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Classic Saturday Night Live Thread

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by MikaelaArsenault, Jun 20, 2020.

  1. R79

    R79 Forum Resident

    Location:
    39629
    Oh definitely. All the WWE,WCW,and ECW ppvs are up, but no Prime Time, no Clash of the Champions, no Smackdown prior to 2018,no Thunder, no ECW TV, no Saturday Night's Main Event, no AWA, Mid-Atlantic, Mid-South, SMW, or World Class. I'm hoping they get re-added, but they really should have made it so Peacock had a direct link to the WWE Network instead of slowly adding content.
     
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  2. krock2009

    krock2009 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    Steve Martin also said he once used the word "Scumbag" on The Tonight Show and got in trouble for it afterwards.
     
  3. MarkTheShark

    MarkTheShark Forum Resident

    Joe Flaherty said "scumbag" on SCTV in a "Sunrise Semester" sketch where he played Norman Gorman during Season 3. But they muted it when that sketch was repeated during one of the early NBC shows.
     
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  4. R79

    R79 Forum Resident

    Location:
    39629
    So, the "bad" seasons of SNL: 80-81, 85-86,94-94. Of these, which is the worst? I'd have to say 94-95, though it's not completely worthless (and I enjoyed it, well, for the most part, there was still dire stuff like gay stripper theater and that sarah jessica parker episode), it looked like a show that was on its last legs, you could tell Farley and Sandler were on their way out, and they went all out on darker shock humor. 80-81 at least has the excuse of it being a new cast and producer (and they did start emphasizing Eddie and Joe near the end of Jean Doumanian's run), and 85-86 can be explained away, in the words of the Irwin Mainway school lunch skit,as an experiment that didnt work.
     
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  5. JediJones

    JediJones Forum Resident

    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I haven't seen a lot from those years. I've selectively watched some 1994-1995 stuff recently and enjoyed it, like the Farley as Newt Gingrich sketches. I remember liking some of the O.J. trial sketches a while back. I know at the time of original airing I got turned off the year before when Sandler did the skit with the boy scout being molested, and I probably didn't watch the show too religiously after that. So as of now I haven't seen enough to understand why 1994-95 is considered a bad season. I don't think I've ever seen season 6, and nothing I remember of 11.

    To me, the bad seasons are everything after that, from 1995-96 and up. I tried a lot of times in the late '90s to watch the show again and was too bored, annoyed, irritated and disgusted by the cast and most of what they were doing then to keep watching. The only funny people on the show then were Norm MacDonald and Jim Breuer. And it only got worse after they left. Most of everything I've tried to watch since then has been horrifyingly stupid, awful and unfunny. A political parody sketch here and there could still be good up until the mid-2000s, and I think those finally went into the dumpster with the departure of Darrell Hammond, if not sooner. This was as clear as anything watching the 40th anniversary special, where the sketches based on pre-1995 characters were still amusing, but the ones based on newer sketches were mind-numbingly unwatchable.

    The OneSNLADay blog recently posted his personal rating summary based on his reviews of almost every season. He seems like a pretty typical fan from the camp who never gave up on the show. So, unlike me, he seems to think there was still something worth watching in the 2000s. At any rate, the first part of his blog post ranks every season up through 42 based on his painstaking star rating of every sketch.

    Stooge’s One SNL A Day Farewell Extravaganza

    The ones you mentioned, 6, 11 and 20 are in the bottom 5, along with two other seasons. The bottom ranking is 11, 29, 20, 6 and 30.

    It's also worth looking at the TV ratings, which Wikipedia has a very good chart on:

    Saturday Night Live - Wikipedia

    Ratings declined sharply in 1980–81 and kept going down pretty consistently for several years after. They only started going up again during the "second golden age," starting in 1986–87 with the first year of Carvey, Hartman and Hooks. That era peaked in 1992–93, producing the show's fifth-highest rated season ever. And they've basically been on a downward trend ever since. 1995–96 (the year after the "notorious" season 20) was one of the biggest drops in ratings ever. So, if that was considered a rebound year, the ratings don't show it. It did rebound a bit the next year, but the ratings have never again been as high as they were in season 20 (one season finally achieved more VIEWERS though, the 2016–17 season, with 11 million, which is on par with the "second golden age", but then viewers dropped right back down the next year).

    The period of 2000-2008 was another noticeable slump, as the show lost about 25% of its viewership. Then it got a bump up in 2008, and slowly declined again about 20% until another bump in 2016. Those two bumps appear to be related to the presidential elections, which don't always bump the show's ratings, but did also seem to help in 1992 and 1996.

