Thursday, May 29, 2008

For Openers

As I warned you would happen sometime back, I have now acquired the DVD for the third season of Saturday Night Live, and I now intend to write about it at nauseating length. (That was the official title by this point, but when Lorne Michaels appeared on the first show of the season, making his third and final appeal to the Beatles, in a quite unfunny bit, he twice referred to the show as Saturday Night. And he was the one who had fought so long for the show to become Saturday Night Live.)

The first thing you would notice about Season Three is that the opening credits have changed, which isn't a surprise, but the surprise is that the new credits were some awful rinky-dink thing that I didn't recognize at all. There were little caricatures of the Not Ready for Prime Time Players presented on a primitive 1977 kind of Jumbotron, like they used to have in the outfield at the Astrodome. The resolution, of course, was poor, so that you wouldn't have known who it was if the actor's name hadn't been presented alongside (Belushi had a frizzy halo of hair that made him loook more like Gilda than like himself), and the pictures were monochrome.

To augment this, they filmed little mug-shot-like clips of the cast members faces, moving but not doing anything, if you know what I mean, like they do to introduce the players on Monday Night Football. These were superimposed in soft focus over the Jumbotron images. After the second season's gorgeous, hand-painted photos - Chevy Chase holding a typewriter like an accordion, Gilda taking a bite out of an apple - they were hideous.

Fortunately, Lorne Michaels knew they were hideous, so by the second show, the opening had been reshot. Now they had the Jumbotron caricatures on a screen high above Times Square, shot at a time near dusk, while the performers walked past and paused for a moment. This lasted two weeks. Then, on the fourth show of the season, they presented the cast members, at night, standing in front of their names on the Jumbotron - you may remember Bill Murray making shadow birds with his hands in front of his, and Garrett Morris hiding an apparently stolen purse behind his back. I'm only on the fourth show - which is so far easily the best, the classic Chuck Grodin "Are we really on live? I didn't know that" outing - but I'm pretty sure these credits survived the rest of the season.

I know we're way out in the weeds with this, that no one cares but me. Just be glad I'm not talking about the closing credits - which also changed this season, to a format with the words lowercased, title flush left and name flush right, although they soon changed back to the old familar white all-caps letters, with all words centered.

1 comment:

Gavin said...

I'd love it if the name of the show was actually "Nauseating Length."