Posts Tagged ‘steve martin’


(Season 38, Episode 16)
Bumper

 

WHAT THEY’RE PROMOTING:

 

JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE: “The 20/20 Experience” (album)

 

 

COLD OPENING: Hugo Chavez Memorial (3:54)
Hugo Chavez Memorial

–      I enjoyed the fact that someone finally did a bit on Hugo’s death and didn’t present him as a 100% pure great guy… because let’s face it, he was not.

–      Armisen’s opening bit was pretty amusing and I liked Cecily’s voice as the translator. Fred later holding a glass of milk was also funny.

–      Justin’s Elton John impression was pretty funny too and his singing voice was pretty close to the real thing. I especially liked the lines about Hugo being just like a candle in the wind “if a candle could pull out two guns at a press conference,” his parrot wearing the same red beret, and the whole bit about capitalism killing a former civilization that lived on Mars.

RATING: *** ½

 

 

That was definitely still Darrell Hammond doing the introductions rather than Don Pardo.

 

 

MONOLOGUE: Justin Timberlake (7:57)
Monologue

–      This was chock-full with cameos and yes… I loved it. All the cameos were great and there weren’t really any that stood out from any others.

–      Dan Aykroyd being the bartender was hilarious and reminded me of Jon Lovitz having to serve the other five-timers during Tom Hanks’ 1990 monologue.

–      Chevy Chase’s appearance also really surprised me because I expected his portrait and there he was on the phone ordering a Rolls Royce on Steve Martin’s bill. I also liked Chevy telling Steve that they never see each other anymore and “it’s on purpose.”

–      Martin Short’s appearance was great too seeing as how he hosted earlier in the season. He also kinda played the same type of role he did back in the Alec Baldwin show in Season 32.

–      Candice Bergen’s appearance was legitimately the most surprising appearance out of all the cameos. She also cracked up a bit at Martin Short’s line, “I go in the sink.”

–      The Django Unchained reference with Bobby and Taran doing mandingo fighting was great, especially Bobby yelling out, “I KILLED MY FRIEND!”, Hanks saying he loves Drunk Uncle, and Bobby quickly thanking him and walking off.

RATING: *****

 

 

GAMESHOW: It’s a Date (7:58)
It's a Date

–      Awesome sketch.

–      Loved the opening announcer bit: “the only dating gameshow still on TV.”

–      I agree with Stooge that this was the perfect way to utilize Samberg’s cameo and his and Timberlake’s singing characters rather than doing a brand-new digital short with them singing about some other type of their anatomy.

–      Aykroyd and Martin appearing as the Festrunk Brothers was COMPLETELY unexpected and awesome as well. You could tell that the audience knew exactly what was going to happen as soon as Hader mentioned that they were brothers from Czechoslovakia. Them saying they’ve been in America for 37 years was also a great meta-reference.

–      Bobby was an excellent straight man here too like always and I loved his reactions to all the insanity going on around him.

–      Vanessa Bayer was also pretty solid here and I liked her not enjoying Bobby’s decidedly normal answers but rather wanting to go on the date with the singers AND Festrunks.

–      Steve telling the singers he can’t believe they’re not black was also quite funny.

RATING: **** ½

 

 

SKETCH: Veganville (5:35)
Veganville

–      You had to expect this character of Timberlake’s to come back because it’s probably the easiest thing for them to write for him and he has enough charisma and dance moves to carry the whole thing. The Dancing with Myself parody was the best.

–      Moynihan’s appearance here was another great one. He is so good at playing straight roles or slightly-offbeat characters.

–      The Harlem Shake thing at the end was the only real downside but I guess they were going to parody the stupid fad at some point. Hopefully they just leave it alone now to all the shitty internet videos.

RATING: ***

 

 

COMMERCIAL: NuvaBling (1:23)
NuvaBling

–      This reminded me of a commercial parody they would’ve done back in the late 90s with most of the female cast.

–      I really liked the idea of reusing the NuvaBling as earrings as it provided for an amusing visual and Aidy and Cecily’s exchange (“Did you get those earrings Tiffany’s?” “Close, I got them from my vagina!”)

–      I wonder why Taran played that role that any male extra could’ve taken over.

RATING: *** ½

 

 

MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: “Suit & Tie” (5:06)
Justin Timberlake1

–      Love the fact that JT introduced his own performance and merely said, “Make some noise! LET’S GO!”

–      This was a really good performance; Jay-Z coming out and adding to the performance was also unexpected and another fun cameo as well. The man was actually smiling!

 

 

WEEKEND UPDATE with Seth Meyers (7:31)

Guest: Stefon
update1 update2 update3 update4 update5

–      Best Jokes: Chavez funeral; Dennis Rodman/fake bishop; TSA restrictions; Hebrew Playboy jokes; Hooters; Daylight Savings Time

–      Stefon was awesome. This may have been the best edition thus far. The ovation for this character went on for quite a while as he has easily become one of the most popular ones in a long time. I actually noticed Hader making confused looks at the cue cards from time to time at the lines that were clearly written after he was given the final script. I especially loved the Sweet Willie Walker bit, the burned-down Red Lobster, Donald Duck having a Vietnam nightmare, a club being based on the novel Push by Sapphire, and of course… the human fanny pack. I also liked Stefon asking if Seth was taking his girlfriend to Mexico to kill her and then inviting him to join HIS five-timers club.

RATING: ****

 

 

SKETCH: The Tales of Sober Caligula (3:49)
The Tales of Sober Caligula

–      I know most people have been writing this off as the requisite bad sketch of the night but I actually enjoyed it quite a bit. At first, I thought it was gonna be a rehash of that sketch where they would make references to things that Caligula did that sounded a lot like things that Timberlake did but I was quite happy when it was not that.

–      Taran was pretty funny here in his brief role; I liked his little moment where he felt up Justin’s golden armour. It also seemed to make Justin come very close to cracking up afterwards.

–      Bobby, once again, was also tremendous here. Tim Robinson also deserves credit though for the moment with his little sex pig.

RATING: *** ½

 

 

SHOW: Maine Justice (5:40)
Maine Justice

–      I never ever expected this to come back and while it definitely couldn’t live up to the original sketch, it was still entertaining. Sudeikis was hilarious as usual and Timberlake was also great in the role replacing Jamie Foxx.

–      I loved Kate McKinnon’s New Orleans accent.

–      Andy Samberg was a good straight man as expected. He would always do these roles really well back in the days when he was a castmember as well.

–      The conversation that Sudeikis had with the big fake alligator was insane and just amped the sketch up in terms of ridiculous-ness. It was definitely my favourite part.

RATING: *** ½

 

 

MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: “Mirrors” (4:57)
Justin Timberlake2

–      Loved the Three Amigos introduction.

–      Another great performance. Timberlake is so great.

 

 

COMMERCIAL: She’s Got a Dick (1:44)
She's Got a Dick

–      This meant well and it seemed to be a good parody of the type of romantic comedy that Timberlake would star in but I believe this was kinda the stinker of the night.

–      I did like Fred as Eugene Levy and Kenan’s lines.

–      I don’t agree with all those stupid GLAAD people believing the sketch is “transphobic” or whatever though. First of all, it’s not. Secondly, change the channel if you don’t like it.

RATING: **

 

 

COMMERCIAL: Moet & Chandon (3:49)
Moet & Chandon

–      Did NOT expect Vanessa and Cecily to bring back these characters but I really enjoyed this just as much as I did the first time back in the Jamie Foxx episode. Timberlake was also a great addition here. I have a feeling this will come back again multiple times.

–      So many great lines here like Bayer talking about her middle parts being just plastic bags, jerking off a horse (“now who’s the horse!”), Cecily being covered in blood that wasn’t hers (“I was like ‘hello!’”), and the final bit with Cecily saying “oral.”

RATING: *****

 

 

Goodnights
goodnights

 

BEST PERFORMER(S) OF THE NIGHT:

–      Justin Timberlake/Bobby Moynihan/Vanessa Bayer

 

 

FINAL THOUGHTS:

What else can I really say? This was an awesome episode chock-full of great performances, another superb job by Justin Timberlake, and some great music as well. All of the cameos were delightful! Only one middling sketch! This was the second-best episode of the season thus far, coming awfully close to the Christmas episode.

 

TONIGHT’S RATING: **** ½ 

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by Brendan Wahl

(Season 37, Episode 22)

The Show:

1. Cold Opening: The Lawrence Welk Show (5:01)

It’s time once again for Lawrence Welk (Armisen) to introduce another musical number from the sisters hailing from the Fingerlakes (Elliott, Pedrad, & Bayer) and their deformed sibling Dooneese (Wiig) as they attempt to seduce an Italian lothario (Jon Hamm!).

– A good choice for a cold open on Kristen Wiig’s final SNL. Everything worked here from Fred’s dependable Lawrence Welk, Jon Hamm’s surprise cameo and hilarious Italian accent, Kate McKinnon’s quick role, and of course Kristen as the gross deformed sister.
– I really liked Fred’s fingering joke at the beginning.
– The ending was perfect with Wiig finally finding her true love in Hamm’s character. I laughed a whole lot at Hamm sucking on her strange, disgusting hands. I think it almost made Kristen crack up as well.
Rating: *** 1/2

2. Monologue (3:10)

Mick answers some questions that he frequently receives from people every day.

