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Live-From-New-York-posterLIVE FROM NEW YORK!

Directed by Bao Nguyen

Forty years is a long time for a lot of things but it is an exceptionally lengthy period of time for a television program to stay on the air. Still, NBC’s Saturday Night Live has done just that. Forty years is also a very long period of time to cover in a 90-minute documentary. Still, Bao Nguyen’s LIVE FROM NEW YORK! attempts to do just that. And while Nguyen’s documentary does span SNL’s entire journey, from its splashy debut through its lean years in the 80’s straight through to today as it continues to try to redefine itself and remain relevant, it does so rather hurriedly, touching on several subjects without saying very much about any of them at all.


Fans of the show will surely still find plenty to take away from LIVE FROM NEW YORK! We start at the very beginning, meeting the original cast, which included Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Day Aykroyd, Jane Curtin, Gilda Radnor and Garrett Morris. As a 38-year-old man, I was not around for the show’s debut so it was interesting to me to learn how it was first received and how was initially conceived. Then focus then shifts to Don Pardo, SNL’s announcer until they day he died last year. All of a sudden though, it’s about Weekend Update and then musical guests and then diversity on the program and then politics and so on and so on. While these are all pertinent SNL topics, it never felt as if any of these points were connected or heading in any particular direction.


I wouldn’t call myself a hardcore SNL fan. I still watch the program and I still find myself laughing at it, sometimes more often than I would expect. And though SNL has much to celebrate in terms of success, LIVE FROM NEW YORK! takes a decidedly more serious approach to its homage. It doesn’t do away with the laughter entirely but anyone looking for an in-depth look at the show should expect a very surface experience.

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