Archive for September, 2010


by Brendan Wahl

(Season 2, Episode 17)

While the main goal of Saturday Night Live has usually been to get someone to host who has some movie, show, special, or album to promote there have been a number of notable exceptions. Most of these exceptions are the obscurest of hosts the show has ever featured. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome… Jack Burns.

Just who in the hell is Jack Burns, you ask? Well, Mr. Burns was comedy partners with George Carlin for a couple of years in the late fifties/early sixties before teaming with Avery Schreiber when they met each other in Second City, a huge comedy breeding ground for tons and tons of current SNL players as well as decorated alumni. Burns also had a very unpopular eleven-episode stretch on The Andy Griffith Show as Don Knotts’ replacement essentially. He also acted as the head writer for the first season of The Muppet Show, which I guess he would’ve been doing at the time but you can hardly equate the reason for him hosting Saturday Night Live to being a writer on a show about muppets that was hardly popular yet. While Burns did some stuff in the past, he was hardly relevant by this point.

Joining Burns is Santana, a talented band who most famously did the tune, “Black Magic Woman.” For years I thought Santana was a singer’s name who merely did all his own guitar work but thanks to the magic of the internet and learning, I discovered that it was actually a band that changed its members more than I change my underwear. Okay, more than I change my status on facebook. Okay, more than I… oh, forget it.

On with the show!

The Show:

1. Belushi’s Demands (3:38)

After having Lorne convince the brass to let Belushi open the show on his own, John puts the network down for treating him like a troublemaker and says that now a secret trust has developed. That is quickly turned on its head though as Bluto declines to say the opening line until he’s good and ready, knowing full well that the show can not start until he does. John makes some demands and takes the show hostage, so to speak, which is made even funnier due to Belushi’s natural charm and fantastic comic timing. A

2. Monologue (3:13)

Burns does some stand-up material after introducing himself as coming from “the home of retired comedy teams.” Ol’ Jackie touches on the practice of confession for Catholics, the candor of football coaches and marine corps instructors, but they all involve “touching yourself.” Jack eventually breaks down and does it, but of course it’s nothing like anyone expected. This was about as square as a host can be. C

3. The Farbers Meet The Coneheads (7:04)

This would begin a long tradition of joining recurring characters up. Because if one character/group of characters is/are funny, joining them up will be double-funny right?! Anyway, in this bit, the Farbers (making their first proper sketch appearance) invite their new neighbours, the Coneheads (Aykroyd, Curtin, & Newman) over for some dinner. The family from France are up to their usual hijinx while the overly conservative Farbers try to keep up with their habits. Larry (Belushi) tries to keep up with the Coneheads in a funny overlaying joke while Bobbi (Radner) scolds him. B+

4. Santana perform “Black Magic Woman” (4:02)

Sure enough, the hit that made them famous is played here and done with gusto. It’s quite an entertaining performance from a band that is (arguably) not known for too many other hits. B+

5. Marine Wedding (2:49)

A couple (Aykroyd & Curtin) is wed by a straight-laced marine preacher (Burns), who puts both parties through a strenuous workout on their way to eternal happiness with one another. This is a perfect vehicle for Burns, who is very convincing in his role, but that’s not to knock Aykroyd and Curtin’s wonderful performances as well. Best sketch of the night. A

6. A Town Without Pity (4:18)

Indira Gandhi (Newman) and her young one (Belushi) must vacate the premises after losing the election but not before bursting into a musical number. What seems like a quick one-note bit gets extended even longer when Eliot Ness (Aykroyd) arrives on the scene and makes sure that the new leader’s (Morris) regime gets off to a smooth start. They even do the cow-dropping gag. The audience seemed to like it, but to me this sketch just fell completely off the rails. C-

7. Weekend Update with Jane Curtin (Part I) (Total: 5:23)

After having a very one-sided discussion with a cardboard cut-out of Harry Reisener, Jane talks of some amazing David Frost/Richard Nixon revelations that were… not caught on film. After another zinger involving Roman Polanski and a remake of Little Women, Jane does an amusing piece about Ernest Borgnine and Karl Malden doing a TV show together represented by a picture of two bulldogs.

8. Leech-Tab 100 (1:29)

It’s the breakthrough in curing headaches! Yes, putting a leech on one’s face will instantly cure your pains. It looks like they used real leeches on Bill Murray’s face and Danny does a different kind of spokesman — a kindly old man. Despite its down-home appeal, it feels a little lacking. C+

9. Weekend Update (Part II)

Jane announces the Oscar winners early on after admitting that one of the writers stole the ballots from Price Waterhouse. She wasn’t very accurate, but I wonder what would have happened had they all been correct. No guests this week so we get a short, but decent edition of Update. B

10. The Story Of The Squatters (5:06)

In the early 1800s, the Squatters (literally) search for a home while traveling over land that is inhabited by others. After finding a place to rest, the Squatters (Aykroyd, Belushi, Curtin, Murray, & Newman) are soon joined by an Indian (Radner) and a runaway slave (Morris). But just before they could quite settle down, a colonel (Burns) arrives on the scene to take their land for railroad property. There’s a lot of puns made here involving the word ‘squat’ and it’s pretty flavourless, but there are very brief moments of humour. C

11. Executive Suicide (5:05)

After coming into the office for a routine note-taking, Sherry (Newman) finds herself recording the suicide note for her boss (Burns) but of course she is so dense that she doesn’t realize it. The real kicker to the sketch though is when Burns screws up the jump and Newman removes her wig, complaining about the host’s professionalism. Soon after, all the other castmembers come in one-by-one for what was supposed to be a heavily-detailed ensemble sketch but of course Jack just stands there dumbfounded, pissing off the cast. Pretty funny piece. B+

