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.

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One comment

  1. kyliekeelee · February 23, 2015

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