Candice Bergen was one of the earliest hosts that Lorne and the cast could be sure to rely on for a good performance even if the show would not be up to par all the time (case in point, the Christmas show in Year 1). Here she is again, hosting their annual Christmas show with a very unique and wonderful musician in the form of Frank Zappa who would make another appearance after this that was much lauded as an over-the-top camera-mugging performance for a host. Here though, he would only serve as the musical guest and make one quick appearance later on in the show. Could they erase the memory of last year's Christmas show (which at a 5.75, wasn't AWFUL) or would it be just as mediocre? Here we go at the halfway mark of the season.
Host: Candice Bergen
Musical Guest: Frank Zappa
Cold Open: Patti Hearst At Home (Aykroyd, Belushi, Curtin, Morris, Newman, Radner) (3:18)
--Patti Hearst (Radner) comes home to her family for the holidays and they play Scrabble and watch television, but things continue to be awkward. Funny opening.
Monologue: "Casablanca" (Bergen, Belushi, Curtin, Morris + Lorne Michaels) (5:37)
--Candice doesn't show up to the stage due to John Belushi ignoring her after their torrid love affair. Belushi, looking like Humphrey Bogart, escorts Bergen back out towards to the stage and as they stand in the fog, the "Casablanca" reference kicks in. Even Sam (Morris) shows up. The greatness keeps coming.
Carter's Promises (Aykroyd) (1:36)
--President Carter (Aykroyd) tells everyone that the promises he has made will be pretty impossible to accomplish. This is obviously just to help hone Aykroyd's impression of Carter, but it's still amusing.
Commercial: Santi-Wrap (Aykroyd, Belushi, Newman) (2:04)
--Santi-Wrap, the new sanitary seat cover that you can put on Santa's lap before you risk catching a disease from him. Decent.
Frank Zappa sings "I'm The Slime" (3:13)
--One of the most unique acts to ever appear on Saturday Night Live, Zappa delivers a wonderful tune with the help of Don Pardo and some green slime. Simply amazing.
Consumer Probe (Bergen, Aykroyd) (4:39)
--Candice interviews Irvin Mainway (Aykroyd) on his dangerous new Christmas toys including one that is simply a bag of glass. This is one of Dan's great character creations and the way he keeps defending his dangerous toys and talking about the dangers of very harmless toys is hilarious.
Commercial: K-Put (:48)
--The third repeat of this commercial from Year 1.
Right To Extreme Stupidity League (Bergen, Radner) (2:45)
--Lisa (Radner), an extremely stupid woman, speaks for the rights of people like her while Fern (Bergen) insults her. Bergen cracks up early on though and it completely changes the direction of the sketch. The way she just shamelessly laughs in the background is quite funny and adds to an already well-written bit.
Weekend Update with Jane Curtin (also: Dan Aykroyd and Gilda Radner) (8:15)
--Jane chats with writer Tom Schiller in an awkward conversation to begin the news, so Schiller hides under the desk and constantly makes his presence known throughout this edition. Jane is in good form, making a sharp jab at Barbara Walters and then President Carter. Ray Basalt (Aykroyd) speaks on the December Radiation Fallout Report in an amusing bit and then we also get a visit from Emily Litella (Radner) to report on "collecting money for unisex." This turns into the first Curtin/Radner interaction on Update, which is even funnier than when she did the same routine with Chevy. Wonderful.
Commercial: FX-70 Cheese Slicer (Bergen, Belushi) (:42)
--A quick bit in which Candice advertises the new FX-70 Cheese Slicer. Kodak didn't care much for this and dropped her as their spokesperson shortly after.
Frank Zappa performs "Lagoon" (with help from: John Belushi) (3:56)
--Another showstopping moment from Zappa, with the best part being when Samurai Futaba (Belushi) shows up to assist with the "lyrics." Awesome.
The Killer Trees (Bergen, Zappa, Aykroyd, Belushi, Morris, Radner) (8:37)
--Just as it sounds. There are killer Christmas trees on the hunt and after taking their first victim (Morris), it is discovered that they only attack when one is singing "O Tanenbaum." Two cops (Aykroyd, Belushi) are on the case and even Zappa makes an appearance as one of the suspects in this sketch. More great stuff.
Weis Film #22: Diana Nyad (2:56)
--This film focuses on some swimmer who swam around Manhattan Island. It's interesting, but doesn't belong on the show and therefore, it kind of slowed the great pace that this show has going so far.
Adopt Belushi For Christmas (Bergen, Belushi) (2:31)
--Candice announces that after all the Not Ready For Primetime Players go home for Christmas, John Belushi will have nowhere to go and will definitely need a home. Works because of Belushi's charm.
Let's Kill Gary Gilmore (Bergen, Aykroyd, Belushi, Curtin, Morris, Newman, Radner) (3:29)
--Candice and the cast sing an ode to killing Gary Gilmore, the evil bastard who killed a couple of people and then asked to be killed by a firing squad. Pretty hilariously dark tune sung to perfection by all.
Frank Zappa performs "Peaches and Regalia"
--Zappa's musical trio ends with another wonderful ditty. Great drum solo to finish it off too.
Candice has to waste time before the closing and then joins the cast on the ice rink for a little skating before she says goodnight and they then wrap up the show.
Best segment: Consumer Probe
Worst segment: Diana Nyad...but it wasn't that bad.
Host: Candice Bergen - 7.5/10
Musical Guest: Frank Zappa - 10/10
I absolutely loved this episode in case you couldn't tell as Candice was her usual reliable self as a host. Usually and for the most part, she was playing straight-man to the cast's goofy antics but she excels in that department and was especially charming and hilarious in her sketch with Gilda. Frank Zappa was a revelation for the show and an absolutely amazing musical guest who provided a very unique and mesmerizing set of three of his great songs. For the cast, I believe John Belushi took the cake this week but there was an overall great effort by the cast and an awesome show overall. Perfect.