“New What Up Wit Dat.”
That’s a text message I received at 11:46 Saturday night from my dear friend Mike. Because I was at work when I read the message, that left me with two thoughts. 1: Man, that skit is the single funniest thing “Saturday Night Live” has done in years. And 2: I hate nbc.com.
And let me restate that. I hate nbc.com.
Fortunately, I’ve been accustomed to having to catch episodes of SNL online for quite a while now, so I know how this process goes: Visit NBC’s website. Navigate my way toward its SNL section. Click on the most recent full episode. Wait five minutes. Realize nothing loads. Look it up on Hulu. Watch. Rinse. Repeat.
Don’t get me wrong. Hulu certainly serves a purpose for Internet television viewing. Without it, I would have never, ever been able to fall head over heals in love with what I feel is the best show within today’s world of TV, “30 Rock.” But even with that said, looking up half-hour episodes of network sitcoms is a little bit different than attempting to pull up a complete airing of a sketch comedy hour that features two musical performances.
Why? Well, that’s because for reasons I still can’t figure out — even after thinking about it for a couple years now — Hulu doesn’t show every single thing a television would show had I sat down with the ability to watch it on an actual Saturday night a little after 11:30 p.m. It offers no monologue. No digital shorts. And, though I can’t be certain of this, it also appears the site doesn’t offer every skit that was broadcast during the show’s original airing.
These hurdles have subsequently forced me to not consider “Saturday Night Live” nearly as much as I feel I should when I sit down behind this trusty laptop. Gripe all you want about how the current cast can’t live up to its predecessors. Complain about it “not being as funny anymore.” Hey, even bash the show’s current taste in hosts and guests if you’d like. Still — you can’t deny the institution’s relevance. You just can’t. There isn’t a soul in America who doesn’t know what the acronym SNL stands for. Whether or not you actually watch it anymore has nothing to do with its very real impact on popular culture over the last three-plus decades.
So what gives, NBC? Fortunately for me, when I did finally sit down to see if I could come across Saturday’s “What Up With That,” I was quickly awarded by the wonderful people at Hulu and before I could even say “Lindsey Buckingham,” I saw D’Andre Cole dancing around with the California Raisins. But, as I silently began to pull out my hair in frustration, that was about it. Case in point: When I started to write this post, I had pulled up NBC’s SNL page and clicked on the episode’s link for the sole purpose of trying to see what Ed Helms had to say during what is sometimes the show’s best few minutes, the monologue. Now, as this post winds down, I am still looking at the very screen I clicked on, though it tells me the video is still loading. And this was even after I tried refreshing the page twice between the time I originally pulled it up and now.
It doesn’t make sense. One would have to think “Saturday Night Live” is just as important to the network as anything else within the NBC family. So why can’t it come up with an easier way to access the complete airing online? Even more so, why is it when you pull up the shows OnDemand (something I was once able to do back in the days when I had a cable television package no more than a year ago), all musical performances are cut and sections of the Weekend Update are edited out? This isn’t “Law & Order,” NBC. This is one of the most important, influential television shows in the history of TV. It’s clear you can sell advertising for its online viewing (the amount of commercials between skits has now risen to two, up from the one it forced on any viewer as recently as last season). There must be some way someone can figure out something that would allow SNL to be accessed easily in an official, non-bootlegged manner. I mean, come on, colorful peacock. You should have this stuff figured out by now.
Alas, one good thing did come from my attempted “Saturday Night Live” sit-down. Hulu allowed me to view Paul Simon’s performances with a stellar picture and even better sound, all but forcing me to navigate my way over to Amazon and purchase his latest record. The season wraps this Saturday with Justin Timberlake as host (thumbs up) and Lady Gaga as musical guest (thumbs down). Here’s hoping by the time autumn rolls around, the suits at NBC will figure out a better way for us Internet-dependent people to view the show in its entirety.