*****- Undisputed classic
**** - Great
*** - Good/Average
** - Meh
* - Bad
-Just an observation, but I always thought Mel Brandt’s voice over suited the griminess of this montage better than Don Pardo’s did.
SHOW: THE LITTLE RICHARD SIMMONS SHOW
-Eddie Murphy plays effeminate exercise guru Little Richard Simmons, who leads four women and the studio audience in a workout to reworked versions of classic Little Richard songs.
-Right away, Eddie shows he’s in control of the new Saturday Night Live. This was a very good way to get the energy level up for the show and it was a great execution of a simple premise.
-My particular favorite parts were his advice to the heavyset blonde woman (“Never wear battleship gray. 2000 sailors will try to board you.”) and him going up to the very overweight crew members (“You girls have let yourselves go!”). For some reason I also find Yvonne Hudson’s expressions and movements funny too.
-The sax player wearing a leotard and shorts as well was a nice touch.
-Eddie looked like he was breaking character a few times here.
COMMERCIAL: THE CLAMS
-Brian DePalma’s latest film bears more than a passing resemblance to Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds”
-Very well done, especially the scenes with the silly looking stop motion clams being cut in with the panicked crowds of children.
-Great line: “Once a year, Brian De Palma picks the bones of a dead director and gives his wife a job!”
SKETCH: NUNS ON VACATION
-On vacation, Robin Duke finds that her fellow nun (Mary Gross) got into the order by way of a multiple choice exam at Bob’s Ecumenical College.
-The audience was fairly dead for this one, and it was a fairly slight premise. It felt more like something that would have been done in an improv stage show than a lead-off sketch on a TV program. The ending was weak too.
-That said, there were a few funny lines in this one from Gross’ character (“Well, she could be a slut!”).
-Was that Del Close as the voice of “God”? It sounds a lot like him.
SHOW: A FEW MINUTES WITH ANDY ROONEY: SHOES
-The 60 Minutes coot opines for a few minutes about different types of footwear, his voice, Morley Safer’s name, Mike Wallace, the sun
- I thought Piscopo’s Rooney was a bit too broad and cartoonish (I think Norm MacDonald had the best impression overall), but it did accurately capture how pointless his 60 Minutes segments are.
-There were a few good lines like the one about there not being any Nazis named “Steve”, Mike Wallace being a jackass and how irritating Rooney’s own voice is.
FILM: PROSE AND CONS
-People like magazine editor Terry McDonnell and literary agent Irving “Swifty” Lazar agree: prisons are becoming the latest hotbed of budding literary talent. Maximum Security inmate Tyrone Green (Eddie Murphy) reads his award-winning poem.
-A very well done short film; definitely the first classic of the entire season.
-I’ve always loved the guy telling his agent that “People who watch Merv Griffin don’t read books! Any agent in the business knows that!”
-Eddie Murphy walks away with the whole thing when he reads the poem “Kill My Landlord”. The audience response when he gets to the part “C-I-L-L My land-lord!” is so big, the laughter and applause practically drowns out the last word in the poem (“Death!”).
-The Norman Mailer / Jack HenryAbbott credits at the end refer to a then-current news story where Mailer and other critics had championed prisoner Abbott’s literary talent and got him released from prison, only for Abbott to fatally stab someone six weeks after his release. The film still holds up despite the topical reference, but until I got the background it just seemed like a silly throwaway gag.
MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: “DANCE WITH ME”, “HOT LEGS”
-As a rule I won’t rate the actual musical performance but I will give some thoughts if I feel the performance warrants it.
-The guitar seems to be mixed significantly louder than the other instruments and particularly Rod’s vocals which kind of made it hard to enjoy.
-Did anyone else pick up Rod singing the lyric “Why the fuck is she ignoring me?”
-I’ve always thought the thing with two people singing into the same mic (in this case two of Rod’s backup musicians) to be incredibly cheesy.
-Stewart’s second song was better mainly because of the surprise guest appearance by Tina Turner.
SNL NEWSBREAK: BRIAN DOYLE-MURRAY AND MARY GROSS, COMMENTARY BY RAHEEM ABDUL MOHAMMED
Best joke: C. Everett Koop.
