Posts Tagged ‘buck henry’


by Brendan Wahl

(Season 3, Episode 20)

Here it is, the season finale. It’s been quite an awesome ride with this season with only one small misfire (Kahn/Mahal) and a huge number of very strong episodes and near-classics. Even ones that were not great like Chevy Chase/Billy Joel or Jill Clayburgh/Eddie Money were still fairly good. It’s pretty telling of a season’s quality when some of the worst episodes average at probably about *** 1/2.

Of course, we close out the season as we always did from seasons 2-5: with lovable reliable ol’ Buck Henry, a very easy host to work with for the Not Ready For Primetime Players and one who was willing to go places with the sketches that many other hosts would’ve shied away from doing.

 

The Show:

“The Boy in the Plastic Pants Suit” will not be seen tonight.

1. Cold Opening: Nixon’s Book (2:59)

Former President Richard Nixon (Aykroyd) urges people to buy his book and says that even if you don’t believe him and you don’t want to read it, you can just buy it and then kick it around. That’ll show him!

– Great use of Danny’s Nixon impression and it was also pretty funny to see after Aykroyd’s blatant attack on Tricky Dick during the goodnights last week.
– Aykroyd’s solution to buy the book just to kick it around was hilarious and I liked him attributing it to his famous quote, “You don’t have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore.” His comment that Pat was already on her fourth copy was also pretty amusing.
– Garrett Morris gets a role here that any extra could’ve played.
Rating: *** 1/2

2. Monologue (3:29)

Buck professes his love for hosting the show and being a part of this great experience all the while some scrolling text proclaims Buck’s career to be over and that he is clinging onto his last shred of fame.

– Hilarious monologue. I loved the text that scrolled by during Buck’s serious speech about the dignity he has, his loving family, and the fact that NBC being in third place can’t really afford to be sentimental by thrusting a sad-sack like Buck onto the stage as the host of the season finale. The whole thing was just timed perfectly too.
Rating: **** 1/2

3. Nerd Prom (7:50)

Todd DiLaMuca (Murray) gets ready to escort Lisa Loopner (Radner) to the prom along with Todd’s dad Marshall (Henry), who drives them there. They eventually convince Mrs. Loopner (Curtin) to join them as well.

– Nice callback to the previous Nerds sketch with Lisa playing the same piano tune at the beginning.
– Another terrific sketch featuring the Nerds. Buck Henry was a great addition as Marshall DiLaMuca (still DiLaBounta at the time), but of course everyone worked really hard in making this great sketch work well again.
– My favourite parts were Gilda saying she knows the facts of life (she DID get an A in health), Buck’s lame John Travolta joke, pretty much all the interaction between Billy and Gilda, and the quick moment with Buck picking his nose.
– I like how with every sketch, the death of “the late Mr. Loopner” gets more gruesome and mysterious.
Rating: *****

4. Samurai T.V. Repairman (3:27)

Mr. Dantley (Henry) visits the electronic repair shop to have Samurai Futaba (Belushi) take a look and repair his television.

– Of course, nothing will ever top the classic Samurai Delicatessen sketch but I’ve never really disliked any of these sketches.
– I particularly liked the inspector tag on the TV from Japan being revealed to be the Samurai’s mother’s ID number.
– The ending with Belushi striking it with the sword and fixing it and then using his swords for antennas was also brilliant.
Rating: ****

5. Sodom Chamber of Commerce (4:17)

The ancient ciity of Sodom holds a council in which its members (Henry, Aykroyd, Belushi, Morris, & Murray) attempt to come up with a positive spin on their city that will do away with the whole imagery of sodomy and human sacrifice.

– Very funny and creative sketch. They could never get away with something like this today for the subject matter alone. I mean, an entire sketch about anal sex? The censors would pass out.
– Great performance from Buck here as the sturdy straightman. His deadpan delivery on some ridiculous and dark lines made them even more effective. He even had some fairly cheesy lines here but because of Buck’s wonderful performance, he made them work too.
– Murray was hilarious too, especially his delivery while reading their slogan: “You have to be crazy to live in Sodom. Crazy about sodomy.”
– The ending with Jane, Laraine, and Gilda was great.
Rating: **** 1/2

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

Donny Osmond consummates his marriage while his wife, Debbie, watches.

