40 Years of Saturday Night Live! – Season One, Episode Eight (Candice Bergen)

Host: Candice Bergen

Musical Guests: Martha Reeves; The Stylistics

Cast: Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Jane Curtin, Garrett Morris, Laraine Newman, Gilda Radner – i.e. the “Not Ready For Primetime Players”

Highlights:

Candice Bergen, in addition to being the first female host, is also the first repeat host; she was back within four episodes.

Martha Reeves sang the Jackie Wilson classic “Higher and Higher” as well as a soulful “Silver Bells” at the end of the show. Her first outfit was rather sheer and not ready for primetime itself.  The Stylistics sang “You Make Me Feel Brand New.”

The “Parent’s Nightmare” sketch.  In this sketch, Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin play the seemingly Southern parents of Chevy Chase, always a good boy, who reveals to his father that he’s been arrested for murder – 26 of them in fact.  The true hilarity comes from Jane Curtin’s worrying mother and her questions from the sidelines, as she fails to grasp the true gravity of the situation.

The latest “Polaroid” commercial, which was performed live with Candice Bergen.  It was funny because John Belushi was dressed as Santa Claus but kept calling himself the Easter Bunny.

The “Latent Elf” sketch.  This sketch wins the award of funniest of the episode.  Candice Bergen plays Chevy Chase’s sister; she finds out that he has secretly been a frolicking elf all of his life.  What’s more, their parents, again played by Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin, reveal that this latency runs in the family.  This sketch is even more brilliant when considering the underlying euphemism of “being an elf.”

Weekend Update built upon its routine, including a nod to Generalissimo Francisco Franco’s continued death, an appearance by Gilda Radner’s editorial reply contributor Emily Litella (“never mind!”), and Garrett Morris’ hard of hearing interpretation, by including “artist renderings” of the Squeaky Fromme trial, narrated by a nasal Chevy Chase.  They were pencil sketches of stick figures and doodles.

The “Laundromat” sketch.  In this sketch, John Belushi and Gilda Radner agree to share the only unused washing machine at the laundromat, but the act of putting in the clothes – and showing each other their non-mentionables – becomes quite an act of meet-cute seduction.

Jim Henson’s Muppets in “The Land of Gorch” sketch.  It appears the main Gorch residents threw a Christmas party, which was forced to compete with a far more popular party being thrown by the “Bees.”  Candice Bergen sang “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” with them at their “intimate” party.

The entire cast sang “Winter Wonderland” with Garrett Morris providing smooth and soulful lead vocals and the men and women providing point and counterpoint backup.

The “Fritzie Kringle Show” sketch.  In this sketch, Laraine Newman plays some sort of Eastern European – or Dutch? – baker with her own show, like Julia Child.  The trouble is, she keeps eating all of the ingredients and fails to bake much of anything.  Her accent is where the real laughs are, though.

The cast wished everyone “Merry Christmas” as Candice Bergen offered her “good night.”

Less Successful Moments

There was another Pong bit.  I notice no one laughs.

Fortunately, most of the sketches and commercials worked in this episode, with some being funnier than others.

Most Valuable Not Ready For Primetime Players

(1st) Chevy Chase, for his creepy murdering son in “Parent’s Nightmare,” his latent but eventually proud elf, and his gift for art in Weekend Update.  He also narrated “Home Movies,” and it was sort of funny.

(2nd) Jane Curtin and Dan Aykroyd (tie), for their brilliant parental work, specifically Jane’s mother in “Parent’s Nightmare” and Dan’s father in “Latent Elf.”

Honorable Mentions:

John Belushi, for his Santa Claus and for his flirty laundromat consumer.

Gilda Radner, for Emily Litella and for her equally willing and open laundromat consumer.

Laraine Newman, for her Fritzie Kringle.

Garrett Morris, for his smooth song stylings and consistent hard of hearing interpretations.

