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NBC Veers From ‘Vintage’ Repeats of ‘SNL’

NBC is only dipping into a recent “Vintage” when it comes to showing primetime repeats of “Saturday Night Live.”

The network has since 2014 used its 10 p.m. slot on Saturdays to run “SNL” repeats from across the show’s decades-long run, a move that whets fans appetites’ for the 11:30 p.m. main showing of the popular late-night series. The 60-minute cut-down of the archival selection is known as “SNL Vintage.”

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In recent weeks, however, the archives have stayed shut. Instead, NBC has been sticking with repeats of episodes from this season or last — a bid, perhaps, to keep the focus on the show’s current cast of players.

NBC declined to make “SNL” producers available for comment.

The “Vintage” broadcasts give fans access to memorable sketches and monologues from years gone by, and often play off events in the news. When a popular celebrity or musician passes away, the “SNL Vintage” episode selected that week often shows them in action from a past episode of the show. When Rick Ludwin, a long-time NBC executive who supervised the network’s late-night programming for years, died in 2019, for example, NBC ran an “SNL Vintage” that included an on-air appearance he made on the program.

On some weeks, it almost seems as if a single executive with a broad knowledge of “SNL” and its history has chosen the episode that gets broadcast, mindful of the influence the program has cultivated across its nearly half-century on the air.

There hasn’t been as much call for “Vintage” this TV season. Thanks to a new deal NBCUniversal struck with the Big Ten Conference, the network now has college football games to show on many autumn Saturdays. Airings of the “SNL” repeats really only started in earnest in January — and have not offered a look at the show’s deeper past.

Fans have other ways to sift through the show’s history. NBC last year launched a “SNL” FAST channel for Amazon’s Prime Video, and viewers who watch can follow a random selection of sketches that shuffle across the program’s different eras. Meanwhile, the bulk of the series is available on NBC’s streaming hub, Peacock.

Whether or not “SNL” starts combing through its archives once again remains to be seen. Perhaps the show’s past will go on display once again in the near future. The series does, after all, celebrate its 50th anniversary next year.

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