Saturday Night Live

Season 2 Episode 11

Ralph Nader/George Benson

Aired Saturday 11:30 PM Jan 15, 1977 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (1)

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out of 10
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  • Consumer advocate Ralph Nader hosts this episode with musical guest George Benson and special guest Andy Kaufman. Plus, this marks Bill Murray's debut as a Not Ready For Primetime Player!

    Saturday Night was not above just getting actors and actresses for their hosts even in the earlier days. For instance, in Year 1 they would get the press secretary Ron Nessen, in Year 2 they would have Julian Bond and then Fran Tarkenton, O.J. Simpson in Year 3, and so on. This episode, however, was hosted by Ralph Nader. This man opposed many different things going on in the political world at that time and was very outspoken. Definitely an interesting choice to host and pairing him up with musical talent George Benson was also a fun idea. This episode also marks the debut of Bill Murray in the cast and the exclusion of John Belushi for this one episode due to a little stint in the hospital. Would the execution of the episode be as slick as the lineup?

    Host: Ralph Nader
    Musical Guest: George Benson

    Cold Open: Ralph's New Image (Nader, Aykroyd, Curtin, Morris, Newman, Radner) (3:02)

    --Dan and Gilda await Ralph's arrival, who makes his appearance wearing a fancy cowboy suit and says that he's going to cut loose tonight, yet he still manages to freak the cast out with his warning about some of their practices. Funny opening especially with Nader's charming opening after they botch his airbag.

    Monologue: Nice NBC (Nader) (1:10)

    --Ralph immediately attacks the RCA Corporation that is behind NBC while some "network trouble" occurs temporarily and the camera goes blurry. Not bad, but a little short.

    Commercial: Long-Distance (Murray, Newman) (2:28)

    --An old man (Murray) awaits his grandson's long-distance phone call, but eventually grows impatient and bitter. Funny and great first sketch with Bill Murray.

    Televised Execution Rehearsal (Benson, Aykroyd, Curtin, Murray, Newman) (4:25)

    --Dean Slydell (writer Tom Schiller) is set to be executed by the Warden (Aykroyd) in this rehearsal for the big day, but the director (Murray) runs in and makes changes just like a big-time movie director. He even has the priest(Benson) replaced by a different actor. More good stuff from Bill ("That's for tomorrow, ya banana brain!") and a funny sketch overall.

    Baba Wawa Talks To Herself (Radner) (1:30)

    --Baba Wawa (Radner) announces her upcoming special in which she will just interview herself for three hours. Sharp parody of Walters' ego.

    George Benson sings "Masquerade" (3:16)

    --Grammy Award-nominated George Benson performs this slow-moving, but effective number with a lot of heart.

    Carter's Confederate Takeover (Nader, Aykroyd, Radner) (4:46)

    --Before Ralph Nader meets with President-Elect Carter (Aykroyd), he falls asleep and has a dream of Carter taking suggestions from Nader on what he should change before he announces that he's going to reunite the Confederacy and take over. Some good political satire.

    Weekend Update with Jane Curtin (also: Ralph Nader, John Belushi, Bill Murray, Laraine Newman, Gilda Radner) (10:25)

    --Jane gets a call from John Belushi from the hospital to start this edition and he's a little miffed about not getting the attention drawn to it like Chevy did. Jane then gets right into attacking Ford in his last few days of presidency and then Carter's attire just to be fair. Bill Murray reports on Rosalyn Carter's looks in a humourous bit, Laraine Newman interviews the Chairman of the Board for Texxon, Mr. Rigg (Nader), and Emily Litella (Radner) reports on "President Ford wanting to make Puerto Rico a steak." Another consistently funny edition of Update.

    Andy Kaufman: Jokes & Imitations (8:23)

    --Andy does his "Foreign Man" character and tells a joke followed by a couple of hilariously bad imitations and then a bang-on one of Elvis Presley to sing a couple of songs. Not as strong as some of his previous appearances, but this still holds up.

    Inflatable Doll Testing (Nader, Morris) (3:46)

    --Ralph invites Burt Inglestall (Morris) over, who discovers two inflatable dolls in his house. Ralph explains that they're for testing, but he acts a little strange around them, actually asking one if they want a drink and punishing a naughty one. This was okay due to Ralph's nerdy charm.

    Weis Film #10: Garbage

    --A repeat from late in Year 1.

    The Coneheads At Home (Aykroyd, Curtin, Murray, Newman) (6:56)

    --Meet the Coneheads. The debut of Beldar (Aykroyd), Prymaat (Curtin), and Connie (Newman) Conehead involves Connie preparing for a date with human Ronnie Getsetter (Murray). These are definitely among the best recurring characters in the early years and this is a pretty solid debut for them.

    George Benson sings "Gonna Love You More" (2:42)

    --Benson delivers a faster-paced song and it's a good one. Anyone know if this guy won any of those five Grammys?

    Youth Asks the Questions (Nader, Curtin, Murray, Newman, Radner) (6:12)

    --Moderator Jane Curtin presents Ralph Nader and youth interviewers Sherry Norwalk (Newman), Gerard Aldini (Murray), and Rhonda Weiss (Radner), who just stick to very off-topic questions. Pretty amusing segment.

    Ambassador Training Institute (Aykroyd, Newman) (1:44)

    --A repeat from very early on in the show's history.

    Ralph wishes everyone a goodnight and the gang all wish Belushi well before closing the show.

    Best segment: Carter's Confederate Takeover
    Worst segment: Inflatable Doll Testing

    Host: Ralph Nader - 7.5/10
    Musical Guest: George Benson - 8/10

    Ralph Nader was certainly an odd choice to get as the host for a show as he was a simple consumer advocate and a newsmaker, but definitely not a performer by any stretch. But he did remarkably well as a host for sure and even though there were plenty of references to his many beliefs, it didn't feel like it was a 90-minute infomercial which can not be said for every time that a politician has appeared on this fine program. George Benson provided some wonderful accompaniment on the music scale of things but I don't know why they bothered putting him into a sketch if they gave him so little to do. Out of the cast, I would definitely give it to Bill Murray for his strong debut showing, although he wouldn't really earn a great reputation as a castmember until at the end and the beginning of next season. Good show.

    Rating: 7.5/10