What all of the above means is that this Christmas-themed episode from the first season was one of those rare, tight, home run-hitting shows where everyone contributed something magical.  In fact, the MVNRfPP award was hard to assign for this episode, and, in the end, I favored my favorite of the favored sketches.

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40 Years of Saturday Night Live! – Season One, Episode Seven (Richard Pryor)

Host: Richard Pryor

Musical Guest: Gil Scott-Heron

Cast: Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Jane Curtin, Garrett Morris, Laraine Newman, Gilda Radner – i.e. the “Not Ready For Primetime Players”

Highlights:

Richard Pryor, one of the all time great comedians, hosted this episode.  As a result, every monologue and sketch was charged with commentary on race and society, in keeping with Pryor’s primary genre of comedy.  It is safe to say that such an episode would probably never make it to air in its entirety today.

By special request from Richard Pryor, during the “Restaurant” cold open, though Chevy Chase still got to perform his “fall of the week,” Garrett Morris delivered “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!”

The “Samurai Hotel” sketch.  This marks the first appearance of a trademark John Belushi character, a samurai who performs daily, mundane tasks while mumbling in fake Japanese and gesturing with his katana blades.  In this sketch, Chevy Chase plays a patron seeking a hotel room for the night and asks who will be handling his bags. John’s samurai calls for the “boy,” who turns out to be another samurai played by Pryor. The sketch is slow to start until these two start dueling, complete with fake Japanese “yo mama” jokes.

The “Looks at Books” sketch.  In this episode, host Jane Curtin interviews Richard Pryor playing an author who donned “white face” to write about the White experience. The sketch, essentially, plays with reverse stereotypes in a direct way.  What’s more, he announces that his next project will be to write about being a “Jewish American Princess” and to get a sex change to live the experience.

The “Word Association” sketch.  In this sketch, Chevy Chase plays a job recruiter interviewing Richard Pryor for what turns out to be a janitorial position.  In this interview, Chevy’s interviewer invites his interviewee to engage in word association…and while it starts off benign, it descends into a battle of evermore hostile racial terms, including the worst of all of them.  While the punchline was hilarious, it’s again a marvel that nothing of this type would ever make it to air today.

The “Black and White” sketch.  In this sketch, Dan Aykroyd plays the racist patriarch of a family, who complains that the “Black Problem” is taking over everything.  As each of his family members get up to leave the table for a moment (as played by Jane Curtin, John Belushi, and Gilda Radner), they “return,” replaced by Black actors, as a seeming fulfillment of the father’s worst nightmare.  Heady stuff!

While Weekend Update settled into something of a routine in this episode, Chevy Chase introduced a long-running Update gag line by reporting on the “death” of Generalissimo Francisco Franco of Spain.  This would lead to Chevy repeating the line “Generalissimo Francisco Franco of Spain is still dead” for many Updates to come.  In addition, the “Editorial Reply” of the week featured a regular character of Gilda Radner’s, Emily Litella, providing an impassioned reply to something she misheard.  When anchor Chevy corrects her, the Emily character famously replies, “Never mind!”

Jim Henson’s Muppets in “The Land of Gorch” sketch.  This episode found our main Gorch residents drunk as skunks, as was the statue from which they often seek advice.

The “Exorcist II” sketch.  In this sketch, Pryor and another Black actor play priests who have been summoned to exorcise a little girl, a la Linda Blair, played by Laraine Newman.  Neither one of them seems very committed to the tasks – Pryor’s priest is simply scared, and his counterpart is quick to need a “break” – until the possessed girl starts insulting their mamas.

Gil Scott-Heron is the musical guest; he was a soul and jazz poet and is often credited as being the father of hip hop.  He sang “Johannesburg” and “A Lovely Day.”

The cast also wished Richard Pryor a farewell onstage during his “goodnight,” with food and wine.  Nice.

Less Successful Moments

There was another Pong bit.  It was not funny.  I don’t get why they kept drawing from that well.

