Okay, so let's get the Season 2 wrap-up done first.
Best Host: Eric Idle (10/2/76 & 4/23/77)
Worst Host: Ruth Gordon (1/22/77)
Best Musical Guest: Frank Zappa (12/11/76)
Worst Musical Guest: Richard Baskin (3/12/77)
Best Overall Episode: Candice Bergen/Frank Zappa (12/11/76)
Worst Overall Episode: Karen Black/John Prine (10/16/76)
Best sketch: The Nixon Interviews (Eric Idle/Neil Innes, Alan Price - 4/23/77
Worst sketch: The King Kong Dirge (Jodie Foster/Brian Wilson - 11/27/76)
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So now it's time for Season 3 of Saturday Night Live! The host to start us off is none other than Steve Martin in a pretty sweet move by the producers. Steve hosted two very good episodes from the previous season and was such a joy to behold that he almost could've been a cast member himself. For the season premiere, Martin brings along country music superstar Jackson Browne, whose big hit "Runnin' On Empty" is one of the few country songs that I can say that I enjoy. The cast stays in tact this season except for the fact that Tom Davis and Al Franken are featured players, despite not being credited in the opening montage yet. Here we go!
Host: Steve Martin
Musical Guest: Jackson Browne
An Oval Office: Cold Open (Aykroyd, Belushi) (1:55)
--President Carter (Aykroyd) bids farewell to corrupt former OMB director Bert Lance (Belushi) before Bert turns to the camera and advertises the National Express card. Good, solid opening that acted as a commercial parody at the same time as a political satire.
Monologue (Martin) (4:49)
--Steve comes out for his usual wild and zany monologue as he delves into a version of "Mack the Knife" before talking about his future appearances and also "getting small." Great stuff as per usual.
Commercial: Royal Deluxe II (Aykroyd, Morris, Radner) (1:30)
--A spokesperson (Aykroyd) praises the smooth ride of the Royal Deluxe II by having a rabbi perform a circumcision in the backseat as they drive around. One of the great commercial parodies.
Festrunks Ping-Pong (Martin, Aykroyd, Curtin, Radner)(6:47)
--The brothers Festrunk (Martin, Aykroyd) make their debut and watch on as two 'foxes' (Curtin, Radner) play ping-pong before putting the moves on them and then showing off their version of ping-pong. This is a bit corny but this sketch got better the second time.
Jackson Browne sings "Runnin' On Empty" (4:15)
--Ahh, there it is. Jackson sings this great tune and it sounds just as awesome live as it does downloaded...err, I mean on CD.
Weekend Update with Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin (also: John Belushi, Garrett Morris, Bill Murray, and Laraine Newman) (11:10)
--Dan makes an awkward transition into the Update chair (reportedly, he wasn't ecstatic about doing it) but he does okay for his first co-anchoring. The two report on Jackie Onassis' estate, Sammy Davis Jr. dumping his limo, and then there is also a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. For the first Update of the season, Laraine Newman reports on her trip to China and shows off her souvenir, Bill Murray reviews "The Deep" based on a few quick clips, Garrett Morris reports on the world of sports with specific reports on Muhammad Ali and a Japanese baseball player breaking a record, and John Belushi shows pictures from his Mexico trip where one of the "students" won a scholarship. Pretty good start.
Mike McMack, Defense Lawyer (Martin, Belushi, Morris, Murray, Radner, Davis) (5:10)
--Mike McMack (Martin) interrogates a rape victim (Radner) and makes outlandish connections to try to make her seem like she was asking for it. Despite this sketch seeming really mean-spirited by today's standards, Martin's performance is terrific and the sketch itself is well-written.
Computerized Confession (Aykroyd, Morris) (3:32)
--A man (Morris) confesses his sins to a priest (Aykroyd), who tells him of the technological updates to the church as he puts his confessions into a computer. The ending is the best part of this decent bit.
The New Beatles Offer (Lorne Michaels) (2:52)
--A repeat from the end of Year 1.
Great Moments in Rock & Roll (Belushi, Murray, Newman) (5:54)
--Strung-out Alice Slone (Newman) talks of owning Roy Orbison's glasses and we get a flashback to how she actually obtained them from Roy (Belushi). Once he starts singing and his manager (Murray) keeps him from falling over, it gets real funny.
The Franken & Davis Show (Martin, Aykroyd, Belushi, Curtin, Morris, Murray, Davis, Franken) (9:26)
--A large ensemble sketch featuring a Mr. USA pageant with Anita Bryant (Curtin) acting as host to it all while the cast plays the contestants. The two finalists, Mr. California (Davis) and Mr. Arkansas (Franken), engage in a number of ridiculous acts in the talent competition. In the end, Craig Rasmussen (Martin) presents the crown to the winner as well. Terrific bit by Franken & Davis that shows off their wonderful style of comedy.
Jackson Browne sings "The Pretender" (5:36)
--Jackson's second song of the night is another good one, albeit not a classic like "Runnin' On Empty."
Kromega III (Jane Curtin) (1:43)
--Another classic SNL commercial. The Kromega III, the watch "so complex it takes two people to make it work."
And that's that for the beginning of the third season for Saturday Night Live. Steve then says goodnight and Dan leaves early for some reason.
Best segment: The Franken & Davis Show
Worst segment: Festrunks Ping-Pong
Host: Steve Martin - 8/10
Musical Guest: Jackson Browne - 8/10
Did anyone else notice the lack of Steve in this episode? For a season opener headlined by one of the most reliable hosts that the show has ever had, Steve only appeared in three sketches other than the monologue. But regardless, Steve proved to be a great host once again and excelled in the pieces that he WAS involved in. Jackson Browne provided an equally satisfying portion of the show in terms of musical entertainment with a classic and another good song. The cast was superb but once again, Aykroyd dominated the evening and was great in pretty much every capacity, except for a somewhat clunky Update performance. Really strong start to the season.