Saturday Night Live

Season 2 Episode 1

Lily Tomlin/James Taylor

Aired Saturday 11:30 PM Sep 18, 1976 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (2)

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  • Lily Tomlin makes her second hosting appearance with her musical guest James Taylor! Also, the Muppets make their final (thank God) appearance! Plus: My overall take on Year 1.

    Just before I get into this Year 2 Season Premiere review, I want to mention my favourite bits from Year 1 that I forgot to at the end of the Kristofferson/Coolidge episode.

    Best Host: Buck Henry
    Worst Host: Louise Lasser

    Best Musical Guest: Jimmy Cliff
    Worst Musical Guest: Esther Phillips

    Best Overall Episode: Pryor/Heron (12/13/75)
    Worst Overall Episode: Lasser/PHJB (7/24/76)

    Best sketch: The Killer Bees (Gould/Murray - 1/10/76)
    Worst sketch: The Diner (Lasser/PHJB - 7/24/76)


    Saturday Night's first year was not its best year by a long shot. It was, however, a really solid one that showcased some great episodes, some terrific hosts, and really only one terrible episode (damn you Louise Lasser!). So here they are being renewed for another season and to start it off, we have Lily Tomlin coming back as a host for her second stint. Joining her is very talented singer/songwriter James Taylor, very young at the time, to sing some of his ditties and with these ingredients, it seems like this has all the potential to be a great season opener. But is it?

    Host: Lily Tomlin
    Musical Guest: James Taylor

    Cold Open: Lily's Arrival (Tomlin, Chase, Curtin, Morris, Radner)

    --Chevy and Gilda wait for Lily Tomlin's arrival and she finally comes in with a huge entourage, mispronounces everyone's name, and tells them that she needs not rehearse for tonight. I especially like the smarmy security guard and the way that they finally get to the fall. Solid opening.

    Monologue (Tomlin)

    --Lily comes out and talks about her wonderful week working with the cast before getting a quick drink when the camera cuts out.

    Debate '76 (Tomlin, Aykroyd, Belushi, Chase, Curtin, Morris)

    --Ruth Clusen (Tomlin) moderates the first debate between Ford (Chase) and Carter (Aykroyd) with the three journalists Liz Montgomery (Curtin), Tom Burke (Belushi), and Earl Roland (Morris) there to ask the questions. This is a really great way to start as you get Chase's stumblebum actions and Aykroyd's fun Carter impression. Note: This sketch causes an injury and is the reason why Chevy misses the next two shows.

    James Taylor sings "Shower the People"

    --One of my favourite JT songs and the live performance of it here sounds excellent.

    Weekend Update with Chevy Chase

    --Already? After taking a look at the top story, Chevy gets right back into his usual mode and speaks on Amin's species change, does one of his classic incomplete jokes to start, and does a great bit on Jimmy Hoffa. Laraine Newman reports from the Blaine Hotel where a strange sickness (Foreign Legionaire's Disease) has swept the building and then interviews the hotel manager (Belushi), who quickly contracts it. Emily Litella (Radner) also does an editorial on "Five Crustaceans Hijacking an Airplane" over the phone, much to "Cheddar Cheese's" annoyance. Good start for the season.

    Commercial: The Phone Company (Tomlin)

    --One of Lily's characters, Ernestine (Tomlin), talks about working at the phone company and demonstrates that she can cause a bunch of phone lines to go out. "We don't care. We don't have to. We're the Phone Company." Great bit.

    The Muppet Morgue (Tomlin)

    --The Muppets make one last appearance popping out of some filing cabinets (the Morgue) and then are greeted by Lily Tomlin, who tries to get them to whistle to no avail. Thank god this would be their last appearance and this sketch was nothing special either.

    James Taylor sings "Road Runner"

    --Another fast-paced tune from Taylor along with some assistance from talented David Sanborn on saxophone.

    Tess & the Salesman (Tomlin, Morris)

    --Tess (Tomlin) gets a visit from a salesman (Morris), who tries to sell her a homesite, but Tess is more preoccupied with making small talk and tries to tell the salesman how to properly perform his job. Tomlin's character here is an interesting creation and Morris does well too, but the sketch runs a bit too long.

    James Taylor sings "Sweet Baby James"

    --The third tune from Taylor is a very sweet, sad tune and judging from the audience reaction at the beginning, a very welcome one.

    Film: We Asked Judith Beasley (Tomlin, Aykroyd)

    --Judith Beasley (Tomlin), another one of Lily's original characters, is asked to do several tasks by an announcer (Aykroyd) that get increasingly more and more ridiculous and offensive, leading into the Antler Dance. The sick enjoyment that the announcer has over everything is funny as well as Judith's compliance with all the tasks.

    Women in Literature (Aykroyd, Newman)

    --Elna Sullivan (Newman) is highlighted as she writes more of a journal than a great novel, while the narrator (Aykroyd) describes the surrounding story. This was there.

    Weis Film #16: Television Viewer

    --Taylor Mead makes his third appearance in a Weis film to talk about how he's an average television viewer and praises it while talking about Hollywood Squares as well. Quirky fun from the flamboyant Mead.

    Lily Tomlin, James Taylor, and the Not Ready For Primetime Players perform the "Antler Dance"

    --Big ensemble performance which also includes Paul Shaffer on piano, the SNL Band, the Muppets, and some writers. Fun way to close the premiere.

    As the dance continues, Lily says goodnight to all and even audience members join in on the dance.

    Best segment: Debate '76
    Worst segment: Women in Literature

    Host: Lily Tomlin - 7.5/10
    Musical Guest: James Taylor - 8/10

    The first episode of the season didn't quite open with a bang, but it wasn't a whimper either by any stretch. Lily proved to be a capable host once again but was definitely not as terrific as the first time she hosted back in Year 1. James Taylor was a wonderful musical guest and definitely held his own when it came to time to deliver three songs and then dance around in the closing moments of the show. Good stuff from the cast as well, especially Aykroyd and Chase, who delivered in the debate sketch and then in the "We Asked Judith Beasley" bit and Update, respectively. Good, although not outstanding, start to the second season.

    Rating: 7/10