    The "notorious" seasons 11 and 20 dropped in ratings, but not any more significantly than many other years of the show that were part of a downward trend. I think their notoriety came about more from what critics were saying than the ratings. Granted, we don't have the numbers to know if those seasons started out high in ratings and then dropped sharply i

    So combining data from both of these sources, season 6 looks like the undisputed winner as the biggest failure. I also think, just looking back on the cast of 6, 11 and 20, season 6 seems to have the least amount of talent that ever did worthwhile things outside of SNL.
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2021
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  6. Scowl

    Scowl Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Going through the chopped up Peacock episodes, many in the sixth season (80-81) made me count the minutes until the episode was over, and some these were cut down to twenty minutes. Of course there were some great sketches and every performer was very professional and looked like they had been working hard, but the worst sketches were painful to watch, so I'd have to say I liked this one the least. The season after that was not that much of an improvement for me.

    I didn't think the 85-86 season was all that bad. Full disclosure: that was my freshman year in college and I usually watched it with a bunch of rowdy college students. I remembered a lot of great sketches that Peacock left out and I thought the cast was excellent.

    I haven't reviewed the 94-95 season yet but I do remember a lot of terrible writing with a lot of sketches pounding a single joke into the ground. You could count on Weekend Update being funny (like now) but Norm MacDonald's awkward pauses and low energy really dragged it down. I'm not looking forward to watching this season again.
     
  7. modrevolve

    modrevolve Forum Resident

    The Michael McKean episode from season ten on Peacock is so bizarre. They are using a repeat version (as indicated in the opening montage) that includes James Brown’s celebrity hot tub.

    Larry David’s audio heckling of “where’s Squiggy” during the monologue is hilarious.
     
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  8. Oatsdad

    Oatsdad Oat, Biscuits and Abbie: Best Dogs Ever

    Location:
    Alexandria VA
    That's the thing with "SNL": viewers will almost always like the seasons best when they had a personal reason to connect, and when they were young enough that the show was still fresh for them.

    Every season will be defended by someone for those reasons!
     
  9. Scowl

    Scowl Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Well, I had been watching the show since 1977. It's not like that was the first season I had ever seen. I rewatched the season on Peacock a couple of months ago and I still thought it was great, and I remembered a lot of great sketches that Peacock didn't include.
     
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  10. Oatsdad

    Oatsdad Oat, Biscuits and Abbie: Best Dogs Ever

    Location:
    Alexandria VA
    I get your point, but you did have a personal connection to the 85-86 season, as you noted.

    My two comments weren't intended to state that you had to be new to the show for the personal connection to matter.

    We're apparently the same age - I started college 85-86 too - so I also have a fondness for late 80s "SNL" because I watched with friends as well...
     
  11. Scowl

    Scowl Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, OR
    I could probably list a "personal connection" to half the seasons of SNL I've watched.
     
  12. R79

    R79 Forum Resident

    Location:
    39629
    To be fair, I didnt discover SNL (aside from seeing random sketches on tv specials) until 1993 when I checked out the Comedy Central reruns and got hooked on it via those. But I didnt watch the show "live" until the 1994-95 season (yeah, that one, though I was familiar with most of the cast thanks to all the reruns).Not the best season to start with, but I enjoyed it while watching and never really gave up for the most part, though I'm more of a casual fan nowadays.
     
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  13. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    We're the same age, but I had the opposite reaction. I absolutely loved the 1984-85 season (and still think it's one of the best ever) and I found the 1985-86 season to be a huge disappointment. The fact that it followed a great season didn't help, nor did the fact that Michaels' return made me expect something similar to the first five seasons. But even minus expectations, it was just a consistently weak show with corny premises and one-joke sketches. And I thought the cast was generally awful. Most of them had zero experience in improv (a very bizarre choice for Michaels to make) and they relied on a lot of scenery chewing, particularly Quaid and Sweeney. On the only plus side, that season featured my favorite musical guests ever, The Replacements.
     
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  14. Scowl

    Scowl Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Sorry that Michaels wasn't able to bring back the 70s for you. Are there any specific sketches you can think of? The Pathological Liar thing was done way way too many times but I remember liking a lot of strange sketches that I think some people might have considered "corny".

    I don't know if you know this, but there is no improvisation on Saturday Night Live. All the lines are written on cue cards and the cast say them exactly as written. In fact Michaels temporarily fired Damon Wayans for improvising in a sketch which Michaels said was breaking "the unwritten rule".
     
  15. JediJones

    JediJones Forum Resident

    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Lorne Michaels' famous excuse is that everyone's favorite SNL cast is the one they watched when they were in high school. I think he may be partially right. But there's also the matter of who you simply think is a good cast. My favorite is the early '90s years, but I still like the original '70s cast and can tell they're doing as good or better work, just with material that is a little less relatable to me. Still, plenty of critics have picked out those certain years of the show as bad ones, and lots of them described the Carvey/Myers era as the "second golden age," suggesting the early '80s were worse. So there is some consensus on when the show was good and bad.

