Ken Tucker's TV Prime-Time TV commentary

Tag: Saturday Night Live (1-10 of 81)

All the 2012 Presidential debates: Were they worth it? What's their value?

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The debates are over. What changed as a result of them? Polls show Mitt Romney a lot closer to President Obama — it’s a tighter race ever since Romney’s first-debate victory. By the final debate, Romney had shape-shifted from conservative warrior to agreeable centrist — agreeable in the sense that he spent the night mostly agreeing with what Obama is doing abroad. The message that was sent by his side? Don’t worry, he’s not going to do anything extreme if you elect him. If Romney wins the Presidency, the debates will be seen as a crucial turning point in his campaign. If Obama wins, they’ll be largely forgotten. In this sense, debates every four years follow a similar pattern: Whoever the incumbent is, he is helped or hindered by further exposure of his image and his platform.

But that raises the every-four-years question: Should we be electing Presidents in part because of how well they perform on television, in a stilted, awkward debate format? READ FULL STORY

'SNL Weekend Update Thursday' review: Mitt Romney in a 'Cash Cab'

It’s election season, so Saturday Night Live is back with its Thursday night half-hour somewhat-political-humor specials. As you could have predicted much — much too much — of the material was devoted to the 47% video, and unfortunately for SNL, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have already beaten NBC’s show to the satirical punch on that subject.  READ FULL STORY

Saturday Night Live: Seth MacFarlane did his best

Seth MacFarlane brought all his voices to hosting the season premiere of Saturday Night Live. The Family Guy creator came off as a genial fellow who gamely enjoyed being in a bunch of mostly unamusing SNL sketches. MacFarlane’s opening segment was a series of voice performances of some of his best-known characters from Family Guy, with a few other impersonations (Droopy Dog, Kermit the frog) thrown in, with a bit of the mildly accomplished Sinatra-style crooning that MacFarlane is fond of doing and he’s powerful enough to compel producers and audiences to submit to. READ FULL STORY

Political TV ad review: The Republican 'Basketball,' or, 'My Kids Are Grown and They Won't Move Out!'

Chances are if you haven’t seen it yet, you soon will: It’s the ad for the new fall series My Kids Are Grown and They Won’t Move Out! Oops, no, I mean, the new political ad that depicts adult children who’ve moved back home with their dying-to-retire mother and they can’t move out because, you know, Obama killed the economy. READ FULL STORY

Two 'Game Change' reviews: The ballad of Sarah Palin, in prose and on video

Game Change is based on a small portion of the best-selling book of the same name by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin: the portion that eviscerates the John McCain campaign’s selection of Sarah Palin to be his running-mate in the 2008 presidential campaign. Indeed, while Palin herself has said watching this HBO production (premiering on March 10) would be “a waste of time,” she need not fear for erosion to her reputation. She is impersonated here with mimicry of the high order by Julianne Moore; she is portrayed as a devoted mother, and a plucky, if stressed-out and carb-deprived, campaigner. READ FULL STORY

'Game Change' review: It could change viewers' minds about Sarah Palin...somewhat

Game Change is based on a small portion of the best-selling book of the same name by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin: the portion that eviscerates the John McCain campaign’s selection of Sarah Palin to be his running-mate in the 2008 presidential campaign. Indeed, while Palin herself has said watching this HBO production (premiering on March 10) would be “a waste of time,” she need not fear for erosion to her reputation. She is impersonated here with mimicry of the high order by Julianne Moore; she is portrayed as a devoted mother, and a plucky, if stressed-out and carb-deprived, campaigner. READ FULL STORY

'John Mulaney: New in Town' review: Watch it tonight; more laughs than 'Saturday Night Live'

You may have seen John Mulaney on Saturday Night Live, where he’s made some drolly precise, funny appearances on “Weekend Update.” (Mulaney is also a writer for SNL.) He’s been a guest on Conan O’Brien’s show. But tonight, his Comedy Central special John Mulaney: New in Town proves something: He’s one of the best stand-up comics alive. READ FULL STORY

Iowa Republican debate review: Behold a new creature, 'Newt Romney'!

ABC News hosted the latest Republican debate on Saturday night (the candidates seem to like trying to get on the air just before Saturday Night Live airs, thwarting SNL writers from making up-to-the-minute jabs). The two hours saw the front-runners-of-this-milisecond, Mitt Romney and Newt Gringrich, engage in a few head-to-head confrontations. Gingrich uttered the sound-bite of the night when he defended himself against the charge of being a career politician by sneering at Romney, “The only reason you didn’t become a career politician is because you lost to Teddy Kennedy in 1994.” Romney, as he does frequently when confronted with an ad lib, looked flustered in response. READ FULL STORY

Darrell Hammond on crack, cutting, and vicious abuse by his mother: This is some book tour: VIDEO

Don’t know if you’ve been following Darrell Hammond as he tours to promote his new book God, If You’re Not Up There, I’m F—ed, but he’s been giving some eye- and ear-opening interviews. The former Saturday Night Live cast member was interviewed yesterday by Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air, and had to stop at various moments to collect himself, brought to tears at recounting the abuse he suffered at the hands of his mother, his compulsive cutting, and the humane treatment he received from Lorne Michaels and SNL. READ FULL STORY

'Saturday Night Live' season premiere review: Alec Baldwin, Tony Bennett, Herman Cain, and comedy of promotion

We bring to Saturday Night Live standards for funniness that are different than those we apply to everything else on TV. We cut the show a lot of slack for simply getting a 90-minute live show up and running every week. SNL has been on so long, it’s embedded a kind of reflex action in generations of viewers: If the studio audience thinks a sketch is funny, we’re liable to read more funniness into it than may be there, and any cast member or host who does a good celebrity impersonation is granted a degree of immunity from criticism, since impersonations have been the one consistent element that SNL goes back to time and again with the greatest degree of success. READ FULL STORY

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