FXX set the record for longest TV marathon ever last year with a week and a half straight of The Simpsons, but VH1 Classic is about to top it. The network is preparing to run episodes of Saturday Night Live for 19 days straight, starting with the most recent seasons and running back toward its first episodes. That means the network won't make it through SNL's complete history — for better or for worse — and is instead going to be selectively showing its best moments. Even so, VH1 says that this will still make for the longest-ever TV marathon dedicated to a single series.
Clear your schedule for the Justin Timberlake block
The network is also going to be carving out blocks of time that'll be dedicated to specific sketches, hosts, and artists — there's one for Justin Timberlake, another for Wayne's World, and another for Chris Farley, for instance — so those will disrupt the chronological tour. The network is also cheating a little bit: it plans to run three movies starring former SNL members once each during the marathon. Nonetheless, it's still 19 days dedicated to SNL, which is an insane amount of time and really makes you wonder what VH1 Classic normally spends it time on.
The intention of the marathon is to celebrate SNL's 40th anniversary, which is coming up later this year. The marathon will start Wednesday, January 28th and will conclude on Sunday, February 15th, with the final episode airing at 6:30PM that evening. NBC, which is owned by a totally different company than VH1, will air a three-hour anniversary special after the marathon concludes at 8PM. The timing is all totally arbitrary, as SNL's actual anniversary is in October.
As ridiculous as it sounds to dedicate so much time to a single show, VH1 Classic may know what it's doing. When the FXX network ran its 12-day Simpsons marathon, it pulled in 25 million viewers — a figure that it should be very happy with. VH1 Classic is likely hoping for the same results with another classic series. VH1 proper will also air 10 hours of SNL retrospectives on the marathon's final day, and some episodes will be available to stream through VH1's website and on its app during the marathon.
There's a good chance that we'll be seeing more SNL tributes as the year goes on. VH1 and NBC aren't even alone right now: an SNL exhibition featuring "original scripts, set pieces, props, costumes, masks, and interactive elements" is opening up in New York this spring. There's no specific premiere date yet, but you'll definitely be able to get in before the show's actual anniversary rolls around.