Yes, I know that it is passe and overplayed to tell the world how totally devoid of humor Saturday Night Live has become, or how it is now only a dreadful self-parody, or how the current cast is the worst ensemble ever, simply mugging for the camera while half-heartedly smirking at their own so-called jokes, etc, etc, etc…
But that said, last night may have been the least engaging single episode I have ever watched, and it is hard for me to understand how SNL manages to stay culturally relevant anymore, as it really seems that everyone involved has given up even trying anymore.
Let me be clear, last night WAS NOT truly awful, or cringeworthy, as so many individual sketches have been in the past; instead it had an incredibly “flat” feel to it, like everyone involved had taken a fistful of Xanax and was content to just float freely until the 90 minutes of airtime had elapsed, or that it had only been written in the last hours before broadcast, with no one really on board with the various bits, but not really caring enough to say anything about it. It was a little bit surreal, as I can’t recall a live broadcast that struck me as so evenly, uniformly sedate and uninspired.
The audience was the quietest, seemingly most disenfranchised-sounding group that I can ever recall—With a few small laughs once in a great while and polite but very subdued applause at the end of each skit, it was abundantly clear that the material was not connecting with either the live audience in NYC or the handful of home viewers who hadn’t yet changed the channel.
Weekend Update was actually a little hard to watch, as it didn’t have one genuinely funny joke in it’s entirety, and Seth Meyers clearly knew that he was bombing, yet of course had to finish plodding thru the D-List material while pretending he had confidence in what he was saying. I have to say it wouldn’t surprise me if he decides to take his leave of the show at the end of the season.
I primarily watched to see how Helen Mirren would do, (she has no discernible comic instinct, at least from what last night showed, although it could have been in large part due to the anemic script she was saddled with) but even after it was clear that her acting talent did not translate on the show, I couldn’t turn off the TV, curious to see if it would either have some sort of eventual comic payoff or finally turn into a full-blown trainwreck.
In the end it did neither—The show was 90 minutes of tedium; jokes that were obviously written as afterthoughts, punchlines you could see coming from Newark, and actors going thru the motions, seemingly self-aware enough to look visibly uncomfortable with being onstage, yet unwilling to fully throw themselves into their material.
If Lorne Michaels still cares about Saturday Night Live, you couldn’t prove it by me, and now it looks like no one else on his staff cares either…