And then: the Albert Brooks film.  I think the basic premises might be funny, but he so often is not.  I hope they get better in later episodes…

They also reused the “New Dad” commercial – sigh – and the “Spud Beer” commercial (potato flavored beer, which you have to turn off all your senses to enjoy).  Perhaps, I just don’t get the humor of 1975.

There was a guest performance by Shelley Pryor, who is in no way related to or involved with Richard Pryor, and she performed a beat poem called “Christmas Carousel.” I’m sure it was cute, but I got bored.

Most Valuable Not Ready For Primetime Players

(1st) John Belushi, for his quick to learn samurai and awkward son in the “Black and White” sketch.

(2nd) Laraine Newman, for a pretty spot-on impression of Linda Blair with a twist.

(3rd) Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd (tie), for playing the racist white guys in sketches where the jokes were on them, i.e. “Word Association” and “Black and White,” courtesy of Richard Pryor.

40 Years of Saturday Night Live! – Season One, Episode Six (Lily Tomlin)

Host: Lily Tomlin

Musical Guest: None

Cast: Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Jane Curtin, Garrett Morris, Laraine Newman, Gilda Radner – i.e. the “Not Ready For Primetime Players”

Highlights:

Lily Tomlin, the second hostess, proves to be the funniest of the hosts so far.  First off, she is game for most of the absurdity and crazy sketch comedy that is developing over this first season.  Second, she brings her own spin to the proceedings.  Every appearance by her in a sketch was great.  The most successful sketches featuring mostly her include “St. James Infirmary,” where she sang with Howard Shore (the SNL band leader at the time) and his “All Nurse Band;” the pre-taped “Edith Ann Skates,” where her trademark character Edith Ann, an adult sized child, learns to ice skate; and the “Hard Hats” sketch, where she teaches female construction workers to objectify men (as it usually goes the other way around), with Dan Aykroyd playing the object.

The “Beethoven” sketches.  This is a famous series of recurring sketches in which John Belushi plays the otherwise deaf and work-obsessed composer who fails to eat the food brought to him by his wife, played by Gilda Radner, and his maid, played by Laraine Newman.  He is first seen noodling on the piano with some famous strains of Beethoven classics, only to morph into rock ‘n’ roll interpretations, culminating in the third spot with a fairly accurate impression of Ray Charles singing “What’d I Say,” the ladies singing backup.

The “Jaws III” sketch.  In this episode’s chapter, the Land Shark, played by Chevy Chase, masterminds quite a lot of murder, even going so far as to take over Don Pardo’s microphone and advising Lily Tomlin and John Belushi (as the Richard Dreyfuss equivalent) to stop the sketch because it’s running long, only for the shark to eat Lily in the end.  The shark still looks fake, though.

Chevy Chase’s Weekend Update was funny and featured another hard of hearing interpretation by Garrett Morris, but the best part was Chevy steeling himself against breaking before starting the bit.

Jim Henson’s Muppets in “The Land of Gorch” sketch.  This episode’s topic explored one of the Muppets’ crush on Lily Tomlin, which resulted in a singing duet between the two of them, a la the Muppet Show (which hadn’t premiered yet).  The puppet in question looks a lot like a Skeksis from The Dark Crystal, which had not been released yet.  The point is, lots of possible inspiration started in Studio 8H.

The Bees, namely Garrett Morris, Laraine Newman, Chevy Chase, and Gilda Radner, finished the show by scatting to wish Lily Tomlin goodnight at the end of the episode. They sure did love the bees, eh?

Less Successful Moments

Apparently, Albert Brooks’ first film, “The Impossible Truth,” which played during the first episode, was popular enough to warrant replaying it in this episode.  I skipped it.

The “Bell-Hop” sketch.  This featured Chevy Chase as a clumsy bell-hop interrupting Jane Curtin and Garrett Morris making out in a hotel room.  All he had was newspapers, which he kept dropping, and it just felt long.  He should have carried and dropped more things if the point was to play on being excruciatingly awkward as a joke, but forty years’ hindsight is twenty (plus) twenty.

