Mitt Romney Gaffes, Drunk Uncle Lead Half-Baked 'SNL' Election Special

Mid-week politics special feels undercooked, lacks energy

Bobby Moynihan and Seth Meyers on 'SNL'
Dana Edelson/NBC
Bobby Moynihan and Seth Meyers on 'SNL'
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There's a reason the show is called Saturday Night Live, and not Thursday Night Live.

Airing the show on Thursday night means three fewer days in the week for cast and crew to write and re-write. It's three fewer days of ideas to be hatched and developed. It's three fewer days to make sure that sketches kill and jokes don't flop.

No matter what night of the week is supposedly "must-see" TV night, Saturday is always the coolest option and Saturday Night Live, after 37 years, is still hip enough to make staying in a cool decision, when people could be out at any number of places making bad ones. The only thing must-see about last night's episode of SNL Weekend Update Thursday, though, was the remote control.

Airing live right after dinner seemed way too early. It felt like the lights were too bright at that time of night; like the seniors had shown up for the early bird special. That's if the crowd was there at all – sometimes it was hard to tell. And perhaps Bobby Moynihan, who showed in bit parts during the season premiere why he's in the running for most valuable player, wasn't entirely to blame when he pulled up lame tonight as Drunk Uncle. Moynihan's character, usually a terrific whirlwind of laugh-out-loud ignorance about technology or racial and religious equality, rolled out to the Update desk without much purpose and certainly to little reaction. "If State Farm was like my neighbor, it'd steal my mail and yell at me in Jewish," Drunk Uncle slurred. Try as he might, he just couldn't rouse the audience from sitting on their hands and holding their breath, which is too bad, because Bobby is Saturday-funny.

And Thursday at 8:30 p.m. just doesn't have the same energy as Saturday at 11:30 p.m. Bill Hader was slimy at the Update desk as Democratic operative James Carville, but he didn't slither. Seth Meyers, whose one-liners roasted Jesus' supposed-wife, the Jewish New Year and the NFL replacement referees, was pointed, but not razor-sharp.

This Thursday came across as three-quarters full. It was half-baked. And worst of all: one-third the length of any given Saturday. On a night when everything was thrown into a pan, sautéed and served, it was hard to swallow the lack of format during theshow's 30 minutes. Shouting "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night" and cutting immediately to the Weekend Update theme music was in essence live fast-forwarding. (Things were so rushed, in fact, that there wasn't even time for all of the end-of-show credits to run.)

Between a so-so opening sketch featuring Fox & Friends defending Mitt Romney's latest video gaffes (note: truth has been funnier than fiction this week), a bland commercial parody about political convention audience members and a number of very awkward throws-to and returns-from commercials, one wonders why not situate the whole show around Seth Meyers and the desk, and use a large number of the cast as guests?

After all, the show is titled SNL Weekend Update Thursday.

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