– Jagger proved right away that he would be a fun host with his laid-back demeanour and funny delivery. His charisma really helped carry this otherwise-alright monologue.
– My favourite question that he answered was regarding the “I can’t hear you!” line that rock singers typically yell out at concerts.
Rating: ***

3. Secret Word (4:57)

Another round of the popular 60’s gameshow sees returning player Mindy Gracin (Wiig) and her teammate (Bayer) go up against “macho” film star Chaz Bragman (Jagger) and his teammate (Killam).

– Pretty strong Secret Word sketch for Kristen to finish off her amazing tenure on the show. Kristen had lots of great moments here (I particularly loved the canal/anal mix-up) but I thought Mick Jagger’s performance was very strong as well. Loved the voice he chose for the character.
– Hader’s birth control line was hilarious.
–  The “soft” secret word part was predictable but hilarious because of Jagger’s performance and Killam’s reactions.
Rating: *** 1/2

4. Karaoke Night (5:00)

A number of bar patrons (Jagger, Armisen, Moynihan, Wiig, Bayer, & Killam) witness each other attempt their best Jagger impressions while performing some of his hits, while one of them (Jagger) doesn’t feel that the over-the-top characterizations are that accurate.

– Funny sketch with another very fun performance from Jagger and a really, really good Mick Jagger impression from Fred Armisen in particular. This was a very good example of a simple premise executed really well
– The patrons thinking that Bobby Moynihan sleeping on the microphone was part of the impression was hilarious.
– Moynihan actually singing “Sympathy for the Devil” as part of the lyrics was great as well.
– I liked the ending with Mick’s soft singing.
Rating: *** 1/2

5. Digital Short: Lazy Sunday 2 (2:06)

Andy Samberg and Chris Parnell are back, this time rapping about the new Sister Act: The Musical on Broadway.

– Much like last week, I was blown away by the digital short. It was so fucking awesome that they did a sequel to the original hit as a way to say goodbye to one of the most beloved features of SNL for the last seven years.
– The best part about this sequel is that they didn’t repeat the first one but rather brought a new spin to this thing and the bit with Andy and Chris doing the new rap segment was terrific.
– “On these New York streets, I honed my fake rap penmanship; that’s how it began and that’s how I’m-a finish it!” was an absolutely perfect way for the digital shorts to come to an end. Absolutely brilliant.
Rating: *****

6. Politics Nation (4:16)

Al Sharpton (Thompson) brings on J.P. Morgan representative Colin McKechnie (Jagger), New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg (Armisen), and Peter Panache (Sudeikis) to discuss a huge financial loss for J.P. Morgan and job availability in the US.

– I was in the minority of really enjoying the first one of these sketches back on the Katy Perry episode and I enjoyed this one as well just as much as the first one. It was one of the highlights of the night actually.
– Mick looked like he was on the verge of cracking up at the end of his segment.
– Armisen announcing the available jobs for New Yorkers was a funny bit.
– The “salmon canary” mix-up was hilarious.
Rating: ****

7. Mick Jagger & Arcade Fire perform “The Last Time” (4:09)

– This was an awesome performance. Simply fantastic. Mick and Arcade Fire were a really unexpectedly great combination.

8. Weekend Update with Seth Meyers (8:43)
Guest: Stefon

Best Jokes: Obama: first gay president; Bloomberg commencement speech; anti-Obama Super-PAC; man candles; unsafe fish treatment; text message study

– Not much to say about the fantastic segment of Update this week. Stefon was the only guest and he was great like usual. Of course, he cracked up at one point and recovered somewhat and then continued on with his insane commentary. The highlights this time were the D-Bag Chopra, build-a-bear, roaming draggers, and human R2D2 comments.
Rating: **** 1/2

9. So You Think You Can Dance at an Outdoor Music Festival (4:01)

Dave Matthews (Hader) hosts a series in which people attempt to dance to songs at an outdoor music festival while guest judges Carlos Santana (Armisen), Jewel (Elliott), and Steven Tyler (Jagger) look on.

– Funny sketch. I love the music and the dancing was fairly accurate but Moynihan was easily the highlight. Then again, Killam’s segment was quite funny as well.
– I love Hader’s Dave Matthews impression. I also really enjoyed the appearances by Abby as Jewel, Fred as Santana, and Mick as Steven Tyler.
– The crowd seemed to REALLY like this sketch.
Rating: ***

10. Mick Jagger and the Foo Fighters perform “19th Nervous Breakdown” & “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll” (5:56)

– Another fantastic musical performance, this time of a medley involving two great Stones songs.
– Jagger is clearly the best musical guest of the season and there has been a lot of good ones this year.

11. The Californians (5:49)

More melodrama, convoluted driving directions, and strange character twists from this stereotypical batch of Californian residents.

– Much like Politics Nation, I was happy to see this come back and I know barely anyone else felt the same way.
– My favourite moments in this sketch came from Mick’s strange and slow-paced Californian accent, Kristen nearly coming to laughs when questioning Fred having a father, and the great appearance by Steve Martin as an amnesiac.
– Steve Martin’s cameo was hilarious and totally unexpected. He got a great reaction upon his entrance as well.
Rating: ***

12. Mick Jagger and Jeff Beck perform “Tea Party” (3:07)

– A wicked original song written about the 2012 election. Something tells me that if Jagger could vote, he probably wouldn’t cast one for Mitt Romney.
– Jagger dropped an S-bomb.

13. She’s a Rainbow (4:20)

Mick introduces Kristen Wiig as a “graduating” castmember while “She’s a Rainbow” and “Ruby Tuesday” play to honour her legacy on the show. All the castmembers dance with Kristen as well as she waves to everyone in the audience and the goodnights immediately follow.

– This was one of the classiest send-offs that any castmember has ever received on the show and a hell of a way to end the season. Say what you want about Kristen but she left a legacy that will be hard to follow and she was one of the best female castmembers of all time.
– The Lorne Michaels dance almost made me cry. That was an extremely nice gesture on Lorne’s part and it was a sweet moment.
– Hader, Moynihan, and Sudeikis looked particularly upset at the departure of Kristen Wiig.
– It was awesome to have Martin, Parnell and Hamm come back and that Chris Kattan, Rachel Dratch, Amy Poehler, and Will Forte came back to send off Kristen.
Rating: *****

 

OVERALL: What a season finale. Mick Jagger was a terrific host & musical guest and Arcade Fire and the Foo Fighters were excellent accompaniment as well. To say that I will miss Kristen Wiig is putting it lightly and I can’t state enough how much of a wonderful contribution she has made to the program over the last seven years. Excellent season-closer. I will have my year-end statistics posted tomorrow.

 

BREAKDOWN:

HOST: MICK JAGGER – 7 segments (Monologue; Secret Word; Karaoke Night; Politics Nation; So You Think You Can Dance at an Outdoor Music Festival; The Californians; She’s a Rainbow)

CAMEOS: RACHEL DRATCH – 1 segment (She’s a Rainbow)
WILL FORTE – 1 segment (She’s a Rainbow)
JON HAMM – 2 segments (The Lawrence Welk Show; She’s a Rainbow)
CHRIS KATTAN – 1 segment (She’s a Rainbow)
STEVE MARTIN – 2 segments (The Californians; She’s a Rainbow)
CHRIS PARNELL – 2 segments (Lazy Sunday 2; She’s a Rainbow)
AMY POEHLER – 1 segment (She’s a Rainbow)

FRED ARMISEN – 6 segments (The Lawrence Welk Show; Karaoke Night; Politics Nation; So You Think You Can Dance at an Outdoor Music Festival; The Californians; She’s a Rainbow)
ABBY ELLIOTT – 4 segments (The Lawrence Welk Show; So You Think You Can Dance at an Outdoor Music Festival; The Californians; She’s a Rainbow)
BILL HADER – 5 segments (Secret Word; Weekend Update; So You Think You Can Dance at an Outdoor Music Festival; The Californians; She’s a Rainbow)
SETH MEYERS – 2 segments (Weekend Update; She’s a Rainbow)
BOBBY MOYNIHAN – 3 segments (Karaoke Night; So You Think You Can Dance at an Outdoor Music Festival; She’s a Rainbow)
NASIM PEDRAD – 2 segments (The Lawrence Welk Show; She’s a Rainbow)
ANDY SAMBERG – 3 segments (Lazy Sunday 2; The Californians; She’s a Rainbow)
JASON SUDEIKIS – 2 segments (Politics Nation; She’s a Rainbow)
KENAN THOMPSON – 3 segments (Politics Nation; The Californians; She’s a Rainbow)
KRISTEN WIIG – 6 segments (The Lawrence Welk Show; Secret Word; Karaoke Night; So You Think You Can Dance at an Outdoor Music Festival; The Californians; She’s a Rainbow)

VANESSA BAYER – 5 segments (The Lawrence Welk Show; Secret Word; Karaoke Night; The Californians; She’s a Rainbow)
TARAN KILLAM – 4 segments (Secret Word; Karaoke Night; So You Think You Can Dance at an Outdoor Music Festival; She’s a Rainbow)
KATE MCKINNON – 2 segments (The Lawrence Welk Show; She’s a Rainbow)
JAY PHAROAH – 1 segments (She’s a Rainbow)

EPISODE MVPs: Mick Jagger/Kristen Wiig/Andy Samberg


by Brendan Wahl

(Season 3, Episode 18)

The Show:

1. Cold Opening: Rock Concert (3:32)

Don Kirshner (Paul Shaffer) presents another edition of Rock Concert with the two hottest blues musicians on tap right now, the Blues Brothers (Aykroyd & Belushi). The duo sing “Hey Bartender” before Don closes out the segment.

