Our critics debate ''Saturday Night Live''
Our critics debate ”Saturday Night Live”
With one sketch — the spot-on hip-hop parody ”Lazy Sunday” — this season of Saturday Night Live transformed itself from a musty dinosaur to something that people actually talked about on Monday morning. Or at least e-mailed about. Designed to be CC’ed to your entire office (courtesy of sites like youtube.com), SNL’s Digital Shorts have been consistently goofy, ridiculous, and usually funny: from the sub-Spinal Tap metal of ”Young Chuck Norris” to the dry absurdity of ”Lettuce,” where Will Forte and Andy Samberg grieve and mourn while chomping on giant heads of iceberg. Recent cast additions like Samberg, Bill Hader, and Jason Sudeikis get props for bringing cerebral weirdness to the show (which scored its highest ratings in almost two years on Feb. 4). And honestly, anything that steers SNL away from their predictable TV takeoffs and exceedingly poor political satire makes it a more appealing way to spend a Saturday night.
Give SNL credit for finally realizing that the iPod generation exists, but there’s something painful about overexposing the two things that have earned any attention in its so-so 31st season. Yes, ”Lazy Sunday” star Samberg is spunky, though he’s become dangerously omnipresent, appearing in a sudden wealth of skits ever since the video parody’s Dec. 17 airing. Was no wisdom earned from Jimmy Fallon’s slow, steady rise to headliner status — a process that took three years rather than three months? And now that one digital short caught fire, the show can’t get enough of them — which diminishes SNL’s last-minute, ragtag appeal. On Feb. 4, host Steve Martin slummed in a partially prerecorded intro featuring Kelly Ripa (?!?), while two new shorts also found their way into the program. One featured Martin and Will Forte as too-close talkers. Funny? Sure. And nothing that couldn’t have worked if it were executed on the set. Live. Just like the title says.