Saturday Night Live

Season 4 Episode 17

Milton Berle/Ornette Coleman

Aired Saturday 11:30 PM Apr 14, 1979 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
13 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Live from New York, it's... Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Garrett Morris, and Bill Murray! Sketches include "Texaco Star Theater Intro," "The Widettes," "The Village Persons," "Launching Pad," "On The Spot," "Bobbi Farber's Father," "Milton's Writers," and "September Song." Ornette Coleman performed "Times Square."

Who was the Episode MVP ?

  • I Liked UNcle Miltie SNL Episode

    I watched the SNL episode hosted by Milton Berle. He did a hilarious opening monologue and was quite funny in the sketches he appeared in. Sure, he might've P-O'd Lorne Michaels and some of the cast members but they needed to show this legendary TV comic more respect. Despite some problems that SNL episode was still vastly superior to any of the episodes of SNL's most recent 15 years. Shame on the original cast/staff for the disrespect they gave Miltie. They should've felt honored to have him as their guest host indeed.moreless
  • "A fresh mouse every five kids"

    Comic legend Milton Berle hosted towards the end of the 78-79. He also became infamous with the cast and crew. Cold Open- Texaco Star Theater - a spoof of the opening of Berle's old program of the same name from the fifties with Belushi, Garrett, Murray, Aykroyd as the gas station attendants. Garrett had the funniest line here: "I slash the top I pick the lock I take your car Around the block I drive it fast I smoke some grass If you don't like it Kiss my--"

    Monologue - the infamous monologue where Mr. Berle kept going with his jokes past the 5 minute mark. Yes, the pipe dropping was very audible, but at least Berle had a good ad lib for it -- "NBC just dropped another show." He continues and finally has to end his monologue at 7 minutes (a stagehand is seen unplugging his microphone while Berle is seen shouting at someone backstage.

    Widettes - the large bottomed family spend Easter with their Uncle (Berle) hunting eggs. This was okay if only for seeing the Styrofoam, which makes up the bottoms, revealed from Belushi's pants while he and Gilda are arguing. Thankfully, this is the last time we see this family.

    Rock Concert - Don Kirshner (Paul Schaffer) profiles a Village People-esque group 'The Village Persons' and they perform their overtly homoerotic song "Bend Over Chuck Berry". Next.

    Weekend Update with Jane Curtin and Bill Murray - Part 2 of the Chico Esceula story, Rock Critic Z. Jones (Laraine) makes a comparison between a song by Elvis Costello and one by The Beatles , and Murray sings 'Happy Birthday' to King Tut. Great jokes, another solid Update.

    Launching Pad - Buddy Pine (Berle) auditions new comedy acts: Brian Doyle-Murray (differences between NYC and LA), Bill ( cocky comic, works the room and does impressions), Garrett (differences between black and white people), Gilda and Dan (improv team), Laraine (folk singer/mom), John (jokes about the hardware store he co-owns). Eleven minutes later, only six are allowed in (Aykroyd is mysteriously absent). It's because he was changing for....

    On the Spot - Joan Face (Curtin) once again interviews corrupt, sleazy businessman Irwin Mainway (Aykroyd), this time the subject is his podunk amusement park. I love these things. Always great laughs. My favorites here would have be "the ice palace" and "the wild mouse". Also the ending scene is fantastic.

    Farbers at the Nursing Home - Bobbi Farber (Gilda) and her sister (Laraine) visit their father (Berle) at the nursing home, feed him and kvetch their about personal problems. Oy.

    Berle introduces his writers (Japanese men) mutters something in faux Japanese, then introduces the musical guest...

    Ornette Coleman performs "Time Square" from his 1979 LP, [i]Of Human Feelings[/i]. I'm a jazz fan, especially fusion, so Coleman and his band "Prime Time" were loose and chaotic.

    Berle performs a few bars of "September Songs" then tells a story and thanks the audience to standing ovations at the end. Overwrought. During goodnights everyone appears to be in the usual mood, hugging and such.

    Overall, I thought this show was below average with only On the Spot, Texaco Star Theater, Update, and Ornette Coleman were worth watching. Berle's lackadaisical performances didn't help, but the writing for most part was weak. 5.5/10moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (1)

    • Garrett Morris:
      I slash the top
      I pick the lock
      I take your car
      Around the block
      I drive it fast
      I smoke some grass
      If you don't like it
      Kiss my--

  • NOTES (5)

    • This episode resulted in Milton Berle being banned due to his habit of upstaging other performers, overacting, mugging for the camera, insertion of "classic" comedy bits and his maudlin performance of "September Song."

    • The main stage in this episode gets a slight change; the stairway leading from the door has been moved from just to the right of the door to the far left side of the stage. Also, a metal railing is now along the edge of the platform and stairs.

    • Jazz great Ornette Coleman only performed once.

    • Similar to the Louise Lasser debacle of three years earlier, Lorne has barred this episode from reruns. This embargo held for over twenty years until February 2003, when an edited version was shown on E!; it twice aired in full in Canada on The Comedy Network in 2001. Lorne Michaels felt that the quality of sketches, and Berle in particular, brought the show down.

    • Uncle Miltie's monologue was one of the longest in the show's history, clocking in at seven minutes. He had insisted on doing a stand-up routine in lieu of performing in sketches but he eventually made a deal with Lorne.

      During the live broadcast, however, Berle delivered an over-long, rapid-fire monologue and to cut him off, Bill Murray claims he dropped a pipe loudly backstage to distract Berle and give the director an opening to go to commercial. This can be heard clearly on-air, and Berle was clearly thrown, though he did ad-lib "NBC just dropped another show." After Berle mentioned that SNL had great hosts lined up (he even took a dig at George Burns). Berle apologizes to the audience and says his time is up. However, Berle appears flustered and is asking someone off-stage "I only get five minutes?".