Saturday Night Live

Season 2 Episode 16

Sissy Spacek/Richard Baskin

Aired Saturday 11:30 PM Mar 12, 1977 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (2)

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  • "That's true, you're absolutely right"

    A review by the former “Heystu,” the moonlighting amateur critic

    It could be strongly argued that a major casting change made midway through SNL’s second season what was sent the show over the top. After the departure of Chevy Chase, Lorne Michaels hired Chase’s National Lampoon crony Bill Murray to fill his place, inserting the final piece in the jigsaw puzzle that would become the show’s finest cast. It was during the two-and-a-half year period that the Aykroyd-Belushi-Curtin-Morris-Murray-Newman-Radner combo reached an unreachable plateau, jumping creative leaps and bounds past the brief epoch in which Chase ruled the show.

    Though their brilliance would shine in years three and four, Murray’s start was far from smooth. Fans of Saturday Night likened his entry to when The Beatles sacked Pete Best for Ringo Starr, and after a great first episode (hosted by Ralph Nader), Murray was limited to supporting roles for the remainder of the season. This episode is no exception from that part of second season- Murray is delightful in what little screen time he receives, and eventually his toiling in the background would be rewarded with juicier prospects in season three.

    The host of this episode is Sissy Spacek, fresh off her warts-and-all Oscar-nominated performance in “Carrie,” a memorable horror film from the great cinematic year of 1976. The musical guest was her then-boyfriend Richard Baskin, who for a brief period flirted with a career as a country-folk singer before becoming a prolific film composer.

    And now, a sketch-by-sketch analysis:

    COLD OPENING: Don Pardo warns us to stand by, and then cuts to Dan Aykroyd in a Calvary outfit mentioning the passing of director Dave Wilson. Sissy and the cast eulogize their fallen general with poignancy and awkwardness and Dan introduces a hastily-made clip reel of Wilson’s past work in television before gawkily resurrecting Davey to start the show.

    MONOLOGUE: Sissy gives her Oscar acceptance speech early (she lost to Faye Dunaway, by the way) before twirling a baton around. In other words, this was a pandering, by-the-numbers monologue.

    “Burger Master”: No matter how bizarre your order may be, the employees of this Burger King imitator will let you “have it your way.” Mmm… disgusting pulp.

    “Ask President Carter”: Dan Aykroyd’s impression of “President Jimmy” was fascinating to watch even if it wasn’t wholly accurate; at the turn of a light-switch, Aykroyd could turn Carter into a know-it-all eccentric with a solution to the most obtuse question. This sketch highlights this caricature, as Walter Kronkite (Murray) hosts a call-in discussion with topics ranging from mail-sorting to dropping acid.

    “Amy’s Bedtime Story”: After President Carter’s lunatic Q&A session, Amy Carter (Sissy) walks in say goodnight, and then listens to a disturbing fable from her ex-con nanny (Morris).

    “How Your Children Grow”: Does this sketch feature Jane Curtin grilling Bill Murray over a learning disorder called quintilexia? That’s true, you’re absolutely right. Was this a funny sketch? That’s true, you’re absolutely right. Did Bill Murray blow one of his lines early in the sketch, nearly putting the kibosh on the whole gag? That’s true, you’re absolutely right about that.

    “Belushi’s Dream”: The College of Dupage’s most distinguished alumni announces that he’s quitting the show in pursuit of participating in the 1980 Moscow Olympiad. This isn’t a funny-ha-ha type of sketch, but the irony does carry it pretty far.

    WEEKEND UPDATE: Before there was Tina Fey, there was Jane Curtin, and even though the future Dr. Albright went solo for just barely one season, she did a fine job of walking in Chevy Chase’s shoes. Tonight, she jokes about euthanasia in California while Muhammad Ali (Morris) contemplates his own version of the film “Rocky” to an interested Laraine Newman. Also, the beloved Emily Litella (Radner) drops by to comment on “endangered feces,” thus proving that Gilda and only Gilda could make a bad pun plausible for the sake of comedy.

    MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: Richard Baskin strums a guitar to the song he contributed to the “Nashville” soundtrack, which was the top-40 hit “One, I Love You.” Not even the depressing lyrics or an unnecessary duet with Sissy can stop the song from being somewhat catchy.

    “Franken & Davis”: Long before they had their own show- uh, I mean segment- on SNL, Al and Tom would occasionally appear to do some of their trippy stand-up. Tonight, after a botched attempt at improvisation, they go on to perform a mock news broadcast on the commencement of World War III. Hi ho four horsemen, away!

    “Gidget’s Disease”: A cold and distant spokeswoman (Curtin) warns about terminal precociousness as three Shirley Temple-types (Sissy, Newman, Radner) play dolls.

    “White Trash Love”: Belushi goes for the melodramatic in what Marilyn Suzanne Miller has repeated admitted to being her all-time favorite sketch. What starts off as an argument between lovers over an inability to perform in bed turns into a discussion over fruitslaw*. Like the Olympic-themed sketch earlier, it’s more about watching and observing the characters than busting a gut.

    FILM: Gary Weis films Sissy doing some more baton-twirling, this time to the tune of David Bowie’s “Fame,” in what is essentially conceptual time-filler.

    “Bad Playhouse”: Connoisseur of crap Leonard Pinth-Garnell (Aykroyd) introduces a typically atrocious piece called “The Millkeeper” that somehow involves the Angel of Death and a lot of screaming.

    MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: Richard comes back to moan and groan on the piano for “The City of One-Night Stands.”

    FILM: Sissy introduces another short piece, this time by her buddy Bob Altman, which features interconnected outtakes from two then-recent Spacek films, “Three Women” and “Welcome to L.A.” You might think that there’s been too much attention put towards Sissy by this point, but I’m not going to mess with the guy that directed M*A*S*H. On the bright side- no baton-twirling!

    Overall, this was a pretty decent broadcast, though it’s far from being the best in a season crowded with memorable episodes. Sissy pretty much dominates the show by appearing in nearly every crevice of the production, though luckily her mousy personality lets her avoid stealing the spotlight. On the other hand, Richard Baskin was by and large forgettable as musical guest, almost instantly vaulting him back into obscurity just as he had come out of nowhere to appear on the show. Bill Murray was adequate standing around in supporting roles, but he appears to be far from developing into the Academy Award nominee that we all know and love.

    Contact the former “Heystu” at

    *It’s coleslaw with chopped apple and pineapple chunks. Try searching on Google for a recipe.
  • Sissy Spacek hosts along with musical guest Richard Baskin in this Emmy Award-winning episode!

    Sissy Spacek, just in time for the Oscars where she was nominated for her performance in "Carrie", was set to host Saturday Night here and apparently it was appreciated enough to award the Emmy to it for writing. Sissy also brought along Richard Baskin for the musical guest, which leads me to believe that hosts might have had a lot more say with who they could have as the musical guest back then. With Sissy doing some hardcore promotion before the Oscars and Baskin performing some ditties, how would this one turn out?

    Host: Sissy Spacek
    Musical Guest: Richard Baskin

    Dave Wilson is Dead: Cold Open (Spacek, Aykroyd, Belushi, Curtin, Morris, Murray, Newman, Radner) (7:32)

    --Wilson, the director, dies just before the show goes on the air so Aykroyd holds down the fort in the control room and talks to his fellow castmembers and Sissy as well on how Dave Wilson was in his lifetime. Solid lengthy opening with my favourite 'memory' being from Gilda.

    Monologue: Oscar Speech & Baton Twirling (Spacek) (2:58)

    --Sissy gives her Oscar acceptance speech that she would not be able to give again and then twirls a baton around for a while in the "lost scene" from Carrie. Pointless.

    Commercial: Burger Master (Belushi, Curtin, Morris, Murray, Newman, Radner) (1:44)

    --The employees (Morris, Newman, Radner) of Burger Master prepare burgers however you want. Some pretty disgusting orders are taken.

    Ask President Carter (Aykroyd, Belushi, Murray, Newman) (4:56)

    --Walter Cronkite (Murray) hosts a call-in show with the President (Aykroyd), while he answers the most obscure of questions and the highlight being the teenager that calls after he's taken some acid and then John Smith (Aykroyd), who definitely sounds familiar.

