Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Saturday Night Live, Season 2

Season two of the iconic Saturday Night Live is a bit sturdier and more streamlined than it’s premier season. Chevy Chase bails midseason but the trade off is a spry, young, Bill Murray a few episodes later.

This is the season where Buck Henry gets cut in the head by Belushi’s samurai sword - a true testament to the erratic nature of the live format. We also get the debut of the Coneheads, some direly dramatic sketches, and some really powerful musical guests. 

BEST HOST:  Steve Martin
WORST HOST: Dick Cavett

  • Dan Akroyd as Carter and Nixon. = +5pts
  • Jane Curtain taking over Weekend Update. = +8pts
  • Emily Litella’s rivalry with Jane Curtain on Weekend Update. = +8pts (Seriously, who is Emily Litella?)
  • More Patty Hearst jokes. = +2pts
  • Eric Idle’s “Here Comes the Sun” running gag. [E03] = +8pts
  • The drag sketch turning meta. [E03] = +5pts
  • The strong bromance between Eric Idle and Dan Akroyd. [E03] [E20] = +10pts
  • Steve Martin at his strongest [E05] = +15pts
  • The twelve minute beatnick sketch where all the art is horrible and awkward. [E05] = +15pts
  • Ted Baxter killing Mary Richards in a very dark Mary Tyler Moore Show parody. [E05] = +15pts
  • Chevy Chase’s last episode.  [E06] = -10pts
  • Belushi as Samurai Futaba cutting Buck Henry’s head accidentally in the Samurai Stockbroker sketch. [E06] = +30pts
  • The cast wearing bandages on their heads in solidarity with Buck Henry for the bandage he was forced to wear due to the samurai cut. [E06] = +15pts
  • The Band performing four songs amidst their farewell tour. [E06] = +15pts
  • Elliot Gould canceling his appearance and Dick Cavett filling in.  [E07] = -15pts
  • George Harrison and Paul Simon performing together. [E08] = +15pts
  • George Harrison’s corny music videos making us feel weird. [E08] = +8pts
  • The sound on George Harrison’s corny music videos being mixed much lower than the rest of the episode. [E08] = -3pts
  • Refreshing, androgynous, young Jodie Foster. [E09] = +15pts
  • Brian Wilson standing unassumingly in the background as a security guard, only to reveal himself by speaking a line at the end of the skit. [E09] = +8pts
  • Frank Zappa’s dramatic performance of  “I’m the Slime” with Don Pardo. [E10] = +10pts
  • Dan Akroyd debuting as Irwin Mainway. [E10] = +8pts
  • In the middle of the “Extreme Stupidity League” sketch, Candice Bergan mixing up the name of Gilda Radner’s character with her own and running the “Extreme Stupidity League” sketch off the rails. [E10] = +5pts
  • Bill Murray’s first episode. [E11] = +15pts
  • Ralph Nader and a bunch of blow up dolls. [E11] = +10
  • First Coneheads Sketch. [E11] = +8pts
  • Chuck Berry live. [E12] = +8pts
  • Fran Tarkenton making a gay joke at the expense of Don Meredith. [E13] = -8pts
  • The Kinks performing a live medley. [E14] = +8pts
  • A very dramatic sketch between Belushi and Sissy Spacek. [E15] = +8pts
  • Bill Murray excusing himself for not being funny on the show. [E16] = +5pts
  • I Love Lucy parody where Lucy works on a nuclear warhead assembly line. [E16] = +8pts
  • Official name changes from Saturday Night to Saturday Night Live. [E17] = +8pts
  • Ending the show on a tragic downer of a sketch where Jack Burns plays an alcoholic writer seeking work. [E17] = -5pts
  • An entire episode that serves as a biting conversation on race, hosted by Senator Julian Bond.  [E18] = +20pts
  • A very serious, very depressing sketch about supposedly progressive, middle class white people and the shallowness of their convictions. This is deep. [E18] = +15pts
  • Dan Akroyd uses the end of the show to plead with viewers to sell him tanks for a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. [E19] = +3pts
  • During the closing, John Belushi sincerely telling Elliot Gould that he is the best host that the show has ever had. [E19] = -1pt
  • A skit about guns on an airplane. [E20] = +3pts
  • The opening show announcement and credits only playing on a television in the background of a scene - not directly into the feed. [E21] = +5pts
  • A very non-traditional, very sexy, very powerful opening with all the females in the cast,  along with Shelley Duvall, as the Video Vixens. [E21] = +10pts
  • The Video Vixens run just slightly too long…just slightly. [E21] = -2pts
  • Bill Murray, Gilda Radner and Buck Henry in the shower. [E22] = +8pts
  • Coneheads driving around in a convertible, receiving reactions.  [E22] = +8pts
Total Score = +326pts
Available in full on DVD and the torrent sites, also in bits and pieces all over the internet.

Saturday Night Live Season 2 is actually better than season 1, when it comes to the quality of the content.  However, it scores lower on the technicality that there was simply less ground to break. The show had become a hot property and the excitement of getting it off the ground was not quite as present. Year two was more streamlined, with a larger budget and a crew that now had the routine down. Bill Murray hadn't quite yet found his sea legs, but come on…he's Bill Murray.

Despite the new aesthetic sheen, there were very few things that warranted a negative score here and this is no less a fixture of classic television than was the preceding season. Ever anomalous…ever evolving…another great year for the Not Ready for Primetime Players. What else can be said?

Score Technician:  Arrison Kirby

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