12. Gary Weis Film: Jack is Rocky (2:44)

Directly after the preceding sketch, Jack introduces a film highlighting his strenuous workout in getting ready for the show. After a particularly rough-looking first day, Jack does the yolk-eating, running, meat-punching (although it is a fairly small piece in comparison to the one Sly worked with), and the traditional pose at the end of course. It was a little pointless like most of Weis’ films, but watchable. B-

13. Ask Big Daddy (2:54)

Continuing in the tradition of Walter Cronkite (Murray) interviewing politicians, this time his subject is General Idi Amin (Morris). Of course, Cronkite is not a willing subject and is tied up while Amin gives ridiculous excuses as to why the callers’ relatives have been killed or have disappeared. A very quick bit, but it was only okay. C+

14. Home Movie: Mirage (1:49)

A man walks endlessly in the desert and eventually pants and begs for some liquid refreshment, which he finally sees as a soda machine. The twist at the end is fairly amusing. B

15. Pantygrams (3:19)

Aykroyd’s Ricardo Montalban impression is in fine form here but it is wasted with this pointless commercial that advertises a telegram service using women’s underwear. The only genuine funny moment here is Bill Murray getting a message from his mother and creepily admiring it. Otherwise, this is yet another one-joke sketch whose thin premise gets stretched out too long. C

16. Santana perform “Europa” (4:07)

A purely instrumental number this time, as Santana makes creepy orgasm faces while playing the guitar (like usual), but he deserves those moments of ecstacy as he delivers another entertaining number. B

17. Drunk Comedy Writer (5:23)

As Jane and Gilda (playing themselves) sit at a table in a quiet little spot, they are interrupted by long-time comedy writer Gags Beasley (Burns), who sloppily claims that he is off the booze and has been for 20 years. There is plenty to laugh at here as Gags first mistakes the girls for being castmembers on Laugh-In, questions if he urinated in his pants on several occasions, and relives his glory days of knowing the very essence of comedic structure. Burns is funny as well in this very well-written sketch. B+

Jack receives some flowers from the cast and wishes everyone aa goodnight while the cast joins him on-stage.

This episode can be best summed up with one word: uneven. It’s very hard to grade an uneven episode like this because of one big reason. The stuff that didn’t work was pretty bad while the good material was good to great. Jack put forth a modest effort and was an alright host for the most part. Granted, his monologue was bad but then again, how often is the monologue a home-run for the show unless you’re a Steve Martin or Alec Baldwin for example. While his roles were pretty much the same throughout the show (he was basically playing himself or military personnel), his performance as Gags Beasley was pretty fun and made for an entertaining bit.

Santana was a good musical guest and held up their end of the bargain quite well. While their first number, “Black Magic Woman,” is one of my absolute favourites, “Europa” was also a fun romp and the instrumentals were quite good of course. Santana is an acquired taste though of course, so I understand if it wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

Overall, this show was not nearly as bad as disasters like Gordon/Berry or the Mardi Gras special, but it was fairly uneven and as such, it comes as no surprise that Jack Burns was never heard from on SNL ever again. The cast held up alright although after Bill Murray’s coming out party last week, he doesn’t seem too prominent on tonight’s episode, appearing in a number of sketches but barely having any real funny parts, despite another good impression of Walter Cronkite and a funny bit in the lame Pantygrams sketch.

Notes:

Hey folks, it used to be called simply Saturday Night, but now this is the first episode of the show that is officially known as Saturday Night Live! I bet you no one would be able to guess the host of the first officially-named Saturday Night Live episode in a trivia question though.

John and Gilda cracking up at the end of that Farbers/Coneheads sketch was pretty cute.

That must have REALLY hurt to squat like that for an entire sketch. Kudos. The piece was still pretty lame though.

I’m surprised some of these bits made it past dress, particularly the Squatters, Town Without A Pity, and Pantygrams. I wonder what was cut.

Anyone else find it a little off-putting that Bill Murray’s big moment was last week yet he felt awfully underused on this week’s show?

Host Rating: B

Musical Guest Rating: B+

Show Rating: C+/B-

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by Brendan Wahl

(Season 36, Episode 1)

SNL has had quite a summer. The first thing we discovered is that long-time castmember (since 2002), Will Forte, announced that he was leaving the show to care for his ailing sister in Los Angeles, five upcoming hosts were announced (Amy, Bryan Cranston, Jane Lynch, Emma Stone, and Jon Hamm), Jenny Slate was fired or quit (it was never confirmed either way, but it looks like the former), and finally… four new featured players were hired. Vanessa Bayer (a comedienne from Improv Olympic in Chi-Town) Paul Brittain (another iO Chicago player), Taran Killam (a former MADtv castmember for one season), and Jay Pharaoh (a very young stand-up comedian from Virginia) join the fairly large cast this season.

As mentioned by several people, this year is looking like its going to be a transitional year with several repertory players being cut next season (methinks it will be Fred and Kenan). However, that is in the future and for now, we look to this week’s show. Season premieres in general for the program can be iffy at best and drab at worst with a few notable exceptions (namely Damon/Springsteen and Cook/Killers come to mind). For the last few years, they haven’t always been the strongest choice (athletes, no-charisma divas) so that’s why when I heard that Poehler was set to be the first host of the season, I was definitely down for this.

Joining Poehler is Katy Perry, the gorgeous pop singer who apparently has been decidedly lukewarm when it comes to live performances. The songstress has been the source of a bit of controversy lately as her recent performance on Sesame Street with Elmo was pulled because of the very revealing clothing she wore on the program. Of course, this “controversy” is a rather silly situation and the hopes are that Katy will make reference to it in some way, shape or form.