7. WEEKEND UPDATE w/Dan Aykroyd & Jane Curtin (9:32)
Guest: Laraine Newman and Bill Murray

Best Jokes: hamburgers; fanfare expression; Charlie Chaplin’s body; Italy/abortions






– Yet ANOTHER great sponsor bit.
– The fanfare bit really worked due to Aykroyd’s terrific delivery.
– The first piece is Laraine Newman reporting from the Son of Sam trial via an artist’s rendering because there were no cameras allowed in the courthouse. Pretty funny stuff here, actually, with the crappy drawing and the reporting giving us absolutely no real information on the case.
– Bill Murray comes by to review The Greek Tycoon based on a quick clip he is shown at the last second. His best bit was accusing one of the actors for saying “excuse me” and stealing Steve Martin’s line in the process. His attempt at calling Jackie Onassis (to inform her that the movie ripped off her life) was also hilarious, especially him saying John Belushi’s name after his own name doesn’t get him anywhere. Terrific segment.
– Aykroyd’s commentary on Betty Ford’s alcoholism was pretty funny devolving into a reference to other first ladies’ problems with the juice. It died with the audience though.
– The Point/Counterpoint segment deals with Dan and Jane arguing in a courteous way about which side they will take, but then they soon devolve into a sharp-tongued debate about the merits of jogging. I like the minor changes they made to this and it made for another classic point/counterpoint.
– Perfect edition of Update this week.
Rating: *****

8. The Olympia Cafe (5:05)

Life continues at the Chicago-based restaurant where a representative (Henry) from Rent-a-Doberman comes in to talk with Pete (Belushi) about getting a guard dog in the restaurant to protect it from burglary.

– Very funny edition of this recurring sketch. I really liked Belushi haggling the price of the doberman rental and his consrant firing and rehiring of Murray’s character was a hoot as well. It really says something for Bill’s acting when I actually felt really bad for him everytime he got mistreated in this sketch.
– Belushi grabbing an axe to take care of “that lamb in the basement” was a great little moment.
Rating: ****

9. Mr. Mike’s Least-Loved Music (2:56)

Mr. Mike sings a tune called “Baby Ghouls” while a vampire (Newman) provides backup and eventually bites his neck.

– An example of Mr. Mike’s strange warped sense of humour. This wasn’t so much laugh-out-loud funny as much as it was an insane, strange, and dark conceptual piece with some great stuff from a singing Mr. Mike and Laraine.
– I loved Laraine’s sign-language bit at the beginning.
Rating: *** 1/2

10. More Insects to Worry About (4:41)

Joan Face (Curtin) interviews Dr. Russell Bedanza (Henry) about other various forms of insects that are making their way to the United States.

– The first time they did this sketch, I thought it was okay but I don’t really see the merit in repeating it again in the same season. This was actually quite a bit better than the first edition though and Buck and Jane had great chemistry together.
– The part that made me laugh the most is Jane quickly mentioning that part of Buck’s research included living with the insects as one of their kind. My favourite insect that Buck mentions is the one that enters through any opening on the body and brings in everday items to the brain like car keys, a paperback novel, and other such ridiculous items.
Rating: ****

11. Stunt Puppy (4:54)

Middle-aged actor Howard (Henry) is directed to inflict abuse on a puppy during a film shoot, but the director (Murray) makes sure to bring in a stunt puppy for the scenes.

– This was essentially a carbon-copy of Stunt Baby, but it was still hilarious nonetheless. Murray turns in another great smarmy performance as the director and Buck’s scene of violence against the puppy was almost as good as the one he had with the baby in his previous episode.
Rating: ****

12. Bad Conceptual Art (2:58)

Leonard Pinth-Garnell (Aykroyd) presents a piece on bad conceptual art named “Pavlov Video Chicken I” featuring three performers (Morris, Newman, & Radner).

