Tuesday, October 28, 2014

On The Air: Saturday Night Live (1975)

Hard to believe, isn't it?

Saturday Night Live is in its 40th season this year, and while the cast isn't exactly brimming with household names yet, save maybe for former Nickelodeon kid Kenan Thompson (ex-All That), there have been plenty of classic moments.

The series was originally known as NBC's Saturday Night when it launched in 1975 with the "Not Ready For Prime-Time Players" (Garrett Morris, Jane Curtin, Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, Laraine Newman, John Belushi, & Gilda Radner---Bill Murray would join a short time after the launch), all of whom would go on to some greater successes, be it in primetime (Curtin, Chase, Morris), or movies (Chase, Belushi, Aykroyd, Murray, and to a lesser extent, Newman & Radner). Somewhere along the way, the title was amended to its present form. I should note that in my market, the series didn't start airing right away. The then-NBC affiliate, now a CBS affiliate, eventually added the show after word of mouth led to some viewer requests.

The alumni list reads like a Hall of Fame all by itself. The 80's brought the likes of Eddie Murphy and already established veterans like Billy Crystal (ex-Soap), who springboarded into a lucrative movie career, Martin Short (ex-The Associates, SCTV), Michael McKean (ex-LaVerne & Shirley), and McKean's Spinal Tap partners, Harry Shearer (now on The Simpsons) and Christopher Guest. Toward the end of the decade, we saw the development of another group that included Dana Carvey, Mike Myers, and Phil Hartman.

From time to time, we'll serve up some choice skits from the show's 40 year history, so you might see some great guest hosts, such as Steve Martin and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, too. Here, for example, is Phil Hartman, as Frank Sinatra, leading a satire of PBS' McLaughlin Group. The Sinatra Group sees Ol' Blue Eyes surrounded by old pals Steve Lawrence (Myers) and Eydie Gorme (Victoria Jackson), plus then current music stars Sinead O'Connor (Jan Hooks), Luther Campbell (Chris Rock), and Billy Idol (Sting). I first saw this skit during VH1's I Love the 90's miniseries, and couldn't stop laughing.

So when will NBC schedule a 40th anniversary primetime special? Your guess is as good as mine, 'cause I haven't seen it booked yet.

Rating: B.


magicdog said...

SNL is but a shadow of its former self.

I know shows that have run as long as it has are bound to have peaks and valleys, but they've been scraping the bottom of the barrel for a while now. If they unleashed the PC taint from the writing staff, there actually might be something funny on Saturday nights. They are letting so many good jokes go by. I blame not only Lorne Michaels, but NBC management who are all in the tank for the DNC.

In other news, I LOVED this skit! Had "The Sinatra Group" existed for real, I would have watched! The late Jan Hooks was spot on as Sinead O'Connor and Sting was perfect as Billy Idol. Of course the late Phil Hartman made a great Frank! Talk about a wasted talent! I can't believe he's been gone so long!!

Myers and Jackson as Steve & Edie didn't wow me - in fact, I don't think they captured their personalities as well as the other participants in the skit.

hobbyfan said...

Myers wore a bad wig, and didn't immerse himself in the role. You could tell it was him as Lawrence, just as easily as you could see Sting mimicking a fellow Brit. Not sure if they did any more Sinatra Group skits, but it was a riot.