By John A Arkansawyer: “In the future, there was a nuclear war. And because of all the radiation, cats developed the ability to shoot lasers out of their mouths.”
On this dubious premise, Laser Cats was founded. By its seventh and final episode, the great action stars and directors of the day had contributed their considerable talents to this highly entertaining, yet frankly ridiculous enterprise. From James Cameron to Lindsey Lohan, Josh Brolin to Steve Martin, Laser Cats attracted the best in the business.
Being part of Saturday Night Live undoubtedly helped.
The SNL Digital Short series ran from 2005-2012 with over a hundred episodes. Laser Cats appeared in all seven seasons. It’s a story within a story. In each episode, Andy Samberg and Bill Hader approach SNL producer Lorne Michaels with a brilliant idea. In the first episode: “We decided that there were two things that everyone loves.” “Cats and lasers!”
Whereupon they pop in a VHS labeled “Laser Cats”, in which Admiral Spaceship (Samberg) and Nitro (Hader) fight bad guys like Doctor Scientist and Mayor Tophat with their trusty laser cats.
In the outer stories of the first three episodes, Samberg and Hader approach Michaels on their own. Beginning with the fourth episode, Hollywood heavy hitters accompany them to Michaels’ office for the pitch, and the inner stories become more parodies rather than simple spoofs. It’s worth noting the third inner story is in 3D(*) and the sixth is a musical.
On one hand, the CGI work is dated and wasn’t any good at the time. On the other hand, the practical effects are even worse. On the gripping hand, the low budget and terrible production standards ensure that you will see Steven Spielberg act, direct(**), and do his own Foley work(***) at the same time. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Samberg and Hader contributed writing for these sketches, along with Jorma Taccone, Akiva Shaffer, Jonathan Krisel, and Lorne Michaels. Taccone and Shaffer directed the sketches, working both together and individually. (Samberg, Taccone, and Shaffer also work as The Lonely Island.)
If you aren’t familiar with the sketches, the viewing order I recommend is watching the first one first. If you love it, you’ll love the rest; if you hate it, you’re done. I’d then watch each of the next two individually, because the omnibus video of episodes 1-3 has a major spoiler in the intro. Then watch the omnibus video of episodes 4-7 because episode 6 is not available standalone.
This link will take you to the official SNL videos on YouTube.
This is the first episode:
(*) Not all scenes in 3D.
(**) Not really.
(***) Well, it would be his own Foley work, if he were really directing.