Time to rumble!

The Show:

1. RNC Headquarters (5:43)

Republican candidate Christine O’Donnell (Wiig) meets with her advisors (Hader & Sudeikis) in the Delaware Senate campaign to discuss some of her recent controversial admissions like her dabbling in witchcraft when she was young and her anti-masturbation campaign. When O’Donnell admits that she initially confused masturbation with something else, her stance completely changes and the conversation turns lurid. Not to mention her history of running illegal dog-fights and her history of committing arson. This sketch works due to Kristen’s knack for comic timing and her chemistry with Hader and Suds. This was a great way to start the season with a fun target and some enjoyable writing. A-

2. Monologue (5:08)

Elated to be back, Amy promises to be a diva host and after announcing the arrival of the four new featured players, Poehler tells of her pre-show nightmare to the audience. The nightmare is mostly just an excuse to load up on cameos from the likes of Rachel Dratch, Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey, and Justin Timberlake, but it was still a hilariously rapid-fire section of the monologue with everyone delivering on the laughs, particularly Nasim in Poehler’s old Caitlin get-up, Wiig explaining a complicated dance number very quickly, and Fallon and Fey retaking their spot at the Update desk. A

3. Bronx Beat (5:51)

Well, I guess this was inevitable. This talk-show bit has never been a favourite of mine mostly due to its repetitive nature despite the strong attempts by Poehler and Rudolph (another cameo!) on every occasion. I would imagine that Emily Spivey came back to write this sketch because it follows the same typical formula. This time, Betty & Jodi discuss the recent outbreak of bedbugs and the latter talks about her renewal of wedding vows with her “stupid husband.” Their guest is a librarian with an Elmo shirt (Katy in a cute reference to the Sesame Street incident), whose boobs are discussed for a majority of the sketch. That was probably the downside although there were some good lines here and there like Betty saying that she would go to France except she “can’t speak the language and [she] hates the people.” C+

4. Bosley Hair Restoration (1:30)

The first real gross-out piece of the show is all about fixing your bald spots by removing some hair from “down under” and placing your short ‘n’ curlies where your hair should be. The pube wigs are pretty funny and Suds works well as the spokesman. B+

5. Maternity Matters (4:13)

I could tell from the opening that this was another sketch featuring Roger Brush (Armisen), the producer of several women’s issues shows, who is forced to act as host when the regular female host is absent. Of course, his answers are sexist and he is clearly in desperate need of some PR. Equating Poehler’s self-confidence problems with the stress involved in missing his water bill payment is the highlight. I read somewhere that this character is supposedly based on someone and it really wouldn’t surprise me if it was because Fred acts like a typical ball-busting producer who needs to be behind the camera. B+

6. The Mosque at Ground Zero (1:17)

What starts off as a description of the perfect gay wedding day (between Poehler and Bayer) turns into a crazy rapid-fire commercial for the new mosque at Ground Zero. It doesn’t end there though. Every Republican irrational fear of the Mosque is elevated tenfold here as they advertise pregnancy termination and innocent add-ons like an espresso bar. Classic. A+

7. Katy Perry sings “California Girls” (3:45)

God, she is absolutely gorgeous. Just thought I should let that out right now. Although I and several others were warned of her tendency to dog it during live performances, I found her to be quite apt and a pleasant little distraction to look at and admire. At least she didn’t auto-tune her whole performance either. B

8. Weekend Update with Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler (15:17)

At first it seems like Seth is going solo, but after an early-on edition of “Really?!?”, Amy joins in and reports on the rest of the news with Mr. Meyers. Like all other editions of “Really?!?”, this one is a lot of fun like when Seth mentions the nonsense over the troops being supposedly “not at war with Iraq anymore” and the silly controversy over homosexuals in the military. There’s plenty of good material from both newscasters this week like Seth’s war with Blockbuster, Kim Jong Not Ill being the leading cadidate to take over North Korea, and my favourite: buying your subway tickets on a iPhone app. Will Smith (new kid Jay Pharaoh with an awesome impression) stops by to yell and shill for his son, Jayden, who he’s promptly whored out to movies like The Karate Kid. There’s also a funny 911 call re-enactment where Poehler admits to doing two of the voices afterwards in an amusing bit (“The third voice was Gene Hackman,” Seth ad-libs). Finally, Gov. David Paterson (Armisen) wheels in for some comments on the two new candidates for his replacements. The usual schtick occurs, but he is interrupted by the real deal (yes, Gov. Paterson himself) and the two engage in some amusing banter, which is particularly impressive for a blind governor who can’t see cue cards. The best line: “You’re still sporting the beard? I shaved that off a year ago. Are you blind?!” It was nice to see Paterson has a sense of humour, but the two Patersons stepping in front of the camera aimlessly was the icing on the cake. They really brought the house down. A+

9. The Lean Years (3:33)

Continuing with the Showtime tradition of “women with secrets,” Amy Poehler stars in a series called The Lean Years as her Amber character with one leg. The portion of the sketch that features Amy talking about the show in a very serious, philosophical tone is the best part of the sketch. Never thought I’d see an impression of Stanley Tucci on this show though. B-

10. Digital Short: Theme from ‘Boogerman’ (2:09)

Katy Perry performs the critically-acclaimed original song from the aforementioned film at some type of awards show while clips of the movie play on the screen in the background. Based on the clips, there is no way of figuring out the convoluted plot of the film, which only adds to this digital short’s charm. The dancing is amusing as well as the ending. A-

