This episode of Saturday Night sees its first athlete host in Fran Tarkenton, football player for the Minnesota Vikings. Athlete hosts were never among the finest in choices and the episodes that they took part in were never the greatest of episodes as well. They usually were all up to the writers and the host would not really have any idea about comedy because they're not in acting at all! I have no clue who Leo Sayer, Donny Harper, or the Voices of Tomorrow are. Sorry. But either way, this episode is a first because of the whole athlete host thing. So it's pretty special. Yup.
Host: Fran Tarkenton
Musical Guests: Leo Sayer and Donny Harper & the Voices of Tomorrow
Cold Open: Team Saturday Night (Tarkenton, Aykroyd, Belushi, Curtin, Morris, Murray, Newman, Radner) (4:39)
--The coach (Belushi) rallies the Saturday Night team in preparation for a night of comedy as Fran continues to ask questions about what he should do as the cast responds in full football gear. Pretty funny opening.
Monologue: Team Strategy (Tarkenton, Belushi, Morris, Murray) (3:49)
--Fran talks about his Superbowl loss recently and then tries to sing, while the commentator (Murray) wonders about whether Coach Belushi was expecting this. Garrett convinces him that it's not working, but then he starts singing instead while Belushi abuses Tarkenton.
Commercial: Swiss Army Gun (Aykroyd) (1:46)
--The all-purpose survival tool that has a steel hunting knife, fish hook, nail file, a .38 revolver, and other ridiculous items. Aykroyd nails another commercial sketch again.
Amy Carter in School (Aykroyd, Curtin, Morris, Murray, Newman, Radner) (3:27)
--Amy Carter (Newman) goes to school while her Secret Service men (Aykroyd, Murray) stand guard and even subdue a classmate (Radner) when she accuses Amy of cheating. Great stuff.
Sports Injury (Tarkenton, Aykroyd, Belushi, Morris, Murray) (1:53)
--One of the players (Aykroyd) gets his arm ripped off in the middle of a game and says he needs to sit out, but Belushi tapes it back on and sends him back out there. Fran then gets out to center stage and does the intro for the musical guest. Dan's physical comedy made this amusing.
Leo Sayer sings "When I Need You" (3:58)
--Leo sings a slow-paced tune, but it's still pretty decent.
Black Perspective (Tarkenton, Morris) (2:56)
--Garrett interviews Fran about being a member of the comittee for race relations on football. When Garrett brings up myths about black football players though, Fran completely agrees with them. Another good bit.
Alsatian Restaurant (Aykroyd, Curtin, Murray, Newman, Radner) (6:57)
--A couple (Curtin, Murray) visit an exclusive restaurant where the cook (Aykroyd) also lives. As the cook's daughter (Newman) plays the recorder for their "entertainment pleasure", the cook (Aykroyd) and his wife (Radner) argue in the kitchen. Another fun sketch, but it ran a bit long.
Commercial: Sugar-Coated Annabolic Steroids (Tarkenton, Curtin) (1:34)
--Fran presents the cereal that gets him started in the morning. He stumbles a lot, but I give props to Jane Curtin with a beard.
Weekend Update with Jane Curtin (6:08)
--Jane starts with a hilarious bit where she reads a letter by someone that misses Chevy and the sexiness of Update, so Jane rips her shirt off and shows her bra. Jane goes solo this time on Update, talking about Col. Sanders wanting employees to resemble chickens, showing "footage" of the cruise missile launch, and a bit on Alex Haley as the highlights of this edition. Decent stuff this week.
Commercial: Community Appeal (Tarkenton, Belushi) (1:17)
--Fran raises money for John Belushi after drugs have screwed his brain up. Funny performance from Bluto.
Hotel Sketch (Tarkenton, Aykroyd, Belushi, Murray, Newman) (4:50)
--Fran takes a woman (Newman) back to his hotel room, but then he calls for a time-out and talks it over with the coach (Belushi) as the commentator (Murray) glosses over a story about Fran running his car into parking meters. I like the whole running joke with Fran running back to the sidelines.
Grand Stand (Tarkenton, Morris, Murray, Newman, Radner) (4:33)
--After experiencing some audio problems, showing footage of the ABC movie in progress, and having Howard Shore and his band performing at half-time, Brian Gumbo (Morris) and Leo Whitehead (Murray) interview Fran Tarkenton on a TV monitor. Fran then calls another quarterback gay and actually receives some boos, while highlights are shown from earlier in the program. More good stuff.
Commercial: Wrigley's (Newman, Radner) (:32)
--A repeat from Year 1, but it wasn't featured on the Season One DVD. This is an alright bit I guess.
Leo Sayer sings "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing" (3:44)
--A classic! Well, okay, it's not a classic but it's a well-known tune that I enjoyed for the nostalgic feel.
Weis Film #24: Small Worlds (Tarkenton) (2:39)
--Two people who own a unique pet store show the cameraman around to look at their various reptiles on display. After the film, Tarkenton then holds a tarantula and it bites him. Meh.
Commercial: French Liquid (:55)
--An advertisement for French Liquid, the new unique perfume for women that smells different for everyone. Eh.
Donny Harper & the Voices of Tomorrow sing "Sing a Song" (3:08)
--Donny and the Voices do an interesting version of "Sing a Song". It was alright, but nothing special.
Credit Card Counseling (Curtin, Radner) (4:42)
--The second appearance of Rhonda Weiss (Radner), who's told that her credit card is going to be taken away from her by Barbara (Curtin). It quickly turns into a one-upsmanship contest though on different things. Typical ten-to-one sketch with nothing of note really.
Nobody says anything at the end but the cast just kind of holds Fran up in the air and the credits roll.
Best segment: Amy Carter in School
Worst segment: Small Worlds
Host: Fran Tarkenton - 6/10
Musical Guests: Leo Sayer - 7.75/10
Donny Harper & the Voices of Tomorrow - 5/10
This show was an interesting experiment for all involved as of course, they have gone with hosts before that didn't have any acting history like Ron Nessen, but this was the first occasion for an athlete to host and paved the way for others. Fran wasn't the sharpest host and did a fair amount of obvious cue card-reading, but the effort was there and he was solid in comparison to some of the athletes that would go on to host in later years (coughWayneGretzkycough) for sure. Leo Sayer was a good performer for the most part as well and the other group of musicians...well, they were okay. As for the cast, it's hard to pick a stand-out because everyone was very involved in the sketches so I'm going to go with a great effort by the entire cast. Very good show despite the host's limitations.