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Retro Reading: Live From New York An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live by Tom Shales & James Andrew Miller

Updated on November 17, 2014

Over the years I've been a frequent fan of Saturday Night Live. For me it wasn't "must see TV" but occasionally when I decided to stay in I'd watch it.

Of course each season is different and there are times when fans do become disgruntled with the show, but when I sat down the 600 page telling of what goes on behind the scenes, I don't think my feelings for the show have changed.

What I can say about this book is you do learn a lot of inside information. However, at the same time, you're getting too much information from what appears to be 200 sources. It's that drawn out.

The book is broken down in half decade chapters which seems to work. The downside of this though is the cast, writers, producers, you name it keep changing year after year and the book ends sometime after 2002. There's still a lot of stories to be covered.

What drags the recollection of the past down is, like I said, all of the sources. Learning about the weekly show is quite interesting, but at the same time the authors change the book at various times. I wasn't sure sometimes what I was reading.

The first season of the show tends to be the best when it comes to remembering. How the show was put together, how the cast came together and little details really add up to what promised to be a delightful read into the past. However, things just keep droning on.

I also felt that the death of Gilda Radner didn't seem to be a topic no one wanted to discuss. Why? I don't know why since pages and pages are devoted to the death of John Belushi (and then later with Chris Farley). While there were other notable deaths they just seem to be skimmed over.

Of course there is the backstage gossip and it was really surprising to find out who had gotten along with who and which cast members despised each other.

This book would probably benefit the true Saturday Night Live fan, but then again, you're going to have to devote a lot of time for sitting down and reading. Don't be fooled since I would have rather watched paint dry (or maybe get a root canal) than ever go back and read this book again.

(As of September 9, 2014, an expanded version has been released with over 100 additional pages. This review is based on the expanded version of 2003).


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    • Eric Tuchelske 1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Tuchelske 

      4 years ago from Detroit

      The problem I had with the book was I don't think it was edited correctly. Half the time the interviews kept changing which made me stop and wonder what was going on.

      Behind the scenes stories are usually often good, but in this case, I'm still debating. There's a lot of appreciation for the show (which I've always had) but as I said, I think it was edited incorrectly.

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 

      4 years ago from Deep South, USA

      I'm glad I read (and thoroughly enjoyed) this book before I read your review. Just as in everything else, people have different tastes in books, which is fortunate. Otherwise, there wouldn't be so many categories, genres and sub-genres. (I would rather watch paint dry than read a 'cozy' novel.) What was boring to you was interesting to me, even though I was never a die-hard SNL fan. I found the varying perspectives intriguing.


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