From the maker of Super Bass-o-Matic '76, Mom Jeans, Colon Blow cereal and the recently controversial Heroin AM comes something not entirely new and not necessarily improved: real commercials.
NBC's "Saturday Night Live" is moving beyond parody, planning to get into the ad game with both feet next season and not even holding its nose while doing so.
The network this week announced "SNL" viewers will get "original sponsored content from advertisers" partnering with the show's staff and stars.
The trade-off, if that's what it is, will be that two traditional national commercial breaks each show will be eliminated. NBC says that represents a 30 percent reduction in the show's ad load and an increase in the amount of actual content each week.
"As the decades have gone by, commercial time has grown," "SNL" creator and impresario Lorne Michaels said in a statement. "This will give time back to the show and make it easier to watch the show live."
(Imagine that in Mike Myers' Dr. Evil voice and add a "riiiiight" at the end, if that helps.)
The point is that if it works on "SNL," making sponsors happy, producing new revenue and maybe even upping prices for remaining old-fashioned ads, look for the trend to pick up momentum with other programs.
Although this sort of one-palm-greasing-the-other convergence dates back to television's earliest days, it might have been unthinkable once for "SNL." It's hardly unusual, however, to become more conscious of money in one's 40s as pragmatism finds favor over youthful ideals.
Already viewers have seen long-retired "Saturday Night Live" characters, such as the space alien Coneheads and weightlifters Hans and Franz, show up in commercials for State Farm Insurance.
"SNL," in a sense, has been out to pump up sponsors for some time now.
The program rented out Will Forte's recurring MacGruber character for sketchlike ads promoting Pepsi in 2009, the same year Anheuser-Busch InBev bought the national airtime on an episode of "SNL" to push its launch of Bud Light Golden Wheat. Cast members have shown up in "SNL"-infused ads, such as a 2014 Jeep spot that starred Cecily Strong.
"SNL" has had sponsored music segments for years, and relationships with marketers in late-night TV generally seems to be reverting back to the days when Johnny Carson might conclude his monologue by welcoming, say, Budget Rent A Car as a new advertiser.
Then there was the postmodern approach to product placement seen in the Michaels-produced prime-time comedy, "30 Rock." Series creator, star and "SNL" alumna Tina Fey sang the praises of Verizon phone service, then turned to the camera and earnestly asked, "Can we have our money now?"
"SNL" sometimes has trouble selling its humor. Selling products, making viewers consider what they're actually seeing, may present new hurdles.
It's not as if the program will give us someone like Chris Farley's inspirational speaker Matt Foley talking about "living in a van down by the river," then adding it's a Dodge Caravan with tri-zone climate control and optional Stow 'n Go seats.
The show's more likely to emulate its American Express ad goof from 2015. Echoing the credit card company's actual commercials featuring celebrities recounting their struggles to make it, actor Chris Hemsworth spoke of his path to movie stardom.
"I wasn't always Thor," Hemsworth said. "When I got to Hollywood, they said I'd never make it as an actor. They said I was too tall, too blond. My muscles were too big. It didn't happen overnight for me. I bounced around Hollywood for days."
American Express, told of the satire ahead of time, asked that its own ad run on "SNL" as close to the spoof as possible. Hollywood trade paper Variety at the time called it "a rare display of thick skin by a blue-chip marketer."
In retrospect, it almost seems a test case that emboldened NBC and Michaels to give us what's coming next TV season … live from Madison Avenue.