Saturday Night Live

Season 2 Episode 12

Ruth Gordon/Chuck Berry

Aired Saturday 11:30 PM Jan 22, 1977 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (1)

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  • The late Ruth Gordon hosts this episode with the legendary Chuck Berry as her musical guest and special guest Ricky Jay performing some magic.

    The oldest host in SNL history (maybe not because Miskel Spillman's birthdate is not officially known), 80-year old Ruth Gordon, hosts this episode of Saturday Night (STILL not SNL yet). She is another odd choice, much like Nader was, but for a completely different reason altogether. She was very, very old. A completely different generation is represented by her and it was nothing like the one they were trying to attract. Chuck Berry was also an older musical act, but he was a great singer so there's no complaints there. As a bonus, Ricky Jay (who also acted in "Magnolia", "Boogie Nights", "Mystery Men", etc.) joins the line-up to perform some magic for the audience. Let's see how it turns out this week.

    Host: Ruth Gordon
    Musical Guest: Chuck Berry

    Cold Open: Injured John (Belushi, Curtin, Radner + Lorne Michaels) (1:24)

    --Lorne tells John's doctor that there's no way he can do the opening with the condition that he's in, but after a certain explanation from the doc, Belushi pops right up and opens the show.

    Monologue (Gordon) (:47)

    --Ruth comes out and tells everyone that she's doing what she enjoys and...yeah, that's it. Whatever.

    Commercial: The Marines (Morris) (:50)

    --Repeat from Cavett/Cooder earlier in the year.

    Me (Newman) (3:55)

    --Barbara Streisand (Newman) sings a very egotistical song. Addressing her critics who panned her films and stating the reasons were because of scenes that were not focused on her is the highlight. This is actually pretty accurate and a good performance by Laraine.

    The Litella Sisters At Home (Gordon, Radner) (4:16)

    --Emily (Radner) and her sister, Essie (Gordon), discuss a possible editorial for Emily on her next visit to Weekend Update. There's a couple of funny bits thanks to Gilda, but Ruth overacts like crazy and hurts the sketch.

    Tomorrow (Aykroyd, Belushi) (6:29)

    --Tom Snyder (Aykroyd) interviews notable disaster film producer Dino De Laurentiis (Belushi) about his newest flick, King Kong. Clearly Belushi is still injured as he spends the sketch in a wheelchair. Decent "Tomorrow" sketch.

    Chuck Berry sings "Johnny B. Goode" (2:50)

    --Christ, Ruth even overacts the introduction to the musical act. Berry croons an old classic and even does his trademark moves that are very impressive for a 50-year old man.

    Weekend Update with Jane Curtin (also: Ruth Gordon, Laraine Newman, and Gilda Radner) (5:49)

    --One last crack at Ford starts this edition of Update off. Jane then also goes right after Indira Gandhi and her non-democratic ways. Laraine Newman then interviews Lillian Carter (Gordon) about being the First Mother in a decent bit and then Emily Litella (Radner) comes on to do an editorial, but can't think of anything to say and it infuriates Jane again. Decent, but not a great edition.

    Commercial: Crazy Frank (Aykroyd) (1:21)

    --An announcer (Aykroyd) admits that the owner really is insane with his ridiculous discounts like a $700 colour TV down to 52 cents. Great performance by Danny.

    Weis Film #23: Night Moves (Morris) (3:02)

    --This film is of a young black woman posing and moving around while Garrett watches on and "Night Moves" plays in the background. Aesthetically, this was well-done.

    Little Old Ladies of the Night (Gordon, Aykroyd, Morris, Murray, Newman, Radner + Ricky Jay) (4:51)

    --Capt. Joe Palantine (Aykroyd) and his partner (Murray) is on the job to stop street hustling of women aged 65 and over, including one (Gordon) who is lured by a pimp (Morris) and his two whores (Newman, Radner). Aykroyd is the real highlight here with his manic yelling, but once again Gordon almost ruins it with a weird lispy voice this time.

    Chuck Berry sings "Marie" & "Carol" (5:07)

    --Chuck comes back out to sing two more good ones in a row with "Carol" being my favourite out of the two.

    Sex Questions (Gordon, Radner) (3:21)

    --A girl (Radner) watches TV with her babysitter Mrs. Gillies (Gordon), but she turns it off when a dirty show comes on and answers her questions about sex. Gilda is so cute and charming, but Ruth's cue card reading is so blatantly obvious.

    Home Movie: Mr. Bill (2:30)

    --Another edition of Mr. Bill in which he again suffers more torture with Mr. Sluggo eating his dog and then cutting Mr. Bill in half. These had a weird charm to them.

    Ricky Jay: Magic Tricks (5:21)

    --Sporting a long mane of hair, Ricky Jay does some humourous card tricks with a couple of volunteers.

    The Last Days of Howard Hughes (Aykroyd, Morris Murray, Newman) (4:48)

    --Howard Hughes (Newman), in his last days, watches on as an ACME repairman (Morris) covered with tissue fixes the projector and Hughes' two assistants (Aykroyd, Murray) look on. This is almost a little mean-spirited and the sketch is okay. I do like Garrett's last line though.

    World of Adventure (Gordon, Aykroyd) (1:55)

    --E. Buzz Miller (Aykroyd) interviews Clara Mitdorf (Gordon) on visiting Africa before some footage airs of some Africans playing with a gourd. This was a waste of time and not funny.

    Mr. Mike's Least-Loved Bedtime Tales: 'Willie the Worm' (Radner)

    --This time, Mr. Mike tells his maid (Radner) the story of Willie the Worm, who was mashed by a huge truck, was able to crawl again, but then was run over by a larger truck and killed. Hilarious and a funny message at the end as well.

    Ruth briefly mentions some of the costume changes she was making and talks about how it would've been nice to see her naked. Sick. The cast then joins her on the stage and wave goodnight.

    Best segment: Mr. Mike's Least-Loved Bedtime Tales: 'Willie the Worm'
    Worst segment: World of Adventure

    Host: Ruth Gordon - 3/10
    Musical Guest: Chuck Berry - 7.75/10

    Indeed, it was proved that a very old and not-of-the-generation Ruth Gordon would be a really odd and bad choice for a host as she was a real stinker with her blatant cue card reading, obnoxious persona, weird acting choices, and just being an overall terrible host. Chuck Berry definitely came through on the music side though, delivering his classic "Johnny B. Goode" and then two more good ones later on in the program. Out of the cast, I would say Gilda came out of this looking the best with her Emily Litella impression making two different appearances and for her being as charming as she could in the sketches with Gordon to elevate them. Not a terrible episode, but certainly not that good.

    Rating: 5.5/10