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”
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.”
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.