They recycled many fake commercials from episode to episode while introducing new fake commercials. Unfortunately, all of the fake commercials fell flat in this episode.

Most Valuable Not Ready For Primetime Players

(1st) Chevy Chase, for his frequently used and tweaked not so good impression of then President Ford, such as in the “Oval Office” cold open; for his savvy Land Shark in the “Jaws III” sketch; for his ability to keep a straight face during the hard of hearing interpretation during Weekend Update; and for his surprising ability to scat as a bee, never mind the bumbling Bell-Hop (which was really the not so good impression of President Ford all over again, if you think about it).

(2nd) John Belushi, for his rockin’ Beethoven and for his put-upon Jaws III contribution, as well as for surviving the sketch as the only non-eaten actor.

(3rd) Gilda Radner and Laraine Newman (tie), for being great backup singers, land shark victims, and bee scatters as well as truly appalling female construction workers.

40 Years of Saturday Night Live! – Season One, Episode Five (Robert Klein)

Host: Robert Klein

Musical Guests: ABBA and Loudon Wainwright III

Cast: Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Jane Curtin, Garrett Morris, Laraine Newman, Gilda Radner – i.e. the “Not Ready For Primetime Players”

Highlights:

Robert Klein hosted this episode.  He is one of those character actors that have appeared in many film and TV projects over the years, so you know his face but can’t place how you know him.  I think I know him the best from his appearances on SNL, but I have in my mind that I’ve seen him as grumpy men more often than not.

The “Tough Director” sketch.  In this sketch, Klein plays opposite Gilda Radner as a new actress in a Sam Peckinpah movie.  John Belushi plays the storied director, who is known for being, well, tough.  As poor Gilda’s woebegone actress attempts to deliver her lines, the director frequently cuts her off and delivers his brand of negative reinforcement to elicit a better performance by slapping her, kicking her, dragging her around by her hair, and so on.  Gilda’s gift for physical comedy really shines in this sketch.

Chevy Chase’s Weekend Update followed the same pattern as the previous episode, with Dan Aykroyd providing a guest editorial reply, and Chevy mocking him from behind.  Sadly, it is less funny the second time.

ABBA, the famous Swedish disco pop act, sang “S.O.S.” and “Waterloo” in this episode, though they were staged aboard the Titanic, with Klein as its captain.  The boat sank during Waterloo.  I’m with the boat.

Loudon Wainwright III, a folk singer who might better be known to Generations X, Y, and the Millennials as Rufus Wainwright’s dad, sang his brand of manically comedic folk rock in the form of “Bicentennial Uncertainty” and “Unrequited to the Nth Degree.”

The “Exterminators” sketch.  In this sketch, John Belushi and Klein play cockroach exterminators, but their demeanor is something more out of Apocalypse Now (which had not yet been released, mind you) than standard bug zapper types, to the extent that such a thing exists. Klein wants to save the cockroaches, while John’s character aims to destroy all cockroaches in the name of his brother, who missed stepping on one and landed his foot in a live electrical wire, electrocuting himself to death.  The premise could have potentially failed, but these two guys nailed it.

The “Fireman” sketch.  While not uproariously funny, this involved Gilda Radner talking about being one of the guys.  So, imagine the comedy.

Jim Henson’s Muppets in “The Land of Gorch” sketch.  This episode’s topic explored acupuncture in Muppets.  The punchline was the funniest part.

The “Looks at Books” sketch.  In this sketch, interviewer Jane Curtin talks with Gilda Radner as “authoress” Emily, who has written a series of children’s books about “Tiny” things.  The funniest part of this sketch is that Gilda’s character frequently drifts off, as she lists synonyms for “tiny,” ad nauseum.  It’s also funny that her tiny characters (spoilers) do not live happily ever after.

Robert Klein performed a funny blues riff/homage called “I Can’t Stop My Leg.”  It’s better to see than for me to describe it.

