Saturday Night Live/Season Thirty-Three
Season Thirty-Three of Saturday Night Live premiered on September 29, 2007. It retained all of the cast members from the previous season and was the third season of the series to be afflicted by a strike.
Because the Writers Guild strike was not resolved by the end of the November 3rd weekend, production on the season shut down beginning midnight on November 5th. In an average week of SNL production, upwards of 30 sketches are written with the host for the week on Monday and Tuesday. However, because the writing staff is entirely comprised of union members, that writing could not be done. Amy Poehler was quoted in an article in Variety saying, "It's just done. There is no backlog of scripts."
In the past, there have been two other seasons that were ended prematurely due to strikes. Both season six in 1981 and season 13 in 1988 ended in 13 episodes. There was some speculation that the season would be forfeited after four pre-strike episodes, but when the strike ended in February, those fears were quelled.
The strike has caused the cancellation of two planned episodes. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson was announced as the host of the episode scheduled to air on November 11, along with musical guest Amy Winehouse. However, this conflicted with previous reports that Winehouse wasn't able to get a Visa and indicates that Lorne Michaels saw the strike as an inevitability. Additionally, the planned November 18 episode with Jonah Hill and Kid Rock was cancelled. In the past, potential hosts Gilda Radner and Al Frankin/Tom Davis had their episodes cancelled by strikes and the opportunity to host never rose again. Hill was later booked to host the March 15, 2008 episode.
A fifth "episode" was performed as an improv stage show in the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in New York City on November 17th. The entire cast, minus Maya Rudolph, performed in the "On Strike!" edition of the show, along with guest host Michael Cera and musical guest Yo La Tengo. Also appearing were former cast members Horatio Sanz and Rachel Dratch, as well as Norah Jones.
Once the strike ended in early February, the series returned on February 23rd with a run of four straight weeks of new episodes. The only other times they've aired four new episodes in a row were in January and May of 1976 during the show's first season. Maya Rudolph, whose contract was up at the end of 2007, elected not to return and was replaced by feature player Casey Wilson to fill out the cast. The season ended with 12 episodes, making it the shortest in the series' history.
A Return to Politics
Despite the writer's strike and the protracted season, the 33rd season of SNL also saw it return to its significance in the political satire realm. Season 33 also fell during a US presidential election primary season, and SNL was considered a key satirist of the proceedings. It was declared particularly influential in the hotly contested Democratic race, where Illinois Senator Barack Obama vied to become the party's first black president against the former First Lady, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, who aimed to be the first female president. The cover of an issue of Entertainment Weekly touted the show as America's "Primary Source of Political ... Satire," a distinction generally held in 2004 by The Daily Show.
SNL was seen by many supporters of Sen. Clinton as most favorable to their candidate, with a Weekend Update commentary by host and former anchor Tina Fey, who sent up Sen. Clinton's image as a "bitch" by saying, "Bitch is the new black," and ended with a call to the upcoming voters in the key Ohio and Texas primaries to make her the president. Other examples where a perceived pro-Clinton bias came into play include a sketch parodying the media as fawning over Sen. Obama and unfairly dismissive of Sen. Clinton. However, previous sketches had seen NBC anchor Brian Williams, as himself, giggling to the other candidates about the futility of their bids in light of the media's anointing of Sen. Clinton as the presumptive nominee prior to the earliest contest, and later sketches would skewer Clinton, including a WU commentary response to Fey by her 30 Rock castmate and fellow SNL alum Tracy Morgan, declaring, "Bitch may be the new black, but black is the new president, bitch."
If there was a pro-Clinton bias, it ultimately proved as insignificant as The Daily Show's 2004 support of Democratic Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry. On June 3, 2008, after the final primary contests in Montana and South Dakota, Sen. Obama had gathered enough delegates to clinch the nomination and declare himself the winner. Four days later, on June 7, Sen. Clinton formally suspended her campaign.
However, perhaps underscoring the bizarre nature of the 2008 nomination races, Season 33 of SNL also guaranteed the 44th president of the United States would be the first future president to appear on SNL no matter what. The first sitting president to do so had been Gerald Ford in 1976, and George Bush became the first former president to appear in 1994. And as early as the second episode, 2000 Democratic runner-up Bill Bradley (a future senator from New Jersey, but then a player for the New York Knicks) had been the first eventual candidate to appear. However, until the 2008 election cycle, no one had appeared on the show and subsequently won a presidential election.
Season 33 guaranteed that would no longer be true, as the top two contenders in each party appeared at least once during the protracted TV season but extended primary season. Sen. Obama was the first (33x04 - Brian Williams/Feist), followed in short order by Republican runner-up, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (33x05 - Tina Fey/Carrie Underwood), and Democratic runner-up Sen. Clinton (33x06 - Ellen Page/Wilco). Finally, in the season finale, Republican presumptive nominee, Arizona Sen. John McCain, made his appearance, the only one to have done so after clinching his party's nomination.
Two also-rans, Republican former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (33x06) and Democratic Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd (33x09 - Christopher Walken/Panic at the Disco) also appeared weeks after their candidacies had ended. Giuliani and McCain had both appeared before as hosts (23x07 - Rudy Giuliani/Sarah McLachlan and 28x03 - John McCain/The White Stripes, respectively), while Obama, Huckabee, Clinton and even Dodd, to whose campaign creator Lorne Michaels donated money, made their first appearances this season.
- Fred Armisen
- Will Forte
- Bill Hader
- Darrell Hammond
- Seth Meyers (Weekend Update anchor)
- Amy Poehler (Weekend Update anchor)
- Maya Rudolph (Last Show: 33x04)
- Andy Samberg
- Jason Sudeikis
- Kenan Thompson
- Kristen Wiig
|628||1||LeBron James/Kanye West||September 29, 2007|
|629||2||Seth Rogen/Spoon||October 6, 2007|
|630||3||Jon Bon Jovi/Foo Fighters||October 13, 2007|
|631||4||Brian Williams/Feist||November 3, 2007|
|SP25||—||Saturday Night Live Family Thanksgiving Leftovers||November 24, 2007|
|632||5||Tina Fey/Carrie Underwood||February 23, 2008|
|633||6||Ellen Page/Wilco||March 1, 2008|
|634||7||Amy Adams/Vampire Weekend||March 8, 2008|
|635||8||Jonah Hill/Mariah Carey||March 15, 2008|
|636||9||Christopher Walken/Panic at the Disco||April 5, 2008|
|637||10||Ashton Kutcher/Gnarls Barkley||April 12, 2008|
|638||11||Shia LaBeouf/My Morning Jacket||May 10, 2008|
|639||12||Steve Carell/Usher||May 17, 2008|
|SP26||—||The Best of Mike Myers||June 15, 2008|
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