– Yet ANOTHER recurring sketch tonight. And yet, with all of the recurring pieces tonight, it’s still looking like another excellent episode is in the books tonight.
– This was an okay edition of the sketch but overall it was not quite as good as most of these pieces were. It felt like they were just being weird and thought it would translate into great material but it didn’t really work as well as it was planned.
Rating: **

13. The Franken and Davis Show (4:20)

Al and Tom prepare to do their “famous” sumo wrestling piece but Davis can no longer take the pressure of hiding his secret. After Al reveals his “wife” and “son,” Tom yells out that they are in fact gay lovers and have been living a lie. This causes Al’s family to walk out on him.

– This was excellent and one of my favourite Franken and Davis pieces that these guys ever did. The audience jeering when Tom asks if they have respect for Al now was the cherry on the cake.
– I especially liked Al’s son’s outburst about how much he hates him now.
– The ending was so dark with Franken committing suicide but the two of them waving after the title card made it even funnier with Tom declaring that Al “didn’t really shoot himself.”
Rating: *****

14. Sun Ra performs “Space is the Place” and “Space-Loneliness” (6:03)

– Hands-down, one of the strangest performances in the history of the show. There’s been some odd acts on the show like the I’m The Slime performance by Frank Zappa, David Bowie singing Boys Keep Swinging with a super-imposed puppet body, and Devo in general, but this was one of the most oddly compelling ones that also doubled as one of the more creative performances I’ve seen in some time.
– I also find it very interesting that this was pushed to the very end of the show. Perhaps Lorne knew they would lose a lot of people at this point and didn’t want to take that risk. Or maybe it was the network’s suggestion not to take it. Either way, it was probably a wise business move because I’m sure a lot of SNL‘s audience was pretty weirded out by this segment.
– They keep playing long after the bumper has shown up.

15. Goodnights

– Buck mentions “they’ll all be back in the fall… or not.”

 

OVERALL: A very, very strong season finale with only one lowpoint (Bad Conceptual Art) and many classic sketches to choose from. It’s always nice to have a reliable host like Buck Henry close out the season and the show always benefitted from having him as the host. There was A LOT of recurring material tonight (the only things that weren’t recurring was the cold open, monologue, and the sodomy sketch. It didn’t really bug me though because 90% of it was great to begin with and warranted some additional follow-ups to the sketches.

I’ve said all I can say about the season in general so let’s just say that it ended on a high note to what was an INCREDIBLE string of episodes with VERY minor blips on the radar.

APPEARANCES:

HOST: BUCK HENRY – 7 segments (Monologue; Nerd Prom; Samurai T.V. Repairman; Sodom Chamber of Commerce; The Olympia Cafe; More Insects to Worry About; Stunt Puppy)

DAN AYKROYD – 5 segments (Nixon’s Book; Sodom Chamber of Commerce; Weekend Update; The Olympia Cafe; Bad Conceptual Art)
JOHN BELUSHI – 3 segments (Samurai T.V. Repairman; Sodom Chamber of Commerce; The Olympia Cafe)
JANE CURTIN – 6 segments (Nerd Prom; Sodom Chamber of Commerce; Weekend Update; The Olympia Cafe; More Insects to Worry About; Stunt Puppy)
GARRETT MORRIS – 5 segments (Nixon’s Book; Sodom Chamber of Commerce; The Olympia Cafe; Stunt Puppy; Bad Conceptual Art)
BILL MURRAY – 5 segments (Nerd Prom; Sodom Chamber of Commerce; Weekend Update; The Olympia Cafe; Stunt Puppy)
LARAINE NEWMAN – 5 segments (Sodom Chamber of Commerce; Weekend Update; The Olympia Cafe; Mr. Mike’s Least-Loved Music; Bad Conceptual Art)
GILDA RADNER – 5 segments (Nerd Prom; Sodom Chamber of Commerce; The Olympia Cafe; Stunt Puppy; Bad Conceptual Art)

TOM DAVIS – 1 segment (The Franken and Davis Show)
AL FRANKEN – 1 segment (The Franken and Davis Show)

