Going the way of the Woolly Mammoth: Iconic television programs lose touch with reality

It’s downright depressing.

Flipping through channels on a Saturday night, we stumble onto NBC (or, in Utah’s case, the WB), and our eyes widen in abject horror and disgust. We witness a ragtag gang of “professional comedians” perform violently unfunny sketches on the 90-minute atrocity we now know as “Saturday Night Live.”

But wait a second…Didn’t this show used to be cutting-edge? Wasn’t “SNL” once culturally significant?

Sadly, yes-though, judging from the current incarnation, you wouldn’t know it. I mean, if the show was going to get this bad, Lorne Michaels might as well have just re-named it “MAD TV.”

“SNL” is just one of many once-important cultural dinosaurs that have been running on fumes for way too long, gestating in the bloated belly of mediocrity and insignificance for years: MTV, VH1, “Monday Night Football,” Madonna-and yes, even “The Simpsons.” The list goes on.

As with many former icons, “SNL” is hardly even recognizable anymore. Has anyone ever heard of Rob Riggle? Fred Armisen? Will Forte? Finesse Mitchell? I ask again…Rob Riggle?

Anyone?…Anyone?…Bueller?

Well, they’re full-time cast members of the current season of “Saturday Night Live.” No, really. I didn’t make any of those names up-not even “Finesse.”

But now that Tina Fey (by the way, I love you, Tina), aka one of the last bastions of talent on this wretched television program, has announced that she’s leaving, it’s time for Lorne Michaels, the show’s creator and executive producer, to initiate a massive, sweeping overhaul.

Hate to say it, but when Horatio Sanz is your seasoned veteran, the party’s over.

I just so happen to have a few ideas. I’m sure Lorne will take my suggestions very seriously because he and I are close pals-chums, if you will.

So listen-retro is in these days. (It still is, isn’t it? I can’t keep up.) Everybody’s doing it.

Well, “SNL” should do the same. Do away with all the fancy new sets, go with a ’70s motif, bring back Bizarro World-and, most importantly, bring back all the classic old cast members: Bill Murray, Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy, the works. Oh, I know-those guys have gone on to successful movie careers, yada, yada, yada.

But TV is the fashionable thing these days. All the cool movie stars are moving to TV-Steve Buscemi, Glenn Close, Kiefer Sutherland, Charlie Sheen and our favorite early ’90s bad girl, Geena Davis, with her bulbous, immovable face and all.

Murray would fit right in. And what, you think Martin is proud of “Cheaper by the Dozen” and “Bringing Down the House?”

We need Jane Curtin back, doing Weekend Update with Murray. Has anyone seen Dan Akroyd lately? I mean really, are we even sure he’s still alive? If so, I’m certain he needs the work. Same goes for Chevy Chase, Chris Rock, Dana Carvey, Failed Football Announcer/Failed Political Talk-Show Host Dennis Miller and, of course, the master himself, Eddie Murphy-unless, of course, he’s too busy working on “The Adventures of Pluto Nash 2.”

Obviously, four of the greatest cast members-Hartman, Radner, Belushi and Farley-are now dead, but I’m sure George Lucas can do a bit of digital CGI puppetry and solve that problem.

I mean, how could this not work? All I ask, Lorne, is that you just don’t invite back Jimmy Fallon or Rob Schneider.

Seriously, we beg of you.

The point is, “SNL” needs to completely reinvent itself, or simply bow out gracefully. You too, MTV. Why don’t you try playing, oh I don’t know, music? I know that’s a little radical, but just humor me.

As it is, “SNL” and MTV, among others, are all but obsolete-cultural landmarks in memory only.

Maybe I’m just nostalgic. Maybe it doesn’t really matter.

All I’m saying is…Rob Riggle?

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