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Louis CK's 'Saturday Night Live' is low-rated, high-quality

Louis CK attends a game between the Knicks

(Credit: Jim McIsaac)

Louis CK returned as host of "Saturday Night Live" and even the barest glance at Twitter yesterday seemed to suggest a desultory afterglow -- lowest rated, or near-lowest rated edition of the season, and therefore ho-hum.

But as usual, viewers who didn't bother to tune in missed one of the best episodes of the season -- excellent cold open, parodying President Obama's health care hard-sell, and easily the best host monologue of the entire season. Who knows really why ratings were low ... but there were nonrepresentative. (Many good skits, too.)

Meanwhile, here's CK's monologue -- actually an unusually non-blue eight minutes of very good and thoughtful material. "Thoughtful material" in a host monologue? Imagine that.

 

Lena Dunham to host 'Saturday Night Live' March 8

Lena Dunham, start and creator of HBO's "Girls," finally has her "Saturday Night Live" hosting gig lined up: March 8. (Does this mean she's finally made it?") And for her maiden voyage, she also has a pretty good band: The National. Their "Trouble Will Find Me" of last spring was a big deal, and they now have a documentary coming up -- "Mistaken for Strangers" -- that will have a theatrical release in March. 

A primer on 'Late Night with Seth Meyers'

Seth Meyers and Jimmy Fallon on January 28,

(Credit: Getty Images/Jamie McCarthy)

Seth Meyers' new "Late Night" — unsurprisingly named "Late Night with Seth Meyers" — arrives Monday, or to be precise, early Tuesday. Those are the facts — but what are the other facts?

We're all friends here, right? So let's be honest: Who knows. There's nothing to see yet, but there are still some givens. It will be amusing — Meyers is one of TV's most gifted comedy writers — and it will...

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Seth Meyers says goodbye to 'Weekend Update' and 'Saturday Night Live'

Seth Meyers at an NBCUniversal event Jan. 19,

(Credit: AP)

Seth Meyers ended a 12-year career on "Saturday Night Live" last night that never yielded a single character but -- instead -- some of the best years of the show's life, and an outstanding run as "Weekend Update" anchor.

(As head writer, Meyers is something of a human iceberg -- most of his work has lain hidden under the surface, where so much of the show's creative resurgence of the '00s took place.

 He will be missed, and he was a huge part of this classic's history. Now he's moving on to "Late Night," where he will start shortly.


MORE: Greatest TV characters | Reality TV | TV Zone blog | TV Listings


Here's the farewell from last night, and -- of course -- when one does one's leave-taking from "SNL" one is fully expected to be confronted by people from one's past, and his final "Weekend Update" did not disappoint.

And this obvious note: Meyer's departure is the first domino in a series to fall in NBC's late night overhaul, which will see the departure of Jay Leno next Thursday and the arrival of Jimmy Fallon on Feb. 17 to "The Tonight Show."

Mobile users can click the link to view the video: bit.ly/1fNm1sd

Sasheer Zamata scores in debut on 'Saturday Night Live'

"SNL" newcomer Sasheer Zamata is an alum of

(Credit: Handout)

"Saturday Night Live" newcomer Sasheer Zamata didn't have a lot to say last night but her presence -- altogether now everyone in helping me complete this cliche! -- spoke volumes.

These are the volumes she spoke: First black female cast-member in years, breaking the strangest most inexplicable casting drought on any major series in memory, and proving that even in brief fleeting memorable appearances, she's good.

Very good perhaps, but that will unfold in the future. But for now, great start to hopefully a glorious career.


MORE: Greatest TV characters | Reality TV | TV Zone blog | TV Listings


Especially shrewd about this major -- and symbolic -- cast addition was the way it was handled last night: Zamata arrived on an above average edition of  "SNL" (returning after the winter break) hosted by an above-above-average host.

Drake was one of those hosts who could do it all and did, plus there's a memorable digital short with Drake that's ensured a web life, which means this newcomer (her last name is pronounced Za-MAY-ta by the way) is now ensured a web presence, too.

Not just shrewd but smart.

Her first words on the show were "Mazel tov." Yup, Mazel Tov, Sasheer.

Take a look at a couple of representative moments, if you have not yet seen. (Newsday app readers please head over to Newsday.com/tvzone to take that look)


Melissa McCarthy, Imagine Dragons on 'SNL'

Actress Melissa McCarthy during the 2013 MTV Movie

(Credit: Getty Images)

Melissa McCarthy is a gifted comic actress who tends to reveal her many gifts when she is on "Saturday Night Live." So good  news: She's back on the show. For the third time.  She'll host the Feb. 1 edition, with musical guest Imagine Dragons. (No movie to promote that I am aware of but she did just win a People's Choice Award...and, "Mike & Molly" is still kicking around...)

 

Meet Sasheer Zamata, 'Saturday Night Live's' new black female cast member

"SNL" newcomer Sasheer Zamata is an alum of

(Credit: Handout)

Sasheer Zamata, a graduate of New York's Upright Citizens Brigade comedy troupe, has been named "Saturday Night Live's" newest cast member.

But that's not the big news. That would be this: She's black.

New Yorker Zamata becomes only the fifth African-American female cast member on the show over its 39 seasons -- a blind spot that was widely noted (and criticized) before the...

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