 

AND NOW…

MY END-OF-THE-SEASON AWARDS:

Best Shows:

1. Steve Martin/Blues Brothers (4/22/78)
2. Robert Klein/Bonnie Raitt (1/28/78)
3. Buck Henry/Sun Ra (5/20/78)

Worst Shows:

1. Madeline Kahn/Taj Mahal (10/8/77)
2. Chevy Chase/Billy Joel (2/18/78)
3. Jill Clayburgh/Eddie Money (3/18/78)

Best Hosts:

1. Steve Martin
2. Buck Henry
3. Michael Palin

Worst Hosts:

1. Hugh Hefner
2. Michael Sarrazin
3. Art Garfunkel

Best Musical Guests:

1. Elvis Costello
2. Ray Charles
3. The Blues Brothers

Worst Musical Guests:

1. Keith Jarrett
2. Libby Titus
3. Ashford & Simpson

This was a really tough list to make and a lot of the ‘worst’ categories are just the weakest by default.


by Brendan Wahl

(Season 3, Episode 8 )

You probably read the title of this post and thought, “Who in the hell is that?!” I can almost guarantee that if you do not remember the Anyone Can Host contest way back in 1977 than you would be totally unfamiliar with this episode’s guest star. That’s right. I am, of course, referring to the one and only… Elvis Costello.

But I jest.

In all seriousness, Miskel Spillman was the winner of the Anyone Can Host contest a couple of weeks previous to this episode and would be the one selected as the host for the Christmas edition of Saturday Night Live. She would also remain the program’s oldest host for thirty-two years (damn you, Betty White!) and the only non-celebrity to ever host (that includes Pamela Sue Martin). If SNL has taught us anything over the years it’s that the statement “anyone can host” is CERTAINLY not true.

Joining Miskel is Elvis Costello, who was in his angry youth days at this point in his career. Elvis was actually a last-minute replacement for the original musical guests, the Sex Pistols, who simply couldn’t get visas in time because of their criminal records and related legal problems in the US. Elvis, who was touring North America at the time, agreed to do the show but there was quite a bit of argument over what songs he was to perform on this week’s episode. That will become important later.

Anyway, let’s start this THANG!

The Show:

1. Stoned (1:59)
-Buck Henry, Belushi, Newman

Since he was the one that essentially guided America through the Anyone Can Host contest and introduced the participants, it’s only fitting that Buck Henry make an appearance at the top of the show. In this opening, he finds John and Laraine in the locker room discussing how well their novice host will do. Buck reveals that Miskel is in a sort-of haze in her dressing room and it turns out that it’s all because of Belushi and his monster-powered joints (that “your joints overwhelm even an experienced drug user like myself,” says Henry). Quick, amusing way to start the show. B+

2. Monologue (2:03)
-Spillman, Buck Henry

Sure enough, Miskel makes her way out with fruit basket in hand and Buck Henry alongside her. She looks absolutely elated to be there and of course she’s not a performer, so she’s given very few lines to work with. Every time Buck tries to take the basket, Spillman pulls away and makes glassy-eyed expressions directed towards the audience. When she finally does have some lines, it is so plainly obvious that she is reading directly off the cue cards and her delivery is piss-poor. But I mean that’s to be expected, right? C

3. Meat Wagon Action Track Set (:52)

This amusing commercial parody cleverly mimics those children’s toys commercials with this one being exactly what it sounds like. Includes the scene of an accident, miniature body bag, and the ambulance to take the body to the morgue. Funny enough, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was a real toy. B+

4. American Date The Self-Conscious Association (4:01)
-Belushi, Murray, Newman, Radner

A spokesperson (Newman) presents a dating service for the self-conscious as we see a potential couple (Murray & Radner) attempt to get through a date without being too self-deprecating. When it turns out that the spokesperson herself is not totally cured of her own self-consciousness and that her guest (Belushi) is the complete opposite (he is ridiculously obnoxious!), the sketch really kicks it into high gear. Dan Aykroyd also shows up as a representative for the Really Stupid People’s Amalgamation in a hilarious bit. The sketch also had a Monty Python-like vibe to it and the performances by all involved were pretty terrific. A

