Wasted moments. Those fleeting snapshots in time that occur only for an instant, and then, if not seized, they're gone forever.
No one likes a wasted moment; not a guy watching his girl walk away, thinking about what he should've said and done, or, as in this past weekend's star-studded Saturday Night Live episode, not the viewers of a legendary comedy show who were teased with early cameos from more than a half-dozen of the show's funniest performers, ever -- most of whom we barely saw again. What followed were quite a few potentially great moments that never saw the light of day, and left at least some of us out there wondering, What if?
First, don't get me wrong: managing to get an all-star cast of some of the biggest egos in Hollywood to share an 8x10 stage for a simple five-minute sketch in this day and age is no easy task. So, you have to give it up to Lorne Michaels and co. for convincing Paul Simon, Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, Martin Short, Alec Baldwin, Tom Hanks, and Candice Bergen to support host Justin Timberlake in his opening monologue when the modern day Dean Martin took the reigns of the legendary late-night show for the fifth time.
The star-studded opening was enough to cause the nine cigar-chomping, beer-drinking guys I was playing poker with to actually freeze an "All-In" raise, mid-hand, in order to watch it as it happened. And, aside from Paul Simon obviously needing a shot of Red Bull, and Chevy Chase's slurred and garbled speech -- causing us to worry if the legendary actor had recently suffered some sort of stroke, it was definitely a "Wow!" moment on a show that's come to be known for it's star-studded surprises over the years (e.g., Pesci and Deniro, Madonna, etc.).
However, aside from a few minor chuckles here and there, in my humble opinion, the rest of the show succeeded in joining the infinite number of episodes before it as falling way short of it's expected potential. Especially, considering the opportunities presented it in the form of those iconic cameos. I mean, how do you have that much talent together at once on a sketch comedy show and hardly make use of any of them for the remainder of the evening? Furthermore, when working the one's you do decide to use into the show, how do you not let them take center stage?
Case in point, I strongly disagree with Screencrush's glowing review of the show, particularly of Martin and Aykroyd's revival of the hormone-riddled, ladies' men, the Festrunk Brothers.
Sure, it was great to see them again in any setting. But, these two "Wild and Crazy Guys!" are arguably two of the most popular characters in SNL history, yet, what do the writers do with them? They stick the priceless tandem of Martin and Aykroyd into a corny and mediocre "Dating Game" parody alongside the "Dick in the Box" guys.
We all know and love the song performed by Andy Samberg and Timberlake, but, rather than have two legendary performers playing second fiddle to an almost decade-old joke, one in which we pick up the brothers right where we left off, why not shake things up a bit and give them their own skit that shows where they are now, and let Martin and Aykroyd explore a bit?
Who knows? Maybe they were offered and had no time to rehearse? But, there's no question, with just a bit more effort, the return of the Wild and Crazy Guys! could have been a lot funnier than a few quips in a dating booth. Obviously, I'm not a writer for SNL (thank God) but what if, for instance, 30 years later, the two "swinging" brothers were now counselors on A&E's Intervention, having been through rehab and found Jesus? Or, perhaps they could have been dot com millionaires and founders of Girls Gone Wild and Crazy! and engaged in a massive lawsuit with their nephew, Girls Gone Wild! creator, Joe Francis; birth name, Joe Festrunk. Timberlake could have portrayed Francis and the writers could've used the recent bankruptcy surrounding the one-time billionaire's company as fodder for the skit.
The two aforementioned ideas may suck, but, when you have two of late-night comedy's most legendary performers at your disposal, a duo who, for all intents and purposes, may never perform together on that stage again, and you put forth an effort that makes it look like you phoned it in, it makes one sigh with exasperation over what could have been. Not to mention, it was hard to watch a pleasantly plump Aykroyd jiggle around in the outfit that once represented the epitome of studliness and now makes him look silly.
Then, there was "Nuva Bling," the ghetto fabulous birth control for your vajayjay. This wasn't funny at all. It was scary. Because, at any moment, an ad like that could easily appear on any show the Kardashians star in. What might have made it funny to the over-25 demographic, is if Candice Bergen endorsed this product like she did with Cie. Or, am I just too old and bitter?
"Veganville" was yet another excuse to get Timberake into a Gumby outfit for the 14th time and have him dance around. No doubt, his Nerf costumes are always guaranteed laughs. But, since Steve Martin acknowledged Joey Fatone, Timberlake's former 'N Sync compadre, during the opening, why not get him to go up against the five-time host in the now-classic dance-off scene? You can't tell me Tom Hanks was free but Joey Fatone wasn't.
And, after the "Festrunk Brothers," "Dick in a Box guys," and rehashed "Nerf Dancing Guy," if the theme was indeed paying tribute to classic characters, where was Alec Baldwin as Pete Schweddy? Perhaps, in the spirit of things, he would have been up for a go at it with Timberlake playing his son, Pete Schweddy, Jr., hawking their new Schweddy Buns had a script been sent his way.
And, finally, "Weekend Update" with no Chevy Chase? Whose fault was that? Everyone I was watching with thought for sure, "Chevy's gonna do the news!" Nope. Not even a cameo.
Who knows? Maybe most of these guys really do hate each other, or Lorne Michaels for that matter, or had someplace they needed to be for the next 85 minutes until reappearing for the finale? If not, as interesting as the show was, it sure seemed like a lot of untapped talent and wasted potential.
And, for myself, who grew up watching this show back when I would pretend to be asleep and keep the T.V. low enough so the folks couldn't hear, but loud enough so I could catch "Emily Litella" or "The Coneheads" or "Land Shark" or "Samurai T.V. Repair Man." I can't help but feel, if, during the show, all that talent was, in fact, just sitting in the green room drinking coffee and twiddling their thumbs, the ghosts of the "Not Ready For Prime Time Players" must certainly feel the current crop of SNL writers are simply not ready for prime time.
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