The 39th season of 'Saturday Night Live' is over. From the beginning, it was a strange season -- gone were so many of the show's powerful voices: Hader, Samberg, Wiig, Sudeikis, Armisen -- yet this allowed new voices to be heard. And that's the thing about being new on 'SNL': not everything is going to hit. But, in compiling this list of the ten best sketches from the 2013-2014 season, there were some tough choices to be made (sorry, 'Bugs'). And, sadly, for inclusion, the sketch had to have actually appeared on the live show (sorry, 'Wing').
And, yes, this list is heavy with prerecorded material as opposed to live performances. (Perhaps it's not completely fair to compare, but, this is a testament of just how strong the prerecorded sketches are in a post-'Digital Short' world.) And it's also notable that none of the best sketches were recurring sketches (though, I could see at least one of these coming back next season). So, behold: The ten best sketches from this past season of 'Saturday Night Live.'
The truth is, I don’t particularly enjoy reviewing ‘Saturday Night Live’ – something I’ve done now for four full seasons at three different outlets. Now, I’ve loved the show for my entire life and I love writing about the show, but it’s not easy to be critical of what these people do every week because it really is remarkable what they can pull off in less than one week on live television. (I’ve attended ‘SNL’ twice: Once in 2009 and then again for dress rehearsal last night. Watching the organized chaos that unfolds in person is almost overwhelming.)
The 2013-2014 season is now over and, no, it won’t go down in history as one of the better seasons in ‘SNL’ history. The show has lost too many stars over the past couple of years to recover that quickly, but they will recover. They always do. ‘SNL’ has always leaned heavily on recurring sketches, but what’s weird is how many recurring sketches are in rotation right now that not that many people love. When you think back, there’s always been a ‘Church Lady’ or ‘Wayne’s World’ or ‘Cheerleaders’ or ‘Stefon’ – but now, they don’t have that, and without that it’s been hard to sustain an identity.
When Andy Samberg was a cast member on 'SNL,' he routinely set the internet on fire with his digital shorts, but none were as popular as his Lonely Island music videos, which saw him, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone performing hip-hop music that often sounded like the real thing. Well, at least it would sound like the real thing if the subject matter wasn't totally crazy. With Samberg performing hosting duties on the season finale, Lonely Island reunited for a new video (with a special appearance by Pharrell Williams), singing and rapping about what it's like to be hardcore huggers.
This season of 'SNL' has been all about truly weird and experimental digital shorts, so it only makes sense that guest host Andy Samberg (who helped pioneer them in the first place) would help make one of the strangest. There's almost no dialogue in this sketch and the joke isn't immediately accessible, but it's the kind of specific and eclectic comedy that 'SNL' tends to excel at when it wants to.
It can be an odd experience when former 'SNL' cast members return to host the show. On one level, it's refreshing to see some of your favorite faces return to the stage. On another level, it's a reminder of what the show has lost (especially in a "rebuilding" season like this one). So the season finale's opening monologue was a bittersweet affair, with guest host Andy Samberg being joined by fellow 'SNL' veterans Seth Meyers, Bill Hader and Martin Short.
Seth Meyers' 'Late Night' just recently unveiled its Second Chance Theatre, an attempt to let former 'SNL' performers have a venue to show off beloved sketches that never made it to the air on the venerable comedy show. Meyers, however, is not the only former 'SNL' head writer to recycle old material -- Tina Fey did it, too!
Over the years, 'SNL' nixed its fair share of sketches from their late-night installments -- for one, take a look at this bizarre sketch from Andrew Garfield's latest hosting run -- but now they're getting a second chance to see the light of day. Seth Meyers, who served as 'SNL' head writer for nearly 10 years, is determined to resurrect some never-aired favorites for his new audience on 'Late Night with Seth Meyers.'
Last summer, ‘Saturday Night Live’ hired five new cast members to replace the large shoes left by the departures of veterans Bill Hader, Jason Sudeikis and Fred Armisen – plus Tim Robinson, whose quirky style was, after just one season, reassigned to the writing staff. Those five new hires were Beck Bennett, Noël Wells, Brooks Wheelan, Kyle Mooney and John Milhiser. In January, the show added Sasheer Zamata. Then, in February, after the departure of 'SNL's' most tenured cast member, Seth Meyers, co-head writer Colin Jost joined the cast.
So, in a season filled with new faces – and a now whopping 17 cast members – competing for that ever-precious airtime, it’s notable that the new cast member who, at the very least, has had the most artistic impact on the show – and is certainly the boldest cast member this season – was introduced to the world by a nearly asterisked “promoted from the writing staff” designation...a 37-year-old actor/writer/comedian who used to go by the name Pat O’Brien.
Save for a few moments (basically when whales weren’t exploding), last night’s Charlize Theron-hosted ‘SNL’ was … not great. Something just felt off for almost the entire show. Perhaps it’s the realization that this long season is almost finally over, but, for the most part, everyone just looked tired. There certainly was an energy missing in the studio last night. And Theron seemed to be genuinely trying, but, for whatever reason, not a lot was working. And there were times it almost seemed like the show was trying to kill time – I can’t remember the last time I watched a member of the band give a guitar solo while precious time clicked away (and, not surprisingly, there are THREE unaired sketches from dress on Hulu this morning). Hold on tight, as we fly off to the penultimate Scorecard of the season…
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