5. The Gift of the Magi (6:10)
-Spillman, Aykroyd, Belushi, Curtin, Newman, Radner

We get the first sketch appearance of our host here as she sits next to Jane Curtin, while the Update anchor reads the story of the poor couple who were facing a failing kidney on the part of the wife (Radner). The husband (Belushi) loves her hair and despite the couple’s faith, they could not afford to exchange gifts. This is obviously a comic take on a popular Christmas tale where the husband and wife each sell their prized possessions to be able to give each other gifts, but the only difference is that this has a much darker ending. This was a funny piece and a clever use of Miskel without having to get her to act or anything. I did like her last line, too. B+

6. Elvis Costello sings “Watching the Detectives” (3:56)

Staring intently into the camera, Costello & the Attractions are in top form here as he sings a haunting rendition of one of his big hits at the time. He looks visibly angry here at the song that his label told him to sing. Again, this will become important later on. A

7. Weekend Update with Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin (13:33)
-Also: Garrett Morris, Bill Murray, & Gilda Radner

We get the second appearance of a teaser before Update starts and it’s a pretty funny one with President Carter and the First Lady dressing up for the Broadway musical, Cats. More great Carter-related news items includes a pregnant magazine cover and a discussion involving Menachim Begin that leads into a telephone conversation between Jane and the President himself (Aykroyd). Since it is obviously Danny doing the voice, the reveal of Aykroyd on the phone at the other side of the newsdesk following the call is made that much funnier. Garrett’s commentary was pretty funny as he started by defending an African-American basketball player who supposedly punched a white player during a game, but after showing footage that proves the opposite of his point, he backs up and rescinds his story. Bill Murray stops by with his smarmy self to do a review of Miracle on 34th Street, which he finds a total cop-out because the movie never says whether there is a Santa Claus or not. It’s another example of Murray’s expertise at playing these types of Hollywood phony characters and I love how this commentary reveals that he still believes in jolly old St. Nick. Directly after Bill takes off, the Dancing N returns and wants to be revealed. Danny finally takes the N off and it’s Emily Litella, who makes her first appearance since last season. She does a commentary on the “sssst landing” and it’s the same ol’ thing she usually does, but Jane’s subsequent freak-out afterwards is hilarious. After capping it off with a funny bit regarding Idi Amin being chummy with the Son of Sam killer, we close out on a pretty strong edition of Update. A

8. Sartresky & Hutch (6:52)
-Spillman, Buck Henry, Aykroyd, Belushi, Curtin, Morris, Murray, Newman

Well, here’s a pretty conceptual piece. Spoofing the 70s cop drama (which would’ve been on the air still at this point), this piece finds Hutch (Belushi) teamed up with the philosophizing Sartresky (Aykroyd), named after Jean-Paul of course. I’m sure this would go over the heads of tons of viewers today and probably did at the time as well. This “episode” sees the twosome trying to stop a suicidal criminal (Murray) from blowing himself up as well as his wife (Curtin) and his mother (Spillman). Not to mention there is also an amusing piece with Buck making a proposal towards a hooker informant (Newman). This doesn’t work as well as it should have, but it is still funny and is highlighted by Aykroyd’s fantastic comic performance as an existentialist cop. Belushi also comes perilously close to cracking up due to Danny’s antics. B

9. The Franken and Davis Show (4:12)

What starts off as a special visit from Al’s parents (the real deal!) soon degenerates into an insane family ordeal after his mother reveals an embarrassing story involving Al and urination. These bits are usually among the highlights of the episodes they appear in and this one was no exception. While Franken and Davis were great writers, their performance skills were also pretty impressive. Al does dishevelled well and Davis is the man who attempts to calm the storm. A+

