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Saturday Night Live

Season 3 Episode 5

Ray Charles and the Raylettes

Aired Saturday 11:30 PM Nov 12, 1977 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
16 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Live From New York, It's... John Belushi!

Sketches include "Don Corleone," "A Message From the President of the United States," "Mamorex," "Howdy Doody's Widow," "Tomorrow," "The Young Caucasians," a performance by Franklyn Ajaye, "Evelyn Woodski Slow Reading Course," "Blackout Burglary," and "Mr. Mike's Painting."

Ray Charles performed "I Can See Clearly Now," "What I'd Say," "I Believe in My Soul," "Hit the Road Jack," "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning," and "I Can't Stop Loving You."moreless

Who was the Episode MVP ?

  • "What time is it?"

    Saturday Night Live was ready to welcome a legend into the hosting records. Ray Charles, legendary for being a blind piano player with an amazing singing voice, came on as the host and musical guest for this episode much to the delight of the cast and crew. It was obvious that the cast (especially John Belushi) were big fans of Ray Charles and this could be seen in sketches like Belushi acting as Beethoven singing "What'd I Say" and Aykroyd and Belushi developing the Blues Brothers act. This would also be a very unique show because usually, the actors read from cue cards but with the host being a blind man, they would have to change that up a bit. So Ray got a little ear piece where someone would say the line to him and he'd repeat it. It's not very evident throughout the show though, so let's take a look.

    Host & Musical Guest: Ray Charles

    No More Godfather on TV: Cold Open (Belushi, Murray) (2:20)

    --Don Corleone (Belushi) and Tom Hagen (Murray) discuss banning 'The Godfather' from TV because Don doesn't approve of all the violence on television and he feels their family has been portrayed in a negative light. There's some funny stuff here with Belushi's impression, but the sketch is rather short.

    Monologue: Ray's Conditions & "I Can See Clearly Now" (Charles) (6:34)

    --Ray talks about his conditions and tells everyone that he's not the real Ray Charles, while the real one is actually performing right now in Carnegie Hall. He then goes right into a soulful rendition of "I Can See Clearly Now" with the help of his Raylettes before introducing the next sketch with a few lines from "Georgia."

    Carter's Energy Program (Aykroyd) (1:45)

    --President Carter (Aykroyd) tells everyone that because they didn't support his program, he's not gonna be able to go on vacation or probably even get re-elected.

    Commercial: Mamorex (Charles, Morris) (2:35)

    --Ella Fitzgerald (Morris) helps Ray advertise for Mamorex tapes with her "lovely" singing voice. Decent sketch.

    The Doody Girls (Newman, Radner) (3:13)

    --Debbie Doody (Radner) mourns the death of Howdy and tries to get her mind off it thanks to her friend Dotty Doody (Newman). Skip (Murray), Debbie's date, then arrives. The static motion of the actors is wonderful and this sketch is pretty fun.

    Tomorrow (Charles, Aykroyd) (5:16)

    --Tom Snyder (Aykroyd) interviews Ray Charles in his usual strange type of style as the two banter off each other in quite a funny way. Aykroyd's Snyder impression is as great as ever and Ray is funny in his own right.

    The Young Caucasians (Charles, Aykroyd, Belushi, Curtin, Morris, Murray, Newman, Radner) (7:57)

    --At a Memphis rehearsal hall in 1957, Ray Charles gets back-up from the Young Caucasians (Aykroyd, Belushi, Curtin, Murray, Newman, Radner), who deliver a 'white as a ghost' version of "What'd I Say." Ray then sings the true version of the song to make the audience happy. Funny stuff from the cast and a great song.

    Weekend Update with Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin (also: Bill Murray) (6:18)

    --After announcing "Weekend Update with Chevy Chase", Jane does a funny bit on President Carter and a great story on rabies while Aykroyd foams at the mouth. Aykroyd takes one of his stories home with him and then emphasizes one of his other bits. Bill Murray drops by and is set to review "Close Encounters of the Third Kind", but admits he didn't go to see it because a review told him everything that happened. The Dancing N also stops by to ask if Dan and Jane will dance with him, so they close with that. Not too bad.

    Ray Charles sings "I Believe in My Soul" & "Hit the Road Jack" (7:03)

    --Ray reunites some of his old band members to deliver two more of his good ol' songs with the second being one of my favourite Ray Charles tunes he ever did.

