Saturday Night Live

Season 3 Episode 8

Mrs. Miskel Spillman/Elvis Costello & the Attractions

0
Aired Saturday 11:30 PM Dec 17, 1977 on NBC
8.1
out of 10
User Rating
16 votes
1

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

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Live From New York, It's... John Belushi! Sketches include "America's Oldest Living Doper," "Meat Wagon Toy Ambulance," "Dating the Self-Conscious & Extremely Obnoxious," "Gift of the Magi," "Sartresky and Hutch," "The Al Franken & Tom Davis Show," "E. Buzz Miller's Art Classics," "College Students Home For Christmas," "Drunken Santa," and "How to Make a Soiled Kimono." Elvis Costello & The Attractions performed "Watching the Detectives," the first ten seconds of "Less Than Zero," and "Radio, Radio."moreless

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Huge generation gaps don't often turn out this well!

    9.0
    Yes folks, this is the infamous Christmas show in which the Anyone-Can-Host Contest winner Miskel Spillman would finally cash in on her opportunity and host a show she was a huge fan of. Miskel would be joined here by Elvis Costello as the musical guest and he would make a very infamous appearance on the show as well, lending this episode more recognition to this day. There isn't a whole lot to say here because Miskel wasn't an actress at all, so let's get started with the review.



    Host: Miskel Spillman

    Musical Guest: Elvis Costello



    "How the Grinch Raped and Strangled Christmas" will not be seen? Damn...



    Cold Open: Miskel's Joint (Belushi, Newman + Buck Henry) (2:00)



    --Belushi and Newman chat it up about the host (and Belushi has an eerie line about dying at an early age) until Buck Henry comes in and talks about Miskel acting weird. Once John announces he smoked a joint with her to calm her down, Buck freaks out. Great, albeit short, opening.



    Monologue (Spillman + Buck Henry) (2:08)



    --Miskel comes out with fruit basket in tow and Buck Henry joins her to announce the old lady as the winner. She does some obvious cue card-reading, but I mean she had no history of acting so she holds her end up.



    Commercial: Meat Wagon Action Track Set (:51)



    --I didn't really get the whole idea behind this sketch until I saw it was by Mainway.



    Commercial: American Date the Self-Conscious Association (Aykroyd, Belushi, Murray, Newman, Radner) (4:01)



    --Two self-conscious people (Murray, Radner) awkwardly set up a date with each other for New Year's but they both stumble around in a humourous fashion. The host (Newman) then introduces an extremely obnoxious person (Belushi) and then a member of the Really Stupid People's Amalgamation (Aykroyd). This sketch was a scream with some hilarious performances from all involved.



    The Gift of the Magi (Spillman, Aykroyd, Belushi, Curtin, Newman, Radner) (6:09)



    --Jane Curtin and Mrs. Spillman tell a story of a couple (Belushi, Radner) that suffer due to the wife's terminal sickness. The husband agrees to be the donor to his wife, while she agrees to sell her hair to get him a Christmas present. The miscommunication turns the story a lot darker than expected and makes for another hilarious bit. Miskel's last line is delivered well too.



    Elvis Costello sings "Watching the Detectives" (3:56)



    --The always-entertaining Costello sings one of his great tunes with some great instrumental and his unique vocal talent.



    Weekend Update with Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin (also: Garrett Morris, Bill Murray, and Gilda Radner) (13:33)



    --This time, Curtin speculates about a Jimmy Carter pregnancy and then calls the president himself (Aykroyd) up, who just happens to be doing the voice right next to her. Garrett Morris pops in to deliver a point of view and shows a tape that proves to him that a black basketball player did not knock out a white one, but the footage proves him wrong. Also, Bill Murray stops in with his review of "Miracle on 34th Street" (hilarious) and then the Dancing N makes an appearance and turns out to be Emily Litella (Radner), who delivers a commentary about the "ssst landing in New York." Great stuff.



    Sartresky & Hutch (Spillman, Aykroyd, Belushi, Curtin, Morris, Murray, Newman + Buck Henry) (6:52)



    --A great concept sketch in which Sartresky (Aykroyd), named after the existential philosopher, teams up with Hutch (Belushi) to try and stop Rusty (Murray), a crazy bomber, from blowing up a bank along with his mother (Spillman) and wife (Curtin). Sartresky's constant musings are the highlights and Buck Henry's brief cameo is amusing.



    The Franken & Davis Show (Davis, Franken + Joe & Phoebe Franken) (4:12)



    --Al introduces his parents (played by his real-life parents, Joe & Phoebe), but then has a hilarious breakdown after his mother embarasses him.



