SNL Retro: Michael Palin/Eugene Record (4/8/78)

Posted: October 15, 2011 by Brendan Wahl in SNL Retro Reviews
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by Brendan Wahl

(Season 3, Episode 16)

I’ve been away for a real long time. Sorry gang! Well I decided to do a little bonus review before I tackle Anna Faris/Drake tomorrow. I know I haven’t been keeping up with my Season 3 reviews so well, so here’s another one featuring Monty Pythoner Michael Palin taking the reigns of host. Only five more shows left in this season!

The Show:

“Grandma Walton Tries To Tie Her Shoelace” will not be seen tonight.

1. Cold Opening: The Oscars (3:57)

After Vanessa Redgrave’s (Curtin) stunning speech in which she condemns the Jewish Defense League, several other people are brought on-stage to commend her like Yasser Arafat (Belushi), Anwar Sadat (Morris), and finally President Jimmy Carter (Aykroyd).

– Hilarious cold opening and some brilliant political satire while at the same time, it did an excellent job of attacking the Oscars and the speeches made by some of the far-left celebrities that use it as a plateau for their political views.
– Jane was terrific here with a very understated performance and I particularly liked her beginning the speech by saying “there are so many people to condemn.”
– There were more funny moments here from Belushi-as-Yasser and even Garrett got a few laughs as Anwar Sadat though I have to agree with Harry Shearer that it’s a rather weak impression overall. Aykroyd as President Carter here was the absolute highlight though, especially the best line of the night that he spouts: “I’m sick and tired of people using the Oscars as a platform to recognize outstanding achievement in the motion picture arts.”
Rating: ****

2. Monologue (5:03)

Michael’s manager Sid Biggs (Palin) comes out instead and tries to stall for time while our host gets ready in the backstage area. He talks about how wonderful of a client Michael is and then demonstrates a trick that one of his other clients does: stuffing cats into his pants after putting some seafood salad down there as well.

– One of the rare occasions where the host did a character for the monologue instead of being themselves. One can’t be that surprised that Palin would do something like this though; he was very funny and his timing was impeccable.
– PETA would have a field day with the “cats” trick that he does here but it was very funny because it was so bizarre and out there. Apparently, one of the cats didn’t think it was so nice and they took a dump in his pants.
Rating: **** 1/2

3. Little Chocolate Donuts (:57)
– Repeat from Buck Henry/Leon Redbone (11/19/77).
Rating: *****

4. IRS Confession (4:47)

A priest (Palin) speaks to an IRS agent (Aykroyd) in the confession booth and gets interrogated about his tax returns while trying to help another man (Morris) with his tax issues.

– Decent sketch with funny performances from both Dan and Michael, who was more or less playing the straight man here but did a great job of it.
– Bill Murray’s appearance was very funny in a dry, Murray-esque way.
– The highlight of the sketch is the appearance of John Belushi as Lowell Brock from those H&L Brock sketches in Year 1.
Rating: ***

5. The Seagull (5:56)

Michael Palin himself presents a challenge for himself: he will attempt to perform a scene from Chekov’s The Seagull all the while being trapped in a straitjacket and locked in a trunk. Meanwhile, the other actors (Curtin and Murray) proceed like normal while Michael attempts to get out in time for his cue.

– This was a very strange high-concept sketch but it works really well here due to the great sense of humour of the host and the theatrical acting from Bill and Jane.
– Of course the best part was Michael attermpting to break out of the trunk all the while the actors are trying to perform a serious scene from a well-known play. I have no idea how they kept their composure.
– The character break at the end coupled with Michael’s freakout about not breaking the record was a good capper and I loved how it lead into a brief reference to The Lumberjack Song.
Rating: *** 1/2

6. Eugene Record sings “Have You Seen Her?” (3:48)

– One of those talk-sing types of tunes but I still enjoyed it quite a bit. I can imagine Samuel L. Jackson doing this type of act for some reason.
– Loved the background with the giant jukebox.

7. UPDATE TEASER w/Jane Curtin (:06)

– Suzy Chapstick gains 200 pounds.

8. WEEKEND UPDATE w/Dan Aykroyd & Jane Curtin (7:48)
Guests: Lee Kim and John Belushi

Best Jokes: fig neutron; Billy Carter; suicide rate; John Wayne




– The Sirhan Wrap sponsor bit at the beginning was great.
– Akira Yoshimura makes an appearance here as Tung-Sun Park or at least that’s who says he is. He’s awkward mostly because Akira is not an actor but it’s an amusing segment nonetheless especially with Dan taking his bribe money and Jane dismissing him as being a fraud.
– Jane has a great ad-lib about the crowd’s non-response to one of her jokes (“How quickly they turn”)
– John Belushi delivers another one of his manic rants, this time on the closing down of Radio City Music Hall. It’s another great rant by John that escalates to an almost-violent plateau and of course, John goes wildly off-topic. Jane always plays off him so well in these bits too.
Rating: *** 1/2

9. Nerds Piano Lesson (6:42)

Lisa Loopner (Radner) awaits her teacher Mr. Brighton (Palin) to teach her the ways of the piano all while Todd (Murray) does everything in his power to annoy and distract her.