    Stand-Up on Star Trek (Franklin Ajaye) (4:44)

    --Franklin does some stand-up comedy on Star Trek, particularly on the upcoming (at the time) new version of Star Trek as well as the quirks of all the characters. I hate Star Trek, so this didn't do much for me, but the guy was funny enough.

    Evelyn Woodski Slow Reading Course (Charles, Aykroyd, Curtin, Murray, Newman) (2:03)

    --Several people talk about the joys of Evelyn Woodski's slow reading course, including a brain surgeon (Murray) and Ray Charles as well, who adds that there's one for braille too. Funny sketch.

    Blackout Burglary (Charles, Aykroyd, Morris) (2:26)

    --Ray's home is invaded by two burglars (Aykroyd, Morris), but he easily gets his way out of it when there's a blackout and he beats the crap out of them. Cutesy.

    Buck Henry announces that he will be hosting next week's show with the five finalists for the Anyone Can Host Contest and Leon Redbone as his musical guest.

    Ray Charles sings "Oh! What a Beautiful Morning" (4:32)

    --Another nice song from Mr. Charles to only add to his wonderful performance in this episode so far.

    Ray Charles sings "I Can't Stop Lovin' You" with the cast (1:10)

    --Just a really quick bit where they sing the first few bars of the aforementioned song with Belushi doing a bit of an impression of Ray as well.

    Mr. Mike's Fake Monet Painting (Charles, Aykroyd, Belushi, Curtin, Morris, Murray, Newman, Radner) (2:18)

    --Mr. Mike presents Ray Charles with a fake Monet painting, unbeknownst to him. However, Ray IS aware that it's fake and when Mr. Mike leaves, he tells everyone that his boys are going to catch up to Mr. Mike at the party and break his bones.

    Ray Charles gives out an extended goodbye to the cast, crew, and audience before closing the show with a little ditty about Saturday Night Live on the piano.

    Best segment: Tomorrow

    Worst segment: Blackout Burglary, but nothing was really bad.

    Host & Musical Guest: Ray Charles - 8/10

    Ray Charles was an icon in the music business and Saturday Night Live was at its' creative peak and so mixing the two together was quite an innovative idea. Ray delivered in spades on the music front and even though in the sketches, he played himself, he was still fun and definitely looked like he was having a great time being there and interacting with the cast. As for the cast, there really doesn't seem to be a clear winner insofar as anyone standing out from the rest of them. Great job to all of the cast and a superb job by Charles as well. Good show.

    Rating: 7.75/10moreless
Ray Charles

Ray Charles


Guest Star

Franklyn Ajaye

Franklyn Ajaye


Guest Star

David "Fat Head" Newman

David "Fat Head" Newman


Guest Star

Buck Henry

Buck Henry


Recurring Role

Michael O'Donoghue

Michael O'Donoghue

Mr. Mike

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (1)

    • Tom Hagen: They did a lot of work on it, they spent a couple millon dollars. Now, it's true, they showed the bad side of the family. But you came off looking really well tonight.
      Don Vito Corleone: I don't know. You know, if what they say is true, the camera really does put on ten pounds, you know? I don't like the way we were portrayed, you know? The movie's the one thing, but.. there's too much violence on television. Oh, it's a dirty business. I want no part of it. No more "Godfather" on television!
      Tom Hagen: We'll try whatever we've got to do. The Nielsen ratings were awfully high. It's gonna be difficult to get them to cancel parts two, three and four. In fact, they have plans to do even more.
      Don Vito Corleone: What plans?
      Tom Hagen: Well, they've already started developing two new shows- "Godfather Knows Best", and another thing called "The Courtship of Eddie's Godfather."
      Don Vito Corleone: How could NBC treat me with such disrespect? [ "Godfather" theme pots up ] All I've done for them. When they wanted Dean Martin to star in a series, who got him for them? I did. Ah, but let's face it- they never wanted my friendship. It's okay, I understand- but, now, this? How can they do this to me? We made-a no contract.

  • NOTES (2)

    • Ray is the first of two blind people to host this show. He's also the first African-American to simultaneously host and serve as musical guest.

    • This was Ray Charles' first performance with the Raylettes since the mid-1960's. Apparently, grudges were still evident as they bombed two of their three performances.