In checking over on IMDB to see which of the 20 episodes in the nearly 40 year history of Saturday Night Live were the worst, something particularly interesting caught my eye: 16 of the 20 lowest rated Saturday Night Lives episodes ever (or 80 percent) happened between the years of 1996 and 2003. That’s fascinating, although it does track.
The beginning of that era basically had only one and a half stand out stars: Will Ferrell and Norm McDonald. Here’s the list of the 1995 cast:
The creative downswing basically came after Adam Sandler and Chris Farley were fired from Saturday Night Live. Those years were rough, and things didn’t start to really turn around until Jimmy Fallon, then Tina Fey, then Amy Poehler, and finally Seth Meyers came into the fold, although for each of them, it took a few seasons before they had a demonstrable affect. In fact, and ironically, things really began to improve after Fallon left the show (I think he’s an amazing late-night host, but I was never a big fan of his on Saturday Night Live, in part because he and Horatio Sanz were sometimes insufferable together).
Based on the guests alone, I actually don’t find most of these that surprising: Scott Wolf? Al Sharpton? Ray Romano? Nia Vardalos? Calista Flockhart? Paris Hilton? Rosie O’Donnell, twice? It may have been that the 1995-2003 era was not only a bad one for the cast, but a bad one for guests, too.
Note, too, that the only one from the last five years was Cuba Gooding’s episode in 2009. Why was he even hosting in 2009, a decade removed from relevance?
Here’s that list.
20. Scott Wolf/Natalie Imbruglia (March 7th, 1998)
19. Jonny Moseley/Outkast (March 2nd, 2002)
18. Calista Flockhart/Ricky Martin (November 11th, 2000)
17. Britney Spears/Britney Spears (May 13th, 2000)
16. Nia Vardalos/Eve (November 9th, 2002)
15. Ray Romano/Zwan (April 12th, 2003)
14. Julianne Moore/Backstreet Boys (March 14th, 1998)
13. Eric McCormack/Jay-Z (November 2nd, 2002)
12. Rosie O’Donnell/James Taylor (November 13th, 1993)
11. Bernie Mac/Good Charlotte (April 5th, 2003)
10. Chris Rock/The Wallflowers (November 2nd, 1996)
9. Rosie O’Donnell/Whitney Houston (December 14th, 1996)
8. Kelly Ripa/Outkast (November 1st, 2003)
7. Tom Hanks/Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (September 28th, 1996)
6. Ashton Kutcher/Gwen Stefani (March 19th, 2005)
5. Pamela Lee/Rollins Band (April 19th, 1997)
4. Cuba Gooding, Jr./Ricky Martin (May 8th, 2009)
3. Paris Hilton/Keane (February 5th 2005)
2. Al Sharpton/Pink (December 6, 2003)
1. Queen Latifah/Ms. Dynamite (March 8, 2003)