singer bit was still hilarious all these years later. Also funny was the revival of Will Ferrell’s skit of Alex Trebek hosting celebrity Jeopardy.
However, the big gorilla in the room, so to speak, was the lack of funny skits and cast members who came from the last five years of the show. Saturday Night Live is no longer relevant or funny because of the changes in media delivery via the Internet and DVR. The show is terminal and needs to be euthanized.
The New Yorker recently wrote, “Saturday Night Live” has a ratings problem. The recent episode hosted by the former cast member Bill Hader had the fewest viewers within the industry-cherished eighteen-to-forty-nine demographic in the show’s forty-year history, tying an episode from last May. The two previous episodes of the new season performed only slightly better. Even accounting for the loss of live viewership to the Web, these are low figures, and part of a downward trend.”
What Lorne Michaels should have done was make this 40th anniversary show the last show ever. Then, it would have been a good show worthy of four-hours of TV time.