There is “No Film by Albert Brooks.”  Sorry, Albert Brooks, but I was quite relieved at that announcement.

Less Successful Moments

The “Pong” bit.  While the mysterious offstage voices, presumably college students with time and brain cells to burn, played Pong better in this episode, the discussion about failing a history exam was not funny.  Ever.

Most Valuable Not Ready For Primetime Players

(1st) Gilda Radner, for her roles in the “Tough Director” sketch, the “Fireman” sketch, and the “Looks at Books” sketch. She was definitely the funniest of the episode.

(2nd) John Belushi, for his roles in the “Tough Director” sketch and the “Exterminators” sketch.

(3rd) Laraine Newman, for her hilarious voices used in the “Beauty Pageant” cold open, where she plays a not-bright-sounding model who has just won a beauty pageant but refuses to accept the crown because “no one wears these kinds of things anymore,” and in the “Tough Director” sketch, where she plays the director’s assistant but puts on quite an air for a giggle-worthy twenty seconds.

40 Years of Saturday Night Live! – Season One, Episode Four (Candice Bergen)

Host: Candice Bergen

Musical Guest: Esther Phillips

Cast: Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Jane Curtin, Garrett Morris, Laraine Newman, Gilda Radner – i.e. the “Not Ready For Primetime Players”

Highlights:

This episode followed the same basic SNL format that’s been used for 40 years.  Candice Bergen identifies, rightly, that she is the first female host of the show.  She is a very game hostess in terms of her participation in the sketches, but she is more of an actress than an outright comedienne in her own right.

The “Jaws II” sketch.  In this sketch, “Land Shark,” played by Chevy Chase, makes his debut, terrorizing single women everywhere in the comfort of their own homes, all of which look the same (budget).  Just beware that, should one choose to defend oneself against Land Shark, one is not actually clobbering the head of an actual Jehovah’s Witness.

Andy Kaufman’s “Foreign Man” debuts on Saturday Night, a character that would later form the basis for his character on the TV show “Taxi.”  He is both awkward and endearing.

Chevy Chase’s Weekend Update continued its jabs aimed at President Ford, included another “hard of hearing” interpretation by Garrett Morris, and this time featured the first ever Update guest spot, an editorial by “Congresswoman” Jane Curtin, who was repeatedly mocked from behind by otherwise threatened Update anchor Chevy.

Esther Phillips performed “What a Difference a Day Makes” and “I Can Stand a Little Rain.”  One of the guitarists backing her looked like Dustin Hoffman…

Jim Henson’s Muppets in “The Land of Gorch” sketch.  This episode’s topic was the endangered species the “Glicks” and preservation of same.

The “Black Perspective” sketch.  Despite the fact that this was a highly non-PC sketch – 1975 was such a different time – the laugh here is that Jane Curtin, a (White) yuppie from Manhattan, has penned a novel delving into the Black experience, which earns much respect from her “brothers and sisters,” like host Garrett Morris.  The punchline is all in the bio picture on her alleged novel “Shadows.”

This episode was the first in which the entire cast joined the host(ess) on stage to wish her goodnight.  They presented Bergen with roses.

Less Successful Moments

The “Pong” bit.  Not only were the offstage voices terrible players (come ON), but focus on the discussion of what was apparently a secret romance or rendezvous or something some guy didn’t want to share with his parents was distracted by the simply horrible execution of a Pong game.  I realize it was brand new stuff back then, but come ON.

There were actually two terms used in this episode that are considered derogatory ethnic and/or racial terms used today.  One was used in the “Irk the Turk” sketch, which was moderately entertaining and skewered behavior of press officials as they attempt to get a story, but featured Bergen calling the character played by John Belushi a term that is offensive to Middle Eastern peoples.  Later on, the second was used in the “Black Perspective” sketch, which was more funny but already running precarious risks in its premise alone.  It’s interesting to see how mores have changed in forty years, eh?