– Paul Shaffer is always fun with his impression of Don Kirshner. This sketch was no different but he was CLEARLY reading directly off the cue cards here. His hilariously stiff turning towards the stage made up for that though.
– Because most of this segment was a musical performance, I can not rate this in good conscience. I will say that I’ve always enjoyed the performances from Danny and John as the Blues Brothers as well. I always forget that Belushi was quite the talented musician on top of being a great comedic performer.

2. Monologue (5:56)

Steve does some stand-up and then shows off his magic skills by pickpocketing an unsuspecting audience member (Murray).

– Excellent monologue. Steve was his usual great charismatic self with some fantastic stand-up especially the stuff he does on going over an audience’s head with his material. I also really loved his story about the cathedral and the story he then read that said “Apply to infested area.”
– Bill did a great job here too as a clueless audience member and the whole part with Steve basically stripping him down was hilarious.
Rating: *****

3. Hey You! (1:28)
– Repeat from Mary Kay Place/Willie Nelson (12/10/77).
– Wait a second! I just realized now… is that Buck Henry in the really quick shot before they cut from the bar scene?
Rating: *****

4. Festrunk Brothers (7:58)

The swinging Czech brothers (Martin & Aykroyd) are back and this time, they await the arrival of two foxes along with their friend Cliff (Morris). Unfortunately for them, Cliff convinces them that they’ve been tricked and that the girls are not coming over.

– Wow, these characters are already getting a huge reaction just from their entrance onto the set.
– Another hilarious and classic edition of the Festrunk Brothers sketches. I particularly love the energy that they put into their performances and as far as specifics go, that huge vacuum cleaner thing was great and Cliff making fun of the brothers for their catchphrases was also pretty amusing.
– I guess I didn’t really get the joke about going to the Statue of Liberty for birth control devices. I feel stupid so can someone explain this to me?
– I think Garrett almost lost it at one point.
Rating: *****

5. Theodoric of York, Medieval Barber (6:33)

Theodoric (Martin) treats his patients with many prehistoric methods like curing one woman’s (Newman) blood loss with additional bloodletting, curing one man’s broken legs with, yes, additional bloodletting, and having his assistant Brungilda (Radner) helping out with the proceedings.

– Another classic sketch. They would follow this up with one about Theodoric as a judge, but it never quite lived up to this classic first installment.
– The best parts in this sketch was Bill Murray’s whole scene, Belushi as a hunchback saying that Theodoric previously worked on it, Steve’s dissection of even more medieval practices, the bit with the Caladrious bird (it seemed like a bit of a blooper), and the final speech as well which was very reminiscent of that great Mike McMack sketch from the season premiere.
– Everything about this worked though really and the performances were terrific from all involved. The highlights were most likely from Steve and Gilda. I got a kick out of Gilda’s strange mannerisms and groaning noises that she kept making.
Rating: *****

6. Dancing in the Dark (3:12)

Two strangers (Martin & Radner) spot each other from opposite sides of a bar and begin to dance throughout the studio while everyone else is frozen in motion.

– Yet another classic sketch. This is probably one of Gilda’s (and definitely Steve’s) best moments on the show and they really excelled at doing this flawless, yet goofy dancing seqquence for the entire duration of the segment.
– I’m running out of stars, guys.
Rating: *****

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

– Pat Nixon has a gallstone removed.

8. WEEKEND UPDATE w/Dan Aykroyd & Jane Curtin (5:58)
Guest: Garrett Morris

Best Jokes: Jimmy Hoffa; nasal contraceptive; Garrett killed



– Garrett does the only commentary here to test out marijuana for paraquat and it was quite funny. I love how Aykroyd said that a survey shows 97% of SNL viewers smoke it daily. The later story about Garrett added to it and was pretty funny as well.
– For the third week in a row, we have a Point/Counterpoint segment, this time on abortions. This one was better than last week’s good edition and at least we got the “Jane, you ignorant slut” argument back again. I love how angry they get during their segment and then how they’re completely cordial afterwards.
Rating: ****

9. King Tut (3:01)

Steve talks about the commercialization of King Tut and the way he’s being exploited before launching into a giddy performance highlighting exactly what he just condemned.

– One classic after another. After a brief break with a great-but-not-perfect Update, we’re back to the classic sketches with another fantastic performance from Steve and a wonderful overall segment.
– If I’m not mistaken, there are members of the Dirt Band backing him up.
– I heard a segment on Opie and Anthony where they TRASHED this song. I have to say… are they retarded?! Just because not everything the man makes is gold means you need to trash his classic bits.
Rating: *****

10. Love Story (4:44)

A middle-aged couple (Belushi & Curtin) admit their extra-marital affairs to each other and it helps them get in the mood for one another in the bedroom.

– A great sketch with some terrific chemistry between John Belushi and Jane Curtin, which is funny considering they hated each other.
– The two actors really do some of their best work here and the way in which they describe their sexual encounters to each other was a hoot. The ending was very funny too with the revelation that they may be lying to each other just to get in the mood for sex. Jane yelling about rubber gloves made me fall off my chair laughing.
Rating: ****

11. Gary Weis Film: Swan Lake Ballet (1:53)

Various ballerinas perform to the tune of “Swan Lake” along with some hip hop performers, as choreographed by Toni Basil.

– Probably one of the better Gary Weis films. This wasn’t played for laughs at all but it was well-done and the choreography was quite good as expected. Also, this would be the last film by Gary Weis that appeared on Saturday Night Live.
– If anyone has more information on this film that’d be great. Like who the ballerinas/hip hop dancers were, etc.
Rating: ****

12. Troff ‘n’ Brew (2:55)

A number of business executives (Martin, Aykroyd, Belushi, Curtin, Morris, & Murray) stop by for lunch at the Troff ‘n’ Brew, a restaurant where you can eat like a pig… quite literally.

– Pretty funny and creative sketch that was probably a lot of fun to perform in. The juxtaposition of the businessmen dipping their faces into the chili trough while talking shop was funny stuff.
– I really liked the subtle bit with the pictures on the back wall, especially the one with the people’s faces covered with chili and it saying “This chili is so hot.”
– The hosedown was a funny sight gag at the end.
Rating: ***

13. Nerds Science Fair (5:24)

Lisa Loopner (Radner) and Todd DiLaMuca (Murray) are back again and this time they’re competing in a science fair against fellow nerds like the competitive Charles Knerlman (Martin) and their friend Grant Robinson Jr. (Morris).

– Wow, the Nerds are back already after only two episodes but that’s okay because Lisa and Todd are two of the most endearing characters that were on during the first five years. This was another great sketch with these characters.
– I especially liked Todd and Lisa’s project, Dialing for Toast, and Garrett coming up with a “project” that involves rubbing balloons on a sweater to make statis electricity.
– Steve was hilarious here as per the norm for the entire night and he really pulled off the snobbish nerd thing really well. I like how his project was a plutonium bomb.
Rating: **** 1/2

14. The Blues Brothers sing “I Don’t Know” (3:54)

– A second performance from these guys? I’m down. Much like the cold open, what we got here was another entertaining performance and some great vocals by Belushi.
– Belushi did some pretty crazy acrobats here for a bigger guy.

15. Nest Week in Review (4:53)

Three near-future psychics (Martin, Aykroyd, & Curtin) predict some upcoming events while host Maxine Universe (Newman) acts as the moderator.

– Fun concept here and I enjoyed the performances from all involved. Laraine served as a good straightman to all the craziness as well. Subdued craziness, but still.
– I enjoyed all the little predictions that they all came up with like the Pope’s cloning for isntance. The way Steve kept doing the thumb-removing trick while he was predicting stuff was a great quirk as well.
– The ending was funny too with the TIME Magazine cover that says “Send More Chuck Berry” and then the psychics predicting that Laraine will be fired from the show.
Rating: *** 1/2

16. Goodnights

– Steve does a pretty funny flub while thanking the cast.

OVERALL: One of the best episodes ever; not just during this season but in the entire history of Saturday Night Live. Steve had always been a fantastic host during his other four appearances but he really stepped up his game for this one and participated in classic after classic sketch. It was also fun to have Danny and John be the musical guests as well. Everything about this episode just falls into place. It’s a pretty good sign when the show is considering ‘slowed down’ during a batch of **** sketches. Awesome stuff.

