I've been waiting all season for an episode of NBC's Saturday Night Live to inspire me to write an article. Had I been writing TV reviews a couple of years ago, I would have considered covering the series every week, as it was so good and consistently funny. Sadly, for the past year or so, consistently mediocre is the best label I can give SNL. After thirty-six years, there are bound to be cycles, and the show has gone through bad patches before. Sadly, we are firmly stuck in one of them now.
However, this week's episode was great. Not the best I've ever seen, but the best in a long time. Almost every sketch was truly funny. And the thing is, the success cannot be attributed to host Gwyneth Paltrow, so it is highly repeatable. Don't get me wrong; Gwyneth did a fine job. Most of the hosts do, including recent ones. Cee Lo Green, the musical guest, also appeared in several bits, and also did well. But this series always comes down to the writing, and for the most part, last night's writing was something quite superior to this season's norm.
The opening sketch was a fine example of political satire. FOX News went with the 'Embracing Civility' message being called for after last week's shooting in Arizona, and Greta van Susteren (Kristen Wiig) brought together some of the network's most popular hosts, including a very reluctant Glenn Beck (Jason Sudeikis). However, she also allowed liberal James Carville (Bill Hader) on to provoke Beck and the others, and when Rachel Maddow (Abby Elliott) took over Glenn's chalkboard, it was all over.
It was a timely, tightly run piece of material put together by the cast and writers, which despite recent showings, proved that they are still talented. Sure, FOX is an easy target, but that doesn't mean it isn't hilarious when they are lambasted properly, as they were in this opening. Easy target or not, it still takes talent to execute a good parody. SNL has gobs of talent, and it's past time the show itself stop forgetting that.