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Final Prime-Time "SNL" Special Was a Fun Family Reunion

The third and final prime-time outing for NBC’s Saturday Night Live Weekend Update Thursday began as a class reunion of sorts, with former SNL castmates Will Ferrell and Tina Fey joining Darrell Hammond, who was at SNL then and remains there now, for a cold-open political sketch.

Ferrell reprised his old role of President George W. Bush, returning to give a prime-time address reitering his support of Hammond’s John McCain, who wanted none of it. Sandwiched between them was Fey as Sarah Palin, happy to be there, and pose for photo ops, as she planned optimistically for “the next 16 years.”

“When you’re in that voting booth,” Ferrell’s Bush said gleefully, pointing to himself as Hammond’s McCain winced painfully, “before you vote, picture – this – face!”

That sort of humor may not help McCain much in the coming days, but there’s no question it’s helped Saturday Night Live. Tomorrow night, NBC devotes 30 minutes of prime-time to reruns of the three Weekend Update Thursday specials, followed shortly thereafter by a brand-new SNL, hosted by Jon Hamm of Mad Men.

Saturday prime-time reruns, though the material is somewhat dated, are a shrewd move. For fans who missed one or more of the shows, or saw only excerpts on the Internet, it’s an easy way to catch up. It’s also a massive promotional opportunity for both SNL, which just drew its biggest audience in 14 years, and next week’s 30 Rock, whose creator and star, Tina Fey, certainly deserves to get a big bump from all the recent “Palin comedy” heat.

Besides, last week NBC devoted an hour of Saturday’s prime time to a rerun of Knight Rider. So if the question is “What could be worse?” – the answer is, “Nothing.”