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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Saturday Night Live sees Baldwin break hosting record

      In the quest to make an epic thirty-seventh season premiere, Saturday Night Live enlisted Alec Baldwin to host for a record breaking sixteenth time last night. A few years ago, Baldwin tied with Steve Martin for most times hosting, then Steve returned to keep upping the record. Finally, Baldwin not only tied, but broke it. Martin showed up to playfully challenge him, though seem none too upset to lose his title.

     In the monologue, Martin inquires whether Baldwin might be on any performance enhancing drugs. To figure out this fact, Martin brings a full medical team and Seth Rogen, a "drug expert." It's all for showmanship, because Steve only needs to taste the yellow sample to determine if Alec has been taking drugs. Baldwin is declared clean in a very gross, but hilarious, bit, and the show moves on. Unfortunately, that's as funny as it ever gets.

     Baldwin has been on long enough that he has a number of recurring characters. Yet, none of th memorable ones are trotted out in this episode. There is mention in the monologue of Schweddy Balls now being a Ben & Jerry's ice-cream flavor. To celebrate, wouldn't a return to that sketch be appropriate? Or something to remember him by?

     In fact, it's really odd that only Martin and Rogen guest star. Steve and Alec's contest has been littered with many celebrities popping in, as they are always big event episodes. But last night, that fanfare and gravitas of the legendary moment were absent. The record was broken with little of the ceremony expected from such an occasion, especially considering how long the title has been in contest.

     It wasn't a wasted evening. There were a handful of amusing sketches. A goodbye to All My Children really captured the soap opera spirit, as plenty of "startling twists" were revealed by various crew members. The game show "Who's On Top?" asked which celebrity would be the top in a gay sex encounter, suggesting straight men as choices. And, of course, Weekend Update had some great zingers from Seth Meyers. But other than that, there wasn't much to fawn over.

     Undoubtedly, though he has mostly left comedy behind, Steve Martin will host again. Perhaps even before Baldwin does, so Alec can once more break the record. But if Saturday Night Live's best days are over, what's the point? The bright spot on the horizon is the 2012 election, though the GOP debate sketch was more dud than laughable. But the 2008 election was the last time the series really worked. So maybe...

     Saturday Night Live continues to air Saturdays at 11:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

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