TELEVISION: THE BATTLE FOR SATURDAY NIGHT

COMEDY ISN'T PRETTY, AND SNL IS LOSING ITS OUTRAGEOUS EDGE TO A HOT NEW RIVAL ON FOX

WAS THERE A SHOW on television last season more passionately reviled than Saturday Night Live? Journalists devoted endless column inches to skewering SNL's puerile sketches as viewers with little else to watch tuned in compulsively to see just how low this once cherished institution could go--to marvel, for example, at how many unendurable minutes a skit about vomiting policemen could actually last. SNL was so hated it was strangely hot.

That there has been little to loathe outright on SNL this season has proved a mixed blessing. The revamped SNL that premiered in September with six new cast members is significantly...

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