APPEARANCES:

HOST: STEVE MARTIN – 8 segments (Monologue; Festrunk Brothers; Theodoric of York, Medieval Barber; Dancing in the Dark; King Tut; Troff ‘n’ Brew; Nerds Science Fair; Next Week in Review)

DAN AYKROYD – 7 segments (Rock Concert; Festrunk Brothers; Theodoric of York, Medieval Barber; Weekend Update; Troff ‘n’ Brew; “I Don’t Know”; Next Week in Review)
JOHN BELUSHI – 5 segments (Rock Concert; Theodoric of York, Medieval Barber; Love Story; Troff ‘n’ Brew; “I Don’t Know”)
JANE CURTIN – 6 segments (Theodoric of York, Medieval Barber; Weekend Update; Love Story; Troff ‘n’ Brew; Nerds Science Fair; Next Week in Review)
GARRETT MORRIS – 4 segments (Festrunk Brothers; Weekend Update; Troff ‘n’ Brew; Nerds Science Fair)
BILL MURRAY – 4 segments (Monologue; Theodoric of York, Medieval Barber; Troff ‘n’ Brew; Nerds Science Fair)
LARAINE NEWMAN – 4 segments (Festrunk Brothers; Theodoric of York, Medieval Barber; Troff ‘n’ Brew; Next Week in Review)
GILDA RADNER – 6 segments (Hey You!; Festrunk Brothers; Theodoric of York, Medieval Barber; Dancing in the Dark; Troff ‘n’ Brew; Nerds Science Fair)

TOM DAVIS – 3 segments (Hey You!; Dancing in the Dark; Troff ‘n’ Brew)
AL FRANKEN – 3 segments (Hey You!; Dancing in the Dark; Troff ‘n’ Brew)

EPISODE MVP: Gilda Radner


by Brendan Wahl

(Season 37, Episode 1)

SEASON PREMIERE BAY-BAY! This was the first episode in a long, long time that I actually didn’t watch live and had to wait until I could attain it through other means before I could post a review. Like a heroin junkie, I searched for the episode a mere five hours after it was complete and then came home to find 90% satisfaction. As I waited and counted down the seconds until the damn thing was all set up and ready to go, I salivated and started foaming at the mouth. The heroin was delicious.

After that, I watched the season premiere of Saturday Night Live.

The Show:

1. Either the 7th or 8th GOP Debate (11:05)

We are treated to a GOP debate moderated by Shepherd Smith (Hader) and featuring frontrunners Rick Perry (Baldwin) and Mitt Romney (Sudeikis) along with “candidates who can’t and won’t win,” including Michele Bachmann (Wiig), Newt Gingrich (Moynihan), John Huntsman (Killam), Ron Paul (Brittain), Herman Cain (Thompson), and Rick Santorum (Samberg).

– Very funny opening that clearly shows that the show hasn’t lost its sharp political writing. The only way I can really mention the aspects of this sketch is by going over each of the performers.
– I loved the fact that Alec was in the cold opening and he did a great take on Rick Perry with some pretty hilarious lines. I especially liked him not being able to talk for more than ten seconds without alienating some ethnic group or gender.
– Sudeikis’ bit comparing himself to the other candidates was hilarious especially him mentioning Herman Cain and silently mouthing, “I’m white.”
– Despite all these funny parts, my favourite was Taran talking about his knowledge of Chinese culture not limiting him to only one area of expertise. Using broken english made me laugh quite a bit and it was in a large part due to Taran’s delivery of his lines here.
– Bobby walking away was hilarious.
– I never expected Samberg to nail an impression so I like how he just made Rick Santorum crazy instead.
– Kristen’s bit as Michele was funny like usual as well. Her best bit was about her obviously gay husband.
– Of course, Hader rocked it as Shepherd Smith as well like he usually does whenever he does the impression of this strange, weasely anchorman.
– Kenan as Herman Cain was okay and Brittain as Ron Paul wasn’t as strong as the others, but they were still fairly funny. Brittain’s impression was actually pretty good too.
Rating: ****

2. Monologue (4:33)

Alec celebrates his 16th time hosting but is interrupted by Steve Martin (big surprise!), who wants to test him for steroids with the help of “drug expert” Seth Rogen.

– You had to know Steve was gonna show up for this but it was funny nonetheless. I enjoyed Baldwin’s comments before the cameo, especially talking about hosting the Oscars and Steve helping out a bit.
– Seth Rogen’s cameo came out of nowhere but it was funny despite the fact that he didn’t get all that much to do. I did like his line about Steve Martin getting 108 results when he searched for him.
– The pee drinking thing was a bit much but Steve is one of the few that can make that funny with his dry delivery and great deadpan humour.
Rating: *** 1/2

3. Red Flag (1:51)

A gorgeous woman (Wiig) walks through a party and flirts with various young bachelors (Samberg, Sudeikis, & Killam) while a voiceover points out some red flags that should notify others that she is actually a crazy person.

– This was very funny and featured a great performance by Kristen as the woman in question.
– The best parts here were Jason spitting up his drink, Wiig putting her finger in Taran’s mouth, and the line by the narrator about her being “funny but not funny ha-ha, like funny yikes!”
Rating: ****

4. All My Children Wrap Party (4:32)

Susan Lucci (Bayer) hosts a wrap party involving the cast and crew from the long-running soap opera, but things get insane when the soap opera-like antics carry over to the creative forces behind the show as well as they continue to one-up each other in terms of bizarre and unusual quirks and confessions.

– This was definitely my favourite sketch of the whole night and I think it ranks as a near-classic in my book. Everything worked here for the most part from Bayer’s hilarious impression of Susan Lucci to the ridiculous confessions to the insane names that everyone introduces themselves with.
– Bill Hader’s bit may have been my favourite with his line, “OR WAS I PUSHED?” especially how that line was repeated later on by Brittain and Sudeikis (who was especially hilarious as a crazy man).
– Best lines? Baldwin responding to a question about having kids by saying that he has cancer, Kenan’s bit about everyone having AIDS, and Kenan as his own evil twin (“I mean… his regular twin”).
– Samberg mistakenly coming into the wrong room was also a hoot.
– The only thing that didn’t work all that well was Fred with his hair blowing in the wind.
Rating: **** 1/2

5. WDHX Buffalo (3:55)

Co-anchors (Baldwin & Elliott) speak with a correspondent (Wiig) on location in Costa Rica and have to deal with a time delay while attempting to warn the surgically-enhanced reporter about various critters that are crawling all over her

– I’m sure some people will dismiss this as “some whatever Kristen Wiig shit” but fuck ’em. I enjoyed this a decent amount and it was a much more creative take on one of those typical “morning-show-gone-wrong” premises.
– I liked the twist that Wiig’s character had gotten Botox and I especially liked her retort that Baldwin’s character had herpes.
– I really thought this was going to be Herb Welch at first (who I love, by the way!) but I’m really glad they went a different route with this and gave us a non-recurring character.
Rating: ***

6. Radiohead performs “Lotus Flower” (4:57)

– It is undeniably awesome to see this band back on SNL for the first time in eleven years and they did a great job here. Their songs always sound unique and this one was no exception.
– Thom has an insane way of dancing. I love it.

7. Weekend Update with Seth Meyers (8:32)
Guest: Tony Bennett (Baldwin)

Best Jokes: new tax; gay recruiting; fashion terms; NYC women uptight; freon thief; PETA/porn




– The sole commentary comes from Alec doing one of his classic bits: his Tony Bennett impression. He had so many good lines here and there, my favourite probably about John Garfield “croaking on top of a chick for hire.” Although I also loved his line about the He-bro, the bit about confusing a blind girl with the help of Bobby Darin, and the sponsor spot at the end with Poise Pads.
Rating: ****

8. Who’s On Top? (5:09)

An absurd gameshow featuring contestants (Baldwin & Bayer) being given a pair of celebrities and having to guess which one of them would be on top if they had gay sex together.

– The introduction by Bill as the gameshow host was hilarious as was Sudeikis quickly leaving after hearing the rules of the game.
– My favourite parts were Baldwin’s dissection of Billy Joel/Bruce Springsteen and Timon/Pumbaa along with Bill warning him of the remaining time left with saying “ten more minutes.”
– Bayer was good here, Hader was great as usual as the host, but Baldwin was particularly excellent here as the overly-eager participant and him going through the Lightning Round was a great example of comic timing, especially him mentioning “the other guy” after only hearing Paul Giamatti as the first participant. Entourage fans take notice of the great bit at the end.
– The end was hilarious with Baldwin opting to lose all his money thinking that it led to some type of bonus round but it just meant that Baldwin lost all his money at once.
Rating: ****

9. Top Gun Auditions (2:54)

Commemorating the 25th anniversary of Top Gun, several different actors of yesteryear try their hand auditioning for various parts in the well-remembered film from Tony Danza (Armisen) to Harvey Fierstein (Hader) to Al Pacino (Baldwin) and many, many others.

