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Saturday Night Live - The Complete 1st Season Review




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Rating
Video:   7/10
Audio:   6/10
Extras:   3/10

It's season 1!
by Gord Lacey (All reviews)
12/02/2006

Lorne Michaels was hired by Dick Ebersol in 1974, and given the job of running a new series called NBC's Saturday Night, not to be confused with Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell, a show that aired on the rival ABC network. Michaels hired Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, and Gilda Radner - all former Second City Alumni - along with Chevy Chase, Jane Curtin, Laraine Newman, and Garrett Morris. Every episode would be hosted by a well-known celebrity, and feature a guest musician. It's a format that has worked for over 30 years, and the series has proven to be a breeding ground for some of the funniest actors in television and movies.

The release of season 1 on DVD is a monumental occasion. Broadway Video and Universal Studios managed to secure the rights to every music act, a feat that seems unimaginable given the number of sets with music substitutions. Many SNL fans assumed they'd never see a season set, and had to be content with buying the "best of" discs that have been released to DVD. I was extremely excited when I was told the episodes would be completely uncut, so I was equally disappointed to find out that's not the case.

My introduction to SNL came from my cousins on a family trip to visit my Grandmother in BC. We didn't watch the show together, they just made my brother and I watch them act out a skit where these two people, named Wayne and Garth, spoke funny, and said weird things. We were both younger than they were, and hadn't seen an episode of Saturday Night Live, so we had no idea what they were doing, or whether we should laugh. I eventually saw the real Wayne and Garth, and became a semi-regular viewer of the series for a number of years. I would always tape the show, not because it was on late, but because it had far too many commercials, and I usually didn't care for the musical performances. I can't recall when I stopped watching the show, but I know it was a number of years ago.

The first season set includes 24 episodes on 8 discs. I have a breakdown of every episode at the end of the review. The discs are packaged on a 4-page digipak inside a box. I've heard some people refer to it as flimsy, but I don't think it is at all. It's made from thick cardboard, and closes nicely. It's the same type of package used by HBO for the Deadwood sets.

Disc 1 (3:17:07)
George Carlin (1:05:33)
Paul Simon (1:05:53)
Rob Reiner (1:05:41)

Disc 2 (3:19:03)
Candice Bergen (1:07:45)
Robert Klein (1:06:34)
Lily Tomlin (1:04:44)

Disc 3 (3:20:45)
Richard Pryor (1:06:16)
Candice Bergen (1:06:40)
Elliot Gould (1:07:49)

Disc 4 (3:20:02)
Buck Henry (1:06:06)
Peter Cook & Dudley Moore (1:06:42)
Dick Cavett (1:07:14)

Disc 5 (3:15:49)
Peter Boyle (1:02:53)
Desi Arnaz (1:06:34)
Jill Clayburgh (1:06:22)

Disc 6 (3:21:54)
Anthony Perkins (1:07:34)
Ron Nessen (1:06:39)
Raquel Welch (1:07:41)

Disc 7 (3:19:13)
Madeline Kahn (1:05:58)
Dyan Cannon (1:06:26)
Buck Henry (1:06:49)

Disc 8 (3:19:05)
Elliott Gould (1:06:01)
Louise Lasser (1:06:35)
Kris Kristofferson (1:06:29)

Video

The video quality of SNL season 1 is pretty much exactly what I expected it to be, though I may be being slightly generous in my rating of a 7 (I'd say it's more of a 6.5, but we don't do half marks). Most of the show was recorded to tape, though there were a few filmed sequences (which contains a lot of dust and debris). You'll notice some problems, like "comet-tails" as the cameras pan past a light, but that's inherent to pretty much anything shot using tube cameras which were popular in the 70s. There wasn't anything that made me wince, but I wasn't amazed by anything either. There are chapters placed at the start of each sketch, but there isn't a "play all" feature.