Most Valuable Not Ready For Primetime Players

(1st) Garrett Morris, for his role in the subversively funny “CIA Department of Records” sketch; his sacrifice as the beleaguered Jehovah’s Witness in the “Jaws II” sketch; his always hilarious yet not politically correct hard of hearing impression; and his charm as the “Black Perspective” sketch host.  Tim Meadows owes him quite a bit, I think.

(2nd) Jane Curtin, for her best foot forward editorial during Weekend Update, her laid back victim approach during the “Jaws II” sketch, and her awkward appearance in the “Black Perspective” sketch.

(3rd) Dan Aykroyd, for his role as the tricky bureaucrat in the “CIA Department of Records” sketch and for his devoted kiwi hunter portrayal in the “Midnight Probe” sketch, which reminded this viewer greatly of his character in the film “The Great Outdoors.”  It should be noted that while neither of these sketches were, on the whole, highlights of the episode, they were modestly funny.  The CIA sketch poked fun at Big Brother’s underhanded methods without being laugh out loud funny, while the “Midnight Probe” sketch stuck with the absurdist humor that has persisted throughout the show’s history.  Aykroyd was funnier than his co-hunter, John Belushi, in this sketch.

40 Years of Saturday Night Live! – Season One, Episode Three (Rob Reiner)

Host: Rob Reiner

Musical Guest: Break-dancing Troupe The Lockers

Cast: Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Jane Curtin, Garrett Morris, Laraine Newman, Gilda Radner, Michael O’Donoghue – i.e. the “Not Ready For Primetime Players”

Highlights:

In a swing from episode two, this episode features almost entirely comedy – but with a twist.

Rob Reiner hosts.  At the time, he was the popular character nicknamed “Meathead” on “All in the Family,” which was the most popular television program of the time.  Also, he was married to Laverne herself, none other than Penny Marshall, who was a featured guest on this episode.  Ironically, these two divorced in the early eighties and went on to become successful directors.

The “Fashion Don’ts” sketch.  This featured members of the cast parading on a runway with horrendous fashion faux pas, including Gilda Radner wearing her underwear on the outside of her outfit, with Penny Marshall commenting on what each “model” was wearing, and Rob Reiner explaining, hilariously, why certain aspects of each model’s wardrobe was all sorts of wrong.

The “Dangerous But Inept” sketch.  In this sketch, Jane Curtin plays a character type she often played, a hard hitting interviewer about town.  She interviews Laraine Newman playing Squeaky Fromme, a Charles Manson follower who, quite unsuccessfully, attempted to assassinate then President Ford, and, in this sketch, can’t seem to fire a shot from her pistol while she hurls obscenities at the otherwise oblivious Jane.

Chevy Chase’s Weekend Update continued its jabs aimed at President Ford but also featured the first ever “hard of hearing” interpretation by Garrett Morris.  It was never politically correct but was always funny.

In lieu of an actual musical guest, John Belushi premiered his spot-on Joe Cocker impression, as he sang “With a Little Help From My Friends” with a full backup band and singers.  RIP to both.

The “Droolers Anti-Defamation League” sketch.  This was the funniest sketch of the episode.  Not only was it written well, but Chevy Chase, the spokesperson for the league who drools throughout the entire sketch, also provided the first ever character break.  So, Jimmy Fallon and Horatio Sanz shouldn’t feel so bad.

Jim Henson’s Muppets in “The Land of Gorch” sketch, which included a Muppet doing drugs and being a “crater head!”  I’m telling ya, I’ve lost my innocence watching these sketches.

Guest performances on this episode included another appearance of Andy Kaufman, though in this viewer’s opinion, it was not as funny, and comedy duo Denny Dillon and Mark Hampton, playing a pair of nuns doing a variety show (within a variety show! So meta).  In addition, The Lockers, an apparent precursor to later performance pieces like “Stomp,” did their highly physical thing; I kept wondering if they were wearing pads and cushions on their bodies, they hit the floor in so many seemingly painful places.

