Before Saturday Night Live...

What did NBC air on 11:30 pm Saturday night before it ran SNL?

Officially nothing. The network offered reruns of The Tonight Show on Saturday and Sunday nights, but most stations opted to run local programming during that time period. So few stations carried the Tonight reruns that NBC didn’t even sell time for them, instead giving the spots to regular advertisers as a bonus.

When SNL premiered in 1975, another program called Weekend was paired with it. Weekend was a decidedly offbeat newsmagazine, and the idea was that it would replace SNL during that one weekend each month when SNL was on hiatus. Weekend soon went off to different places on NBC’s schedule, and was finally cancelled entirely.

Too bad about Weekend. Linda Ellerby and Lloyd Dobbins had a great chemistry and the show was an odd little bit of TV.

“The Saturday Tonight Show, featuring memorable past programs from the Tonight series,” Ed McMahon would enunciate in an oddly soulless voice before the Saturday night reruns.

I, for one, really missed “Weekend”. It was like “60 minutes” on drugs, with an offbeat sense of humor in both delivery and selection of stories.

So NBC got rid of “Weekend” to give SNL an extra weekend a month. Offbeat comedy trumps intelligence. In intervening years SNL loses its edge and becomes decidedly more lowbrow, yet ironically lost that fourth weekend for awhile to WWF wrestling. Heavy-metal sporting event trumps comedy. It seems that the only problem with the XFL is that it may have arrived just a few years too early.

NBC gave Ellerbee and Dobbins another shot with “Overnight,” a nightly news show broadcast at 2AM, in an attempt to compete with CNN. I never saw “Weekend,” but if it was half the news show “Overnight” was it was too damn smart to be on television.

and so it goes…

*Originally posted by jrepka *

[QUOTE}So NBC got rid of “Weekend” to give SNL an extra weekend a month. Offbeat comedy trumps intelligence. **[/QUOTE]

In truth, ratings trump everything. SNL was not a particularly big hit when it first started, so the reruns weren’t big ratings grabbers. Then, in 1976, SNL took off, ratings zoomed, and suddenly a rerun got higher ratings than a fresh, literate, topical edition of Weekend. Ergo, Weekend goes.

When the ratings drooped again, NBC tried the WWF experiment, and finally went back to SNL weekends.