– This was a pretty funny follow-up to the Star Wars and Back to the Future auditions sketches, particularly with Alec-as-Pacino, Bill with both of his impressions, Fred-as-Danza, and Taran’s impressions of Tom Hanks and Bobcat Goldthwait. Really though there weren’t any real duds here and I enjoyed this quite a bit from start to finish.
– The Prince impression was pretty much the same thing they did with it last time but it still makes me chuckle.
– Andy’s Crispin Glover was so strange it made me laugh.
Rating: *** 1/2

I just want to mention here that those usual shots-during-the-middle-of-the-commercials bits got super cool here as the camera took us backstage for a bit where we actually saw Radiohead chilling and a few costume people walking around.

10. Child Psychologist (4:37)

Renowned child psychologist (Baldwin) attempts to have a romantic date with a woman (Bayer), but his young daughter (Pedrad) constantly creeps around behind them. Despite the woman’s reluctance to ignore her, the psychologist informs her that by giving her attention you give her the power and thus have no control.

–  I’ll admit here that Nasim’s voice was a bit grating at the beginning but the sketch got better and better as it went on from Nasim being perched on top of the cabinet to her burning Alec’s blue tennis jacket. Still, this was probably the weakest sketch of the night but not as bad as some have said.
– Vanessa continues to impress with her performance as the straight woman in this sketch. She has a very likeable grounded quality to her that I really enjoy. She even made it funny when she was covered by the tapioca pudding (which kinda looked like oatmeal) just from her great subtle reaction.
– I liked the ending with Alec saying, “After we have sex, you should probably go home.”
Rating: ** 1/2

11. Radiohead performs “Staircase” (4:32)

– Another fine, albeit weirder, performance. Dig Thom’s crazy dance moves!

12. Angels in the Trenches (3:39)

An old-timey war film on TCM features a number of dying soldiers (Baldwin, Armisen, & Moynihan) making a number of pleas to another one (Killam) that get increasingly more and more bizarre and offensive.
– This was hilarious and the whole thing was carried by Taran Killam. He is definitely the best of the featured players and it’s any day now that he’s going to break out and have the whole world notice his talents.
– My favourite were Baldwin telling Killam to tell his brother he has cancer (“trust me, it will be hilarious”), telling him to tell his son that Taran killed him, and the slew of yo momma jokes disguised as last requests that followed from all three soldiers.
– This was one of the best closing sketches in quite some time. A near-classic despite its very basic premise.
Rating: **** 1/2

13. Goodnights

– Alec being caught off-guard was pretty funny.

OVERALL: Wow, what a season premiere. There wasn’t a single sketch here that I flat-out didn’t like and the only thing that even came close was the child psychologist segment. Baldwin was a terrific host as per usual but he didn’t eclipse this fantastic cast that was a great blend of old guard and blossoming newcomers. It seems that it’s about that time for Kenan and Fred to cut their losses and go but I wouldn’t mind everyone else sticking around for a while yet. I sincerely hope this isn’t Hader or Sudeikis’ last year and I pray that Seth remains on Update for at least another season or two.

BREAKDOWN:

HOST: ALEC BALDWIN – 9 segments (Either the 7th or 8th GOP Debate; Monologue; All My Children Wrap Party; WDHX Buffalo; Weekend Update; Who’s On Top?; Top Gun Auditions; Child Psychologist; Angels in the Trenches)

CAMEOS: STEVE MARTIN – 1 segment (Monologue)
SETH ROGEN – 1 segment (Monologue)

FRED ARMISEN – 4 segments (Monologue; All My Children Wrap Party; Top Gun Auditions [2 roles]; Angels in the Trenches)
ABBY ELLIOTT – 3 segments (Monologue; All My Children Wrap Party; WDHX Buffalo)
BILL HADER – 4 segments (Either the 7th or 8th GOP Debate; All My Children Wrap Party; Who’s On Top?; Top Gun Auditions [2 roles])
SETH MEYERS – 1 segment (Weekend Update)
NASIM PEDRAD – 3 segments (All My Children Wrap Party; Top Gun Auditions; Child Psychologist)
ANDY SAMBERG – 5 segments (Either the 7th or 8th GOP Debate; Monologue; Red Flag; All My Children Wrap Party; Top Gun Auditions)
JASON SUDEIKIS – 4 segments (Either the 7th or 8th GOP Debate; Red Flag; All My Children Wrap Party; Who’s On Top?)
KENAN THOMPSON – 3 segments (Either the 7th or 8th GOP Debate; All My Children Wrap Party; Top Gun Auditions)
KRISTEN WIIG – 5 segments (Either the 7th or 8th GOP Debate; Monologue; Red Flag; All My Children Wrap Party; WDHX Buffalo)

FEATURING:

VANESSA BAYER – 3 segments (All My Children Wrap Party; Who’s On Top?; Child Psychologist)
PAUL BRITTAIN – 2 segments (Either the 7th or 8th GOP Debate; All My Children Wrap Party)
TARAN KILLAM – 4 segments (Either the 7th or 8th GOP Debate; Red Flag; Top Gun Auditions [2 roles]; Angels in the Trenches)

Episode MVPs: Bill Hader/Taran Killam


by Brendan Wahl

(Season 3, Episode 9)

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, eh? With this week’s edition, we’re gonna see a whole new style of reviewing these episodes as I’ve been getting tired of using the letter grade system. My comments are getting somewhat repetitive as well, so I’ve decided to do my review in summary-and-point-form, much like my fellow reviewer over at Existentialist Weightlifting (check out his site on the Blogroll; his reviews of season seven are fantastic! I basically stole his reviewing style…). Also, I am going to rate musical guests as positive or negative with comments underneath but I am not going to nail it down with a rating this time (however, I will still figure out the best/worst musical guests of the season at the end!). Anyway, here is my new rating system (hardly original).

***** = Classic sketch
**** = Great; a really strong sketch
*** = Average piece
** = Not so good, but not absolutely terrible
* = A real stinker (aka the Melanie Hutsell Award)

This week’s episode features frequent host Steve Martin and two musical guests in the form of the (Nitty Gritty) Dirt Band and Randy Newman.

These pre-ambles are gonna be kept to a minimum or excised altogether as well.

The Show:

Prelude: “Bruce Jenner Wins The Javelin Catch” will not be seen tonight…

1. State of the Union 1978 (3:26)

President Carter (Aykroyd) discusses the State of the Union while Mondale (Murray) and Tip O’Neill (Belushi) get bored and keep themselves occupied behind him.

– This is the first of a series of “State of the Union” parodies that SNL would tackle and I always liked how they incorporated the real footage with the set where President Carter stood along with Vice-Prez Mondale and Speaker Tip O’Neil.
– I liked the little captions like the Secretary of Energy “wearing a new shirt” and the one concerning the amount of snow outside; it looks like it was there to comment on the dull nature of Carter’s speech.
– John and Bill made it amusing, but there otherwise wasn’t too much to this average opener.
– It should be noted that during the live show, the camera lingers on Danny for quite a while after he delivers the LFNY line.
***

2. Monologue (4:49)

Steve’s usual brand of stand-up comedy dominates the opening monologue.

– Steve’s joke about Randy Newman being small is probably my favourite bit, but Steve’s battle plan on how one can become a millionaire is a close second.
– The bit about Belushi stealing money from Steve wasn’t far off from the real going-ons behind the scenes. John was known as a bit of a rabble-rouser and things would go missing when he was around from time-to-time. It was also weird to see Belushi with a plaid shirt and overalls, but it would make sense for the next sketch.
– Stand-up monologues are the best and it was nice to let Steve do his thing for his hosting stints in the 70s.
– Even the cheap bits were done with aplomb like getting electrocuted by the microphone.
****

3. Swill (1:18)

– Repeat from Madeline Kahn/Taj Mahal (10/8/77).

4. The Mystery of Bigfoot (5:03)

A couple (Belushi & Radner) welcome a hunter (Martin) who is on the lookout for Bigfoot, yet he can’t seem to realize that the answer to the situation is right under his nose.

– This is a good example of a very simple premise being executed well by the solid acting and the fact that all three actors played it completely straight.
– I liked Steve’s constant name-dropping of the most ridiculous-sounding city names like Otter Valley and Moose Creek.
– Gilda received a wood stove in her stocking? Brilliant.
– I also liked how Steve was telling them how big the monster’s foot is right over Gilda’s huge shoe
– Steve also takes forever to break the window glass. That had to be intentional and the awkwardness of that moment is quite funny.
*** 1/2

5. Festrunk Brothers: Croatian Dates (7:27)

After their first appearance in the season premiere, the Festrunks (Martin & Aykroyd) are back and this time, they await the arrival of two foxes, but not before their friend Cliff comes over.