10. E. Buzz Miller’s Art Classics (3:43)
-Aykroyd, Newman

We get the debut of two semi-popular characters here as E. Buzz Miller (Aykroyd), sleazebag extraordinaire, introduces some classic paintings involving nudes so that he can point out the breasts on the women. Christy Christina (Newman) joins him and through her giggling and ditzy mannerisms, she doesn’t lend too much to the discussion. Laraine is an absolute delight here though and I loved Christy! Come to think of it, this is Buzz’s second appearance (his first being in Gordon/Berry in Year 2), but the character has evolved a bit since then. B+

11. Elderly Girlfriend (3:30)
-Spillman, Aykroyd, Belushi, Curtin

For the first time all night, Miskel gets her first real opportunity to act as a young college man (Belushi) comes home with his new girlfriend (Spillman). The parents (Aykroyd & Curtin) are more than a little surprised by the age difference between the new couple, but they still don’t react with cartoonish behaviour like you’d expect. A good, calming sketch and Miskel does the best she could possibly do with this role. It was kind of adorable here that Jane pretty much guided her through their conversation too. B

12. Wino Santa (2:38)
-Murray, Radner

A department store Santa (Murray) relentlessly taunts a poor young girl (Radner), who asks for tons of different gifts. Jolly old St. Nick is all too willing to mercilessly torture her by dropping her off his lap and continues to revel in her misery. This was just an example of the chemistry between these two, which would only improve in the years to come. A-

13. The Soiled Kimono (4:04)
-Newman

One of the all-time classic Mr. Mike bits. Laraine stops by Mr. Mike’s Coral Waters Cafe to beg for a least-loved bedtime tale, but he makes her sing the aria from Madame Butterfly while some words scroll over the screen telling of the ingredients of the drink and of the story behind its origins. Reportedly, Laraine was none too happy about being forced to sing this difficult Madame Butterfly tune, but it results in a terrific sketch. A+

14. Elvis Costello sings “Less Than Zero”… err, “Radio Radio” (2:57)

After playing his hit, “Less Than Zero” for about fifteen seconds, Costello halts his band and launches into a harsh criticism of mainstream radio and television with “Radio Radio.” An infamous moment in SNL history and one of the all-time great musical performances on the show. Apparently, Costello did this after being sent over the edge due to a prank by Aykroyd. A+

Miskel, adorn in an adorable Christmas outfit, thanks everyone for giving her the most wonderful time in her life and brings everyone on stage (including Mr. Mike, papa and mama Franken, and Buck Henry, but of course not including Elvis Costello) to join in on the adulation. Interesting to note here is that the cameras focus on the crew more than the cast on-stage in a way of giving everyone screentime before the Christmas break, I guess. I also noticed here that a set was constructed for a sketch with Dan Aykroyd’s Joseph Franklin character, but it must’ve been cut for time.

So how was the episode? A lot better than you would think. For an episode of a show featuring a guest star with no acting experience whatsoever, this made for a pretty entertaining time and a number of classic bits to be found throughout. With a host who obviously didn’t give a tour-de-force performance, the episode basically became a cast-focused one. There were lots of highlights in that department too. From Laraine’s amazing singing voice to Gilda’s childlike abandon to Danny and John’s solid showings in several sketches again, this was a top notch showing from all involved.

Elvis Costello brought the musical goods here as well, particularly with his second rebellious song and his stares of utter terror that he made in the direction of the camera. Watch out, Dan Aykroyd!

Host Rating: B
Musical Guest Rating: A+
Show Rating: A-


by Brendan Wahl

(Season 3, Episode 6)

Good ol’ reliable Buck Henry. Marking his then-unprecedented fifth appearance hosting the show, this would pretty much be the last stop to hype up the Anyone Can Host contest. The five finalists were set to appear, so who better than Buck Henry to show up and guide them through the show that he knows so well? I’ve probably said this before, but Buck Henry is one of those consummate professional types that was just a ridiculously easy person to work with and even though he never had a single thing to promote, he was chosen as the host for two episodes every season during the first five years (and aside from Year 1, he hosted all the season finales as well). The network probably wouldn’t have strived to get Buck, but Lorne and the cast knew that they could get a dependable performance out of him and put on a stellar show most times.