-Was there supposed to be a voiceover during the intro? It seemed like there might have been a technical error during the live show.
-The gag with the letters in “NEWSBREAK” breaking off and falling on Brian Doyle-Murray was amusing at first but it was not something they needed to bring back every week. See the upcoming reviews for more thoughts on this.
-The jokes themselves weren’t very good. The introduction where Gross and Doyle-Murray were explaining they were co-anchorpersons who haven’t decided what sex they would be fell flat, as well as a lot of the jokes. The big exception was the joke making fun of Koop’s pro-life beliefs (he started work immediately because he believed his term begins at nomination) which got a healthy response from the audience.
-Doyle-Murray’s delivery never really bothered me or anything but Gross was a poor match for the newsdesk, particularly at first because her delivery is so slow and hesitant, still kind of intimidated by the TV camera.
-The best part of the news segment was the fake clip from a retooled Tomorrow show, with Tom Snyder (Joe Piscopo) wearing a mustache and talking rapid-fire spanish. Snyder was definitely one of Piscopo’s better impressions, and the clip actually reminded me a lot of Bill Hader as Vinny Vedecci.
-the commentary by Eddie Murphy as his Raheem Abdul Mohammed character wasn’t one of his better ones and started off quite slow. It did pick up as it went on. Eddie also broke character a couple of times, specifically when he was talking about Isaac Hayes proving he could act in Truck Turner, and right after he ended his commentary.
-The audience also laughed pretty hard at the way Eddie said “Thank you, Mary Gross” in his Raheem voice.
COMMERCIAL: THE KHADDAFFI LOOK
-In a spoof of a then-current ad campaign for Jordache, the Libyan leader’s clothing line is the preferred fashion choice for revolutionaries and terrorists everywhere.
-For some reason this commercial has a different look to it than the other film segments that were done for the show before; much cleaner and modern looking.
-Well done visually but it wasn’t especially funny.
SKETCH: STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT
-In the middle of the night, Ruth (Robin Duke) gets a phone call with bad news about her father. Adding to her troubles is Rod (Tim Kazurinsky), an oblivious and self-absorbed creep who she just had a one night stand with; he doesn’t seem to get the message that she is not interested in him in the least and wants him to leave her apartment.
-This is obviously a Marilyn Suzanne Miller piece; Miller wrote a lot of quieter character pieces for the show from 1975-78, and they weren’t necessarily laugh out loud sketches but they were usually excellent at true-to-life characterization and chances for the actors to stretch. Kazurinsky’s Rod kind of reminds me a little of the character Dan Aykroyd played in Luncheonette Reunion about five years before, a grown-up nerd who is not particularly clued in to the fact that his chance reunion with a high school cheerleader is more thrilling for him than it is for her.
-Excellent performances from both Kazurinsky and Duke in this sketch. Kazurinsky makes Rod irritating and clueless but at the same time keeps him enjoyable to watch, while Duke has several great reactions to Kazurinsky, especially the part where Rod is crawling over to the side of the bed where Ruth’s sobbing, and Ruth turns around to glare at him and fume “WHO ARE YOU?”. She did a very good job with a particulatly difficult role.
-I also liked the little details in the sketch, like Rod’s particularly tacky smiley face t-shirt and him blowing smoke rings in the background as Ruth’s getting the phone call about her father.
SKETCH: STRANGERS IN THE FUNERAL PARLOR
-A continuation of the previous sketch. Ruth is at her father’s wake dealing with hyper-critical Aunt Edie (Mary Gross) and obnoxious Uncle Ed (Tony Rosato). Things go from bad to worse when Rod shows up.
-Kazurinsky and Duke were playing the same characters the same way; I can’t really comment a whole lot more on their performances, but I did think Duke had some good lines in there (“Rod, you’re such a tool.”)
-I did think that awful blue leisure suit Rod was wearing was a nice touch; it describes a whole lot about the character.
-Gross’ performance was still fairly weak and her character got no laughs from the audience; the audience responded to Rosato a lot better, in fact, Rosato’s delivery on one particular line made the whole sketch (when Rod mentions the hotel he’s staying at, Uncle Ed cuts in with “You’ll like that hotel, I’ve been there myself.”)
-A little weaker than the first part but still well done.
FILM: ANDY WARHOL’S TV: WARHOL ON SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE
-Warhol discusses being approached for SNL, gives his thoughts about comedy and tells a joke.
-I did find the audience’s big laugh at the part where Warhol says that he hates the show funny, and I did laugh at the joke but this really felt more like an oddity than anything else.
GUEST PERFORMANCE: MICHAEL DAVIS
-Davis demonstrates his juggling ability with a machete, an ax and a cleaver.
-Easily the highlight of the whole show; Davis had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand with his excellent dry delivery and timing. He also did a good job at building suspense to the actual juggling section.
-Davis also had some excellent lines as well (“People don’t take you seriously with just one ball”).
HOME MOVIES: FEATURING “SEASON OF GLASS”, A FILM BY YOKO ONO
-Christine Ebersole stands on home base and asks audience members to submit their home movies for a chance to have them aired on national TV. This segues into this week’s “Home Movie” from Yoko Ono. ”Goodbye Sadness” plays over home movies of her and John Lennon as well as footage of the memorial vigil on December 14, 1980; Yoko recites a poem during the instrumental break.
-Was this a way to plug the album? The image of Lennon’s bloody glasses next to the half-full glass of water against the NYC skyline is the album cover for “Season Of Glass”
-There’s a shot of John and Yoko with the World Trade Center in the background (it looks like it was still being completed at the time it was filmed). Kind of chilling in retrospect.
-The impact of the short may have been a lot bigger when it originally aired (less than a year after Lennon’s murder), but I’ve always felt the footage of the vigil being timed to the “Winter comes” line in the poem still is pretty moving.
-The cast and Michael Davis stand at home base. Over the closing theme, Mel Brandt announces that next week’s guests are Susan Saint James and Rickie Lee Jones (Jones backed out and was replaced by The Kinks before the show went to air).
A strong, if uneven, start to the new season. The strongest material in this episode is easily much better than the strongest material in the season before, and one sketch in particular (“Prose and Cons” is now widely recognized as a classic Eddie Murphy piece. The experimental format-breaking stuff was hit or miss: I did like the Strangers In The Night/Funeral Parlor 2-part sketch but the Warhol’s TV didn’t do much for me at all, and the Yoko film was a little out-of-place here. SNL Newsbreak was also a weak spot in the show and unfortunately the Ebersol years were not known for particularly strong news segments. It does still feel like a much more competent, confident show than what was being put on the season before.
-Guest Performance: Michael Davis
-Prose and Cons
-Strangers In The Night
-The Little Richard Simmons Show
-Strangers In The Funeral Parlor
-Andy Warhol’s TV
-most of SNL Newsbreak
-Nuns on Vacation
Eddie Murphy / Michael Davis
CAST / GUEST APPEARANCE BREAKDOWN
Robin Duke: 3 appearances [Nuns on Vacation, Strangers In The Night, Strangers In The Funeral Parlor]
Christine Ebersole: 2 appearances [Strangers In The Funeral Parlor, Home Movies intro]
Mary Gross: 3 appearances [Nuns on Vacation, SNL Newsbreak, Strangers in the Funeral Parlor]
Tim Kazurinsky: 2 appearances [Strangers In The Night, Strangers In The Funeral Parlor]
Eddie Murphy: 3 appearances [The Little Richard Simmons Show, Prose and Cons, SNL Newsbreak]
Joe Piscopo: 3 appearances [A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney, SNL Newsbreak, Strangers In The Funeral Parlor]
Tony Rosato: 1 appearance [Strangers In The Funeral Parlor]
Brian Doyle-Murray: 1 appearance [SNL Newsbreak]
Yvonne Hudson: 1 appearance [The Little Richard Simmons Show]
Andy Murphy: 1 appearance [Strangers In The Funeral Parlor]
guests, cameos and filmed cameos:
Rod Stewart: 2 appearances
Tina Turner: 1 appearance
Michael Davis: 1 appearance
Andy Warhol: 1 appearance
December 26, 1981
July 10, 1982
Known alterations: Nuns on Vacation replaced with Sugar Breakfast (S07E04).