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These are the best sketches from each season of 'Saturday Night Live'

Before we begin, an explanation: This is not a list of the 39 best SNL sketches of all time.

Any institution that lasts as long as Saturday Night Live has—and that experiences as much cast and writer turnover as Saturday Night Live does—will necessarily have stronger years and leaner years. In SNL‘s case, the difference between eras can be especially stark; you’re more likely to laugh at a meh John Belushi sketch than you are at even the finest display of Charles Rocket’s talents. Given that fact, it’s easy for a simple “best sketches ever” list to focus only on the best-known work of SNL‘s biggest stars (your Will Ferrells, your Eddies Murphy) while totally ignoring its less memorable seasons—which also means that such a list won’t really provide an overview of the show’s long, tangled, uneven history.

Thus this: In honor of the show’s upcoming 40th season, EW‘s team of SNL experts has assembled an inventory of each individual season’s best sketch. You’ll find many familiar picks below, as well as more obscure selections—and, perhaps, the absence of a few sure things. (There’s no “Celebrity Jeopardy,” for example, both because those sketches aired during a particularly fertile period—how can you pick even Turd Ferguson over “More Cowbell”?—and because we included one of them in a magazine feature called “Build a Perfect SNL Episode.”) Scroll through—and don’t forget to vote for your favorite one by 5 p.m. ET Sept. 26 at our poll here.

Season 1, 1975–1976
“Word Association,” Dec. 13, 1975
What kind of janitorial company gives job applicants a racist psychological test? The one Saturday Night Live invented for one of the most audacious two-minute segments in TV history. Even nearly 40 years later, Chevy Chase and Richard Pryor’s tense pas de deux (“Jungle bunny!” “Honky!”…”N—–!” “Dead honky!”) is just as sharp as it was in the ’70s—not to mention every bit as uncomfortably funny. READ FULL STORY

'Chicago Fire' shocker: Find out who died and what's next

This story contains major spoilers from the Chicago Fire premiere. 

Chicago Fire did not waste any time revealing who didn’t make it out of that burning building alive.

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John Krasinski returns to NBC with two comedies in development

His days as Jim from The Office may be over, but John Krasinski is still firmly rooted at NBC, this time as producer.

EW confirms that Krasinski and his production shingle, Sunday Night, sold two comedies to NBC in an overall deal with Universal TV. Krasinski and Allyson Seeger will executive produce both single-camera, untitled projects, working closely with Sunday Night’s Mike Sablone.

The first project comes from writer Shawn Wines and executive producer Aaron Kaplan, and focuses on a failed law student who turns to a career in garbage collecting in New York City. The second project is written by writing duo Josh Siegal and Dylan Morgan, and focuses on a middle-aged ad executive who starts his own agency in his garage from the ground up after being let go from his job.

Krasinski is not expected to star in either of the projects.

'SVU' first look: Amaro and Rollins are icy after his demotion

Amaro and Rollins ‘shippers are in for some bad news: It looks like Law & Order: Special Victims Unit’s budding couple are on the rocks now that Amaro is no longer on the SVU squad.

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'Bad Judge' taps Betsy Thomas to showrun after Liz Brixius' departure

Bad Judge has found a new showrunner: Betsy Thomas has been tapped to takeover duties for Liz Brixius, who exited the new NBC comedy earlier this month, EW has confirmed.

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NBC developing 'The Curse of the Fuentes Women' from Silvio Horta

NBC has given a script commitment to Silvio Horta’s magical realist The Curse of the Fuentes Women, EW has confirmed.

The Ugly Betty creator wrote and executive produced the one-hour drama, which comes from his Silent H Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television. The story follows a young man who washes up on Miami Beach, claiming to be a long-lost family member from Cuba. It looks at how his arrival subsequently affects grandmother Esperanza Fuentes, daughter Lola, and granddaughter Soledad, exploring memory, mythology, and destiny in the process.

 

Broadway star Kelli O'Hara joins 'Peter Pan Live' as Mrs. Darling

NBC’s upcoming telecast of Peter Pan Live has added another Broadway star to its lineup.

Five-time Tony nominee Kelli O’Hara (most recently of The Bridges of Madison County) has joined the cast as Mrs. Darling, the wife of no-nonsense George Darling (Christian Borle). Besides being the doting mother of the Darling children (who, let’s not forget, allows the dog to babysit), Mrs. Darling gets to sing one of the show’s ballads, the bedtime lullaby “Tender Shepherd.”

In addition to O’Hara’s casting, NBC has also announced the production team behind the Dec. 4 telecast. On board are choreographer Rob Ashford, director Glenn Weiss, musical director David Chase, production designer Derek McLane, costume designer Catherine Zuber, and lighting designer Robert A. Dickinson.

The three-hour live event stars Allison Williams as Peter Pan and Christopher Walken as Captain Hook.

'About a Boy' taps Chris Diamantopoulos as Fiona's love interest

Fiona may actually find love in the second season of About a Boy.

EW has learned exclusively that Chris Diamantopoulos will appear in at least two episodes as a love interest for Minnie Driver’s needy single mom.

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Benson tries to protect her foster child in 'Law & Order: SVU' promo

After 15 seasons, there isn’t much that Law & Order: SVU hasn’t done. But when the show returns for its 16th season, fans will get to see a new side of Detective Olivia Benson.

In a new promo for the season, Benson struggles to find a balance between being a foster mother and being a detective. And things only get more difficult when criminals start targeting the child as a way to get to her.

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'Graceland' star Serinda Swan lands major arc on 'Chicago Fire'

It sounds like there’s trouble in paradise for Servide and Lindsay.

Graceland’s Serinda Swan has landed a significant multi-episode arc on Chicago Fire as a potential love interest for Taylor Kinney’s hunky firefighter, EW has learned.

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NBC to adapt travel show based on South Korean 'Grandpas Over Flowers'

Bear Grylls is getting some company in the travel-variety show department on NBC, except with less of a death-defying quality.

According to Variety, NBC is set to produce a travel variety show adapted from the South Korean show, Grandpas Over Flowers, which is described in its trailer as “a new docu-reality entertainment format that takes you on the most adorable journey.” The Korean version of the show features four ‘grandpas’ over the age of 70, backpacking across Europe with the aid of an unassuming porter who also serves as a cook and driver. In a similar fashion, the American version will be called Better Late Than Never and will feature four distinguished actors backpacking across Asia with a young porter. READ FULL STORY

Adam Levine developing NBC comedy inspired by his childhood

Adam Levine is stepping behind the camera. The Voice judge and Maroon 5 frontman is developing a comedy inspired by his childhood for NBC, EW has confirmed.

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Netflix acquires 'The Blacklist' for $2 million per episode

It looks like The Blacklist will be rolling in the dough.

Netflix has acquired the streaming rights to the NBC crime procedural from Sony Pictures Television in a hefty $2 million fee per episode, EW has confirmed. Deadline first reported the news.

The $2 million price tag will be the largest per-episode fee paid by a subscription-based video-on-demand company for a television show. While Netflix gets the first window on the streaming rights to the show, Sony TV will also be selling The Blacklist to broadcast and cable networks for syndication. The show was a ratings hit for NBC, garnering strong viewership for a freshman drama, and securing a full 22-episode renewal for a second season.

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