I am hit or miss when it comes to catching iconic TV moments. I did not see Sonny and Cher perform together on Letterman, I wasn’t alive for the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, I barely managed to catch the premiere of Michael Jackson’s Thriller and as a general rule, my mother would not let me stay up to watch Saturday Night Live.
So needless to say, I made a point of powering down all devices and tuning in Sunday night to see the highly anticipated 40th Anniversary special that was guaranteed to be a star-studded event. Although I did not catch SNL throughout the 70s or much of the 80s, I would have to be living under a rock not to know the Coneheads, Weekend Update, The Blues Brothers, Gumby or any of the classic characters and now iconic cast members. I was excited because you just know that when this many stars get together, the result could be a mash-up of unforgettable moments and history making TV.
Am I the only one who was underwhelmed by the whole thing?
The SNL 40 anniversary special was already slated to take three hours of prime time TV. That’s fair…it is SNL after all and after 40 years on the air, attention must be paid. However, we learned that they managed to wrangle an additional 30 minutes because Miley Cyrus wanted to sing and Bradley Cooper needed a cameo. (I’m still trying to figure that one out.) As if that wasn’t enough, the powers that be decided to add a one-hour, red carpet, pre-game show that lacked entertainment value. Don’t get me wrong, it was great to see who all was in attendance, but I don’t know…it all seemed so awkward (Jim Carey asking about Brian Williams, anyone?) I can’t take pleasure watching some of the funniest people in America fumble through their interviews like a bunch of bumbling geriatrics with nothing to say. (Chevy…I’m looking at you here.) Other cast members looked like they would rather be anywhere else (I think we ALL know to whom I might be referring with that statement) and then there were people who I remain confused as to how they got an invite in the first place. (Kanye video bomb at the last second of the pre-show, seriously?)
I truly thought things would pick up when the show started, but then I saw the real problem. How do you encapsulate four decades of classic television into three-and-a-half-hours? What do you keep? What do you cut? What sketches do you recreate? What musical acts do you book when literally EVERYONE has played SNL? Of course there have to be the montages of classic clips, I would expect no less…but somehow in the course of trying to give us everything, I felt shortchanged. There were wayyy too many hosts at the beginning. I appreciate the diversity of the people who have hosted the show, but that could have been handled in a montage. Steve Martin was doing just fine by himself and did not need musical accompaniment by Pauls McCartney and Simon. (However a Beatles cover that is not “Hey Jude” is always a thrill so I’ll give them a pass because..it’s McCartney and Simon)
I loved Dan Ackroyd reprising his fast talking pitchman…THAT’S what I expected to see. Key cast members recreating their most beloved characters (Gotta say I was a tad disappointed that the Blues Brothers did not do “Soul Man” but whatever.) I firmly expected Fernando to make an appearance (if he did, I didn’t see it – I’ll get to why later) was happy with the two-second “King Tut” cameo and of course was ecstatic with the Wayne’s World sketch. But Celebrity Jeopardy went on forever, The Californians…I can’t even talk about and the Weekend Report just….lacked something.
They make a rather large to do over introducing Keith Richards who was there simply to introduce Paul McCartney leaving me to wonder why? Heck, I could have said “Ladies and gentlemen, Paul McCartney.” Lorne Michaels had to get a member of the Rolling Stones for that? (Kudos to him for picking the one I suspect is actually dead, but still.) And WHAT WAS UP with the five minute intro to Eddie Murphy that went nowhere quickly. Was I the only person expecting far more from the guy who brought us Mr. Roberts Neighborhood?
I was less than happy when they gave Miley Cyrus the opportunity to sing, especially when Richards, McCartney, Simon and Bon Jovi were in the house (Now THAT would have been a jam session, folks) but when they had to bring out Kanye…I was done. I turned off the TV and watched clips as people uploaded them to YouTube. (Thank you to whoever got me Wayne’s World within minutes after it aired BTW!)
Historically speaking, SNL is an important component of the nation’s television landscape, but last night proves it’s all but impossible to condense that level of achievement into a short period of time. You can’t completely recreate the past or cause lightning to strike decades laster. Some things you have to be there for, and 11:30 p.m. on Saturday night is where I will catch them from now on.
That’s my two cents on it…I know a lot of people thought it was great though, so I am just one opinion. What did you all think?