Saturday Night Live: Why Bother Anymore?

Sisyphus pushes that rock up that hill, hoping his task will be over once and for all. He struggles, and struggles, and struggles, and everytime, his strength collapses and the boulder escapes him, back to the bottom of the hill.

Twenty times a year, a group of men and women who we're told are talented do the same thing, trying to push the weight of a live television show up to the top of a hill in order to please us, to entertain us. But, something in the execution always escapes, and they never get up to the top of hill.

Yet, the metaphor could equally be written so that we are the ones pushing the rock up the hill, tuning in to this show to see if we will be pleased, if we will be entertained. Saturday Night Live is supposed to be the pinnacle of televised comedy, and we put it on our television screens in the hopes that it will work out, that we will see something majestic.

And it so seldom happens.

Tonight's episode is no exception. I can't believe that I keep tuning in, hoping for them to knock my socks off. This is supposed to be the best, but every week I'm reminded me that there are so many other people who deserve a shot at this show.

And yet, I keep watching, as a viewer, hoping they'll get to some sort of balance, that it will all work out. I had hoped with the shedding of dead weight with this year's cast, they would somehow manage to make it work.

Two episodes in, I don't think it's going to be the year. With two shows on NBC which expose how lame the show is, it definitely seems as if this isn't the year.

Even Weekend Update, which used to be worth watching, has been made absolutely irrelevant by the continued strength of the Daily Show, and the amazing rise of the Colbert Report. There's no sense of fun here, just the sense they think they have a birthright to funny, just because of the timeslot.

But, I'll continue to watch. Because, maybe next time, they'll get it right. That rock keeps on getting pushed.


- PoliticalNoise said...

I stopped watching it sometime around when "Nora Dunn" and "John Lovitz" were regular cast members. That's when, in my opinion, the quality started to slip.

They keep doing it because the show paid for the investment the producer made on it years ago. Now it's just a cash cow. Pure profit for Mr. Michaels. And contrary to popular belief it's about the "Money" and not the "Art."

Additionally their contracts state that the producer, Lorne Michaels, owns the creative rights to any sketch and characters that make it on into the show. Which means if there's a movie made based on one of their characters it's Mr. Michaels that gets rich, and the talent only get's a salary. Who want's to use their best material at that point?

Each year is yet another one full of mediocre slackers. Another reason there isn't a better talent pool is because television and cable are over picking the fruit from the tree. Comic's with any real talent get tapped for their own shows (either cable or broadcast) and that thins out the waters. Why become part of the cast of SNL when you could get your own show and a bigger $lice of the pie with something like "the Colbert Report"?

Additionally the show's success was it's own downfall. They became "Mainstream." Now what's changed is that they are afraid to be as risque as they were when they started, because people actually stay up late on Saturday nights and some of them actually watch tv.

Look at some of the things that were done when the original cast was on (original being Chevy Chase and that bunch) or Eddie Murphy's group. It's like "All in the Family." You know if someone was doing that now there'd be all this negative publicity, either by the religous right for being obscene or by liberals for being politically incorrect with the sacred cow (whatever that might be at the moment).

It's too bad really.

maiaoming said...

Maybe it's also nostalgia for the times when it WAS funny... we kind of skim off the top of the crap glass of SNL, remembering when...

Kind of like eating a Twizzler, pretending it's real licorice. You eat it as if it can substitute, knowing it can, but the whole packet's gone.

Lorne needs to go.

Loved the Sisypuss metaphor.

Sean Tubbs said...

Good points about Lorne Michaels. My favorite year was 1984-85, before he came back. Lots of people who were either already famous, or had a good track record.

I think I'm going to just stop watching completely. I'm giving up. I didn't know Michaels' owns it all, so you're right, what's the point?

doug smith said...

long time reader, first time caller. hi, sean!

yeah, SNL has pretty much been irrelevant since eddie murphy left. and it hasn't been amusing since phil hartman died (was he still on the show at that point?).

studio 60 is well-written amd wel-meaing, but it still fails miserably... all the drama of the backstage part of the show is utterly negated by the fact the pieces of the "show" that we see are painfully unfunny and irrelevant. if you're going to base a weekly series around a the production of a comedy show, you must first be funny. all the earnestness in the world will not make me laugh if there's no punchline. maybe they could hire some actual sketch comedy writers?

i haven't seen 30 rock, so i can't comment.

BTW -- you are spot on about the new who. i finally caught the eccleston season of "dr who" on netflix and seen bits and pieces of the tennant season on sci-fi, and they are awesome.

i am assuming you have discovered the glory that is the new battlestar galactica.