Alright, now here's the big problem with the set; it's not uncut, despite assurances from Broadway Video that it would be. The first bit of material missing are the bumpers (the still photos) that would appear before and after the commercial breaks. Broadway Video told me that they don't really consider those part of the show, and they were removed (except for the last bumper) to make the episode on DVD flow better. Some fans will be pissed by that, and others won't care, but it's an edit that was made. A discussion at the Home Theater Forum has turned up more edits, and these are far worse than missing bumpers. A few episodes have things missing from them, like the Wrigley's Gum commercial from the Rob Reiner episode, or the Ambassador Training Institute and New Dad commercials from the Peter Boyle episode. Those last two were rerun commercials (something they did quite often), but the Wrigley Gum commercial is missing from its original airing, and its rerun (in the Buck Henry episode). I've already contacted Broadway Video about the edits, and I'm waiting to hear back from them. These edits may be very minor to you, or they may cause you not to buy the set - that's a decision that you'll have to make; at least all the musical acts are here.

Audio

The SNL season 1 set has a single English stereo track. It sounds alright, though a background hiss can be heard if you listen closely, and some of the audio is a bit muffled (darn 70s microphones).

There are a few people that deserve a round of applause for this DVD set: Peter Afterman, Margaret Yen and Alison Litton. Those are the people that cleared all the music for the DVD set.

Extras - How we rate extras

Screen Tests (32:13)
Dan Aykroyd (6:07)
John Belushi (3:41)
Chevy Chase (2:50)
Jane Curtin (4:53)
Garret Morris (7:03)
Laraine Newman (2:43)
Gilda Radner (4:56)

Tomorrow Show (4:42)
Lorne Michaels and the gang appeared on Tomorrow Show just before the show aired for the first time. This was great to have on the DVD set. They sat on some pretty horrible studio chairs!

Collector's Booklet
This 32-page book, found inside the box, has some nice behind-the-scenes photos by Edie Baskin.

Summary

While I didn't watch every episode in its entirety, I had a lot of fun watching the first season of Saturday Night Live, and I learned a lot as well. You'll probably laugh at a few of these revelations, but I'll share them anyway:

  • Kris Kristofferson can sing! I had no idea he was a singer, I thought he was just an actor. I'm not a country music fan, and I was pretty young when he released most of his recordings.
  • Is it just me, or does Mel Gibson look a bit like George Carlin in his opening monologue? Maybe just a bit?
  • Billy Crystal has gotten funnier. I didn't really find his appearance on SNL very funny; he's gotten a lot better.
  • They had problems getting guest hosts. I could be wrong here, but how else do you explain the same person hosting the show twice in a season, and it happened 3 times!
I'm frustrated that there are cuts on this set, especially when I was told it would be completely uncut. The bumpers are debateable cuts, but the others aren't, and it degrades the DVD set. It's still an amazing feat that they cleared all the musical acts in the first season, and hopefully this sells well enough that we'll see season 2 released. I have to wonder whether they'll jump around between the various eras of SNL; I'd like to see some of the Mike Meyers era released, but I'll be an old man if they do the seasons in order. They also need to sell a LOT of copies of this set for us to have a chance of seeing season 2 released.

Here's the complete list of what's on the DVDs, according to the chapters for each episode:

Disc 1 (3:17:07)
George Carlin (1:05:33)

