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How will 'SNL' fare without Amy Poehler?

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155554__amy_lThis is basically just Us Weekly sensationalizing old news, but the master impersonator of such esteemed figures as Hillary Clinton, Christian Siriano, and an ADHD-addled preteen garbed exclusively in jammies will officially depart Saturday Night Live after this season. She’s still signed on for that mysterious NBC Office spinoff series, though nothing’s yet confirmed, including the accuracy of both “Office” and “spinoff.” Anyway, next year, she’ll have a baby and a TV show, just like Sarah Palin, I mean Tina Fey! So Poehler, and her fans, are all set.

What this means for SNL, though, is another story. Saturday’s season premiere got good ratings and great buzz off of Poehler and Fey’s spot-on satirical opener. (Fellow funnylady Vanessa ‘L Yeah!’ Williams even gushed about its brilliance in today’s installment of ‘Ausiello TV‘!) But the rest of the show slid downhill into an expansive wasteland littered with slow skits, way-too-lengthy spurts of dialogue, a Cathy spoof Fey had already done the same way (except better) on 30 Rock months ago, and the (admittedly delish) scraps of the Michael Phelps bizarro diet. Can SNL survive the rest of the year, let alone after Poehler’s exit? Hard to say — for me, it depends on how long some of the other recurring mainstays — like Kristen Wiig’s bevy of twitchy/bitchy characters and the digital video realizations of whatever Andy Samberg thinks about when he’s (seemingly!) exceedingly stoned — will become tired. And it might have already happened. What do you think? Could a new wave do SNL some good, or have Amy and the showrunners — to borrow a catchphrase from baby daddy Will Arnett as G.O.B. Bluth — “made a huge mistake”?

Also, be sure to check out our Q&A with Poehler and our behind-the-scenes SNL cover story.

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