    I can't make much sense of where the last 20 years of the show stands since I've barely watched it. But in the late '90s, why would I stop laughing at a show that I had loved before if it hadn't gone down in quality? Some of the skits being shown on the MTV Movie Awards during those same years were much funnier to me than anything on SNL. The Simpsons was still a funny show into the late '90s. For that matter, most people agree The Simpsons has gotten worse in the 2000s. So to say SNL's quality is entirely subjective is not really convincing.

    Phil Hartman himself believed the show was changing when he left in 1994, which he explained in an interview:

    Merry Hartman, Merry Hartman

    Hartman does, however, criticize the show’s attempts to please its younger viewers. ”The shows are getting less sophisticated,” he says. ”There’s less political satire. The younger audience loves Adam Sandler [Opera Man]. He appeals less to the intellect and more to that stand-up sensibility of ‘Let’s go out there and be insane.’ I like Adam Sandler, but that’s not my kind of comedy, so, yeah, in a way it makes me feel like, ‘Well, it’s time for me to go.”’

    ...

    I would say he summed up perfectly the difference between the show before 1995 and after 1995. They changed their focus from intelligent satire to "insane" comedy. Most of their humor since then has been about being loud, obnoxious, wild, wacky, blunt, obvious, in-your-face. Sandler was definitely an early warning sign that it was headed that way.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2021
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  16. shark shaped fin

    shark shaped fin Forum Resident

    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    I think one thing that you notice with the late 80s cast of SNL is they were all absolute pros who almost always stayed in character and nailed every line and never broke down laughing in the middle of a sketch, which is something that happens with regularity now. Sometimes when the newer cast members can barely control their laughter, I wonder what the hell they’re laughing at. Conversely, I have zero idea how a lot of those late 80s cast members held it together with some of the sketches they were in.
     
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  17. JediJones

    JediJones Forum Resident

    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I hear people say that a lot. I haven't seen the recent stuff enough to know how bad it gets. Even better is when something goes wrong and the cast member has to "save" it. I think I remember both Phil and Dana saving some things that way.

    In one article about Phil Hartman, someone says Lorne Michaels told them that after Hartman came on the show, Lorne didn't even have to come to work. A joke, but basically implying that Phil was as professional a cast member as anyone they ever had, and was maybe even handling quality control duties that Lorne used to do. I was wondering what it would've been like if Phil had taken over Lorne's job in 1995 instead of leaving the show. Phil's vision for the show seemed more faithful to its original mission. Lorne seems to have decided his job is to "give the kids what they want" instead of making a show that he could enjoy. I also read that at the Groundlings, Phil was incredibly professional and focused a lot on mentoring the other cast members.

    I found this really fun interview with Dana Carvey and Jon Lovitz they did with each other in front of an audience in 2013. Just started it, but it's cool to see them asking each other questions about things they experienced on the show.

     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2021
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  18. shark shaped fin

    shark shaped fin Forum Resident

    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    This sort of sketch is what I'm talking about. I mean they just nailed it.

     
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  19. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    Yeah, I know there's no improvisation, thanks. But experience in improv sketch comedy definitely helps a person do better on a show devoted to live sketch comedy. The more salient point I guess is that almost none of the 1985-86 cast had any experience in sketch comedy period... improv OR scripted. The only ones that did were Lovitz, Dunn, and Vance. By contrast, Garrett Morris was the only member of the original cast who had no experience in sketch comedy. It was a bizarre choice for Michaels to fill out the cast of a sketch comedy show with mostly people who had never done sketch comedy. And he obviously realized it was a mistake, since most of the replacement cast the following season were experienced at sketch comedy, and those that weren't had at least done standup.

    I watched the show in first run and then again watched reruns on HA, The Comedy Network five years later, and both times I found it pretty bad and corny. I don't remember a lot about it other than my overall impression. My main memory is of the interminable Ron and Nancy sketches with Terry Sweeney in drag and both of them chewing up the scenery like they were on Flip Wilson or something. And I remember an awful Weekend Update desk bit where Robert Downey Jr. and Anthony Michael Hall made fart noises for like five or ten minutes. I'd take 30 minutes of A. Whitney Brown over crap like that.
     
  20. Jay_Z

    Jay_Z Forum Resident

    Yeah, Hall was completely worthless. Downey and Cusack weren't much better. Sweeney did too much drag and it grated after a while. Vance was difficult to integrate. Quaid was useful, but not as good as Ackroyd, Piscopo, Hartman, and other similar cast members.

    There's a reason you saw so much Tommy Flanagan and Pat Stevens. Because the show had nothing else. ALWAYS SNL had relied on repeatable characters. Going back to Gilda and Emily Littella and Rosanne Rosannadanna, which were both run into the ground. That's the show (though they seem to have gone away from it more recently, trying to get more viral one-offs.)

