Saturday Night Live has been declared dead more times than Abe Vigoda. This season, certainly, the comedy landmark has been light on laughs more often than not.

Part of the problem is one of the weakest casts since the mid-'80s. Beyond Jason Sudeikis and Kristen Wiig, they've got nothing. Bupkis. The other factor is the way the show has clung to the same format for 35 years.

I have a solution, the result of some snowy serendipity.

There was a time when Saturday Night Live was on too early for me. I was still out carousing.

Now it's on too late. So I record it and watch it Sunday morning, as a bridge between church and football.

The storm last weekend must have messed up my DVR, because when I turned on the previous night's episode, hosted by Blake Lively, it began with a skit, "Gossip Girl: Staten Island." Within the first 15 minutes, musical guest Rihanna had performed and "Weekend Update" had started. The show flew by.

So here's the deal, SNL: Let's tighten things up.

Dump the topical cold opening. The political stuff just isn't working. You know you're in trouble when Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson does a better imitation of the president than the cast member (Fred Armisen) you have assigned to the job.

Get rid of the host monologue. It's rarely amusing and sometimes (sorry, January Jones) excruciating. Sure, it's the hosts' opportunity to plug current projects. Let them buy an ad during the show. They usually do anyway.

Keep the musical numbers, "Weekend Update," Andy Samberg's often-inspired "Digital Shorts," then pick your four best sketches and jettison the rest.

Last week, that would have meant preserving Bill Hader's "man in a lady wig" spoofs of the UPS whiteboard commercials and dumping the atrocious Will Forte-as-NASA-recruiter skit that was like watching oatmeal congeal.

Restrict yourself to an hour and go strong, SNL. That way you stand a chance of being appointment viewing once more, rather than disappointment viewing.

Where's the proof? Couldn't help but question the way Katherine (Dana Delany) was able to frame Mike (James Denton) for her stabbing on Desperate Housewives. Presumably, Mike was thrown in the slammer after his prints were found on the bloody knife.

But in the previous episode, seconds after he set the knife on Katherine's counter, we clearly saw her grab it by the handle. And you have to grip a knife pretty firmly to impale yourself. Are Mike's fingerprints indelible?

And how about when Katherine was carried out on a stretcher by paramedics? We could see her from the waist up and there wasn't a drop of blood on her pristine blue sweater. Pretty remarkable for someone who has just been stabbed in the gut.

Grand theft. Here's to a pair of scene-stealing klepto femmes.

Shirley is supposed to be a minor character, but the riotous way Yvette Nicole Brown plays her on the NBC sitcom Community, she's become the primary reason to watch the show.

And how about Jane Lynch on Glee? She totally rocks the house as Sue Sylvester, Cruella De Vil in a piped track suit. Lynch has gobbled up the screen, especially in this week's "fall finale."

A sure sign that Sue is becoming a pop icon: online tributes such as the Glee parody promo on Funnyordie.com.

Shut up already. Watching NFL games on Fox, you pray your team hasn't drawn the Daryl "Moose" Johnston/Tony "Goose" Siragusa color tandem. That's always a painful three hours.

Can someone please tell me what Siragusa brings to the party as the designated end-zone commentator? He's like the boor on the next barstool who keeps butting into the conversation you're having with your friend.

It just goes to show: Moose and Squirrel, perfect together. Moose and Goose? Heartburn city.

Contact staff writer David Hiltbrand at 215-854-4552 or dhiltbrand@phillynews.com. Read his recent work at http://go.philly.com/
daveondemand.