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.