Saturday, January 20, 2007

SNL's Golden Age...Remember That?

Of course, the first few seasons are out of reach. The cast, the writers...everything they were doing was fresh. They were inventing a genre which has yet to be truly rivaled. It enjoyed a great run through the 80's, and a cast in the early nineties (including Dana Carvey, Mike Meyers, my cousin Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, and Kevin Nealon to name a few) that came a close second to the legendary early cast members. But nowadays...

The problem isn't with the cast, so much as it is with the writers. Being a creative writing major, I can't really criticize too much I suppose, but...comedy writers learn what works in sitcoms and dramas and movies, and so they write what works. They don't invent. They're not on the cutting edge, because the cutting edge doesn't pay the bills.

You see that a lot these days. I'll go ahead and be a total dork and play into the hands of everybody who knows where I'm going with this...

Take, for example, a television show like Arrested Development. For anybody who hasn't seen it that is too bad. If you have seen The Office, and you enjoy it, well...that's too bad. NBC is in a great position these days when it comes to their weeknight programming. As NBC is near the bottom as far as ratings go, they're less afraid to give something new a chance. The Office, Studio 60, My Name is Earl, Scrubs, and Heroes are all shows that a network like ABC or CBS may have considered but passed on, or given a small chance but given up before it really caught. Fox is great at giving a chance to something new, but bad at retention. Arrested Development...think The Office but with a narrator and about a disfunctional family instead of just an office. Great writers on both shows, but Fox killed AD after two and a half seasons.

A show like SNL endurs because it has a legendary past. It can get away with being sub-par because viewers still cling to the glory days...but not forever. It needs to get better soon, or it will start losing viewers. How can it get better? Get better writers. I'm not saying they need to hire writers off the street, but they have got to hire some writers who aren't afraid to think. Right now, even if the skits begin well, they drag on and end abruptly, as if the writers realized it's a sketch show and they've got to keep it under a certain amount, and the people in charge say, "Well, if it's all we've got..." It's just bad comedy to lose your audience halfway through a sketch. Make it punchy. Bring back the slapstick of Belushi and Chase. The ridiculous dialogue of Wayne and Garth. SOMETHING!

It's sad to think that the world writers my age are entering is one in which you have to prepackage your work...suddenly, you shouldn't write manuscripts, but McManuscripts. Everything is homogenized, sterilized, and easily consumable. The George Lopez show is King of Queens for the Latino market. Break out. Do something different.

On a side note, I completed my play for the one act festival, printed it out, took it to the office to turn it in...and nobody was there to take it. The door was locked. didn't get turned in. So what the hell am I supposed to do now? The student in charge of Surfacing hasn't answered me. My friend Kathleen, who is affiliated with the contest, suggested that the deadline may have been extended to Wednesday, but I haven't received confirmation. CRAP!

Music to blog by:
Miss Murder (with bad sound mixing) - AFI
(because I was watching SNL and they were the guest, silly)

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Molly said...

your cousin Chris Farley?? Isn't THAT a stretch??

mGk said...

No matter how long the limbs of your family tree, you will never get them to reach that far. :) (But when I think of the possiblity of you two being related I get a vision not unlike that of Toe-jam and Earl. Quite comical really.) Lovingly, Your Sister