Saturday Night Live (season 20)

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Saturday Night Live (season 20)
The title card for the twentieth season of Saturday Night Live.
Country of origin United States
No. of episodes 20
Release
Original network NBC
Original release September 24, 1994 (1994-09-24) – May 13, 1995 (1995-05-13)
Season chronology
← Previous
Season 19
Next →
Season 21
List of Saturday Night Live episodes

The twentieth season of Saturday Night Live, an American sketch comedy series, originally aired in the United States on NBC between September 24, 1994, and May 13, 1995.

Much like the 1980–1981 season and the 1985–1986 season, NBC worried over SNL's decline in quality (and in the ratings) and initially decided that now would be the best time to pull the plug on the show once and for all. According to the prime time special Saturday Night Live in the '90s: Pop Culture Nation, Lorne Michaels credits this season as the closest he's ever been to being fired. In the end, the cast member firings and crew turnover resulting from this season represented the biggest involvement into the show's affairs by NBC executives since the 1980–1981 season and the biggest cast overhaul since the 1985–1986 season.[1]

This season saw the deaths of two SNL alumni: Danitra Vance and Michael O'Donoghue. The Sarah Jessica Parker-hosted episode featured a special appearance by Bill Murray, who introduced a clip of "Mr. Mike's Least Favorite Bedtime Stories" in O'Donoghue's memory.

Cast[edit]

Cast changes[edit]

Preceding the season 20 premiere, Phil Hartman, Melanie Hutsell, Rob Schneider, Sarah Silverman and Julia Sweeney had all left the show. In their places, the show hired Chris Elliott, Janeane Garofalo and Laura Kightlinger to the cast. Elliott and Garofalo were made repertory players, while Kightlinger was made a featured player.

As the season progressed, Morwenna Banks, Mark McKinney, and Molly Shannon were added to the cast. Jay Mohr stayed a featured player. Norm Macdonald was promoted to repertory status and made Weekend Update's latest anchor (though Kevin Nealon was no longer a Weekend Update anchor, he still remained on the show). McKinney was hired from the then-recently ended sketch show The Kids in the Hall, which was produced by Lorne Michaels.

Several cast members quit the show mid-season. Mike Myers left after the 21 January 1995 episode (exactly six years after his first episode on 21 January 1989), largely due to his increasing fame as a film star (notably with his role in 1992's Wayne's World).[2] Janeane Garofalo quit the show following the 25 February episode,[3] citing her unhappiness with the work environment and writing material. She would later call Saturday Night Live "...an unfair boys' club" and call many of the sketches "juvenile and homophobic." Al Franken's final appearance as a featured player was on 6 May following the box office failure of the SNL spin-off film Stuart Saves His Family.

Following the 13 May 1995 season finale, nine more cast members either quit or were fired from Saturday Night Live, including Morwenna Banks, Ellen Cleghorne, Chris Elliott, Chris Farley, Laura Kightlinger, Michael McKean, Jay Mohr, Kevin Nealon and Adam Sandler. In his book, Gasping for Airtime, Jay Mohr wrote that following the season, he demanded a promotion to repertory status, among other things; the network procrastinated his wishes throughout the summer of 1995, and he chose to quit the show. Mohr's account of his voluntary departure from SNL has been widely discounted, however. He was under a cloud of suspicion due to his admitted plagiarizing of jokes during the season, and his multi-year contract with NBC did not allow him to unilaterally quit.[4]

Cast list[edit]

bold denotes Weekend Update anchor

Writers[edit]

Notable writers during the 20th season of Saturday Night Live included Jim Downey, Al Franken, Tim Herlihy and Robert Smigel.

Episodes[edit]

No.
overall
No. in
season
Host Musical guest(s) Original air date
367 1 Steve Martin Eric Clapton September 24, 1994
368 2 Marisa Tomei Bonnie Raitt October 1, 1994
369 3 John Travolta Seal October 15, 1994
370 4 Dana Carvey Edie Brickell & Paul Simon October 22, 1994
  • Edie Brickell performed "Green" and "Tomorrow Comes."
  • George H. W. Bush made an appearance in the cold opening and monologue, critiquing Dana Carvey's impersonation of him.
  • Paul Simon joined Edie Brickell for her first performance.
371 5 Sarah Jessica Parker R.E.M. November 12, 1994
372 6 John Turturro Tom Petty November 19, 1994
373 7 Roseanne Green Day December 3, 1994
374 8 Alec Baldwin Beastie Boys December 10, 1994
375 9 George Foreman Hole December 17, 1994
376 10 Jeff Daniels Luscious Jackson January 14, 1995
377 11 David Hyde Pierce Live January 21, 1995
378 12 Bob Newhart Des'ree February 11, 1995
  • Des'ree performed "You Gotta Be" and "Feels So High."
  • At the end of the episode, Bob Newhart wakes up next to Suzanne Pleshette (as he did on the last episode of "Newhart") and tells her about his nightmare hosting SNL.
379 13 Deion Sanders Bon Jovi February 18, 1995
380 14 George Clooney The Cranberries February 25, 1995
381 15 Paul Reiser Annie Lennox March 18, 1995
382 16 John Goodman The Tragically Hip March 25, 1995
383 17 Damon Wayans Dionne Farris April 8, 1995
384 18 Courteney Cox Dave Matthews Band April 15, 1995
385 19 Bob Saget TLC May 6, 1995
386 20 David Duchovny Rod Stewart May 13, 1995
  • Rod Stewart performed "Leave Virginia Alone" and "Maggie May"
  • Michael Angarano appears during the opening monologue
  • Naomi Campbell appears during the "You Think You're Better Than Me?" sketch
  • Kevin Nealon, Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, Ellen Cleghorne, Morwenna Banks, Jay Mohr, Laura Kightlinger, Michael McKean and Chris Elliott's final episode as cast members
  • Final show of G.E. Smith with the Saturday Night Live Band and as co-musical director

Stuart Saves His Family film[edit]

Stuart Saves His Family, a film based on the popular Stuart Smalley sketches, was released on April 12, 1995.[5] Cast members Robin Duke, Al Franken and Julia Sweeney appear in the film. The film received modest reviews from critics but was a box office bomb. During the season, Franken performed a Stuart Smalley sketch that parodied the film's poor box office returns. Stuart was depressed and bitter throughout the entire segment, eating cookies and lambasting the audience for choosing other movies (such as Dumb and Dumber and anything Pauly Shore had out at the time) over his.

References[edit]