11. Chez Henri (3:38)

A woman (Wiig) is constantly one-upped by her friend, Trish (Poehler), in front of their mutual friends (Elliott & Bayer) with her tiny hats. It continues to escalate to ridiculous levels with Bill Hader effectively playing an effeminate passer-by who keeps score. At first, I really didn’t like this sketch but upon second viewing, I’ll admit that it’s got that ‘so ridiculous, it’s funny’ vibe to it and it doesn’t hurt that the reveals of the restaurant are hilarious as well. B+

12. Katy Perry sings “Teenage Dream” (4:12)

Another tune from Perry and a very revealing skirt. Good thing Russell Brand wasn’t around… B

13. Actor II Actor (1:07)

Andy Samberg sits down for a James Lipton-style interview with Justin Timberlake but it turns out to be a very quick one-joke sketch as Andy just wants to know why Justin isn’t singing anymore. Despite the brief length of this sketch, it still turns out to be pretty funny just based on the chemistry between the two. B+

14. The Even More Expendables (2:35)

Mocking the fact that The Expendables really only had about two stars in it, the sequels and spin-offs are announced with people like Steven Seagal (Hader), Chris Tucker (Pharaoh), and Brigitte Nielsen (Samberg). It gets even more obscure than that though as Brooke Hogan (Elliott), Kim Jong Il (Poehler), Hooch (of Turner & Hooch fame), and Steven Slater (Killam) of Jet Blue infamy are all slated to appear. Not to mention the return of Sudeikis’ Rod Blagojevich impression. Just an excuse for the cast and host to do their favourite impressions, but hell, I had fun watching it unfold. B+

Amy has about a bajillion people to thank due to all the cameos and then gets a big hug from Maya Rudolph as the cast and guests bid a goodnight to one and all. Yep, Saturday Night Live is back, folks.

So how was this premiere? Better than last year’s and a LOT better than the one two years prior. Amy was an energetic host as one would expect and despite being a former castmember, she didn’t try to dominate the broadcast like some have done (coughMollyShannoncough). She definitely had some great support though from a re-energized cast and a number of cameos from some willing participants.

The cast clearly had a lot of fun and enjoyed having one of their own back with them for their first week back. Jay Pharaoh shined the most out of the newbies and did a couple of fun impressions (Will Smith and Chris Tucker), while also having a small part in the digital short. Taran Killam was pretty funny in his brief bit in the ten-to-one sketch, but Bayer and Brittain were barely visible during their first episode. This is nothing to worry about, people, this is their very first episode.

What else to say? Fun start to what I am hoping is going to be a hell of a season!

Notes:

Has there ever been a really bad performance by a former castmember-turned host besides a few awkward moments with Chevy? Even David Spade was fun.

I think it’s only a matter of time before Fallon hosts…

Katy Perry addressing her Sesame Street incident with that sly little jab was funny because she wasn’t overt about the joke.

I’m sold on Pharaoh so far. Just waiting for the other three newbies to do something memorable now.

I gotta admit I giggled like a schoolgirl at all the cameos in the opening monologue.

It’s about time Bobby Moynihan got promoted.

Tell me: What is YOUR favourite season premiere?! Also, who is your favourite former castmember-turned-host?

Host Rating: B+

Musical Guest Rating: B

Show Rating: B+

SNL review up later!

Posted: September 26, 2010 by Brendan Wahl in Uncategorized

Hey, I will post my review of the 36th season premiere in a while just as soon as I get my hands on a copy of the episode so I can look through it again.


by Brendan Wahl

(Season 2, Episode 16)

Hollywood has had its fair of crack addicts, cokeheads, heroin junkies, and all other sorts of drug-addled people, but never have they had anyone as noble as the alcoholic. Oh yes, there have been some great alcoholics in the history of Hollywood. From current ones like Lily Allen and Colin Farrell to previous offenders like Robin Williams, Peter O’Toole, and many, many others. One you probably don’t remember or are too young to have even heard of is Broderick Crawford.

The star of a black-and-white serial from the 1950s called “Highway Patrol,” Broderick was known to take a few swigs of liquid that purports to “put hair on your chest” from time to time. Let’s not forget that at this point in time, Broderick was well into his sixties and was still an unreliable drunk. I remember back to the last episode I covered with an unreliable drunk helming an episode (the forgettable Kris Kristofferson (7/31/76) episode) and it also reminds me that his singing definitely saved his own performance rating that night.

Speaking of singing, joining Broderick are two sets of musical guests. First up are the Meters, who were cut from the Mardi Gras episode earlier this season. The second is the RCO All-Stars, which consist of a pretty awesome lineup of talent. Dr. John, Levon Helm, and Paul Butterfield make up this great trio and if Broderick bombs like Kris almost did, it looks like the singing will have to save this episode as well.

Onward!

The Show:

1. “Goodbye Saccharine” (5:22)

Hot off a then-announcement that the FDA put a ban on saccharine because of its cancer-causing ingredients, Rhonda Weiss (Radner) and the Rhondettes (Curtin, Newman, and Linda Ronstadt (!)) sing a tribute to their beloved dietary delight. The banter between Gilda and Jane is funny and it reminds one of the Curtin/Litella back-and-forth, especially when Radner calls her a bitch. Much like last week, this is another fully-concocted hilarious opening. A

2. Monologue (2:18)

Broderick strolls out to sit in a big comfy chair and speaks of his experience working as an actor in an old NBC radio serial. The story, while not gut-bustingly hilarious, is amusing and it’s well-told by our rotund host. The last line in the monologue is the real kicker though. Broderick makes reference to himself sitting back and enjoying the show, so I don’t think we’ll see too much of him tonight. B

