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NBC’s Saturday Night Live is set to kick off Season 40 this evening. To commence the anniversary year with momentum, NBC has big plans to air a classic episode from the SNL cannon at 10 p.m. EST tonight. It’s a trend that will continue throughout the year, as SNL has plans to air a classic episode from each of the last 40 years on Saturday evenings. The network's programming will be a nostalgic bit of marketing that new and old fans should be able to appreciate.
Tonight, NBC will begin airing SNL Vintage with the seventh episode from Season 1. Those of you who caught the original broadcast back in December 13, 1975 may remember the episode as a momentous one featuring Richard Pryor as host and Gil Scott-Heron as the musical guest. There’s a great part at the beginning where Garrett Morris steals Chevy Chase’s spotlight and does the then-popular pratfall joke. It’s also the introduction to Belushi’s Samurai Futaba, a moment that happens to be my personal favorite sketch from Season 1. If you are planning to catch the Season 40 premiere, you might as well flip over at 10 instead of 11:35.
While tonight’s special will be cool, there are years and years of episodes that haven’t hit DVD, yet, and are sometimes difficult to find in full online. Next week, NBC will air a Season 25 episode featuring frequent SNL host Christopher Walken and musical guest Christina Aguilera. You know what that means. We’re definitely going to need more cowbell.
What I like about the marketing ploy is that the possibilities are endless. Saturday Night Live can be really hit or miss, but even during bad years there are good weeks. There should be several good episodes of Saturday Night Live from each season and it will be interesting to see the decisions the network makes while curating its Top 40 list.
SNL Vintage isn’t the only thing NBC has planned for the late night sketch comedy’s anniversary season. In February of 2015, the network has plans to air an SNL Season 40 Anniversary special. So far, NBC has stayed mum about who will be appearing in the special, but the network has promised we’ll see former cast members, important hosts, and plenty of musical guests that have been a big part of the show over the years.
In addition to the anniversary stuff, SNL has signed on a new weekend update anchor in Michael Che, Darrell Hammond will take over for Don Pardo in the show’s announcing role, and Chris Pratt will kick off Season 40 as the first host of the year.
NBC’s SNL Vintage will air tonight beginning at 10 p.m. EST. Saturday Night Live will follow on the network at 11:35 p.m. EST.