It was actually a little odd that we learned the fates of Brooks Wheelan, Noël Wells and John Milhiser so early, way back in July. I do wonder if Wheelan forced NBC’s hand a little bit on those announcements by broadcasting that he was off the show via his Twitter account. The names may have been a surprise, but it wasn’t shocking that something was going to change on ‘Saturday Night Live’ this season as we enter the show’s 40th season.
Last Thursday saw a uniquely surprising shift in 'SNL''s upcoming 40th anniversary season, as senior "Weekend Update" host Cecily Strong was relieved from the desk, and replaced with writer Michael Che alongside head writer Colin Jost. Many had taken the swap as an unfair slight against Strong in favor of Jost's writer seniority, though now Strong herself has spoken out on her feelings toward the "Weekend Update" shakeup.
We'd known that 'SNL' would need some additional fine-tuning after shedding some of the dead weight of season 39, but where writer Colin Jost had replaced "Weekend Update"s departed Seth Meyers alongside Cecily Strong, an unexpected shakeup has emerged. Strong will step down from the Update desk, remaining an 'SNL' regular, while 'Daily Show' correspondent and 'SNL' writer Michael Che will become Jost's new co-anchor.
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.
What begins as a fairly typical 'SNL' sketch soon transforms into one of darker sketches the show has put on in recent memory, exploring the dissolution of a marriage thanks to dog food choices. Guest host Seth Rogen and regular cast member Cecily Strong bring their finest comedic chops to the scene, wringing every possible ounce of discomfort out of every moment.
Anna Kendrick is the perfect type of ‘SNL’ host – to the point that, as a performer, she could easily be a member of the cast. (I have no idea what her sketch writing ability is like.) Kendrick blends in with the rest of the cast so easily, it allows the show to be about the sketches and not about the host. Not to mention, she’s quite talented, which allows for a lot of singing and dancing – and there was a lot of singing and dancing last night (and a lot of Disney references). This was by far the most consistent show of the season, which makes it the best show of the season (even though I'm hesitant to use the word "best"). So much, in fact, that I wish I could set today’s Scorecard to the music of ‘Treasure Planet.’
The inevitable departure of 'SNL' vet and Weekend Update host Seth Meyers has not yet befallen fans of the long-running sketch comedy series, though when Meyers leaves Saturdays behind for 'Late Night,' co-anchor Cecily Strong will not fly solo at the Weekend Update desk. 'SNL''s head writer Colin Jost has officially been selected to fill Meyers' seat, but is he up for the task?
Bruce Willis has made plenty of headlines in recent months with his apparent disinterest in the spotlight, but will he be up to the task of hosting 'SNL' for the first time since 1989? The 'Die Hard' star will step up to the stage for this Saturday's follow-up to last week's Miley Cyrus outing, and the first previews at least bring us "The Return of Bruno." Ah, '80s humor.
The girl at the party you wish you hadn't started a conversation with is about to get a whole lot more informed. As 'SNL' shores things up for its 39th season, recruiting new members to replace the multiple departures of the previous year and those still to come, it would seem Seth Meyers has an heir apparent to the Weekend Update throne in that of regular contributor and current castmate Cecily Strong.