3. Samurai Hitman (6:03)

The don (Aykroyd) of a mob syndicate has his assistants (Morris & Murray) come up with a plan to rid New York of his two opposing Dons: Kirshner and Cornelius. Of course, it’s the lovable ol’ Futaba (Belushi) himself. This sketch thankfully switches up the samurai formula a bit more than usual and sports quite a few highlights like the Samurai becoming repulsed at the idea of having to kiss his victims first, his whole demonstration of how he’ll perform the hit, and the joke of how Cornelius and Kirshner are mob heads. B+

4. Gary Weis Film: Broderick in New York (4:01)

The name that usually haunts my dreams. Whereas Gary’s work is intermittently entertaining and mostly smug and annoying, this week’s film is a pleasant surprise. Broderick walks around New York, visiting his old hang-outs and such while meeting up with some local fans and old friends. It’s a heartfelt tribute to old memories and to the former state of the then-decrepid New York City. A-

5. Mel’s Hide Heaven (:48)

Our old pal from the first season, Mel (Aykroyd) advertises his new leather shop where you stun and kill your own cow and make into the perfect leather vest. Danny’s delivery kills here. B+

6. The RCO All-Stars sing “Sing Sing Sing” (3:33)

All I could think during this whole song was ‘man, whoever is the lead singer for this group has got one hell of a cool, hipster voice.’ Anyone know which of the three was actually performing the vocals? Either way, this was a fantastic performance. A

7. New Kid (3:10)

This is a classic. Bill Murray does a straight testimonial from the same set as “Samurai Hitman” and tells everyone that he doesn’t think he’s making it on the show. With that, he alludes to his great need for financial assets due to his large family and his mother’s dependence on him for support. It’s a great self-deprecating piece by the up-and-comer and this really cements Murray’s place as a worthwhile castmember who would come up with terrific sketches and pieces very, very shortly. A+

8. Lucy’s New Job (4:31)

It’s the first day at the job for Lucy (Radner), but this time the assembly line consists of a number of nuclear warheads. As her boss (Aykroyd) explains the whip cream/cherry procedure, Gilda does her pitch-perfect Lucy impression. What follows is Lucy trying to pile the nuclear warheads on a ledge and having the usual hijinx occur, culminating with a great, ridiculous ending. Another terrific, classic sketch. A

9. Weekend Update with Jane Curtin (Part I) (Total: 8:20)

Starting off the news, Jane announces the kinky apparel she is wearing underneath her suit and then since she has already shown her bra, moves on to her panties. Garrett Morris reports on a Black Governor’s Conference but of course, no one has shown up (for the third year in a row). After Garrett discovers that there’s no black governors in the US, he gets angry and tells her that this isn’t cool. Jane’s little crack after that segment was amusing too. Following a deliciously crude Roman Polanski joke (he’s opening a babysitting service), she alludes to Idi Amin joining the Harlem Globetrotters.

10. Puppy Uppers & Doggie Downers (1:29)

Repeat from 11/13/76. B+

11. Weekend Update with Jane Curtin (Part II)

Jane does an amusing bit from “that great new writer,” but it is only the appetizer for John Belushi’s classic escalating rage-fueled rant on the luck of the Irish. While he stays on topic for a bit, Belushi eventually starts discussing his dumb friend who got locked up for being a junkie (“2 kees of slam”). John is perfect for this and Curtin plays his foil quite well as she continuously tries to interrupt his crazy rant to get back on topic. A perfect edition of Update this week. A+

12. Highway Patrol (6:23)

Finally, Broderick Crawford appears in a sketch! He does a fairly good job too, playing his old role from the classic fifities TV show. First off, Broderick has a confrontation with a young rebellious Jack Kerouac (Belushi). After an amusing goof by Aykroyd, the two cops face off with a pair of Siamese twins with one threatening to kill the other if their demands are not met. To even the odds, a pair of Siamese twin priests (Belushi & Murray) are hired to fix the situation and some funny banter between all the twins ensues. Although this runs a little longer than necessary, it’s still a funny parody of a show I’ve never seen before. There’s not enough show-specific material referenced here anyway to be really obscure. B+

13. Baba Wawa At Large (3:49)

This time, Baba interviews Godzilla himself (Belushi), who proves to be quite the flirtatious lizard with our speech-impaired egotistical host. The reason this works despite the silly nature of the sketch is because its handled just like any phony-baloney celebrity interview (except of course for Baba asking him how he and his wife “do it”). Godzilla acts like any air-kissing phony celebrity and it proves to be another fun performance from John Belushi. The ending was a little weak though. B+

14. The RCO All-Stars sing “Ain’t That a Lot of Love” (3:25)

Another performance from three very talented performers with the drummer taking over the vocals this time. This is even better than the first song with some great vocals, instrumental work, and it all equals out to be one of the great performances in the season so far. A+

15. The Huston Plan (5:16)

On June 27, 1970 President Nixon (Aykroyd) enters J. Edgar Hoover’s (Crawford) house through the window with Julie (Newman) standing by. Tricky Dick informs Hoover of his new plan to spy on people (particularly left-wingers like Joe Namath and Shirley MacLaine) and also brings up the fact that it would take a real idiot to get impeached as president. It’s another funny sketch here, while not up to par with most of the material tonight though. B

16. The Meters sing “I Got To Get My Name Up In Lights” (3:22)

The band formerly scheduled for the disastrous Mardi Gras episode make an appearance here to make it 3-3 for great performances this week. The Meters deliver an entertaining jazzy rock rendition of a really fun song to begin with thanks to the great instrumental work. This episode has definitely had one of the best sets of musical performances. A

Broderick thanks everyone for coming and says goodnight before the cast crowds around him and gives the lovable ol’ grandpa a big hug. Oh, and Danny and Billy hold Linda Ronstadt up in the background as the credits roll.