– I can’t emphasize how much I love these characters despite their obvious one-note nature. These two just have a fantastic amount of chemistry together and they also got a nice round of applause when the sketch began.
– Man, can Garrett ever get through a sketch without flubbing a line or two? Sometimes it seems like he’s not even trying, but he wasn’t too bad here and he actually had a few funny lines as well. He was on the verge of breaking character a couple of times too.
– This time, the Festrunks have a couple of Croatian girls come over, who basically act like the female versions of Martin and Aykroyd’s characters. Both Jane and Laraine do a good job of it too, as does Belushi who plays their wacky uncle.
– So Croatian chicks are really into black dudes? Alright, then.
– “Goodbye, Cliff. Enjoy your sex!”
**** 1/2

6. MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: “On the Loose with the Blues” (4:30)

The Dirt Band performs their first tune.

– Steve announces that he’s known the band since they were “small,” an amusing reference to his stand-up material.
– This song had a kind of country blues-y type feel to it and for once, I mean that in the most positive way possible. Having never heard this song before, I can say that it was a fairly strong number.

7. The Body Floss (1:33)

A spokesperson (Martin) hypes the new rage in a long line of hygiene products, a body floss which “reaches spaces and places your washcloth just can’t go!”

– Good commercial parody of the hygiene obsession that is still relevant today.
– I usually like whenever the show does ads for these ridiculous products because you know that it’s not that far off from the truth.
– I sure hope Garrett had something on underneath that towel for poor Jane Curtin’s sake. That thing was falling off any second.
– Steve plays a great pitchman and he would do several pieces like that during his hosting stints.
*** 1/2

8. UPDATE TEASER w/Dan Aykroyd

– Economy bus service to Miami. Eh.

9. WEEKEND UPDATE w/Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin (7:42)
Guests: Gilda Radner

Best Bits: Silverman taking over NBC; Big Snow; Oral Roberts/Hustler; President Carter’s presidency outlined

– Aykroyd and Curtin have an unmistakeable chemistry together that is sometimes ignored by people who undermine Dan’s work ethic behind the desk. True, he was not always the sharpest anchor, but he did an admirable job most of the time once he got over his initial stage fright.
– The jokes are pretty good this week with the highlight being Jane’s outlining of President Carter’s presidential career up to that point.
– The first (and only) guest commentary comes from Roseanne Rosannadanna, who responds to a “Mr. Richard Feder.” It would always be the same name, except for one occassion I believe, as these letters were just there to set up an off-topic rant for Roseanne. This time, Feder asks what to do when one has no more heat in their apartment. Roseanne turns it into a story about enjoying some soup but finding a long hair in the bowl, which then segues into a story involving a hamburger and a toenail. This was the start of a winning streak for Gilda as this character was much more well-rounded than Emily Litella and her rants often changed enough to refrain from being stale.
– I liked how Dan interjected himself at the end of the rant and caused Gilda to crack up a bit.
****

10. MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: “Short People,” “Rider In The Rain” (7:11)

Randy Newman starts off by playing his somewhat-controversial song, “Short People,” following it up with “Rider In The Rain,” all the while with the Dirt Band providing backing vocals. Newman also addresses the criticism he’s received towards “Short People” with a big, fat raspberry.

– Newman is a tour-de-force and its great to watch him at his musical prime here.
– Was it just me or did a couple members of the Dirt Band look a bit miffed at having to be Randy’s backup? I don’t know why they would, seeing as how they got two songs of their own to perform.
– For the second tune, one of the Dirt Band singers leaves and another grabs a guitar. It’s a completely different style of song, but it’s another classic tune.

11. Family Feud (7:47)

The long-running gameshow institution features the latest appearance of the Coneheads, who go head-to-head with the struggling Mel family, all while Richard Dawson (Murray) plays emcee.

– This has always been a favourite of mine in the realm of gameshow sketches from Murray’s entertaining Richard Dawson impression to the Mel family (it’s funnier that the Coneheads’ opponents are also funny), and the Coneheads of course.
– I also loved Dawson’s constant abuse of Joe Mel, Jr. (Belushi), due to his inanity at answering questions.
– This sketch also did a good job of mocking Dawson’s borderline-lecherous behaviour as the host on the show.
– The Coneheads were at their absolute best here as they each answered according to their individual personalities; I especially liked Connie (Newman) answering “the big one” to what people like to bite. Their constant mimicking of the buzzer sounds was also hilarious.
– “Old people are our greatest natural resource. So check in on one today and push ’em around the block.”
*****

12. What If? (5:37)

A panel of experts (Morris & Murray) discuss the question of what would have happened if Napoleon Bonaparte had a B-52 bomber during the Battle of Waterloo with the program’s host, Joan Cage (Curtin). During the dramatic representation, Napoleon (Belushi) is given the tour on his bomber by the pilot (Aykroyd).

– This is the start of a short run for this recurring sketch. The best one would be coming up in Season 4 where Superman is working for the Nazis.
– Martin plays a pretty small role in this sketch, playing a scared general who reports to Napoleon (Belushi). This just shows that Steve was willing to just gel with the cast and not always have to be the center of attention.
– Aykroyd also does a great job outlining the console and equipment on the Bomber and you can tell that he was really into this stuff throughout his career as Danny seemed to do a lot of sketches that had to do with the military or with engineering in general.
– I like how the whole panel is based on one seven-year-old boy’s question.
**** 1/2

13. GARY WEIS FILM: Hollywood Homes (2:43)

Steve cruises around L.A. to visit the homes of “close, personal friends” of his in the industry. Of course, no one will come out and see him though.

– This was pretty much the same joke over and over; Steve goes in front of different celebrity homes and of course, no one comes out at all despite Steve telling the camera that he knows them all well. Despite this, Steve still makes it work.
– I think it would’ve worked better if one celebrity had eventually come out of their house, but I liked the Rin-Tin-Tin ending anyway…
***

14. MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: “White Russia” (2:32)

Steve and the Dirt Band perform an entirely instrumental piece with the aid of banjos, guitars, and a saxophone.

– It’d be unusual to see the host perform with the musical guest today, but it happened a couple of times this season with Mary Kay Place and now Steve Martin.
– It’s not as good as the previous tunes, but the Dirt Band do a very good job and of course, our host is quite adept at playing the banjo.

15. GOODNIGHTS & CREDITS

Steve thanks Newman, the Dirt Band, and the Not-Ready-For-Primetime Players before the credits quickly roll.

– Dan and John look awfully close already here and I think anyone would be able to tell they have tremndous chemistry together and would work closely in the future.
– Why did most of the cast walk off the stage halfway through the goodnights?

OVERALL: What a great, great show. This may be the strongest show of the third season thus far and that’s saying a lot in regards to the awesome season we’ve had so far. With not a single bad episode as of yet, SNL was on one of the strongest runs it would ever have in its entire 36-year span. Steve Martin carried his end of things as well as he usually did at that point in his career as a host and you also had two strong musical guests in Randy Newman and the Dirt Band (especially Newman!) bringing down the house with their performances. By the time this season began, you could really see the cast coming together as a unit, particularly because you could pretty much picture any castmember being in a sketch with any 0ther member of the cast and see it working well.

HOST & CAST APPEARANCES

HOST: STEVE MARTIN – 8 appearances (Monologue; The Mystery of Bigfoot; Festrunk Bros; The Body Floss; Family Feud; What If?; Hollywood Homes; “White Russia”)

MUSICAL GUESTS: THE DIRT BAND – 3 appearances (“On the Loose with the Blues,” “Short People” & “Rider In The Rain,” & “White Russia”)
RANDY NEWMAN – 1 (“Short People” & “Rider In The Rain”)

CAST:

DAN AYKROYD – 5 appearances (State of the Union 1978; Festrunk Bros; Weekend Update; Family Feud; What If?)
JOHN BELUSHI – 6 appearances (State of the Union 1978; Monologue; The Mystery of Bigfoot; Festrunk Bros; Family Feud; What If?)
JANE CURTIN – 5 appearances (Festrunk Bros; The Body Floss; Weekend Update; Family Feud; What If?)
GARRETT MORRIS – 3 appearances (Festrunk Bros; The Body Floss; What If?)
BILL MURRAY – 5 appearances (State of the Union 1978; Swill; The Body Floss; Family Feud; What If?)
LARAINE NEWMAN – 4 appearances (Swill; The Body Floss; Family Feud; What If?)
GILDA RADNER – 4 appearances (The Mystery of Bigfoot; The Body Floss; Weekend Update; Family Feud)

FEATURED PLAYERS:

TOM DAVIS – 1 appearance (State of the Union 1978 (voice-only))
AL FRANKEN – none


by Brendan Wahl

(Season 3, Episode 1)

Greetings, readers! All five of you. I have finally made a decision to go back in time for these juicy retro episodes of Saturday Night Live after a 3-week absence. I thought I was going to take a longer break, but I decided to go back to it now and begin to delve into the third season of the long-running comedy show. So what is new? What is the same? What can we expect?

Essentially, nothing has changed from the end of the second season to the start of the third. The entire cast is still in tact and now with a fresh start, Bill Murray can start his own legacy rather than continue with his moniker as “Chevy Chase’s replacement. The rest of the cast are back in full force and the only major changes have to do with some of the writers being snipped from the show. That is to say that castmembers Belushi and Murray are no longer credited as actual writers on the show.

