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Posted at 2:30 PM ET, 04/15/2010

You vote: The best decade of SNL

By Jen Chaney

Tonight NBC trots out another in its seemingly endless supply of "Saturday Night Live" retrospectives. This two-hour extravaganza is entitled "Saturday Night Live in the 2000s: Time and Again," to which the Post's Tom Shales gives a mostly positive review, although he wishes the show delivered more Kristen Wiig. It's a reasonable complaint; most of us could use a bit more Wiig in our lives.

This salute to the '00s and the fact that SNL is celebrating its 35th year in existence got me thinking about an important pop-cultural question: Which decade really stands as the best of "Saturday Night Live"?

The reflexive answer is, of course, the '70s, when the show first sprang onto TV screens and felt edgier, fresher and just a little more dangerous with each passing week. John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase, Gilda Radner, Bill Murray -- all that talent was introduced to America in that time frame.

But let's be fair here; the late-night sketch-fest was only on television for the second half of the '70s. Perhaps it's easier to make the case for a decade of comedic consistency when that decade only consisted of five years.

Sure, the '80s gave us that highly uncomfortable period that squandered the talents of Robert Downey Jr. and Anthony Michael Hall. But it also gave us several years of Eddie Murphy genius ("Mister Robinson's Neighborhood"? Buckwheat? Still brilliant.), not to mention Billy Crystal, Martin Short, Christopher Guest, even Joe Piscopo. (I swear, young'uns, that dude was funny once.)

The '90s was responsible for Dana Carvey, Mike Myers, Adam Sandler, Chris Farley (what, you don't say something about living in a van down by the river pretty much every day?) and the emergence of one Will Ferrell.

And the '00s finally gave us a decade when women truly reigned on "Saturday Night Live" -- Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, the aforementioned Wiig -- not to mention a couple of digital shorts that became Internet sensations. (Thanks to "Lazy Sunday," I will never be able to say "Chronic -- what? -- cles of Narnia" properly again. Or write it, for that matter.)

Given all of this evidence, what's your favorite decade of SNL? Are you still sticking with the '70s, or does another era trump it? Cast your vote below.

By Jen Chaney  | April 15, 2010; 2:30 PM ET
Categories:  Pop Culture, TV  
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Comments

One year of 70s-era SNL was and still is funnier than any ten since. (And not one mention of Phil Hartman, ladies?! For SMAME.)

Posted by: td_in_baltimore | April 15, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

And while I realize you all work together, linking to Tom I-wrote-a-book-about-SNL Shales seems a bit obvious here. While I am usually a huge fan of Shales' commentary, he long ago sacrificed any objectivity about SNL.

Posted by: td_in_baltimore | April 15, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

I want an option for the decade from '75 - '85. The original 'not ready for primetime players' were the best, but young Eddie Murphy deserve credit for everything he ever did on SNL. He was brilliant.

Posted by: jes11 | April 15, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

I want an option for the decade from '75 - '85. The original 'not ready for primetime players' were the best, but young Eddie Murphy deserve credit for everything he ever did on SNL. He was brilliant.

Posted by: jes11 | April 15, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Yeah. I think 5 year increments would be more helpful.

Posted by: Roxie1 | April 15, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Yeah. I think 5 year increments would be more helpful.

Posted by: Roxie1 | April 15, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

I'm voting for the 2000s out of sheer nostalgia for my college years. (And the fact that they got Al Gore into a hot tub, and got John McCain to debate the merits of running for president against a "reanimated zombie Carter".)

Posted by: Bawlmer51 | April 15, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Early years all the way, then some mid 80s with Murphy and co, and then Tina Fey and the women of the 00s. Too much not good stuff, or I should write, stuff that had no wow factor for me, for many of the 35 years.

As my grandpappy said, "Son, you gotta go through the sh!t to get to the sugar."

Posted by: osh123 | April 15, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

And don't forget that Al Franken was on SNL too, for 15 years.

Posted by: chocolatetiara | April 15, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

The fact that 35 years -- approximately 1400 hours -- of programming can be distilled into maybe 5 hours of best-of programs makes it obvious that SNL = Saturday Night Lame.

But I'd watch Darrell Hammond's impressions, anytime.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | April 15, 2010 11:29 PM | Report abuse

The era that lasted from roughly 1986-1992 was the greatest. Hartman, Lovitiz, Carvey, Hooks, Miller, Jackson and Myers. What a great show. Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer might be the funniest SNL sketch ever.

Posted by: twasneva | April 16, 2010 8:15 AM | Report abuse

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