– watching this special you’d never know exactly how rebellious “Saturday Night Live” was at its inception or various other points in history; every clip package was a parade of smash cuts set to a steady beat, like a home run highlight reel, which robbed many classic moments of the comedic tension that made them so memorable in the first place; three and a half hours and they didn’t even show the very first “SNL” sketch in its entirety (“I would like to feed your fingertips to the wolverines”), the program’s mission statement, still one of the weirdest things that’s ever been on television
– there was so much hoo-ha about Eddie Murphy making an appearance, finally burying whatever cold hatchet he had with “SNL”/his “SNL” legacy, but he didn’t do anything, he just came out and expressed some gratitude while making very awkward clapping gestures; maybe Eddie does have a disease that prevents him from being funny these days
– Joe Piscopo seemed as stiff and unhappy as the real elderly Sinatra; I’m sure he was hoping for a tearful on camera reunion with Murphy; I’m sure he burst a blood vessel during Chris Rock’s monologue about Murphy being “SNL’s” Superman (Rock wasn’t wrong, though)
– Wayne’s World remains the most profitable “SNL” spin-off so we’re going to have to endure Wayne and Garth reunion sketches (no matter how pointless or meandering) until Mike Myers and Dana Carvey are both dead (if Carvey dies first I’d put major cash on Myers replacing him with Bill Hader); I wish they’d let the characters age, I’m far more interested to see Wayne at fifty
– Kanye seemed pretty excited to be caught in Wayne’s World
– the best part of “SNL 40” was of course an unscripted moment: Norm Macdonald trying to swerve the Chevy Chase introduction into the nearest ditch, a fine reminder of how brutally unsentimental the show can be (times like that are when “SNL” is tops) and how you can always rely on Norm
– related to that last point: it was wild to see the varying levels of talent on display, in the sense that you have to give Fred Armisen some kind of prop or character but Norm or Bill Murray can just come out and be themselves and everyone’s delighted
– it was cool to see Jane Curtain Weekend Updating with Tina and Amy
– it was cool to see Ellen Cleghorne
– it was not cool to see famous people “covering” their favorite characters
– I don’t know how to feel about Miley Cyrus as an entertainer or a human but she clearly has talent, by which I mean she made me give a shit about a Paul Simon song; I’d buy that rendition on vinyl
– the audience kept the applause at fair levels throughout the dead person montage; doesn’t feel like anyone was slighted, and they chose really wonderful/wonderfully evocative photos of each figure
– all those fucking montages and not one devoted entirely to the rich history of musical performance on “SNL”; sorry, legendary artists who so often were the only bits of the program worth watching, this “Californians” sketch has to be eight decades long
– ego probably prevented a lot of great comedy from happening
– “SNL” has constructed a successful enough business model that it may never go off the air; I’d like it to, only to see if another comedic incubator of its caliber would ever come along
– what a shame [obscure cast member] didn’t get any shoutouts
A: Safely ensconced in my Connecticut bedroom. I think my dad yelled up the stairs for me to come check it out, which was the custom in our house regarding important news (I will never forget the dark evening a few years earlier when I heard Father’s shout from the lower level: “Pee Wee Herman got arrested for touching himself!”; convinced the old man was trolling me, I shrieked something to the effect of, “SHUT UP, STOP MAKING FUN OF PEE WEE!”).
What stands out most in my memory is how nothing seemed to happen once O.J. and A.C. pulled into O.J.’s driveway. Cops did not swarm the vehicle. Gunfire did not erupt. Obviously the scene was chaotic and tense, and the documentary June 17th, 1994 does a great job conveying just how gripping it was, but watching on tv all we were seeing was a motionless driveway. The L.A. riots conditioned me to anticipate shocking violence. I didn’t want to see it, but I expected it.
Little did I know this was just the start of wall-to-wall-to-ceiling O.J. Simpson coverage. I didn’t have much investment in Juice as a heroic sports figure. To me he was just the dude from the Naked Gun movies. He seemed like an alright guy before he allegedly murdered two people. Suddenly he became O.J., inescapable figure of American tragedy, captain of a lurid nightmare smeared across every waking minute of television available.
O.J. absorbed so much of our time you didn’t notice the rest of your life. A blanket lifted when the first trial ended in 1995. What the hell? What year is it? I’m how old? Wait, when did “Empty Nest” go off the air?
And of course, every basic cable subscriber alive at that time remembers the Dana Carvey special where he did a solid twenty-five minutes on O.J. “We’re frrrrrrrrramin’ O.J!” That punchline bounces around the recesses of my mind like an apparition trapped between mortality and the afterlife.