Saturday Night Live opened its show over the weekend with a sketch about the Super Bowl blackout (watch below). But that apparently wasn't the original plan. On Sunday, the NBC show posted online this slightly not-safe-for-work (sexy language) cold opening taped during the dress rehearsal earlier Saturday night. In that sketch (watch above), the cast pillories the Senate Republicans' grilling of defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel, and especially their criticism that he isn't sufficiently supportive of Israel. (Watch footage of the Hagel hearing.)

"Saturday Night Live's executive producer Lorne Michaels reserves the right to change his show right up to airing," says Nicole Belle at Crooks & Liars. And it's "not hard to imagine the pearl clutching and cries of outrage (Outrage, I tell you!) had this skit gone out on the airwaves," especially from Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), portrayed bitingly in the skit by Bill Hader and Taran Killam, respectively. But that doesn't mean it was "necessarily anything political that caused Michaels to cut the original cold open." Maybe he thought the Super Bowl sketch "was the funnier or more biting satire." (In case you missed it, watch SNL put Billy Crystal — whom Michaels cut, last minute, from the show's very first opening sketch in 1975 — in blackface in the 1980s.) But "personally, I thought Fred Armisen's imitation of Bernie Sanders was perfect and the skit was worth airing for that alone."

Michaels and the other producers do often test and then reject sketches during rehearsal that are either too risqué or technically difficult for the live broadcast, says Mike Opelka at The Blaze. But "judging from the lack of laughter from the audience during the most questionable parts of the Senate hearing sketch, this might have been cut based on lack of laughter as well as bad taste." Still, the sketch was written and tested, and there are a few "curious" issues with it. First, "it was generally accepted on both sides of the aisle that Hagel's performance in the Senate hearings was terrible," so why focus on Republicans? Then there's this head-scratcher:

Why did NBC decide to release the sketch online? It is available to Hulu members and can now be seen on several news outlet websites. If it was not good enough for the broadcast and they replaced it with the Super Bowl sketch (which obviously got more laughs than the Senate hearing sketch), why release it? (The Blaze)