TITLE: SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE - THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON
Release Date: December 4, 2007 (Universal Home Entertainment)
Number of Discs: 8
Number of Episodes: 22
Running Time: 1468 minutes
Audio: English 2.0
Language and Subtitles: English; English SDH (Subtitled for the deaf and hard-of-hearing); Closed Captioned
* 2 Dress Rehearsal sketches
* Andy Kaufman’s screen test
* SNL Mardi Gras Special
* Collector’s Scrapbook
Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night! For over three decades, Saturday Night Live has been a source of young comedic talent that has helped to launch the careers of countless performers, making them household names.
Still considered iconic for their live performances from Studio 8H in New York, the original case of SNL set the tone for years to come with their irreverent, edgy humor. They combined anti-establishment political satire with rock-and-roll attitude for a show that spoke to the youth of the 1970s, turning it into an instant sensation.
Although it was only the show’s second year on the air, this season turned out to be the last for Chevy Chase, who became the first cast member to leave the show. To compensate for the loss of Chevy, however, the show brought in a young Bill Murray -- a great addition to the show. Midway into the season, the show would undergo yet another change -- the change to the “Saturday Night Live” title. Cosell’s show was cancelled, and this show finally was able to assume the title it had wanted from the get-go. Also this season, for the one and only time, the show broadcast live from another city – the Mardi Gras special that year which was broadcast from New Orleans.
But more on that a little bit.
Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:
As stated in the review for the first season, I’m going to do this section differently given the nature of this show. Normally you see the “Episodes x, y, and z were pretty good, and look out for guest appearances by a, b, and c” spiel in these reviews, but with the nature of SNL - where sketches can be great and episodes horrible, and vice versa, and also where you have a regular guest host, plus musical guests, plus special guests...For this set and all season SNL DVD releases in general, I’m going to simply go through the season, and if I think a sketch is particularly note-worthy, I’ll mention it. In at least a couple cases I’ll still recommend the entire episode. For guests, I will NOT be listing the hosts and primary musical guests. Those will be listed in the runtimes section for those curious. Any other special guests - at least the ones I think there’s a chance that SOMEONE reading this will get - I WILL mention.
As far as overall-recommended episodes: I’ll jump IMMEDIATELY to the 5th episode of the season -- making his hosting debut is Steve Martin -- already with white hair (in 1976). This episode is as consistently funny as a SNL episode can be. The monologue is hilarious, and the episode features not one but two TV parodies -- one for The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and one for Jeopardy called “Jeopardy 1999.” Speaking of TV stuff -- rewinding a bit -- 70s TV Mega-producer Norman Lear! He hosted the 2nd episode this season -- as a result SEVERAL actors from his shows appeared in film cameos -- the list is below. Many other episodes from this season contain TV parodies or satire -- be on the look out for those. Before THAT, however, is the first episode of the season, featuring guest host Lily Tomlin. In that episode, specifically the Debate ’76 sketch, Chevy Chase actually injures himself while taking a fall. He’d miss the next couple of shows while recovering. The next episode after the Martin episode, with host Buck Henry, is Chevy’s final episode. The January 15th show, hosted by none other than Ralph Nader, is Bill Murray’s first show. The 3/26/77 show, hosted by Jack Burns, is the first show to use the “Saturday Night Live” title.
Episode 1: Jim Henson’s Muppets
Episode 2: Bea Arthur (filmed), Bernadette Peters (filmed), Carroll O’Connor (filmed), Jean Stapleton (filmed), Sherman Hemsley (filmed), Isabel Sanford (filmed), and Eric Idle
Episode 11: Andy Kaufman
Episode 14: Lily Tomlin
Episode 16: Linda Ronstadt
Episode 22: Chevy Chase
I still love this packaging! For a single season set, it’s pretty darn good. The outer box, as before, is almost set up like a hardback book, made of a thin plastic surface meant to somewhat imitate leather. On the front cover are the Coneheads, with a modern-era “SNL” logo at the top in yellow lettering, the years (1976-77) above it, and “The Complete Second Season” text below. Opening it reveals a cast photo that features BOTH Chevy and Bill -- and judging by the looks on some folks faces, I’m willing to guess there was some indulging of some substances prior to this photo being taken. On the right is the container for the booklet and disc holder. The booklet features a photo of Bill Murray as his lounge singer character on the front, while the disc holder -- a digipak -- has the photo from the opening credits of the taxi driver eating a watermelon.
Each disc except the final one contains 3 episodes -- the final disc contains the finale plus the Mardi Gras episode and the rest of the features. Specific breakdown is included in the runtimes section. The disc art features a photo of each cast member on a disc. The photos are similar to the ones used for the cast in the opening credits, though I don’t think they’re the same. Gilda isn’t taking a bite out of an apple in this one, for example. Bill Murray is on disc 1, Laraine Newman is on disc 2, John Belushi is on disc 3, Chevy Chase is on disc 4, Jane Curtin is on disc 5, Gilda Radner is on disc 6, and Garrett Morris is on disc 7, while Dan Aykroyd is on the final disc, disc 8.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The menu design is the same as before. I’ll be honest; I’m beginning to feel that not every DVD set needs bizarre animations to be good. The menus for this DVD set are simple, but they’re well done. They follow the same style as the previous S1 set -- host name/airdate on the left side, with a photo from the credits on the right, and the show logo at the top. A long, looping version of the theme plays in the background. You can choose to watch the whole episode or select scenes.