Headlining the season premiere is cast and crew favourite Steve Martin. After two good episodes last season and superb performances by Martin, he makes his return at the beginning of the third season most likely because he is loved at 8H and because everyone wanted someone easy to work with at the start of the new year. Martin was a consummate professional during anything he did (at least back in the seventies), always proving to be on the brink of something new and outrageous but giving the whole situation a self-referential wink at the same time.

Joining Steve is a first-time musical guest in the form of country-rock sensation, Jackson Browne. Throughout the years, Browne would be known for his many hits like “Runnin’ On Empty” but mostly because he has had the SAME haircut for THIRTY FREAKIN’ YEARS. In all seriousness, I’ve always enjoyed his music so this should be a fun combination.

Season 3 – GO!

The Show:

1. National Express (1:43)

Saying goodbye to political disgrace Bert Lance (Belushi), President Carter (Aykroyd) gets weepy and walks away, leaving Lance to advertise for National Express “because a lot of people don’t recognize my face.” This really threw me for a loop as I expected a lengthy topical opening here that delved into a silly credit card spoof. Still, not a bad way to start the season although slightly underwhelming. B-

2. Monologue (4:38)

After doing a positively quirky bit involving a classic Bobby Darin song (“Oh, the shark bites!”), Steve-O talks about being a ramblin’ guy and how he goes from town to town starting a new family and then dumps them when he moves on. One of his best jokes involves Farrah Fawcett-Majors and some relatively blue humour that I am surprised made it into the show.  Martin is on an absolute roll with his monologue though, as he requests a pair of cat handcuffs and makes a number of bad feline-related puns. A

3. Royal Deluxe II (1:30)

The newest 1978 model is such a smooth, safe ride that the spokesman (Aykroyd) for this product offers a sensational example: he has a rabbi perform a circumcision in the backseat while they drive down a particularly bumpy road. It’s a classic commercial parody. A+

4. Festrunk Brothers (6:46)

Yes, it’s the debut of the wild and swingin’ Czechoslovakian brothers! In the first edition, Georg (Martin) and Yortuk (Aykroyd) crash a ping-pong game with two “foxy American babes” (Curtin & Radner) in the basement of their new apartment building. This is where the recurring sketch gets its start; from the broken english, the misuse of grammar, and their terrible attempt at trying to impress the girls by playing ping-pong themselves. You can tell that Gilda is pretty close to cracking during the sketch, but everyone manages to keep their composure in this amusing introduction to the two characters. B+

5. Jackson Browne sings “Runnin’ On Empty” (4:15)

Donning his seventies haircut (in the 70s, so I guess its okay), Jackson sings his biggest hit to date about a musician’s life on the road. Jackson is a talented crooner and this is a really enjoyable song. He doesn’t have the most charisma in the world, but it’s still a good performance. B+

6. Weekend Update with Dan Aykroyd & Jane Curtin (11:14)

Danny joins the Update team to give us the first solo anchors for the segment. Danny does well, talking about a story linking fire and third-degree burns. Laraine Newman is our first guest, discussing her trip to China to celebrate Rashashana and her merchandise from the funeral of Chairman Mao. It’s more than a little cruel, but it’s still amusing. The weather promises the pits as far as the air quality goes and firestorms later in the week in a funny bit, but then Bill Murray shows up and hits a home run with his first movie review. This week, Bill reviews The Deep and after showing a very quick clip of the film, decides that he is giving it a negative review after running down the actors in it. Bill throws it right over to Garrett, who discusses Muhammad Ali defending his title and says that Ali will win. The real moment from Garrett though comes from a Hank Aaron record-breaking moment as a baseball player from the Tokyo Giants gives his victory speech. The subtitles are clearly written by Garrett as they disparage the young Asian athlete and paint him as a very lucky individual. Finally, John Belushi comes by to talk about his trip to Durango, Mexico to talk about his journey to find a worthy student to award a scholarship to. Of course, in Mexico, he was persuaded by something else that a “student” was able to provide. It’s a funny bit by Belushi, but he looks a little “out of it.” There’s also a great closing joke involving a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. Great commentaries and lots of good jokes result in a strong first edition of Update. A

7. Mike McMack, Defense Lawyer (5:09)

During a sexual harassment court case, criminal lawyer extraordinaire Mike McMack (Martin) lambastes the victim (Radner) on the stand by bringing up meaningless past sexual experiences to try and paint her as a woman of ill repute. Steve’s performance is what stands out in this hilarious character piece as Murray provides good foil for our host as the opposing lawyer. McMack hitting on the poor woman afterwards makes the whole sketch that much funnier. A-

8. Keypunch Confession (3:31)

After not having made a confession for several years, one man (Morris) notices the tremendous advancements in technology when returning to the church. The priest (Aykroyd) introduces the Trinity 3000, which tells the confessor how he can pay for his sins or if his so-called sins are actually sin-worthy. The twist at the end is good too making for an amusing sketch. B

9. Great Moments In Rock & Roll (5:54)

A young junkie, Alice Sloan (Newman), tells the story of her relationship with Roy Orbison (Belushi), a singer who always stood perfectly still when he sang and always wore dark glasses. Laraine is good in her role as a 1960s hippie and Belushi does a pretty good Roy Orbison (especially when he sings) with the joke essentially being that Orbison is so still and wooden that he repeatedly falls over and needs to be held up by his manager (Murray). Still funny, though. B

10. The Franken & Davis Show (9:26)

Hosted by the famously homophobic Anita Bryant (Curtin), Franken & Davis present a beauty pageant if it was composed entirely of men. The two finalists are Mr. California (Davis) and Mr. Arkansas (Franken), who participate in a number of ridiculous contests to determine the winner between them. The rest of the cast participate as various other contestants and Mr. Martin himself shows up as “last year’s winner,” Craig Rasmussen. This sketch is spot-on in its satire from the hilarious interpretive dance by Mr. California to the Hollywood-phony answers provided for questions from Ms. Bryant. A-

11. Jackson Browne sings “The Pretender” (5:36)

It’s time for song #2 from JB, which ends up sounding quite a bit different from the first. This one’s more of a somber, slow-moving tune that has some excellent lyrics and showcases Jackson’s voice a bit more. All in all, it’s about on par with the first tune. B+

12. Kromega III (1:43)

Introducing… the new watch that’s so complicated to operate it will actually take 2-3 people just to make it work. Ridiculous commercial parodies like this are always so delightful. This one’s no exception. B+

Steve thanks Jackson and everyone in attendance before slow-dancing with Danny for a few seconds. Aykroyd then steps off the stage while the rest of the cast wave goodnight to everyone.

This was a pretty strong premiere. There were a few top-level sketches and not a bad one to be found thanks to a newly-energized cast and a strong ringleader in Steve “arrow-through-the-head” Martin, despite his lack of appearances tonight. Besides his leading role in the Festrunk Brothers sketch and as Mike McMack, Martin was absent in a number of sketches and the cast stood front and center. Of course, that may have been intentional on Lorne’s part so as to make the cast the stars of the show and make sure the premiere featured them as much as possible as the show was gaining more and more momentum.

Jackson Browne provided ample sound on this episode and was a good addition. There’s not much to say about Jackson that I haven’t already said except for his STUPID HAIRCUT and his talented crooning.

Notes:

It was funny how the Festrunks were talking about “big American breasts” to Jane & Gilda, both of not-particularly-large mammaries.

“Nick Nolte, you look like a Denver cop.” “Robert Shaw, you disturb me.”

“How do you feel about playing Anita Bryant?” “Not only am I a great fan of hers, but we’re also ex-lovers.”

“Kromega III: It’s like asking a stranger for the time.”

I think this was a stronger premiere than last year’s. Not one sketch was bad.

This episode starts a short-lived trend of all the Update commentators meeting at the desk just before Weekend Update begins.

Host Rating: A

Musical Guest Rating: B+

Show Rating: B+


by Brendan Wahl

(Season 2, Episode 14)

The last three episodes of SNL haven’t exactly been up to the classic standards that most people fondly remember the comedic institution’s first few years as being. Granted, Tarkenton’s episode was an average affair, but Gordon/Berry blew it and the Mardi Gras episode was a disaster. It should come as no surprise to anyone than that Lorne Michaels and co. decided to go with a sure-fire safe bet in Steve Martin making his second appearance as host. After an enjoyable/mildly disappointing (only to the point where it should’ve been an absolute classic) first appearance, Steve returns to helm the show again and by this time, his fame had grown a little bit. In fact, Steve got to guest-host The Tonight Show a number of times before doing this stint and his stand-up comedy albums were getting more and more popular. He still wasn’t THE Steve Martin yet, but boy oh boy was he getting there.

Steve’s musical guest this week is the Kinks, which marks the second time his musical guest has been someone with the word Kink in his/their name. Trying to tell us something, Steve? The Kinks were very popular at this time but even more so a few years prior to this when they had a gaggle of number one hits. Interestingly, there is another guest this week and that is Lily Tomlin. A credited special guest, Lily decided to drop by to promote her broadway show (whatever it happened to be, I have no idea). The idea of a “special guest” will likely never occur again, but it was a fairly recurring thing back in the early years right through to the early nineties.