Well, this was a much, much better episode than one would expect from an aging alcoholic and a couple of left-field musical guests. Broderick proved to be a decent host in the few bits he appeared in, but basically played himself throughout the night with slight variations. Broderick also helped to deliver one of the more entertaining Gary Weis films thus far this season so you certainly can’t fault him for that at all. There really isn’t too much to say about our portly host here as he was fairly invisible for the duration of the episode.

The musical guests, however, were a wonderful pleasant surprise. The RCO All-Stars were the main attraction and I’ll be damned if they’re not in the upper tier of musical guests in the second season. Levon, Dr. John, and Paul Butterfield delivered the goods with some outstanding vocals and instrumental work. The songs themselves just had a really fun vibe as well. The second group to perform on the show was the Meters and despite the fact that they were only given one performance spot, they made the most of it and also delivered a hell of a show.

This episode was all about Bill Murray’s speech though. That speech really broke Billy out as a Not Ready For Primetime Player and it was the beginning of Bill’s successful run on the late-night comedic institution. Bill’s segment was not the only highlight in a show filled with them, but it was a great way for him to do some self-deprecating humour in order to swing the audience around to his side.

All in all, this is another very strong episode.

Notes:

Has there ever been a breakout moment for a castmember on the scale of Bill Murray’s speech/apology?

Sadly, Broderick is not even the least involved host in the show’s history. Robert Blake comes to mind. Or Ed Koch.

Apparently, Dan Aykroyd lobbied hard to get Crawford to host the show as he was a big fan of Highway Patrol. Hence the spoof on the latter-mentioned show.

For an old drunk, I will give Broderick credit for not having his eyes glued to the cards in the two sketches he did appear in.

To close Weekend Update, Jane Curtin says “Goodnight, Mary Richards.” The Mary Tyler Moore Show aired its final episode that night.

MADtv was on while I was finishing this review up. God, that show is awful.

Host Rating: B

Musical Guest Rating: The RCO All-Stars – A

Musical Guest Rating: The Meters – A

Show Rating: A


by Brendan Wahl

(Season 2, Episode 15)

Saturday Night Live has always had an eclectic group of people to choose from for its guest hosts on the show. Sometimes you had the athletes (groan), sometimes you had musicians pulling double-duty as both the comic and the musical guest, and sometimes you had politicians (who were about 50/50 in terms of being successful funny hosts). When it comes down to it though, some of the show’s most successful hosts were actors. Plain and simple.

This week, we are graced with the presence of one of these actors…or in this case, an actress. Mrs. Sissy Spacek, who was nominated for an Oscar at the time of this episode for her performance in the film Carrie. Of course, she ended up losing in that category but to acquire a then-current Oscar nominee for the show in this stage of its infancy was pretty impressive and shows that the program had legs that more and more famous people in the media were starting to recognize.

With this episode, we also have the debut of a movie star as host. While Spacek would not be as big as, say, Richard Dreyfuss or Burt Reynolds in the consecutive years, she was arguably still the biggest star-to-date that had been on the show.

Joining Spacek is her musical guest, Richard Baskin. You may know him as the man behind the soundtrack for Nashville. But more than likely, you’ve never heard of him in your entire life. Interestingly enough, his sister is Edie Baskin, the stills photographer and designer of SNL‘s title sequence (at the time). I wonder if she had any sort of impact upon him gracing the stage of Studio 8H. I guess there’s only one way to find out.

Let’s just hope no one put that bucket of pig’s blood anywhere and let’s dive in!

The Show:

1. Dave Wilson Is Dead (7:31)

We open on a light, upbeat note on the announcement that between dress rehearsal and the live show, Dave Wilson has…died. This forces Dan Aykroyd (in costume) to conduct a sort of last-minute mass eulogy involving the cast and their host. This allows us to get all sorts of insightful information regarding the director like how he enjoyed the mellow sounds of the Beatles and how he kindly warned Bill Murray not to drink some milk that had gone sour. It’s quite a lengthy opening but it’s one of the best ones so far from the whole season. A+

2. Monologue (2:57)

Sissy comes out full of joy for being on the cover of a publication, being nominated for an Oscar, and now being asked to appear on a live television show. Instead of going the obvious route with pig’s blood somehow being poured on Spacek, she gives her Oscar speech early on and then does some baton-twirling to showcase her talent for the Academy. It’s a halfway-decent monologue, but the baton-twirling was somewhat unnecessary. B

3. Burger Master (1:43)

It’s the restaurant that prepares your burger any way you want them! And they mean ANY way. The three servers (Morris, Newman, & Radner) serve their patrons with special requests like blowing their nose on the bun, stomping the burgers into a disgusting pulp, and putting used hairnets in the food. It’s a funny commercial piece with some great random-style humour. B+

4. Ask President Carter (4:56)

Bill Murray debuts his bang-on Walter Cronkite impression to host a call-in show with the President (Aykroyd) himself. The whole premise of the joke is that Carter has a ridiculous amount of useless knowledge to give out, such as when one of the callers calls during the midst of a nasty acid trip. Every caller’s rapport with the president is actually quite funny. Despite the sketch coasting on this one joke, it’s an inspired one and this sketch measures up as one of the greats during the early years. A

5. Amy’s Bedtime Story (3:46)

Immediately following the Q&A, President Carter (Aykroyd) leaves his daughter Amy (Spacek) with the ex-con nanny (Morris) of his. The nanny proceeds to tell little Carter an alternative version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. It’s an amusing companion piece to the previous sketch and Garrett not even trying to hide his voice is pretty hilarious in its own. Spacek also does a hilarious ‘jive voice’. B