  • Wolverines
  • Monologue
  • New Dad
  • Billy Preston - "Nothin' From Nothin'"
  • Trial
  • Andy Kaufman - Mighty Mouse
  • Monologue - Questions We All Ask
  • Janis Ian - "At Seventeen"
  • Shark Bite
  • Jamitol Gay
  • Paul Simon - Next Week Promo
  • Update 1
  • Tri-Openin'
  • Update 2
  • Muppets
  • Monologue - Food
  • Albert Brooks Film - The Impossible Truth
  • Bee Hospital
  • Academy of Better Careers
  • Valri Bromfield
  • Show Us Your Guns
  • Monologue - God
  • Billy Preston - "Fancy Lady"
  • Home Securities
  • Triple Track
  • Janis Ian - "In the Winter"
  • Goodnights & Credits
Paul Simon (1:05:53)
  • "Still Crazy"
  • Monologue - "Loves Me Like a Rock"
  • Rubin Wallpaper
  • Paul Simon - "Marie"
  • Randy Newman - "Sail Away"
  • Paul & Killer Bees
  • Update 1
  • Basketball
  • Mrs. Robinson - Art's Entrance
  • Simon & Garfunkel - "The Boxer"
  • Simon & Garfunkel - "Scarborough Fair"
  • Simon & Garfunkel - "My Little Town"
  • Art Garfunkel - "I Only Have Eyes for You"
  • Muppets
  • Albert Brooks Film - Parent's Home Video
  • Phoebe Snow - "No Regrets
  • Paul, Phoebe & Jesse Dixon Singers - "Gone at Last"
  • Try-Hard
  • Paul Simon - "American Tune"
  • Goodnights & Credits
Rob Reiner (1:05:41)
  • Wheelchair
  • Monologue
  • Pancreas
  • Fashion Don'ts
  • Golden Needles
  • Andy Kaufman - Pop Goes the Weasel
  • Squeaky
  • Felina
  • Lockers
  • Update 1
  • People Movers
  • Update 2
  • Joe Cocker - "With a Little Help From my Friends"
  • Muppets
  • Droolers
  • Square Dance
  • Nuns
  • What Gilda Ate
  • Albert Brooks Film - Operation
  • Bees
  • Goodnights & Credits
Disc 2 (3:19:03)
Candice Bergen (1:07:45)
  • Ford Speech
  • Bee Monologue
  • Ambassador Training Institute
  • C.I.A.
  • Jaws 2
  • Esther Phillips - "What a Difference a Day Makes"
  • Alas Poor Yurick
  • Long Distance
  • Update 1
  • Tri-Openin'
  • Update 2
  • Catherine Deneuve
  • Andy Kaufman - Nothing Works
  • Chat
  • Albert Brooks Film - Super Season
  • Kiwi Trappers
  • Crank Call
  • Muppets
  • Irk the Turk
  • Black Perspective
  • Pong - Girlfriend
  • Esther Phillips - "I can Stand a Little Rain"
  • Goodnights & Credits
Robert Klein (1:06:34)
  • Sherry Norwalk
  • Monologue
  • ABBA - "S.O.S."
  • Pong - Mid-Term Exams
  • Minute Mystery
  • Bee Centennial
  • Loudon Wainwright III - "Bicentennial Certainty"
  • Greg Allman
  • Peckinpah
  • Update 1
  • Jamitol Straight
  • Update 2
  • Exterminators
  • Fireman
  • Muppets
  • Monologue - College
  • K-Put
  • Loudon Wainwright III - "Unrequitted to the Nth Degree"
  • Looks at Books - Emily Litella
  • Ambassador Training Institute
  • Robert Klein - "I Can't Stop My Leg"
  • ABBA - "Waterloo"
  • Goodnights & Credits
Lily Tomlin (1:04:44)
  • Oval Office
  • Monologue
  • Beethoven 1 - Tie a Yellow Ribbon
  • All Nurse Band - "St. James' Infirmary"
  • Tri-Openin'
  • Jaws 3
  • Bell-hop
  • Edith Ann Skates
  • Beethoven 2 - My Girl
  • Gilda - Next Week Promo
  • Update 1
  • Spud
  • Update 2
  • Patty
  • Muppets - I Got You Babe
  • Albert Brooks Film - The Impossible Truth