    So you can think Ferrell sucks or Wiig sucks. Maybe Gilda sucked. It's all the same, the show needs those repeatable to be any good.

    1994-95 was the only bad year where they actually had talented people. But they'd lost people at the end of the prior year. Hartman, also Rob Schneider and Julia Sweeney. The show had problems with the women cast at the time for several reasons. They were bringing Jan Hooks back to do stuff, that ended after Phil left. Julia left because she didn't like the boys club atmosphere that was developing with Sandler, Farley, and Spade, though I guess Spade wasn't as bad as the rest and could be worked with easier. Sandler came out of standup, lacked discipline and the ability to work well with the others. Farley was undisciplined. Norm McDonald came in and was another standup, funny but prickly and a homophobe.

    They tried to bring in other people. Michal McKean was brought in to replace Hartman, more or less sucked at it. Was too old to start on the show. Chris Elliott came in, did his funny, quirky stuff, but apparently hated the show. Brought in Janeane Garafolo, she hated the show too, didn't perform that well either, didn't last the year. Mike Myers stayed too long and left midseason. Kevin Nealon stayed way too long. Just a mess and sometimes unpleasant with the lack of discipline and poor atmosphere for women.

    The season that rates the lowest, other than the three most often mentioned, is 2004-2005. Here is the main cast:
    Fred Armisen
    Rachel Dratch
    Tina Fey
    Will Forte
    Darrell Hammond
    Seth Myers
    Chris Parnell
    Amy Poehler
    Maya Rudolph
    Horatio Sanz

    Tina didn't do sketches. Hammond only did impressions. None of the rest had the characters to star in the show. Poehler was great on Parks and Rec, but she didn't have that many characters. Neither did Rudolph. Dratch and Forte were better, but too weird to be popular.

    That was a presidential year, but nothing took off on that front. Forte played W. Remember that? Myers played John Kerry. Remember Myers in sketches?

    So all of the Ferrell cast was gone, even Fallon had come and gone. Just not enough here. Kenan Thompson was a featured player. Sudekis was added late in the year. Then Wiig and Samberg came in the next year.
     
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  21. MekkaGodzilla

    MekkaGodzilla Forum Resident

    Location:
    Westerville, Ohio
    Not to be a jerk or downplay the artistry, but I believe this sketch originated from Lovitz and Hartman's Groundlings days. (i.e. they knew the material backwards and forwards)



    Skip ahead to the nine minute mark.
     
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  22. JediJones

    JediJones Forum Resident

    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I came across this New York Magazine article published during season 20. It is an extremely long, thorough trashing of the state of the show during that time. I couldn't read the whole thing and doubt I will. But it shows how the media just had SNL on their target list that year. There's no objective journalism in this piece. This is a typical sentence from it: "As arrogant as Saturday Night can often be, there’s something sad about the slow, woozy fall of a treasured pop-culture institution." It's an incredible read if you want to see someone spew a novella length of eloquently worded vitriol against that season of the show.

    https://nymag.com/arts/tv/features/47548

    All they could say about the ratings was that they were down 20% from where they were in 1993, but were still close to the level they were in the late '80s. No one seemed to have a concept then of how presidential elections cause the show to get a temporary spike in ratings, but that eventually became a recurring trend.

    It also mentioned in there that Mike Myers almost did a "Coffee Talk" movie. I think he's lucky that one fell through. It's Pat probably helped sink any backing for another SNL movie involving any gender confusion.
     
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  23. Scowl

    Scowl Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Some interesting edits in the season 17 episodes. One episode actually included a Sprockets sketch, the great one with Jason Priestley on the Dating Game ("Mother!!!"). It didn't have the Kraftwerk song and I can't remember if that's how it was originally aired.

    The Mary Stuart Masterson episode included the "Delta Delta Delta" sketch (I don't know why I liked this so much) which was never seen in the Comedy Central episodes, I guess because it has them singing "The Wind Beneath My Wings". Why on Earth Peacock included it when it throws out any sketch with a song is beyond me. Even stranger, they didn't include the minor classic "Very Pregnant Undercover Cop" which featured Dana Carvey's over the top Hispanic drug dealer accent and Chris Farley's over the top scared cop performance.
     
  24. jbmcb

    jbmcb Forum Resident

    Location:
    Troy, MI, USA
    Every Sprockets sketch had the Electric Cafe soundtrack from what I remember. Looking at the sketches from Youtube, it looks like they've removed it and replaced it with a generic techno song. Too bad, Electric Cafe made that intro...
     
  25. Scowl

    Scowl Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, OR
    But you know Ralf Hütter is the kind of guy who would demand a ton of compensation for them using the song.
     
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