The entertainment summit of the season - Sarah Palin and her impersonator, Tina Fey - earned "Saturday Night Live" its best ratings in 14 years. But if you blinked, you might have missed it.
Fey was answering questions at a news conference, something Palin hasn't done yet as the Republican vice presidential nominee, when Palin walked on the stage. Fey beat a hasty retreat in the opening segment, walking past the real Palin with a barely perceptible nod.
Anyone hoping for a side-by-side photo of the identically dressed women was out of luck.
Palin's guest shot, widely anticipated since Fey began imitating her a month ago, led "Saturday Night Live" to its highest mark in overnight Nielsen Media Research ratings since March 1994, when assaulted skater Nancy Kerrigan was guest host.
Although a complete audience estimate for the entire country won't be available until later in the week, it is likely to be around 14 million (Editor's note -- The final tally ended up closer to 17 million for the first half hour of the show with an overall average of 12 million throughout the total 90 minutes).
In the show's scripted opening, Fey's Palin said at a news conference: "First off, I just want to say how excited I am to be in front of both the liberal elite media, as well as the liberal regular media. I am looking forward to a portion of your questions."
Later, the camera cut to the real Palin standing alongside the show's executive producer, Lorne Michaels.
Palin stood quietly as Fey's "30 Rock" co-star Alec Baldwin came by, pretended to mistake Palin for Fey and pleaded with Michaels not to let the actor go onstage with the governor.
"This is the most important election in our nation's history and you want her, our Tina, to go out there and stand with that horrible woman?" Baldwin said.
When Michaels introduced him to Palin, Baldwin feigned embarrassment and replied: "I see. Forgive me. I feel I must say this: You are way hotter in person."
Palin got even, saying: "Thank you, and I must say, your brother Stephen is my favorite Baldwin brother." Stephen Baldwin is an evangelical Christian who attended the Republican National Convention in 2004.
Alec Baldwin ushered her onstage past Fey, where Palin delivered the show's traditional opening: "Live from New York, it's Saturday night."
Michaels owes Palin a debt of gratitude. "Saturday Night Live" so far this season has been up 76 percent over last year at this time, Nielsen said.
Even beyond that, the Fey skits have gone viral over the Internet, drawing more attention to the show. One study last week said only one-third of people who had seen Fey's impersonations did so on live TV; the rest saw them on DVRs or on their computers.