Reuniting dozens of SNL's former cast members, fan-favorite guest hosts, and popular musical acts for the sketch show's 40th anniversary special might seem like a Herculean task - especially with so many past cast beefs - but nothing is impossible with Lorne Michaels at the helm. Last night's three hour episode, which featured appearances from the likes of Eddie Murphy, Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, Taylor Swift, Kerry Washington and Larry David, among many others, was NBC's greatest ratings success since a 2004 Friends finale clip show.
According to Nielsen estimates (official same-day numbers won't be available until tomorrow), the special attracted a whopping 23.1 million viewers during prime time hours. While the viewership peaked during the first half-hour and dropped to about 18 million for the final two hours, SNL 40 delivered a ratings boost the show so desperately needed and provided a heavy dosage of comedic nostalgia.
It was also nice to see SNL-punching bag Kanye West being a good sport and smiling for a change.