"Saturday Night Live" really began to find it's stride with this particular episode. The first of two hosted by Elliot Gould in the first season, it contains some of the best sketches of the season from The Godfather's therapy session to Shimmer.
Over the years I have seen parts of this episode on VHS tapes ("The Best of John Belushi", "The Best of Chevy Chase")and syndicated "Best of" specials. I recently saw the episode in its entirety again thanks to the DVD release and it was certainly worth it. While the classic skits (The Godfather's Therapy Session and the commercial for Shimmer) are terrific, the opening sketch featuring The Dead String Quartet is very funny and the Internal Demolition Team is sketch is great as well and shouldn't be missed. It's also neat to see Al Franken before he became a pundit.
Well, this was the first show of 1976 and it's quite an interesting way to start with funnyman Elliot Gould as the host. Elliot is a pretty funny guy in his own right and Anne Murray is a great singer/songwriter so do they have what it takes to gel and make this a good show?
Host: Elliot Gould
Musical Guest: Anne Murray
Cold Open: The Dead String Quartet (Aykroyd, Chase, Morris, Newman)
--All four musicians (Aykroyd, Chase, Morris, Newman) sit on the stage dead until they slowly topple over as Chevy takes the fall and opens the show. Short and sweet.
--Interior demolitionists (Gould, Chase) arrive at a couple's house and begin to destroy all the appliances and furniture from the inside of the house, much to the wife's (Curtin) dismay. This was a pretty funny and somewhat clever sketch too that proves that the show is off to a good start.
Vito's Support Group (Gould, Belushi, Morris, Newman)
--During group therapy, the teacher (Gould) gets Vito Corleone (Belushi) to tell his true feelings about the recent happenings in his life, but Sherry (Newman) keeps feeling that Vito is not really showing his true self by avoiding the subject of his son's death. Terrific performance by Belushi and Newman here as well as a good dead-pan performance from Gould. This sketch is just comedy gold.
Commercial: New Shimmer (Aykroyd, Chase, Radner)
--A couple (Aykroyd, Radner) is shocked to find out from a spokesperson (Chase) that New Shimmer is a floor wax AND a dessert topping. Ludicrous, yet so funny.
Weis Film #2: Play Misty For Me
--This film goes through different clips of singers performing the aforementioned song. Felt a little bit like filler, but it was still nice to see.
Who's Lydia? (Gould, Radner)
--Gilda asks Elliot who Lydia is, but apparently she's just a friend of his. More goofy awkwardness from Gilda. "Who's Anne Murray?" Haha.
Anne Murray sings "Long Distance Call"
--Good, quick song by Murray.
Weekend Update with Chevy Chase (also: Laraine Newman)
--Chevy tries another link-up with Angola that gets linked to Angelo's while he also makes fun of the racist Robert Burr, gets a humourous report from Newman as deadly nerve gasses explode into the sky in the background, gets caught in an embarassing conversation with lover Michael O'Donoghue, and does his great bit on "killer dope." Good edition yet again.
--The Killer Bees (Gould, Aykroyd, Belushi, Morris, & others) enter the home of a couple (Chase, Radner) and want their pollen, but of course the couple have none. Gould then delivers a passionate speech which is where the real magic begins as they break character after an "incident" in the control room. Lorne Michaels then makes his first credited appearance on the show and with everything added together, this is one of the best sketches in the show's history.
Gilda & Elliot: Mom (Gould, Radner)
--Gilda introduces Elliot to her mom to add to the awkwardness.
Albert Brooks Film: Audience Research Institute
--This is probably Albert's best of the short films as he displays different peoples' reactions to his films in a variety of somewhat absurd tactics. This was the last we would see of Albert on SNL.
No Mr. Gilda Radner (Gould, Radner)
--Another good bit with Gilda and Elliot where she tells him she would never put her career ahead of him.
The Muppets: Scred & Peuta's Affair
--This is a watchable Muppets installment where Scred tries to tell Ploobis about his affair with the king's wife, Peuta, but just can't and the Favog's advice doesn't help.
--Dr. Crane (Gould) and Dr. Lechev (Aykroyd) show their very different methods in delivering a baby. Crane tends to be a lot more anxious and get it done and over with, while Lechev is more reserved and his style is almost silent. Blah sketch.
Anne Murray sings "Boogie With You"
--Another good tune from Murray with a nice lively beat to it.
Franken & Davis: Bureau of White Man's Affairs
--These two comedians talk about the world if the Natives had won the battle instead of the Americans and sort of flip the racism around in their sketch, which turns out to be truly funny.
Elliot gets "married" to Gilda as the credits roll afterwards and we get the usual Don Pardo voiceover finish.
Best segment: The Killer Bees
Worst segment: Birthright
Host: Elliot Gould - 8/10
Musical Guest: Anne Murray - 7.5/10
This episode really makes up for the Christmas show as there is almost nothing bad on this entire episode and it doesn't feel like someone just tried to cram in about 200 sketches into 90 minutes. Elliot turned out to be a great host with Anne Murray turning out two very catchy musical numbers, while Albert Brooks' short films come to an end with probably his best one he ever made. Update still runs strong as well this week, Chevy is on a roll.
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