Friday, November 19, 2010

Still To Come

Netflix just had to do it. They couldn't gradually make available old seasons of SNL; they thought it cute to dump a bunch all at once. Okay. Fine. Keep them coming. I could use the batting practice.

SNL's first five seasons, The Golden Age, were periodically released in box sets over several years. (I reviewed three of them.) Then, nothing. There was word that Lorne Michaels was skipping directly to Will Ferrell's first season, leaving behind notable performers and varying levels of comic execution. That made commercial sense, given how long SNL's been on the air. But even that period, which began in 1995, is old news. Meanwhile, the years immediately following the original show seemed forever lost, living on in bootleg form (the Fridays Effect). That is, until last week.

Netflix now streams SNL seasons six through 12, from Jean Doumanian through Dick Ebersol and back again to Lorne. Unlike the box sets, these shows do not feature any musical guests (which is too bad -- there were some great moments), and the shows themselves are incomplete. Curiously, every Weekend Update is included. I don't understand this approach: there's only so much Charles Rocket, Brad Hall and Dennis Miller one can take. Still, many forgotten pieces and performances are here -- some mind-boggling, a few truly stellar, and a lot in between. And you, lucky reader, will see them all through my bloodshot eyes. Prepare for another semester with Professor Cheap Laffs.

I'll also review Rick Meyerowitz's coffee table tome Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Writers and Artists Who Made The National Lampoon Insanely Great. And if I find the time, I may squeeze in an appreciation of Punching The Clown, the hilarious saga of Henry Phillips, a comic singer/composer lost in small club land. But don't wait for me to write about it. The Professor suggests you get punched now. And yes, this will be on the test.