Saturday Night Live in the '90s: Pop Culture Nation
Empty9 p.m., Sunday, May 6
In this, the third Kenneth Bowser combination documentary/clip show on the history of "Saturday Night Live," the producer-writer-director is unusually candid about the show's controversies.
He acknowledges the attacks of TV critics and other writers who found the show in a creative slump in the mid-1990s. And he is perfectly upfront about the unfortunate decision of NBC exec Don Ohlmeyer to yank Norm MacDonald from the plum Weekend Update anchor role.
The one point he refuses to concede, however, is that the show ever experienced even a tiny dip in quality. Instead, Bowser flashes interview clip after clip with the likes of Dana Carvey, Al Franken, Chris Rock, Tracy Morgan, Tina Fey, Will Ferrell and MacDonald, among others, as if to say: "With all this talent, there's no way 'SNL' could be anything but stellar. Case closed."
Not so fast. Those of us who kept tabs on the show know it had its creative peaks and valleys and no amount of highlight reels, however well-chosen, will alter that perception. Still, Bowser is both authoritative and entertaining, as he replays some of "SNL's" best political satire and character comedy.
He also gives Lorne Michaels, the show's godfather, and its writers and producers, plenty of opportunities to step out from behind the curtains and get the public recognition they earned.