NBC uploaded a sketch this week called "Def TED Talks" that was cut from the latest episode of SNL hosted by Cameron Diaz, which was written by Michael Che and Bryan Tucker and features Diaz and a ton of cast members in a Def Jam/TED Talks mashup show hosted by Jay Pharoah as Russell Simmons. Considering how great last week's cut sketch "Tweet" was, by the end of this season we might have a whole episode's worth of delightfully weird and creative sketches that didn't make it to live air.
Well, that didn't last long.
Just one week after seemingly proclaiming its transitional era to be over, SNL reaffirmed viewers' perennial skepticism with an episode that made Woody Harrelson's excellent outing look like that much more of a fluke. Cameron Diaz's hosting gig wasn't quite the disaster the show is capable of, but it exhibited all the symptoms of a bland episode that no one will remember by the end of the season: a game-for-anything host that the writers didn't know what to do with (despite this being her fourth time), a dependence on watered-down recurring bits that the actors seem to love more than audiences do, and a general miscalculation by producers on [...]
"The joke I used to do is I'd say 'You know, there will be a time when I realize that it can't be as good as it used to be, and that I don't have the focus or the passion to do it in the same way, and that the quality will suffer, and then three years after that I'll leave.'"
- Lorne Michaels comments on his SNL departure plans in an in-depth podcast interview with Bill Simmons, which covers everything from the creation of SNL to the early '80s years to Michaels's thoughts on recaps and reviews in the internet age.
For the past two years, many viewers have described SNL as being in a "transitional phase." This phase began with the departures of Kristen Wiig and Andy Samberg in 2012, followed by Jason Sudeikis, Bill Hader, and Fred Armisen in 2013, then by Seth Meyers in early 2014. The old guard was clearing out, and their replacements didn't seem up to the task of continuing that golden era. And while not all of the episodes in this interim period have been bad — in fact, many have been quite good, and the hit-to-miss ratio has remained roughly the same — SNL seemed lost in the woods, with almost weekly PR crises, [...]
SNL just added another returning host for this season. THR reports that Cameron Diaz is officially set to host SNL's Thanksgiving episode on November 22nd with musical guests Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars. This will make Diaz's fourth hosting stint — she previously hosted episodes in 1998, 2002, and 2005. Prior to Diaz, Woody Harrelson will host on November 15th with musical guest Kendrick Lamar.
Check out one of Diaz's most memorable sketches from '98 "Jingleheimer Junction" below: