I can’t tell which is sadder…that I took the time to compile this list or that I spent so much money over the last 14 years. For the purposes of this list I did not include any of my classical CDs (except those filed under specific performers) or anything I received a CD-R copy of (most of my Fall CDs would fall into this category).
Since the May 7 show with Tina Fey is going to be live show #700, I want to make a list of the 50 best and the 50 worst shows, and post it the day of the live broadcast. I’d love to see everyone’s picks for these. If you can reply to this post or email me your picks (please send to bjdwsmATgmailDOTcom) I will count your submissions in the final rankings. This should be interesting, especially to see if there are any trends with regard to what season the shows are from.
***** – Classic
**** – Great
*** – Good / Average
** - Meh
* - Bad
OPENING: THE PIG MEETS OLIVIA
-Skanky Paulette Clooney (Robin Duke) runs into her idol Olivia Newton-John in the ladies’ room.
-My recording from Classic SNL starts a little late and I didn’t feel like digging the tape from the box, but what I saw was alright, if not anything great (I’m not big on “recurring SNL character meets celebrity playing themselves”), carried largely by Robin Duke, who provided the biggest laugh of the sketch by wiping her armpit with a piece of paper towel. Her dancing as she left the left the restroom was also amusing.
-Nice bit of continuity with her mentioning Petey (Tim Kazurinsky’s character from the first “She’s A Pig”).
-They seemed to get a good bit of mileage out of Robin Duke’s waifish figure as this is the first sketch which makes reference to her small bust (which her character decides to enlarge via paper towel).
-The SNL Band gets their only acknowledgment in the opening credits in the Ebersol era (they are credited as musical guest), which is their last montage mention until 1986, when G.E. Smith and the band would become more prominent in the show. Paul Shaffer, Ray Chew, Joe Caro and Sammy Figuroa are not pictured but credited at the end. For the purposes of the guest rundown I am including the SNL Band collectively as a “guest”.
-Michael Davis is referred to as “special host”.
-Mel Brandt announces Olivia and the cast of Saturday Night Live but the cast doesn’t post on-stage with her.
MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: “PHYSICAL”
-Alright performance. Olivia had good energy and it’s nice to see the whole SNL band on stage (with the horn section making a contribution to the chorus). She also made use of the whole main stage set and went into the audience. Still feels a little cheesy though, especially after all those great performances the show had this season.
-One observation: one of the male backup singers has a cast on his right arm.
COMMERCIAL: TRANS-EASTERN AIRLINES [RERUN FROM 11/07/81]
SKETCH: EBONY & IVORY
-Frank Sinatra (Joe Piscopo) and Stevie Wonder (Eddie Murphy) prepare to record a new “Ebony and Ivory” duet that’s more fitting with the former’s style.
-If there’s a reason to watch this episode, it’s definitely this sketch, an undisputed classic and one of the best examples of Piscopo and Murphy at their peak together, which wouldn’t be the same for long (see the goodnights).
-Piscopo also gets some recognition applause right at the beginning when he appears as Sinatra.
-The part where Sinatra and Wonder sing the new version together is the highlight, especially at the lines “You are blind as a bat and I have sight / Side by side you are my amigo, negro, let’s not fight!”
-There is a boom shadow visible in the first show; as well, this sketch continues the convention the show used to have about displaying the real time on any clocks on the set.
SKETCH: I MARRIED A MONKEY IV
-Tim discovers his chimpanzee bride Madge is now a nun of the order of the Seventh Day Horizontalists.
-Kind of flat. The main laughs in the sketch come from the monkeys antics (particularly Madge sucking the teapot spout before pouring some into the cup, and baby Ronnie sneaking onto the chair behind Tim and hopping onto the table), but it’s basically a retread of the other sketches.
SKETCH: PEARLY GATES
-Adolf Hitler (Tim Kazurinsky) tries to get past St. Peter (Tony Rosato) by dressing as Mother Teresa, but The Colonel (Graham Chapman) thinks the whole thing’s too silly.
-Rosato is fine as usual in his straightman role, and I have to giggle a bit at the premise, but if they were going to use a Monty Python member, I still can’t help but think that it should have been a better sketch than this. It kind of felt like a copy of “Endings” from Chevy Chases’ ’78 show (it doesn’t help that both involved a Twilight Zone cutaway) and it felt like a wasted opportunity.
COMMERCIAL: NOT A RECORD AD
-Whatever this product is, it’s amazing, but it’s not a record.
-Fillerish but it does have some funny non-sequiturs (particularly the dilemma of Tony Orlando rearranging your furniture and animals billing you for long distance calls).
SNL NEWSBREAK WITH MARY GROSS, CHRISTINE EBERSOLE AND BRIAN DOYLE-MURRAY: COMMENTARY BY GRAHAM CHAPMAN, TIM KAZURINSKY, OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN AND EDDIE MURPHY, SATURDAY NIGHT SPORTS WITH JOE PISCOPO
-Best joke: Sex without partners on the QE2, Nancy Reagan’s family
-After last week’s shorter installment, this week’s Newsbreak is back to 15 minutes long.
-Mary Gross and Akira Yoshimura are back for a segment in which Mary found “Arnold Schwarzenegger” outside a bar in the East Village called the Anvil. I think this might be my favorite of the Mary/Akira pairings just for the fact that not only does Akira not look/sound anything like Arnold (or make any attempt to for that matter), he’s also wearing the Conan the Barbarian outfit which for some reason makes him look so much funnier.
-after airing a banned ad for The Secret Policeman’s Other Ball which ends with him revealing he’s wearing a tutu and garter belt, Chapman apologizes for any desecration of the US Flag or mocking of the Moral Majority. Chapman only got mild applause when he is introduced and the end where he stands up and reveals a garter and an American flag Speedo (shades of Show Your Patriotism?) felt a little predictable. Brian Doyle-Murray gets one up on him for wearing a garter and tutu himself as he gets up to shake his hand.
-Tim Kazurinsky comments on the glut of self-help books flooding the market. It felt like a warm-up for some of Kazurinsky’s other commentaries, namely his Salute To Journalism feature and a few other book reviews where he uses that same sarcastic tone. There are some good lines, particularly Kazurinsky’s assertion that Dr. Wayne W. Dyer looks like he “pulls his own string”. He also ends with probably one of the more directly angry lines on the show about how these books sell so many copies while small-minded towns burn The Catcher In The Rye.
-Next is the return of SNL Newsbreak’s favorite crutch in the last third of the season, the photo montage, this one being two minutes devoted to Sophia Loren in prison for tax evasion, using stills from her previous film roles. Whatever chuckles coming from the audience there were, they seemed to die off pretty fast. Brian Doyle-Murray gets a good line at the end about how European values have stars thrown in jail while Americans put stars in the White House.
-Olivia Newton-John gives a commentary about Secretary of the Interior James Watt, listing his ethical issues as well as his callous disregard for the environment. This segment was too straight and too earnest to really be funny. It would fit in as a cold opening for the show in 2010-11.
-Joe Piscopo raises the energy level with his final Saturday Night Sports for the year, turning more into a prop comic while displaying potential new athlete-endorsed products. Best one: Secretariat for ballpark franks. Piscopo also ends the segment with a pull-string doll saying his catchphrase and gets a few laughs by pushing the doll into Brian Doyle-Murray’s face.
-Eddie Murphy gets the highlight of the week’s Newsbreak with his commentary about prom night and that fathers shouldn’t fool themselves into thinking their daughters won’t be having sex because “everybody gets it on prom night”.
GUEST PERFORMANCE: MICHAEL DAVIS
-Davis demonstrates his oral juggling abilities by sucking and spitting ping-pong balls and hard-boiled eggs.
-Davis cartwheels onto the stage and is funny, engaging and impressive as usual.
-Best joke: “If I were to swallow this ball…it would hurt. (pause) Twice.”
SKETCH: BUZZ WORDS
-Businessmen (Tim Kazurinsky, Joe Piscopo, and Eddie Murphy) communicate in corporate-speak but when one is fired, he can’t comprehend the others’ euphemisms
-The show slips quality-wise with this not particularly funny sketch, which suffers also from a largely dead audience. Lame punchline too.
-Eddie Murphy finally realizing that he’s fired and yelling at his co-workers was the only highlight, particularly his switch from his angry bellow to his “normal” voice.
SKETCH: SANDY’S CURSE
-Geeky Rydell High students Norma (Mary Gross) and Kathy (Robin Duke) don’t exist in the same social strata as Sandy (Olivia Newton-John), Rizzo (Christine Ebersole), Danny (Tony Rosato) and Kenickie (Brian Doyle-Murray).
-Interesting idea and I thought Robin Duke and especially Mary Gross did a good job here (watch Gross’s gestures and facial expressions during the “Grow boobs grow” chant).
-Olivia Newton-John didn’t really add much aside from just showing up and Brian Doyle-Murray as Kenickie seemed more funny just because the man always comes across as middle-aged this season even if he’s not trying to be. He always looked old for his age, which is even more obvious when you realize Seth Meyers is now older than he was back then.
-More flat-chest jokes at Duke’s character’s expense. As well, I can’t believe they actually used the word “retard” in this sketch, coming from Mary Gross’ mouth no less.
COMMERCIAL: SPORTS ORGAN CLASSICS
-Bring the excitement of the ballpark back to your living room with a songbook of Sports Organ Classics.
-Another meh sketch. Tony Rosato’s exaggerated facial expressions when he was playing the organ were funny as well as him playing “Hava Nagilah” when “the Blausteins from next door” arrive (an obvious joke, yes). Otherwise, it feels like they didn’t have enough material for the whole show (exhaustion perhaps) and they came up with this in five minutes.
-I’ve heard from someone that the young man on the far right watching the game is John Murray, younger brother of Bill and Brian.
MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: “LANDSLIDE”
-Christine Ebersole, Mary Gross and Robin Duke introduce Olivia by each saying a part of her name.
-This was the weakest of the performances.
-The percussionist playing the timpani is Ray Chew, who is now the music director for American Idol.
COMMERCIAL: THE CLAMS [repeat from 10/03/81]
-Joe Piscopo mentions that Eddie Murphy’s going to be filming a movie with Nick Nolte that summer; during the credits, still images show highlights from the season just concluded.
-Of course, we all know what movie Eddie Murphy was filming, and by the time the show returned in the fall, he would cement his position as the dominant cast member.
-Tony Rosato can be heard yelling “How ’bout that band, huh?”
-Going by the still photos, the producers must have been especially proud of the Daniel J. Travanti, Blythe Danner, Bill Murray and Tim Curry shows, but there were also a few shots from John Madden and one of Robert Conrad.
Aside from the classic Ebony & Ivory sketch and a great as usual performance by Michael Davis, this episode is a bit of an anticlimax like most SNL season finales are. Olivia Newton-John didn’t really contribute a whole lot to the show besides three okay music performances, and Graham Chapman’s appearance was a little disappointing. The last half of the show also gets weighed down by weaker material and while nothing is truly awful (even the weak sketches are over with quickly), it’s a largely forgettable show that gets boosted by one very good sketch.
-Ebony & Ivory
-SNL Newsbreak aside from Eddie Murphy
-Sports Organ Classics
Eddie Murphy & Joe Piscopo
CAST & GUEST BREAKDOWN
Robin Duke: 2 appearances [The Pig Meets Olivia, Sandy's Curse]
Christine Ebersole: 2 appearances [SNL Newsbreak, Sandy's Curse]
Mary Gross: 4 appearances [I Married A Monkey, Pearly Gates, SNL Newsbreak, Sandy's Curse]
Tim Kazurinsky: 5 appearances [Ebony & Ivory, I Married A Monkey, Pearly Gates, SNL Newsbreak, Buzz Words]
Eddie Murphy: 3 appearances [Ebony & Ivory, SNL Newsbreak, Buzz Words]
Joe Piscopo: 5 appearances [Ebony & Ivory, Pearly Gates, SNL Newsbreak, Buzz Words, Sports Organ Classics]
Tony Rosato: 4 appearances [Ebony & Ivory, Pearly Gates, Sandy's Curse, Sports Organ Classics]
Brian Doyle-Murray: 4 appearances [Pearly Gates, SNL Newsbreak, Sandy's Curse, Sports Organ Classics]
John Murray: 1 appearance [Sports Organ Classics]
Akira Yoshimura: 1 appearance [SNL Newsbreak]
Olivia Newton-John: 6 appearances [The Pig Meets Olivia, "Physical", "Make A Move On Me", SNL Newsbreak, Sandy's Curse, "Landslide"]
Graham Chapman: 2 appearances [Pearly Gates, SNL Newsbreak]
The SNL Band: 3 appearances ["Physical", "Make A Move On Me", "Landslide"]
Michael Davis: 1 appearance [Guest Performance]
August 21, 1982
Additional screen captures from this episode can be found here.
I will be doing a final post about the season and cast in general following shortly.
***** – Classic
**** – Great
*** – Good / Average
** – Meh
* – Bad
OPENING: ANDY KAUFMAN WRESTLING TEASER
-A short clip of Andy Kaufman’s April 5 wrestling match against Jerry Lawler with voiceover from Piscopo teasing Kaufman’s first time wrestling a man.
-I’m not going to review this as it is too short to really comment on and it’s strictly a teaser for a segment later on in the show. As well, my recording begins about halfway through the opening montage.
-Danny DeVito announces that Taxi has been cancelled by ABC, to the audience’s dismay. He reads a letter from his mother Julia that bad-mouths the network. Because the season finale was taped two months earlier and the cast did not know the network was cancelling the show, Danny then introduces castmates Andy Kaufman, Christopher Lloyd, Marilu Henner, Tony Danza and Judd Hirsch for a belated final bow.
-DeVito comes off as an engaging and enjoyable host right away, and it’s no surprise that he would end up doing the show five more times as host.
-Even though this wasn’t a strict comedy monologue, this gets the show off to a good start. The audience response was really strong going by the applause DeVito gets at the beginning, their boos at ABC for cancelling Taxi, and the standing ovation they give the cast as they all assemble on stage.
-You can see Marilu Henner through the window on the set…she’s obscured by the cloudiness of the glass but it’s her going by the outfit she’s wearing.
-Of course, NBC would pick up Taxi for the next fall.
-Louie DePalma (Danny DeVito) gets his revenge on ABC.
-A good companion piece to the monologue.
-Of course, in a post-9/11 world, Louie bombing the ABC headquarters via remote control would NEVER be allowed on the air.
-Aboard an airplane, Doug (Joe Piscopo) and Wendy Whiner (Robin Duke) complain loudly to a stewardess (Mary Gross) and the man in the seat next to them (Danny DeVito).
-The audience gives Piscopo and Duke recognition applause right at the start of this sketch, which really felt too similar to the last one. I also find Duke and Piscopo’s voices really grating in these sketches, which was probably the effect they were going for. Duke’s Wendy Whiner moan reminds me a little of Julia Sweeney as Pat.
-The main thing this sketch had going for it was DeVito, who was an excellent foil for the Whiners, and a great ending where after being nagged repeatedly by Doug and Wendy to be careful with a package of china, DeVito aggressively kicks and shakes the box while the couple is distracted by “What I Did For Love” on their headset, all the while mimicking their repeated admonitions in a nasal, mocking voice.
SKETCH: STRESS TEST
-Bill’s (Danny DeVito) excitement over his promotion is short-lived as a perfect storm of personal crises converge.
-I apologize that the sketch name gives away the twist at the end of the sketch, but all the episode guides (including the official show sketch titles) call it that or a variant of that.
-DeVito stumbled a little at the beginning but again was a good straight man for all the antics in the sketch.
-I really enjoyed Joe Piscopo’s smug snake co-worker character commenting as the drug dealer (Eddie Murphy) gives DeVito some cocaine and threatens him with a knife for not paying, but the others had some good moments, particularly Christine Ebersole screaming “YOU ANIMAL!” at DeVito for giving her herpes and Mary Gross’ orgasmic moans over the speakerphone.
-The twist with it all being a test the CEO orchestrated to see how Bill handles pressure was pretty funny, especially the denouement with DeVito muttering and growling while holding a knife.
MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: “MICKEY MOUSE”
-Ron Mael, toothbrush-mustached keyboard player and songwriter for Sparks, prefaces the number with a lecture about the mouse.
-Crunchy, guitar and synth heavy power-pop, but the real fun is the contrast between energetic lead singer Russell Mael and his brother with the Hitler mustache. Ron’s facial expressions and upstaging activities make the performance for me, especially the part where they cut to the different band members singing and Ron is just smiling creepily. Plus, Ron gets his own dance solo during the instrumental break.
MISCELLANEOUS: NEXT WEEK
-Tim Kazurinsky has Danny DeVito guess who next week’s special guest is.
-Good break from the usual format, which also felt like this was a way for them to get rid of a little extra time.
SNL NEWSBREAK WITH MARY GROSS, CHRISTINE EBERSOLE AND BRIAN DOYLE-MURRAY: MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT DR. JACK BADOFSKY (TIM KAZURINSKY), WEATHER WITH LOU GRANT (TONY ROSATO)
-Best joke: Death penalty in NJ/Rely tampon
-An improvement over the past several SNL Newsbreaks, partially because of a shorter running time (only 12 minutes) and also because they don’t use the photo montage like they had been the last few weeks, even if they still use their other crutch, the crawl with names. Still not great, but it doesn’t weigh down the show as much as it had been the last few weeks.
-Dr. Jack Badofsky gets a big round of applause, but this was one of the weaker outings this season, with more groan-worthy puns.
-Mary Gross gets an amusing “ditzy correspondent” segment, thanks largely to the dog that’s supposed to be playing “Sandy” spooking (you can hear him growl) and she makes a few adlibs as she tries to get him back on the bench. She also gets a good adlib after another one of Brian Doyle-Murray’s marblemouth moments.
-Falkland Island Rorschach Crawl was alright, again preferable to the photo montage bits they did the last few shows, with some unintentional humor coming from Doyle-Murray and Ebersole having time to kill before the crawl finishes.
-Tony Rosato returns as Lou Grant, fresh off his just-cancelled CBS drama and reduced to doing the weather, where he promptly changes the subject and appeals for aid in El Salvador before Doyle-Murray tells him that Grant Tinker has cancelled the weather report. For some reason I like Rosato’s Asner/Lou Grant a little more this time in spite of the makeup job (they didn’t do a great job on John Belushi when he played Lou Grant either). The whole thing where Lou Grant claims he fixed Tinker up with Mary was a little cute for my liking.
SKETCH: SOLOMON AND PUDGE
-Solomon (Eddie Murphy) and Pudge (Joe Piscopo) discuss the Falkland Islands. Wino buddy Willie (Danny DeVito) reunites with his friends in time to watch Solomon dance.
-This sketch was again carried by the chemistry between Piscopo and Murphy, although the mood was distinctly lighter than the previous Solomon and Pudge sketch. DeVito’s character was a good addition and fit the mood of the sketch.
-Best line was Solomon talking about the “Puerto Ricans in the Falklands!” and Thatcher being “out of her Falkland mind”.
-Eddie Murphy doesn’t really appear in this episode much; this is his only starring role and he only appeared in one other sketch before and none after.
MISCELLANEOUS: KAUFMAN VS. LAWLER
-Brian Doyle-Murray interviews Andy Kaufman about his April 5 match against Jerry Lawler and shows highlights. Kaufman announces he will never wrestle again and apologizes for his past matches against women.
-When I first saw this episode, I thought this segment was boring, particularly because it was a wrestling match framed by what looked like a straight interview between Doyle-Murray and Kaufman, even though Kaufman had a good line about wrestling women bigger than Jerry Lawler. Since it became known that the “feud” between Kaufman and Lawler was actually as staged as any other professional wrestling storyline and the two were actually close friends, I have to admire their commitment to the hoax.
-As well, the wrestling match also plays pretty well as a slapstick/silent movie type deal with Kaufman mocking Lawler, running away and putting Lawler in a headlock only to get slammed with a pile driver.
-Funniest moment for me: when Lawler taunts Kaufman “Are you here to wrestle or act like an ass”, the commentator (Lance Russell) repeats the comment but pauses and says “so and so” instead of “ass”.
-Ozzy Osbourne (Tim Kazurinsky) touts the enzymatic mouthwash’s ability to remove various animal parts from his teeth.
-Slightly fillerish. The funniest part was Robin Duke as the groupie slurring “Wowts rull min-tee” and swigging from the bottle in the last shot.
COMMERCIAL: COME ON OUT AMERICA [RERUN FROM 03/27/82]
SHOW: TABLE TALK
-Tony Rosato demonstrates how to intimidate the wine steward (Nate Herman).
-Rosato is in fine form here. I’ve finally figured out that he reminds me a LOT of Jason Sudeikis, because they both can play both the straight and support roles as well as somewhat boorish, obnoxious types. I’d say he was the perfect choice to do this segment and he carries it well.
-The part where Rosato does a quick devilish laugh after demonstrating his displeasure to the wine steward reminds me of Vic Salukin after his crank call.
-Nate Herman reportedly was a last-second fill-in for a regular cast member. For all the screen time the original writers of SNL got, Ebersol and Doumanian didn’t really give their writers many bit parts (except for Andy Breckman) so for a writer to have a big role as this is rare.
SHOW: LOOKS AT BOOKS
-Karen Block (Mary Gross) interviews “A Hard Day’s Reich” author Dr. Simon Radlauer (Tim Kazurinsky), who asserts the Beatles stole their ideas from the Nazis.
-While the doctored Beatles covers were funny, the joke really runs out of steam and it doesn’t really feel like they worked too hard on fleshing out the idea.
-This is notable for being the only time the show would use the title “Looks At Books” after the original cast left. Most of the time Ebersol book review show sketches would be “Book Beat”
-Gross’ exaggerated delivery at the beginning was a little irritating. Also, if the Nazi music records were supposed to be LPs then that would be an anachronism seeing that the 33 1/3rd RPM LP wasn’t developed until after the war.
MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: “I PREDICT”
-You can see Danny DeVito dancing on the side stage as the band starts playing.
-Another catchy number. Ron seemed to be cracking up a little at Russell at one point.
-One of the song’s jokes (pointed out elsewhere): the prediction that the song will fade out, but it actually ends cold.
-Danny’s mother Julia DeVito (who’s even shorter than he is) curses out ABC in Italian to cheers from the cast and audience.
-A few audience members can be seen standing up in the balcony, evidently trying to start another standing ovation. It doesn’t take.
Easily one of the highlights of the season and definitely a highlight of the later part of the year. Danny DeVito was the strongest host the show had in a while, perhaps since Bill Murray, and while the show still had a few stumbles, overall the cast and writers seemed to have a good night.
-Kaufman vs. Lawler
-Solomon & Pudge
-Looks At Books
CAST & GUEST BREAKDOWN:
Robin Duke: 2 appearances [Whiners, Enzo]
Christine Ebersole: 3 appearances [Stress Test, SNL Newsbreak, Enzo]
Mary Gross: 4 appearances [Whiners, Stress Test (voice only), SNL Newsbreak, Looks At Books]
Tim Kazurinsky: 4 appearances [Next Week, SNL Newsbreak, Enzo, Looks At Books]
Eddie Murphy: 2 appearances [Stress Test, Solomon and Pudge]
Joe Piscopo: 4 appearances [Wrestling Teaser (voice only), Whiners, Stress Test, Solomon and Pudge]
Tony Rosato: 4 appearances [Stress Test (voice only), SNL Newsbreak, Enzo, Table Talk]
Brian Doyle-Murray: 3 appearances [Stress Test, SNL Newsbreak, Kaufman vs. Lawler]
Nate Herman: 1 appearance [Table Talk]
Yvonne Hudson: 1 appearance [Whiners]
Neil Levy: 1 appearance [Whiners]
Danny DeVito: 6 appearances [Monologue, Taxi, Whiners, Stress Test, Next Week, Solomon & Pudge]
Sparks: 2 appearances ["Mickey Mouse", "I Predict"]
Andy Kaufman: 2 appearances [Monologue, Kaufman vs. Lawler]
Tony Danza: 1 appearance [Monologue]
Marilu Henner: 1 appearance [Monologue]
Judd Hirsch: 1 appearance [Monologue]
Christopher Lloyd: 1 appearance [Monologue]
September 18, 1982
Known alterations: Next Week is removed, The Khaddaffi Look (from 10/03/81) is added.
Additional screen captures are available here.