    Amy's Bedtime Story (Spacek, Aykroyd, Morris, Murray) (3:48)

    --Just as Cronkite (Murray) and Carter (Aykroyd) take off, the President has his daughter Amy (Spacek) wait with her nanny (Morris). She tells Amy a pretty disturbing bedtime story. Not bad.

    How Your Children Grow (Curtin, Murray) (2:53)

    --Jane interviews Dr. Alan Ross (Murray), a man who has Quintlexia and can only answer every question with the same five words. Jane gets vicious towards the end of the interview and makes the bit that much funnier.

    Commercial: John Belushi's Dream (Belushi) (2:12)

    --John announces that he will be retiring from showbiz and entering the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow to win the decathlon. This was a good bit as John tries to sell his fake medals to get money to live on until the games.

    Weekend Update with Jane Curtin (also: Garrett Morris, Laraine Newman, and Gilda Radner) (7:11)

    --Jane ignores a question about the Teletype machine and then does a terrific riff on the Tonight Show and euthanasia. Jane almost cracks during one of the stories, but she still pulls through in this edition with another great "Update Correction" segment. Laraine Newman gets to interview Muhammad Ali (Morris), who bashes Stallone for making "Rocky" and comes up with his own version of the film. Finally, Emily Litella (Radner) comments on "endangered feces" and then does one of her funny riffs with Jane back and forth. Solid edition.

    Richard Baskin sings "One I Love You" (with additional vocals by: Sissy Spacek) (3:04)

    --Baskin sings a pretty decent tune actually though certainly not anything entirely memorable.

    Improvisation (4:18)

    --Franken & Davis try to do some improv, but fail because they can't think of anything so they do a World War III newscast instead. Great stuff from these two zany comedians.

    Commercial: Gidget Goes To Shock Therapy (Spacek, Curtin, Newman, Radner)

    --A spokesperson (Curtin) shows three overly-cutesy girls (Spacek, Newman, Radner) and talks of Gidget's Disease. Gilda is wonderful in this amusing sketch, but Jane's straight character is quite funny too.

    Young Newlyweds (Spacek, Belushi) (7:32)

    --A classic sketch written by Marily Suzanne Miller in which a couple (Spacek, Belushi) have an argument because of the man's inability to get it up. There's a lot more to it and the sketch really shows Belushi off as a great actor as well as Spacek.

    Weis Film #27: The Baton (Spacek) (1:37)

    --A film showing Sissy twirling a baton to a David Bowie song. Filler.

    Bad Playhouse (Spacek, Aykroyd, Belushi, Murray, Newman) (3:29)

    --The debut of Leonard Pinth-Garnell (Aykroyd), as he introduces a really terrible play. The actors (Aykroyd, Belushi, Murray, Newman) perform a piece from it and basically just yell the whole time. It wasn't that good of a debut for this recurring character, but there would be some good editions to come.

    Richard Baskin sings "City of One-Night Stands" (4:13)

    --This one's longer than his previous song and a lot slower. Yawn.

    Home Movie: Sissy's Roles (Spacek) (2:16)

    --A film is shown of outtakes from Spacek's movies put together by Robert Altman. He's a great director of course, but this was just more filler.

    Sissy bids adieu to the audience before the cast joins her and gives her a big duffle bag.

    Best segment: Young Newlyweds
    Worst segment: The Baton

    Host: Sissy Spacek - 8/10
    Musical Guest: Richard Baskin - 4.5/10

    Sissy, despite not being someone you would expect to see as a host, did really well for herself and didn't appear to be doing much, if any, cue card-reading on top of that. She definitely brought her A-game to the show and was actually prepared to go on when the show started, not showing any signs of nervousness or trepidation. Richard Baskin was nothing special as the musical guest and I actually found his second musical number to be quite dry and really long. For castmembers, I would probably give it to Belushi for the Moscow bit and his terrific performance in the Miller-penned sketch. Good show.

    Rating: 7.5/10