So, the Bees were back again.  This time, Host Reiner complains about not wanting to be around the Bees, since they “stunk up the joint” on the last two episodes.  This time, John Belushi, as lead bee, gives a giggle-worthy, impassioned plea from the bees’ perspective.

Less Successful Moments

The fake commercial “Felina Cat Food.”  The actors simply did not deliver that one well, and it was just gross.

The “Square Dance” sketch.  I get what it was going for…but it didn’t strike me as funny in a “ha ha” sort of way.

The Albert Brooks film.  It’s like he was trying too hard.  This viewer had to fight to stay focused on it.  And it was so long.

Most Valuable Not Ready For Primetime Players

(1st) Chevy Chase, for his role in the Droolers Anti-Defamation League sketch, the “Wheelchair” sketch (the cold open, which was funny but not in a highlight sort of way), and his continued hilarious Weekend Updates.

(2nd) John Belushi, for his Joe Cocker impression and his besot bee.

(3rd) Laraine Newman, for her Squeaky Fromme characterization in addition to her on-the-spot coverage of the continually beleaguered Blaine Hotel during Weekend Update.

Honorable mention: Garrett Morris, for his Hard of Hearing interpretation, one of his most famous ongoing bits from the show.

40 Years of Saturday Night Live! – Season One, Episode Two (Paul Simon)

Host and Musical Guest: Paul Simon

Featured Musical Guests: Art Garfunkel, Randy Newman, Phoebe Snow

Cast: Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Jane Curtin, Garrett Morris, Laraine Newman, Gilda Radner, Neil Levy – i.e. the “Not Ready For Primetime Players”

Highlights:

This second episode was virtually an all music extravaganza, with Paul Simon acting as emcee.  And singer.  And featured sketch artist.  The featured musical guests were all “invitees” of Simon’s.

Simon started the show by singing “Still Crazy After All These Years,” the same song he sang to close out the 40th anniversary show, for all of you young’uns keeping track.

Simon AND Garfunkel.  The long contentious duo made one of their storied reunions on this very early SNL episode.  They sang “The Boxer,” “Scarborough Fair,” and “My Little Town.”

The Bees, in the form of the whole cast dressed like the bees from the hospital sketch of the previous week, reappeared, ready to go on, until Simon told them that the “bee sketch was cut because it didn’t go over well last week.”  So, they KNEW.

Chevy Chase’s Weekend Update relied on a series of jabs aimed at then President Ford, for the second week in a row.  Sensing a theme?

Activist Jerry Rubin actually appeared in a fake commercial for “The Berkeley Collection,” a wallpaper series featuring protest-related graffiti, in both militant and peaceful styles.  Funny and relevant!

Jim Henson’s Muppets in “The Land of Gorch” sketch, which included a Muppet sacrifice!

Simon appeared in a pre-recorded segment, in which he played one-on-one basketball against an actual NBA player, Connie “The Hawk” Hawkins, who was sixteen inches taller than Simon.  Sportscaster Marv Albert interviewed each.  Now, in the segment, Simon beat Hawkins quite handily, the implication being that his shortness gave him an advantage.  I wonder if the sketch was staged… though all of Simon’s shots were tracked by camera…but did Hawkins purposely miss?

A young Randy Newman sang “Sail Away,” though Simon sang his song “Marie” prior to his performance.  Phoebe Snow sang “No Regrets” and “Gone at Last” with Simon. Garfunkel sang “I Only Have Eyes For You” solo. Simon also sang “Loves Me Like a Rock” and “American Tune.”

Less Successful Moments

There really weren’t any.  This was a much tighter show all around.  Even the Albert Brooks film was occasionally funny, if not altogether a highlight (it’s odd that he’s the voice of Marlin in “Finding Nemo”).

Most Valuable Not Ready For Primetime Players

All of them, since none of them got to do much for the episode.