6. How Your Children Grow (2:54)

Jane Curtin hosts a one-on-one with Dr. Alan Ross (Murray), a man who can only say five words (‘That’s true, you’re absolutely right’). Early on, Murray almost blows the joke but it’s not as devastating as some have led me to believe. Somehow, this sketch ends up being hilarious even with Curtin asking Ross questions and him responding with the same five words every time. A-

7. John Belushi’s Dream (2:13)

Announcing that he is retiring from show business, Belushi shifts his career choice to working toward participating in the 1980 Moscow Olympics. It’s a piece that doesn’t go for pure laughs, but it’s an alright piece, I guess. B-

8. Weekend Update with Jane Curtin (7:12)

SNL makes an even nastier jab at Johnny Carson this week, stating that his show will no longer be live because of California’s euthanasia law that states that people are entitled to die rather than suffer. And Lorne wonders why Carson never accepted the offer to host. Laraine Newman interviews the Heavyweight Champion, Muhammad Ali (Morris), who proceeds to insult Rocky and Sylvester Stallone in the style of poetry. It’s amusing, especially with Laraine’s final comment. Jane almost makes herself crack up before introducing Emily Litella (Radner) to comment on “endangered feces.” The formula for Litella changes slightly every week, but not enough to keep this schtick from getting old now. With Curtin telling Emily that she’s wearing thin, this makes Emily’s appearance slightly more entertaining this week. B+

9. Richard Baskin sings “One, I Love You” (3:03)

Performing one of his songs from the film Nashville, Baskin slowly sings about this thing we call love before being joined by Sissy in a nice little duet. A lot more bearable than I expected. B+

10. Improvisation (4:05)

Writers Tom Davis and Al Franken come out for a bit of improv, but when they receive some suggestions from the audience on what to do they can’t figure out anything to perform. Instead, they perform a mock newscast from the future where World War III has occurred. It’s a great satirical piece by the masters of political humour and a couple of great performers in their own right. A

11. Gidget Goes To Shock Therapy (2:31)

A trio of precocious, obnoxious grown women (Spacek, Newman, & Radner) are observed by a straight-faced spokesperson (Curtin), who talks about a way of curing this horrible affliction. “Really enough to make you want to puke your guts out,” says Curtin, who is revealed to have been formerly afflicted with this disorder. B+

12. White Trash Romance (7:33)

A couple (Spacek & Belushi) argue with each other over the husband’s inability to “perform” and then delve into a discussion of fruitslaw. This is another Miller piece, which like all the others, is more of a one-act play and it focuses on the caricatures by both actors. Not only is this an extremely well-written sketch and the best one of the night, but it proves that John Belushi could hang with great performers like Sissy Spacek and still look fantastic. A+

13. Gary Weis Film: The Baton (1:37)

A David Bowie song plays while Sissy Spacek twirls a baton for about 90 seconds. Yes, that’s it. Mr. Weis, why must you waste my time? C

14. Bad Playhouse (3:29)

The debut of Leonard Pinth-Garnell (Aykroyd)! This week, he presents a terrible play featuring Death (Murray) with a woman in his arms (Spacek) slowly chasing a couple (Belushi & Newman) around a big wheel. Yeah, it doesn’t make any sense but that’s kind of the appeal of this. Although this was not the strongest “Bad …” piece, some classics would be yet to come. B-

15. Richard Baskin sings “City of One-Night Stands” (4:15)

While clips from the film Nashville play on the stage, Mr. Baskin croons about love again but this time, it’s not that enjoyable and the song actually slows things down to a halt. C

16. Home Movie: Outtakes (2:17)

This time, the home movie is by Robert Altman, who presents a series of outtakes and clips from the films “Three Women” and “Welcome to L.A.” It’s more filler, but it wasn’t as annoying because it’s Robert Altman presenting something of substance rather than someone twirling a freaking baton. B

Sissy does the stereotypical southern greeting by telling everyone to “come back now, ya hear?” before the cast presents her with a big duffel bag of stuff. Hm.

Was Sissy the host? Really? All joking aside, despite appearing in quite a bit of the program this week, Sissy stepped back for most of the cast to shine and she relegated herself to a few sketches, a couple of films, and a duet with the musical guest. Unfortunately, what should’ve been Bill Murray’s break-out moment (the How Your Children Grow sketch) did not end up occurring that way and Murray would have to wait a bit longer to finally blossom as a performer.

Richard Baskin was okay and his performance reeked of schizophrenia. Whereas his first song was an enjoyable larf (while not anything tremendously sophisticated), his second tune was a bore and a drawn-out sentimental groan-fest. It was obvious why Baskin wasn’t invited back.

The cast was on their a-game as well tonight with several strong performances from a number of them, particularly John Belushi in the Marilyn Suzanne Miller-penned sketch. In fact, Belushi shines as the performer of the night with his presence making several pieces that much better.

Wonderful show this week.

Notes:

I particularly love Spacek’s explanation of how she chose her current husband over another prospective suitor. By the way, anyone ever had fruitslaw?

Aw damn, what was in that duffel bag they gave to Sissy? Stu, help me out, brutha!

Bill Murray kinda blew it in the one sketch, but his Walter Cronkite impression was pretty fantastic.

Was anyone else surprised that Update was in one portion this time instead of being split in half with a commercial parody in the middle?

Host Rating: B+

Musical Guest Rating: C+

Show Rating: A-


—Interesting Stories is an article  that showcases
the intriguing stories of everyday people.

