In SNL: Just Shorts, hardly a second of footage was shot live and it wasn't broadcast on Saturday either (but rather a Sunday). When Andy Samberg joined the cast at the start of it's 31's season, he and his Lonely Island buddies brought along their 'Digital Shorts' and gave the show a well needed boost in the ratings - as well as an incredible amount of internet exposure. Therefore it comes as a bit of a surprise that a mere 5 digital shorts are shown in this compilation. Missing in action are such infamous clips as 'I'm on a Boat' and 'Dear Sister'. Instead, the show serves as a reminder that filmed segments have been a part of Saturday Night Live from the very first show and Samberg acknowledges a debt to some of his greatest inspirations.
In the beginning it was Albert Brooks who periodically served up short films to be broadcast on SNL, but soon Gary Weis came in to fill out the program with his own material. Of course all the most well known have been collected in previous SNL best of's before, including John Belushi in 'Don't Look Back in Anger', Gilda Radner as 'La Dolce Gilda' and Phil Hartman in 'Life is a Dream'. Strangely enough there they haven't been able to find a touching tribute to Chris Farley in Weis' body of work.
Also during the first season, SNL invited viewers to send in their funny home movies (which they wouldn't get back nor be paid for. Walter Williams entered a Claymation parody called 'The Mr. Bill Show and ended up being a staff writer and making Mr. Bill movies for the rest of his life. During the nineties the mysterious writer named Jack Handy began to enlighten viewers with several of his 'Deep Thoughts' each week and a little later, long time writer Robert Smigel found his niche by writing and producing outrageous Saturday TV Funhouse cartoons. All of the above are featured in this compilation (including six Deep Thoughts) and Smigel picked out one of his favorite Toons produced after the Best of TV Funhouse special: Dora the Explorer spoof 'Maraka'.
As for Andy's biggest influences, they include the "Men's Synchronized Swimmers" sketch by Christopher Guest, Martin Short and Harry Shearer and 'White Like Me' starring Eddie Murphy. Both of these are from the tenth "Al-Star" season which featured a lot of remotely shot material. However, I was more surprised to see some very obscure inclusions such as 'Fishheads' directed by a young Bill Paxton, 'A Bird for All Seasons' with Billy Murray, Andy Warhols TV and Tom Davis in 'Push Button to Explode this Building'.
Furthermore it was nice to see the return of the almost forgotten Bear City, the Go-Lords (though only a snippet of it) and for some reason part of a sketch with Norm McDonald doing his Burt Reynolds impersonation. Also included is a fake ad with Payton Manning (that also props up in Saturday Night Live Sports Extra) and even a trio of McGruber skits - presumably because there is supposed to be a movie version in the works. The show ends with Gary Weis' touching homeward bound, which seems to have been the inspiration for the end sequence of Love Actually, of all things.
8 out of 10 for diversity