Video and Audio Quality:
Folks, this video is from 1976-77. It’s not going to be in ultra-high-definition, it’s not going to have 21 channel audio, it’s not going to make you espresso -- but it’s VERY good for its age. Universal did a great job mastering the episodes. The audio sounds as good as it can -- there are a few grain elements and slightly off colors or video elements in places, but it looks GREAT for its age, and I can’t stress that enough. Chapter stops occur at the beginning of each bit. The only additional chapter stop I feel they left out is one right at the opening credits -- I’d put one right before the “Live From New York” line. Unfortunately, like last season the bumpers going in and out of commercials are cut. The rest of the footage is here, as far as I can tell.
Runtimes: (Host/Musical Guest(s) :
1) Lily Tomlin/James Taylor: 1:06:10
2) Norman Lear/Boz Scaggs: 1:06:39
3) Eric Idle/Joe Cocker, Stuff: 1:06:12
4) Karen Black/John Prine: 1:06:40
5) Steve Martin/Kinky Friedman: 1:06:30
6) Buck Henry/The Band: 1:06:49
7) Dick Cavett/Ry Cooder: 1:06:05
8) Paul Simon/Paul Simon + George Harrison: 1:06:24
9) Jodie Foster/Brian Wilson: 1:06:06
10) Candice Bergen/Frank Zappa: 1:06:17
11) Ralph Nader/George Benson: 1:06:41
12) Ruth Gordon/Chuck Berry: 1:06:46
13) Fran Tarkenton/Leo Sayer, Donnie Harper, The Voices of Tomorrow: 1:07:55
14) Steve Martin/The Kinks: 1:06:48
15) Sissy Spacek/Richard Baskin: 1:06:41
16) Broderick Crawford/The Meters, Dr. John, Levon Helm & Paul Butterfield: 1:06:25
17) Jack Burns/Santana: 1:07:10
18) Julian Bond/Tom Waits & Brick: 1:06:40
19) Elliott Gould/The McGarrigle Sisters & Rosalyn Kind: 1:06:37
20) Eric Idle/Alan Price, Neil Innes, & Howard Shore and His Bobby Blue Band: 1:06:37
21) Shelley Duvall / Joan Armatrading: 1:06:57
22) Buck Henry / Jennifer Warnes & Kenny Vance: 1:06:42
Dress Rehearsal Sketches: Audio Only. You know, I’m really disappointed here. You see...well, I’d better explain this one: Each iteration of SNL that has ever aired, ever, has been saved as a specific episode. That includes reruns. As of this writing, the most recent episode, live or rerun, to air, was a rerun of the incredible Jack Black/Neil Young episode from December 2005. Its actual number, however, is somewhere around 1700 or so -- it counts as one addition airing in the master list of every SNL airing.
Most of these SNL airings are at least slightly different from each other, whether it’s just a different order for sketches, or even if the episode includes...dress rehearsal sketches. Many dress rehearsal sketches from the 1980s-onward are readily available due to these “alternate episodes”, and so naturally the assumption could be made that they’d exist for the 70s shows too -- they too have reran over the years. And if they did exist, the dress sketches would be right there...audio AND video. Now, whether this footage from the 70s shows just doesn’t exist, or whether it’s too exhaustive to go hunting for it -- I don’t know. But in theory it SHOULD be there.
Anyway, the two sketches:
1: Farbers “New Kid” (8:45): From the Sissy Spacek episode, with Sissy plus Belushi, Murray, Aykroyd, and Radner.
2: Susie & Shari (5:15): From the Lily Tomlin episode, with Lilly plus Laraine.
Andy Kaufman Screen Test (4:17): Just a rather basic screen test. Andy always was a strange bird...
The Mardi Gras episode: As one of the fortunate people lucky enough to already have a copy of this on tape, and to have it for some time, I can already attest to the sheer...memorability...of this episode. Running time is 1 hour 15 minutes even. It opens with the special NBC The Big Event bumper! After that, you lead to Dan Aykroyd in the cold open doing a Jimmy Carter impression. The crowd is absolutely WILD in this episode, and the episode gradually deteriorates. Officially, the host AND musical guest for the episode are Randy Newman. The episode also features Buck Henry, Eric Idle, The New Leviathan Fox Trot Orchestra, Penny Marshall, The Meters, Cindy Williams, and Henry Winkler!
The video and audio quality on this episode is a bit worse than the rest -- though still a bit better than my original copy -- there’s a decent amount of film grain present in the pre-taped portions (namely the opening credits).
I’m a big fan of Randy Newman, so this was a treat. The episode, after the opening credit montage, performs “Louisiana 1927” to the full accompaniment of an orchestra. Several...interesting...skits follow -- including a take on the Al Hirt / hit by a brick fiasco from several years prior -- Randy Newman also performs Marie, Kingfish, and Sail Away at other parts in the show. The Bacchus parade never showed up -- as they thought it would. The Bacchus parade -- the point of Jane, Buck Henry, and Eric Idle being in the street to begin with, doesn’t even make it to their location on time because a street reveler was run over by a float near the beginning of the route, causing a long stop down. A completely wild episode.
The only thing this DVD set needs to completely push it over the top is commentary. Writers, cast, hosts, music guests -- whomever you can get. Get folks in to talk about these episodes! The rest of what is here is absolutely wonderful, and is classic TV at its finest. It’s a complete shame that E! has the rerun rights to these wonderful shows, but only shows episodes from the last couple years. Obviously I recommend this DVD set...GREAT STUFF. VERY STRONGLY RECOMMENDED.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 3/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
Final Score : 4.5/5
-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher on 12/11/07
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