Saturday Night Live (Season 6, 11, 20)
Saturday Night Live (or SNL for short) is an American late-night live television sketch comedy and variety show created by Lorne Michaels and developed by Dick Ebersol. Premiering on NBC on October 11, 1975 (under the name NBC's Saturday Night), the show has been extremely successful, having aired 45+ seasons and becoming a staple of prime time television.
While SNL as a whole had its ups and downs, this page will tackle the sixth season (1980-81) produced by Jean Doumanian after Lorne Michaels left the show and the first season to feature a completely new cast, the eleventh season (1985-86) produced by Lorne Michaels, who returned to the show after leaving at the end of season 5, and the twentieth season (1994-95) made in time for the show's 20th anniversary, which were poorly received and considered by fans to be the worst seasons of the series.
- Jean Doumanian, this season's producer, was only experienced in getting musical guests for the show, and had no experience in writing comedy.
- She was also tasked to find the new writers and cast members in ten weeks, something which took Lorne Michaels, the show's co-creator, nearly a year to do before the show originally started in 1975.
- While the new cast members aren't bad, per se, most of them are similarly inexperienced and are given weak material to work with, even talented ones like Joe Piscopo and Eddie Murphy.
- It should be noted that Doumanian rejected some potentially talented actors, like Jim Carrey and John Goodman (who would end up hosting some SNL episodes in later years).
- A majority of the sketches are boring and rely far too much on vulgar humor, which falls flat. One such example is the "Jack the Stripper" sketch, which is considered by many to be the worst sketch of the series.
- Some of the sketches are way too mean-spirited to be funny, like the infamous sketch where Gilbert Gottfried plays a stroke patient lying in the hospital with everyone save for Denny Dillon's character mocking him, and other sketches were downright tasteless. One skit, known as "Commie Hunting Season" has a character say the N-word.
- Some new characters are pretty obnoxious and unfunny, such as Paulie Herman.
- The 11th episode that featured Charlene Tilton as host has Charles Rocket dropping the F-bomb, which ended up getting him, Jean Doumanian and most of the cast members (except for Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo, who remained as cast members until the end of season 9) fired after the next episode.
- Due to a writer's strike, the season ended early, leaving many other episodes unfinished.
- The main problem with this season is that the new cast (which, like season 10, consisted of famous or soon-to-be famous people like Joan Cusack and Robert Downey Jr.) didn't mesh together as well as the previous seasons, something which even the sixth season got right eventually.
- The writing in this season feels disjointed, this is due to the fact that the writers didn't know how to write for a cast that consisted of A-list celebrities.
- The 7th episode with Harry Dean Stanton as host had the infamous performance from musical guest band the Replacements, which was heavily intoxicated in between songs, causing them to get banned from appearing on the show again.
- Similarly, two of the featured cast members, Dan Vitale and Damon Wayans, also got fired for different reasons, Vitale for drug abuse, and Wayans for portraying one of his characters as flamboyantly gay out of frustration from having small roles.
- A majority of the sketches, even the Weekend Update segments, were focused on O.J. Simpson's murder trial, which gets old pretty quickly.
- The humor in this season is far more juvenile than the previous seasons.
- Some of the sketches that don't focus on O.J. Simpson's trial lack any sort of real comedy, like the "Total Bastard Airlines" sequel sketch.
- There was a lot of backstage drama in this season. According to Janeane Garofalo (who left halfway through the season), she was unhappy with the workplace environment and how she was treated, calling it "an unfair boys' club" and described the sketches as "juvenile and homophobic".
- Not counting the Replacements debacle in season 11, the music performances were still pretty good.
- The events of season 11 were retconned in the next season's premiere as a bad dream.
- There were a few funny sketches, like Charles Rocket's "Rocket Report" and Eddie Murphy's "Mister Robinson's Neighborhood" sketches in season 6, Randy Quaid's "Limits of the Imagination" and Jon Lovitz's "Tommy Flanagan" in season 11.
- The cast members give great performances and impressions, even if the writing material is lousy.
- The Weekend Update segments in seasons 11 and 20 were pretty entertaining, with Dennis Miller and Norm MacDonald as the anchors for the respective seasons.
- Even though the sixth season ended early due to a writer's strike, the last two episodes are a good way to end the season and are nice send-offs to the season's cast members, with the latter episode even introducing some of the next season's cast members.
The Jean Doumanian-led 6th season of SNL was received very poorly by fans and critics alike. However, the last 2 episodes had better reception.
Due to how the season was critically panned, led to decline in ratings and nearly killed the series before series co-creator Dick Ebersol took over in the 13th and final episode of the season, it is considered old shame for the cast members and the executives at NBC.
The 11th and 20th seasons of SNL were critically panned, and led to a decline in ratings that nearly got the show cancelled. However, many people praised Dennis Miller as the Weekend Update anchor in season 11, commenting that his stint was on par with Chevy Chase's time on Weekend Update. Norm MacDonald's stint as the Weekend Update anchor in season 20 was praised for similar reasons, but also criticized for repetition of gags and jokes about the O.J. Simpson murder trial. The decline in quality in season 20 was so bad that New York Magazine wrote a cover story in March of 1995 titled "How 'Saturday Night Live' Became a Grim Joke", detailing the backstage wrangling and Janeane Garofalo's miserable experience on the show.
Because of the poor reviews and ratings of season 11, Lorne Michaels decided to fire most of the cast members and overhaul the cast for the next season with actors like Phil Hartman, Jan Hooks and Dana Carvey. The only cast members that were kept from season 11 were Jon Lovitz, Dennis Miller, Nora Dunn and A. Whitney Brown.
Likewise, the dwindling ratings of season 20 and the negative press surrounding it caused Lorne Michaels to overhaul the show for the next season with actors such as Will Ferrell, Cheri Oteri and Darrell Hammond, while keeping actors like Norm MacDonald and David Spade. Michaels stated that working on this season was the closest he's ever been to getting fired and getting SNL cancelled.