Joining Buck is another favourite of the SNL cast and crew, that of Leon Redbone. Making his third appearance on the show, Redbone was something of an interesting character. For years and years, no one really knew too much about him like his date of birth or even who he truly was. According to a long-standing rumour at the time, many thought he was just Andy Kaufman in disguise or some even thought it could be Frank Zappa. I think its fairly obvious now that he was neither man, but it’s an interesting rumour.

Yep.

The Show:

1. Anyone Can Host Finalists (2:45)
-Henry, Anyone Can Host Finalists, Morris, Radner

We are finally introduced to the five Anyone Can Host finalists: Deb Blair, a mother from Peoria, Illinois; Connie Crawford, a Vassar co-ed; Richard Kneip, the governor of South Dakota; David Lewis, an unemployed guy from Oregon; and Miskel Spillman, an octogenarian grandmother. They all quickly introduce themselves to Mr. Henry himself along with Garrett and Gilda in the locker room. Each of them have their quirks and I think its fairly obvious that Mrs. Spillman is already the most popular of the quintet. Funny way to incorporate the finalists into a sketch and it was a unique way to get the show started. B+

2. Monologue (7:03)
-Henry, Anyone Can Host Finalists

Instead of the traditional monologue, Buck trots out the five finalists to the stage and gives each of them a chance to make their case as to why they want to host the popular comedic institution. Connie is pretty cute and David Lewis’ bit falls flat and gets no reaction, but Miskel charms the audience once again. It’s another good segment; nothing outstanding, but it works well due to Buck’s charisma and the concept of the whole contest. B+

3. Little Chocolate Donuts (:57)
-Belushi

Spoofing the Bruce Jenner ads for Wheaties, Belushi’s Olympic career is highlighted before he shills for the breakfast of champions, Little Chocolate Donuts. John’s deadpan makes this Franken and Davis-penned parody a real winner. A

4. Samurai Psychiatrist (5:36)
-Henry, Belushi

Like any other appearance by Buck Henry (except for Year 5, when Belushi was no longer a castmember), the Samurai appears again with another random occupation that he has taken up. This time, Futaba (Belushi) plays Freud to Mr. Dantley’s (Henry) stories of his inadequacies. These sketches are based mostly on the interplay between Buck and John, but most of them depend on some great visual gags as well. For some reason, despite a reliance on several of the same gags, this character never grew old. The twist on the traditional ending of these sketches was pretty terrific as well. A

5. Stunt Baby (4:31)
-Henry, Curtin, Murray, Newman (voice), Radner

While filming a scene for a movie involving a psychopathic father (Henry), the director (Murray) shmoozes his cast like a typical Hollywood phony. But then the greatest thing ever happens: Buck is just about to get violent with the baby and Murray yells for the stunt baby to be brought in. After some humourous instructions, Buck starts beating on the baby in over-the-top and ridiculous ways. At the time, this sketch was attacked by many censorship groups for its violence and disturbing content, but the way its handled here is so funny and it is the best sketch of the night. A+

6. A.M.O.A. Sanitized Motel (1:56)
-Aykroyd

A spokesman (Aykroyd) for sanitized motel glasses and toilets explains how these things actually get sanitized (with the assistance of some helpful pictures). This was funny enough, but why did Garrett dress up like a female just for the pictures? B

7. Leon Redbone sings “Champagne Charlie” (2:45)

Accompanied by a few other musicians, Leon sits center-stage and sings a ditty about a fella named Charlie, a song that originated way back in 1867. Leon’s unique voice and cadence makes for a very entertaining musical number and it doesn’t hurt that his guitar-picking is tremendous as well. A-

8. Weekend Update with Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin (6:45)
-Also: Anyone Can Host Finalists, Laraine Newman, & Gilda Radner