By Matthew Casey

Most people will never know what it is like to jump from an airplane, except maybe for those thrill seekers out there who constantly strive for that adrenaline rush.  In fact most people would probably never even want to jump from an airplane if they absolutely did not have to.   Now, imagine being a teenager and being forced into an army and having to do whatever you were told, no matter how scary it seemed.  For Adrian Patrascu this is what happened when he was drafted into his home country’s army in 1986 and was handed a parachute kit and told to board a plane.  He was only 19 at the time.

After training and making about twenty jumps during his time in the military he got the technique down to land safely without injuring himself.  “You have to land on the tips of your toes then roll to the heel of your foot or else you will break your legs,” explains Adrian confidently as he reflects back on the days of his youth.    He now lives in Toronto and works in the maintenance department of a hotel,  but most would never know that he once sported a parachute long before his tool belt.

Even though it seems like a terrifying thing to have to jump from a plane that is flying at 3000 meters, for Adrian, he seems to shrug it off as just a normal event in his life.   He was lucky in one sense because he never had to fight in combat during his military time which lasted for nine months.  With that in mind, he described falling from the sky and racing towards the ground below as a wonderful feeling, saying that it was as if time and space just came to a stop for a brief moment.

Adrian tells of an incident that occurred on his fifth training jump where he witnessed one of his colleagues who had landed on his feet the wrong way and broke his legs.  But even after witnessing this it still did not make him fear jumping from the planes in the training exercises he had to take part in.

Although Adrian was not afraid of jumping into the sky, some people were.  On one of his first jumps the soldier in front of him froze and would not jump, but this was not tolerated by the sergeants.  When Adrian witnessed the drill instructor push the man out of the plane he says it was in this moment that he realized that he had no choice but to jump whether or not he was afraid and this is what helped him to tolerate the situation a little better.

For the bravery of accomplishing these tasks the paratroopers were paid the equivalent of a mere $24 a month.  It takes a lot of character and determination to do these things with little to no reward for them.

Today the Romanian army no longer practices the use of conscription to enlist people into their ranks, and as for Adrian he doesn’t plan on ever jumping from a plane again, not even for a thrill.

Sometimes life seems very difficult and it feels like there is too much to deal with.  But at least here in Canada you can take solace in the fact that most people are pretty lucky and enjoy a great quality of life.  No one in this country is forced into doing things that they wouldn’t want to do.

The next time it feels like there is too much to handle on your plate and everyday stress gets you down just be glad that you will never be forced into jumping from airplanes in the military. Just think that things could always be much worse and maybe that will help you make it through the tough times that life can bring.


By Matthew Casey

Fall is full of wonderful and vibrant colours.

The days are getting shorter and the air is becoming a little cooler and crisper. What could be coming our way? Fall.  Out of all four seasons autumn is my absolute favourite and I just love the transition of summer into this glorious and often dreaded season.

It may be a difficult concept to grasp that fall is my favourite season, but I think that it if you look at some of the great attributes of this time of year and don’t just focus on the fact that it is the end of summer, then fall really is a likeable season. The official start to the season isn’t until September 23, but here is why I love fall.

First of all, summer is so hot! I love mild temperatures but those days where the mercury can climb to well into the 30s with a humidex factor of 40 are just too much for me.  Some people love the heat, but I am not one of them.  I prefer temperatures that range in the high teens to low twenties—without ANY humidity.  The last couple of weeks as the air masses in the eastern half of Canada seem to be transitioning from those hot summer conditions to a more seasonable cooler air mass typical of fall have been great for me.  The cooler temperatures are also great if you love to exercise outdoors, it just makes jogging or going for a walk a little more comfortable when the breeze has a slight chill to it.

Secondly I love fall because it is the most colourful season we experience.  Sure the summer is great where everything is green and growing, but I am talking about rich colours like reds, yellows, and oranges.  When I lived in New Brunswick I loved to take a leisurely drive through the countryside of the province right when the fall foliage was becoming saturated with vibrant and rich hues of colour.  All of those maple trees off in the distance looked like an oil painting brushed by the hand of Mother Nature herself. It just gives me an immense appreciation for the wonder of nature’s beauty and makes me realize how often I can be oblivious to it when I am caught up in the rush of everyday life.  Just taking in the wonders of all the colours takes my mind off of the worries of the day for a moment.  It’s almost like the proverbial “stopping to smell the roses” saying.

There is also something about the air and the way it smells and feels in the fall.  The air, no matter if you live in a big city or a rural part of town, just seems to have such a freshness to it that just isn’t there in those hot summer months.   I know when I step outside my door on a cool fall morning the air just smells so great and it is invigorating and it livens my senses.  If I was able to take a bite out of the air in the fall I absolutely would!  The cooler and fresher air of the season also makes sleeping much more comfortable than in summer.  For once I can actually sleep without the hum of an air conditioner or a fan in the background.


Canada Geese are majestic birds that migrate in large flocks every fall.

Another sign that summer is drawing to a close is when the flocks of birds begin gathering on the power lines and in the trees.  They are getting ready to fly away and migrate to their winter home.   I find that it is amazing to watch a flock of birds flying through the sky, all off to one place together.  In particular, I love Canada geese and watching a large flock of them fly over head is very majestic and also gives me a sense of the wonder of nature.

So all in all maybe fall doesn’t look to be as bad as it seems on the surface. If you delve deeper into it, it really is one of the most amazing seasons that I am glad we get to experience year after year here in Canada.  If you haven’t taken the time to admire the beauty of fall then maybe this will inspire you to get out there and do so this year.  Now if I were to talk about winter on the other hand…well don’t get me started on what I think of that “wonderful” season!

What is your favourite season?