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Sunday, May 9, 2010

SNL: Betty White is not too old for this s***

     Last night's special Mother's Day edition of NBC's Saturday Night Live was a ratings hit, and an audience's delight.  Despite the over three decades the show has been on the air, and the nearly twice that that Betty White has been active in show business, the two had never come together until the 88 year old hosted last night's show.  She had been offered the gig several times, but turned it down, and so SNL had stopped asking.  Then came a recent facebook group, pleased with White's Snickers commercial during this year's Super Bowl, and she decided she couldn't let down the half a million fans petitioning for her.

     The show started surprisingly rocky.  The opening sketch before the theme song was one that has been done on the show before, and despite featuring white and all six SNL female alum who joined her on screen, it stunk.  However, once that was out of the way, the episode was quite good.  White played a nursing home cop in CSI: Sarasota, was McGruber's disturbing grandmother, and, along with several great movie references, made the recurring sketch "Scared Straight" actually funny!  A touching tribute of the current and guest cast singing "Thank You For Being a Friend" to her turned into White donning a ski mask and beating the hell out of them.  In segment after segment, White proved that she should have taken the job years ago.

     The outpouring of emotion directed at White by both the actors sharing the stage and the audience was apparent.  Jay-Z dedicated a touching rendition of "Forever Young" to her, and as she was handed multiple bouquets of flowers at the end, surely tears came to many an eye.  Unfortunately, Jay-Z did not appear in any skits, despite rumors that he would.

     Joining White were a slew of female alum, which, unfortunately, didn't leave room for the current cast to do all that much.  However, they certainly showed that they were missed.  Ana Gasteyer and Molly Shannon brought back their famous NPR radio show sketch, Shannon also appeared as Sally O'Mally, and Maya Rudolph brought back Whitney Houston.  "Really With Seth (Meyers) and Amy" (Poehler) was resurrected, and added to as "Really With Seth, Amy, and Tina" (Fey)Rachel Dratch didn't reprise any popular characters, because her Debbier Downer sketch was sadly cut (it can be seen at this link), but she's always welcome in good comedy.  Also cut, but on Hulu, are a Bronx Beat, Joyologist Helen Madden, and C-SPAN's coverage of the Times Square Bomber.  The night ended with Tina and Betty doing a hilarious U.S. Census questionnaire.  Betty was sweet, with plenty of profanity.

     All in all, it was a great night for the show and a triumph for Ms. White.  I certainly wouldn't call in the funniest episode of Saturday Night Live ever, or even of this season, but it was familiar, emotionally moving, and what it needed to be.  Kudos to all involved.

     Saturday Night Live airs Saturday nights at 11:30pm on NBC.

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