    E. Buzz Miller's Art Classics (Aykroyd, Newman) (3:43)



    --E. Buzz Miller (Aykroyd) and Christy Christina (Newman) present some classic paintings as Miller points out all the sexual references in them. Another good, scummy character for Danny and a good bimbo performance by Newman.



    Elderly Girlfriend (Spillman, Aykroyd, Belushi, Curtin) (3:29)



    --Jeff (Belushi) brings home his new girlfriend, Sharon (Spillman), to meet his parents (Aykroyd, Curtin). Miskel's most dialogue in a sketch I think and she does a decent job.



    Santa Says No (Murray, Radner) (2:37)



    --Despite a little girl's (Radner) plea for presents, Santa (Murray) repeatedly says no and gets off on it. Amusing throwaway bit.



    Mr. Mike's Coral Waters Cafe (Newman) (4:03)



    --Laraine begs for a least-loved bedtime tale, but Mr. Mike forces her to sing for it. Yes, this is the great "Soiled Kimono" bit and it shows Mr. Mike at his most ingenious.



    Elvis Costello sings "Radio Radio" (2:56)



    --Elvis starts one song, but then quickly starts up "Radio Radio" instead, which was extremely controversial due to it being an unreleased song at the time, the fact that it may have screwed up the timing, and most of all that it criticized the media. This caused Costello to be banned until his appearance at the 25th Anniversary Special in which he duplicated this performance. Oh, and the song? Terrific.



    That's all she wrote, as Miskel joins the cast and Buck Henry to say goodnight to all the folks in attendance and thank everyone while wearing an adorable Santa suit. Also interesting to note is that during the goodnights, they show a bunch of the crew rather than the folks hugging on the stage.



    Best segment: It's really hard to choose, but let's go with American Date the Self-Conscious Association.



    Worst segment: Meat Wagon Action Track Set



    Host: Miskel Spillman - 6/10

    Musical Guest: Elvis Costello - 10/10



    What a fantastic show. The contest was an interesting experiment for the folks over in Studio 8H, but I think it turned out great in that they worked around their host's obvious limitations and didn't include her in every single sketch, a mistake that is sometimes made today with limited-talent hosts (coughMichaelPhelpscough). Elvis Costello was one of the best musical guests the show had (in my opinion), but maybe I'm a bit biased because I really enjoy his stuff and especially his controversial second number. As for the entire cast in this episode, I think Dan Aykroyd takes the cake this time, but Laraine Newman did show some pretty good stuff as well especially in the Mr. Mike bit and the Art Classics sketch. Excellent show, best one of the season that I've reviewed so far.



    Rating: 9/10moreless
Mrs. Miskel Spillman

Mrs. Miskel Spillman

Herself

Guest Star

Elvis Costello

Elvis Costello

Himself

Guest Star

The Attractions

The Attractions

Themselves

Guest Star

Buck Henry

Buck Henry

Himself

Recurring Role

Michael O'Donoghue

Michael O'Donoghue

Mr. Mike

Recurring Role

Mitchell Laurance

Mitchell Laurance

Policeman

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

FILTER BY TYPE

  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (1)

    • Buck Henry: Well, she's in Hawaii right now, with her old friend Mr. Fruit Bowl. And I've got to go out there in a minute and introduce the winner of the Anyone Can Host Contest, America's oldest living doper.

  • NOTES (5)

    • The Sex Pistols were originally confirmed as the musical guests. It was announced the U.S. government had refused to grant visas to the group; in reality their last-minute cancellation was caused by a pay dispute.

    • Mrs. Spillman is the second-oldest person to host Saturday Night Live; she was 80 years old when she hosted. Ruth Gordon was the oldest by a mere two weeks, though some people have assumed it was Spillman because of a disputed birthdate (she was born in 1897, not 1899).

    • The elderly couple that appeared in the "Al Franken & Tom Davis Show" sketch were in fact Al's parents, Joseph and Phoebe Franken.

    • The Attractions appeared uncredited. Their second song, "Less Than Zero" was stopped after less than one verse, and Costello sang "Radio Radio" against NBC's wishes.

      Lorne Michaels was not happy, as "Radio Radio" protested the state of the media, and the change in song put the show off schedule. Elvis Costello was subsequently banned from performing on SNL, a ban that Michaels would eventually lift more than 10 years later, making him only one of three people to ever be banned and allowed back.

    • Mrs. Spillman won the "Anyone Can Host SNL" contest. This marks the first (and so far, only) time that a non-celebrity has ever hosted the show.

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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