Lillian Carter gets quite an electric shock in a funny story by Jane but Dan also gets some chuckles with his artist’s rendering of how a baby becomes a male or female. Unlike most of the renderings during Chevy’s reign at the desk, this is a pretty amusing little bit and culminates in the two anchors lighting up a couple of cigars afterwards. Jane brings up the Anyone Can Host contest again and this time, sends it over to Laraine Newman to get some more words from the finalists. Laraine stumbles over her words a bit here, but we do get another great bit from Miskel (“You’re old. How do you feel?” “Tired.”). Finally, Baba Wawa (Radner) reports from Jerusalem and instead of concentrating on the story concerning some dignitaries in Egypt, Baba focuses on herself and talks about the security and her lunch date with Omar Shariff. Not much in the way of actual stories this week, but still a solid edition of Update. B+

9. Reunion In Kiev (4:48)
-Henry, Belushi, Newman, Radner

Reminiscing about her upcoming visit to her sister, a young Russian woman (Radner) has constant flashbacks of her time on the train, some memories more succinct than others. We also get a flashback from the waiter (Henry) as well as some musician (Belushi) that sits with her. Eventually, she is joined by her sister (Newman) and the confusion starts to pile on with the ridiculous amount of flashbacks. Whoever wrote this was pretty clever. A-

10. Mr. Mike’s Rickey Rat Club (6:10)
-Henry, Aykroyd, Belushi, Curtin, Morris, Murray, Newman, Radner

In an obvious spoof of the Disney ode to the eponymous mouse, Mr. Mike presents a tribute to the rickiest of rats, Rickey Rat. Bucky plays ringleader to the proceedings and guides the entire cast in a discussion about several of the experiments that they’ve conducted with their little furry friend. When Rickey himself is brought out, the Ratketeers recognize that it is not the correct rat, but Bucky explains that Rickey is busy helping science and now enjoying his stay in the hospital. It’s a decidedly dark criticism of animal testing and is another classic Mr. Mike piece. A

11. The Franken and Davis Show (5:41)
-Radner, Davis, Franken

Intermittent featured players during seasons 3-5, Franken and Davis were two of the sharpest young writers on the show and were finally able to showcase their performing skills on this recurring variety-show piece. Starting off by showing highlights of their careers, Franken and Davis then introduce Jackie Onassis (Radner) to perform a sketch with them where Tom Davis chokes at the dinner table. There’s some clever stuff here and although this wasn’t one of their stronger bits, it was still good. B+

12. Gary Weis Film: The Five Finalists (3:29)
-Henry, Anyone Can Host Finalists

Buck introduces a short film showing each finalist in the Anyone Can Host contest meeting up with our host in a hotel room and trying to find another way to guarantee their hosting stint on the Christmas episode of SNL. Connie comes on to Buck, Lewis explains how he likes to squeeze chipmunk heads, Deb tells Buck she’s not going to be able to afford Christmas this year, the governor tries to buy his way in, and Miskel says that she’s “going to kick” around New Year’s. More fun. B+

13. Leon Redbone sings “Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone” (3:28)

Leon slows things down for a second number, begging people not to reminisce about him when the day comes that he finally passes from this world. Sorry, Mr. Redbone, but you are too legendary to not reminisce about. It’s another terrific performance here, of course. A

14. Schiller’s Reel: Life After Death (2:14)

The second film by Tom Schiller sees a number of people claim to have experienced near-death situations and some having even died completely and then came back when resuscitated. The best part is that the patients lament that they had to wait in line and take a number, but the whole film was good if a little short. B+

Bucky reminds everyone of the December 17th show that the Anyone Can Host contest winner will host and lets all the finalists make thier last stand and then the cast joins in to wave goodnight to everyone.

A super fun show. Buck proved that once again, he was one of the great hosts of the day and one that wouldn’t necessarily hog the spotlight either like some future hosts. Buck was entirely comfortable in playing straight man to the cast’s antics but he was often given some funny stuff to do because he was so beloved by all of the cast. Bucky clearly had fun with the Anyone Can Host contest aspect of the show as well and the finalists themselves must have had an absolute blast being involved in this episode.

Meanwhile, Leon Redbone provided some really solid musical accompaniment and proved to be one of the favourites of the first five years.

Overall, it was a really solid show that keeps the good episode streak going strong.

Host Rating: A
Musical Guest Rating: A-
Show Rating: A-