– Classic sketch. This is the first time the Nerds get their own proper sketch and they get to flesh out the characters a lot more. Bill Murray, in particular, really excels as Todd DiLaMuca (still named LaBounta at this time) and plays him in total Bill Murray mode with a healthy dose of smarmy class and playfulness.
– The chemistry between Bill and Gilda is really what elevates these sketches though and it would only get more and more focused. Watching this sketch, you can pretty much tell that the two of them were fairly close (they were dating at the time).
– Palin does real well here too as the straight-laced teacher and then ramps up the creep factor when he starts hitting on Gilda’s character. I also like how he responded when Gilda told him his fly was open.
– Let’s not leave out Jane as Gilda’s mother though. She’s always very committed to any character she plays.
Rating: *****

10. The Forgotten Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (8:55)

A coked-up Sherlock Holmes (Palin) has trouble staying focused on his various cases and instead lives his life as a paranoid detective who can become agitated at the slightest things.

– This was a hilarious sketch and had one of the strangest introductions. Palin starring as Orson Welles stumbling in a filmed introduction was quite good (especially with the off-screen voice constantly correcting him on his grammar).
– Palin walking around with the rolled-up dollar bill up his nose was a great sight gag coupled with the weird things he did like play violin and shoot at a target on the wall.
– Jane was very funny as the maid (“You should eat more and sleep more and do a little less cocaine”) and Aykroyd was quite good as well as the stuffy Dr. Watson, who is also concerned with Holmes’ consumption of the illicit drug.
– I especially liked the bit where Palin told Aykroyd some man’s life story simply by looking at him but then learning that it was simply a statue.
– Loved Bill Murray’s cockney accent.
Rating: **** 1/2

11. Party Arguments (4:10)

A young couple (Murray & Newman) argue about a party they’re planning to go to with the wife feeling as if the husband will make an ass of himself rather than talk to her.

– A nice, quiet Marilyn Suzanne Miller piece with some great dialogue and good acting from Bill and Laraine.
– I especially liked the story about Bill laying face-down in the street yelling “DISCO!” and then Bill responding by saying he was only kidding.
– By the way, I definitely sided with Bill’s character here. Just saying.
Rating: ****

12. Eugene Record sings “Trying To Get To You” (3:25)

– A tune that was quite a bit different than the first as it included all singing while not really relying on any of that talking that the first one had. Another fine performance.

13. The Mr. Bill Show: Mr. Bill Pays Taxes (2:02)

The usual stuff occurs with the devious Mr. Hands and Sluggo while Mr. Bill attempts to pay his taxes.

– Didn’t we just have one of these in the previous episode?
– Nevertheless, this was another decent installment and the abuse of Mr. Bill is usually pretty entertaining to watch. I particularly liked H&R Sluggo saying that his taxes literally cost him an arm and a leg.
Rating: *** 1/2

13. Danger Probe (3:21)

In this short-lived recurring sketch, host Dave Mable (Aykroyd) chronicles the story of an 18th century Belgian fop (Palin) and a Spanish blackamoor (Morris) being threatened by a bigoted former rapust (Al Franken) and a bigoted equipment operator (Belushi) who has been known to use martial arts.

– Following the theme of tonight’s episode, this was another absurd idea but it was made entertaining by the performances and Aykroyd made a great Dragnet-like host.
– Al Franken was really good here as a backwards southern racist but Belushi was terrific too with his almost-unintelligible dialogue. Palin and Morris, of course, don’t fit in at all and that is the reason why this sketch works so well.
– The ending where Mable and the authorities bust in was a good one too.
Rating: *** 1/2

14. Goodnights

– Palin shows the two cats to let the audience know that they’re perfectly fine.

OVERALL: Excellent show this week with a great performance from Michael Palin as the host. Not every single sketch was a classic (The Seagull was above-average and the IRS Confession segment was good) but everything worked here. There was not a single segment that I disliked but that’s pretty much par for the course when it comes to this season in general.

APPEARANCES:

HOST: MICHAEL PALIN – 6 segments (Monologue; IRS Confession; The Seagull; Nerds Piano Lesson; The Forgotten Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes [2 roles]; Danger Probe)

DAN AYKROYD – 5 segments (The Oscars; IRS Confession; Weekend Update; The Forgotten Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes; Danger Probe)
JOHN BELUSHI – 6 segments (The Oscars; Little Chocolate Donuts; IRS Confession; Weekend Update; The Forgotten Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes; Danger Probe)
JANE CURTIN – 6 segments (The Oscars; IRS Confession; The Seagull; Weekend Update; Nerds Piano Lesson; The Forgotten Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes)
GARRETT MORRIS – 3 segments (The Oscars; IRS Confession; Danger Probe)
BILL MURRAY – 6 segments (The Oscars; IRS Confession; The Seagull; Nerds Piano Lesson; The Forgotten Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes; Party Arguments)
LARAINE NEWMAN – 3 segments (The Oscars; The Seagull; Party Arguments)
GILDA RADNER – 3 segments (The Seagull; Nerds Piano Lesson; The Forgotten Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes)

TOM DAVIS – 2 segments (Little Chocolate Donuts; Danger Probe)
AL FRANKEN – 1 segment (Danger Probe)

EPISODE MVP: Dan Aykroyd

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