Onwards and forward!

The Show:

1. Nobody Likes Steve (2:45)

After exiting his dressing room, Steve is confronted by Gilda about being a changed man ever since guest-hosting The Tonight Show. Our host smooth-talks his way back into her heart though before being confronted by three of the male castmembers (Belushi, Morris, & Murray), who don’t like the way he’s treated Gilda, one of their own. John is the more violent of the three and dear old Steve pays for it. An enjoyable opening. B

2. Monologue (4:55)

Steve “Ramblin’ Man” Martin does some of his usual, albeit very original material. After displaying some authentic Native American music, Steve shares his small, easy-to-accomplish goals with the audience (like being the master of time, space, and dimension). My favourite part of the entire monologue though is definitely Mr. Martin talking about “getting small” with a new drug on the market. Not as amazing as the monologues earlier in the season, but still a lot of fun. B+

3. The Coneheads At Home (5:43)

After the success of this sketch during Nader/Benson, the Coneheads get bumped up to the first proper sketch of the night. This time, Connie (Newman) prepares her cone for a Peter Frampton concert, IRS worker Eli Turnbull (Martin) arrives to update their records (“you’ve only been filing since 1968”), and the Coneheads debut their “Consume mass quantities!” catchphrase. Martin is perfect foil for the Conehead family and it proves that Steve could easily play the straight-man as well. A-

4. Garrett Morris sings “Nur Wer Die Sehnsucht Kennt” (2:51)

In what first appears to be an odd diversion for the comedy program, it is quickly revealed that Garrett (in clamdiggers) requested to perform this song as he came back to try and prove to this girl that he met in Jamaica that he is, in fact, Harry Belafonte. Garrett has a heck of a singing voice and the scrolling text is quite amusing, so it makes for an entertaining little piece. B

5. Celebrity Weightlifting (3:36)

A reporter (Murray) reports on a battle between the Russian bear, Vasiliy Alekseyev (Belushi) and Jackie Onassis (Radner). It reminded me of a tamer version of a piece that appeared on Update during the 80s (I think). Most of this depends on Gilda’s physical comedy and she does quite well. The idea of the sketch is absolutely ridiculous, but I liked that aspect. B+

6. The Kinks sing a medley of “You Really Got Me,” “All Day and All of the Night,” “Well-Respect Man,” and “Lola” (4:38)

I really enjoy medleys, so this was a great way to offer a nice cross-selection of the Kinks’ biggest hits and most enjoyable classics. The band is in good shape here too as they go from song to song with effortless perfection. There was an amusing little goof near the end, but it didn’t take away from the entire performance. A

7. Weekend Update with Jane Curtin (Part I) (Total: 5:48)

After making a clever reference to her bra-flash from Tarkenton/Sayer, Harper (“Not tonight, I have a headache”), Curtin kills with a lot of her jokes this week particularly with a nasty dig at Johnny Carson, an even meaner one (but justified) directed towards Anita Bryant, and then she deems living in Cincinatti a punishment. In one of the funniest moments during the entire segment, Jane fumbles a joke and then stops to go back to the beginning and read it all over again.

8. Dr. Breadloaf’s Quick Loss Diet Book (1:54)

The doctor (Radner) in question advertises her new weight-loss book where, in fact, all you do is devour the dieting book itself. It’s an odd joke, but Radner makes it work somewhat. C+

9. Weekend Update with Jane Curtin (Part II)

Laraine Newman interviews the maintenance officer for the Executive Command Flying Post, but he gets a little flustered when Newman simply challenges the safety of the vessel from heat-seeking missiles. Pretty funny one-joke bit. Jane’s jokes in the second half don’t make as big a splash as in the first half, but she still delivers some steady chuckles, particularly one involving airline food. A-

10. Broadway Baby (3:58)

After some chit-chat between Steve and Lily, the aforementioned special guest performs a number with Jane, Laraine, and Gilda that is light on laughs but high on entertainment value. I particularly liked the choreography and quick costume changes during this number. Steve is basically a non-factor in this musical sketch, though. At least Tomlin’s singing skills are better here than during the premiere. B+

11. Accidentally Pull The Plug (3:52)

As Buddy (Belushi) lies in a coma, the doctor (Martin) first tries to lighten things up for the parents (Curtin & Murray) before informing them of the cost of keeping Buddy alive on the machines. After finally coming to an agreement, the doc has to “accidentally” pull the plug but has a hell of a time doing so. Buddy waking up and being slightly perturbed is the highlight of the sketch as the whole thing just seems like a reason for Steve to do his “EXCUUUUUUUUUUUUSE ME!” catchphrase. The build-up to it was a lot of fun though. B+

12. Gary Weis Film: Buster Holmes’ Restaurant (1:47)

A New Orleans staple, Buster Holmes shows off his soul food restaurant with several customers talking about how terrific it is. The food looks delicious, but the film is sorely lacking like many Gary Weis films. C

13. Hollywood Bingo (4:07)

The host (Martin) of a celebrity-packed show takes forever to introduce all the contestants and in fact takes so long that by the time he gets through them all, there is no time left to play the actual game. Most of the impressions are pretty hilarious, but I particularly loved Rose Marie, as played by Jane Curtin, who acts like a sexed-up drunk. Some other highlights of this great sketch include Farrah Fawcett (Tomlin), Robert Blake (Belushi), and a joke about a dead celebrity (“And Charlie will be appearing…nowhere”). Some of them are clearly not even celebrities, but the host runs through them all at breakneck speed. Easily the best sketch of the night. A

14. Home Movie: From The Big Orange To The Big Apple (3:27)

This “home movie” is from “the friends of Lily Tomlin” and features Lily performing as a number of her characters like Judith Beasley, Ernestine, Edith Ann, Tess DiSenzio, and Crystal. It’s a pretty funny “ensemble” (starring one person) that makes reference to Lily heading for Broadway. B+

15. Roots II (5:32)

Alex Haley (Morris) turns the tables on the original Roots after being offered a large amount from NBC to produce a second part to his critically-acclaimed sequel. Steve Martin does a good job as a slave owner, but it’s John Belushi who really shines as a character named Bop-Shoo-Wop whose character traits more than vaguely resemble Kunta Kinte. This sketch has some bite to it and one of its kind probably couldn’t be produced today, but it is a little more boring than it should’ve been. C

16. The Kinks sing “Sleepwalker” (3:41)

Out for round two, The Kinks get to perform one of their current hits (well, at that time anyway) and hit this one out of the park as well. I’m still amazed that this band still managed to hold it together for their live performance (take note, future hosts Rolling Stones). A-

17. Singles Bar (3:11)

A man (Martin) and woman (Radner) share stories with each other on a first date and discover that they share so many similarities with each other, you’d swear they were personality/lifestyle clones of each other. This is an absolutely adorable sketch with tremendous chemistry between Martin and Radner. B+

Steve thanks all his guests and has a humourously awkward moment with John Belushi before wishing one and all a goodnight.

Well, that was a nice change of pace. After two disasters and one so-so episode, SNL gets back on track with a stellar episode hosted by one of the greatest hosts they’ve ever had — Mr. Steve Martin. From the beginning of the episode, Steve was on his A-game and brought forth a buttload of effort throughout the entire night whether he was just playing himself, a slave owner, a terrible doctor, or even a motormouth talk show host (his most impressive performance, IMO). Martin showed in this episode why he keeps getting invited back time and time again to helm this great show.

The Kinks were a very welcome addition to the show and proved that even though you may be a big superstar who sells millions of records, it doesn’t mean you have to slum it when it comes to live performances. They delivered 100% and then some, knocking it out of the proverbial park. Lily Tomlin was also a pleasant addition to the show as she also had a fun appearance in an additional sketch besides just being there to solely promote her broadway show.

Out of the cast, it’s hard to pick a stand-out but if absolutely forced, I would go with Gilda this week. She shined in everything she appeared in…and she was in quite a bit. Whether it was a goofy performance as Jackie Onassis or a more subtle, nuanced one in the final sketch, Gilda portrayed her beautiful comic timing and range quite vividly in this episode.

Notes:

Gotta credit Matt Jennings at Uncle Critic for designing my new logo. If you want to visit his site (and you should), there’s a link in the Blogroll.

Leave it to Steve Martin to rescue the season during a three-episode slump, eh?

It looked like poor Billy Murray was getting ignored during the goodnights and Laraine didn’t look too thrilled that his arm was around her either. Don’t worry Bill, your day to shine is coming.

I don’t know why people consider this worse than Martin’s first gig. I think this episode is actually slightly better than the episode he hosted in October.

The Coneheads are on a roll, but man their sketches would get long and a bit more intricate as the characters continued to appear.

What do you guys think? Is Steve Martin THE greatest host of all-time?

Host Rating: A+

Musical Guest Rating: A-

Overall Show Rating: B+