Cut “Saturday Night Live” down to a briskly moving half-hour and you’ve got “The Newz.” Strip runs five original episodes weekly, followed by repeat episode on Saturday night. Show, according to Columbia TV, is currently cleared on 166 stations, mostly indies and Fox affiliates.
Combining sketch comedy and film segments, “The Newz” features nine continuing cast members (all those listed above save for semi-regular and Bill Clinton lookalike Tim Watters).
Unlike “SNL,” these sketches largely don’t overstay their welcome: where Lorne Michaels’ crew would draw “The Clintstones” on for (seemingly) a half-hour , this bunch distills it down to a parody film trailer. Even if a bit isn’t particularly amusing, at least it’s in and out in a hurry.
Funniest segs in opening show included Brad Sherwood and Mystro Clark as a couple of gay baseball players; an ad for Time/Life Politically Correct Video Library (“Twelve Angry People”; “One Flew Over the Emotionally Disturbed Person’s Nest”); and a “trailer” for “Tom Slack, Narcoleptic Bomb Defuser.”
In show’s most off-the-wall bit, Stan Quash effectively limned Daniel Day-Lewis, an actor heretofore largely ignored by parodists, though well worthy of their attention.
Less effective were a protracted sketch by Tommy Blaze and Nancy Sullivan as relationship advisors Abby and Andy; and brief film by Shawn Alex Thompson, notable mainly for its use of a vintage Citroen automobile.
Highlights of Tuesday night’s show were “The DeNiros” (entire family of people who talk like star of “Taxi Driver”) and docu of Malcolm X’s early career as a defiant Hollywood atmosphere player, “Malcolm Extra.” It ain’t Oscar Wilde, folks, or even Ben Stiller, but it’s an alternate to the real 11 o’clock news.
For first episode of new series from a virtually-unknown cast, “The Newz” went down relatively easily. Timeliness, which this episode notably lacked, will help in the future, as will more distance from “SNL” format –“Newz” steals older show’s ending sequence virtually intact.