Last year, I decided that I would go back and watch every episode of Saturday Night Live that had ever aired, including all the ones that I had grown up watching in the heyday of the 90s. I would do this at a casual clip, because to go through 40 seasons of television would take months and months of dedicated viewing. I only finished about two seasons in because I have follow-through issues, but thanks to VH1 Classic’s 19-day 433-hour marathon I’ve got another chance to go on an epic SNL binge. All I need to do is to quit my job, stock up on Gatorade, and make peace with the act of urinating in a bottle and I can live the dream.
Here are the details for the marathon, which will run from January 28th to February 15th.
Starting with season 39 and working back to season 1 from 1975, VH1 Classic will bring fans the most loved moments and original skits that became cultural juggernauts. The last episode of the marathon will be “SNL’s” first episode ever, hosted by the late George Carlin, originally aired live on October 11th, 1975. VH1 Classic will air it on Sunday, February 15 from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m., leading up to NBC’s three-hour special (8-11 p.m.) celebrating 40 years of “Saturday Night Live.”
The marathon showcases 40 seasons of Not Ready For Primetime Players many of whom are now known around the world: Chevy Chase, Eddie Murphy, Billy Crystal, Dana Carvey, Mike Myers, Will Ferrell, Adam Sandler, Kristen Wiig, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Jimmy Fallon, and Seth Meyers. VH1 Classic will deliver the best moments — which will leave fans demanding “even more cowbell.”
The decision to not go in chronological order is an interesting one, but it doesn’t seem like this is going to showcase every single episode, so I suppose it doesn’t matter. Instead, the event will be broken into mini-marathons thusly:
Saturday, January 31 (4 PM – 10 PM)
Six episodes featuring pop superstar Justin Timberlake, now one of “SNL’s” most popular guest hosts.
Tuesday, February 3 (6 AM – 2 PM)
An eight-hour celebration of some of the biggest pop artists in the world, including Christina Aguilera, Black Eyed Peas, Maroon 5, John Mayer, Pink, Britney Spears and Usher.
Friday, February 6 (2:30 PM – 10 PM)
Former “SNL” cast members return to take on host duties. Featuring Dana Carvey, Chevy Chase, Phil Hartman, Mike Myers and Martin Short.
Saturday, February 7th (12-10pm)
“Remembering Chris Farley”: Highlights from Farley’s brilliant “SNL” career including Chippendales dancer, insightful interviewer on ‘The Chris Farley Show,’ graceful Lunch Lady, beautiful Gap Girl, and Chicago Bears Super Fan.
Sunday, February 8 (1 PM – 12:30 AM)
Party Time! Thirteen straight episodes featuring legendary sketch “Wayne’s World,” starring Wayne Campbell (Mike Myers) and Garth Algar (Dana Carvey) direct from the basement studio in Aurora, Illinois.
Wednesday, February 11 (9:30 AM – 12:30 AM)
“The Eddie Murphy Years”: Mr. Robinson, Buckwheat, Gumby, Dion and more of Murphy’s legendary characters from the 1981-1984 seasons, not to mention a visit to “James Brown’s Celebrity Hot Tub Party.”
Saturday, February 14 (2:30 PM – 10 PM)
Five episodes hosted by Steve Martin from the series’ first three seasons – featuring Georg Festrunk: the original “Wild and Crazy Guy.”
Each Saturday of the 19-day marathon, VH1 Classic will take a break from 10 pm to 1 am to show a film starring an SNL alum:
Saturday, January 31 at 10 PM “Macgruber” (Will Forte, Kristen Wiig); 11:30 PM “Black Sheep” (Chris Farley, David Spade)
Saturday, Feb. 7 at 10 PM – “Trading Places” (Eddie Murphy)
Saturday, Feb. 14 at 10 PM – “The Blues Brothers” (John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd)
So, in that way, even though this is a bigger overall chunk of time, it doesn’t seem like this marathon can match FXX’s Simpsons marathon from last fall. But even if they had gone in chronological order and shown every episode, it would still be impossible to experience every second of every episode for reasons beyond our own pathetic physical limitations thanks to the heavily edited state of the syndicated Saturday Night Live reruns. Which is a shame when you think about it, because how can we fully understand SNL‘s highest peaks if we can’t also look at the deepest valleys for contrast?