  • Beethoven 3 - What'd I Say?
  • Hard Hats
  • Diet Pills
  • Margo's Dance Palace
  • Bee Scat / Credits
Disc 3 (3:20:45)
Richard Pryor (1:06:16)
  • Restaurant
  • Monologue
  • Samurai Hotel
  • Gil Scott-Heron - "Johannesburg"
  • Talk Show
  • New Dad
  • Line-Up 1
  • Word Association
  • Pong - Hockey
  • Black & White
  • Update 1
  • Spud
  • Update 2
  • Line-Up 2
  • L-Pill
  • Muppets
  • Line-Up 3
  • Exorcist 2
  • Albert Brooks Film - Sick in Bed
  • Assassination
  • Shelly Pryor - Christmas Carousel
  • Monologue - Wino
  • Gil Scott-Heron - "A Lovely Day"
  • Goodnights & Credits
Candice Bergen (1:06:40)
  • Ford / Christmas Tree
  • Monologue 1
  • Martha Reeves - "Higher & Higher"
  • Mel's Char Palace 1
  • Parent's Nightmare
  • Bee Capades
  • Don Digital 1 - Ashtray
  • The Stylistics - "You Make me Feel Brand New"
  • K-Put
  • Latent Elf
  • Update 1
  • Princess Grace Tarnoff
  • Update 2
  • Laundromat
  • Pong - Tommy
  • Muppets
  • Mel's Char Palace 2
  • Band of Angels - Walking in a Winter Wonderland
  • Don Digital 2 - Mood Ring
  • Minute Mystery
  • Don Digital 3 - Suit
  • Martha Reeves - "Silver Bells"
  • What Gilda Ate
  • Swedish Christmas
  • Me;s Char Palace 3
  • Candy & Kuhn
  • Homeward Bound
  • Goodnights & Credits
Elliot Gould (1:07:49)
  • Dead String Quartet
  • Monologue
  • Try-Hard
  • Interior Demolitionists
  • Godfather Therapy
  • Shimmer
  • Weis Film - Play Misty for me
  • Gilda & Elliott - Dressing Room
  • Anne Murray - "Long Distance Call"
  • Update 1
  • Jamitol Gay
  • Update 2
  • Killer Bees - Fire Director
  • Gilda & Elliott - Mom
  • Albert Brooks Film - Audience Research
  • Gilda & Elliott - Happy Together
  • Muppets
  • Leboyer Birthright
  • Anne Murray - "Boogie With You"
  • Franken & Davis - Bureau of White Man Affairs
  • Goodnights & Credits
Disc 4 (3:20:02)
Buck Henry (1:06:06)
  • Suicide Prevention
  • Monologue
  • Samurai Deli
  • Kennedy Talk
  • Ford Press Conference
  • Bill Withers - "Ain't No Sunshine"
  • Evelyn Woodski
  • Update 1
  • Germasol
  • Update 2
  • Citizen Kane 2
  • Muppets
  • Triple Track
  • Toni Basil - "Wham"
  • Mechanics Bedtime Story
  • Why Call it Dope?
  • Weis Film - Who's Funny?
  • King Bee
  • Mr. Mike - Mike Douglas
  • Constipation
  • Goodnight & Credits
Peter Cook & Dudley Moore (1:06:42)
  • Bob Squad
  • Monologue
  • Utah Prison
  • Neil Sedaka - "Breaking Up is Hard to do"
  • Holiday in an Elevator
  • Update 1
  • People Movers
  • Update 2
  • The Frog & Peach
  • Weis Film - Novelty Store
  • Sonny & Cher
  • Gilda & Skred
  • Neil Sedaka - "Lonely Night"
  • Backstage Banter
  • Lovers
  • Operating Room
  • Gospel Truth
  • Goodnights & Credits
Dick Cavett (1:07:14)
  • Voodoo Doll
  • Monologue
  • Hunter Sketch
  • Dick Cavett Auto School
  • Jimmy Cliff - "The Harder They Come"
  • H & L Brock 1
  • Update 1
  • Felina
  • Update 2
  • Cavett Hydroplane
  • Our Town
  • Jimmy Cliff - "Many Rivers to Cross"
  • Cavett Look Alike
  • Weis Film - Clothing Designer & Plastic Surgeon
  • Dance to the Nation
  • H & L Brock 2
  • Nebraska Pimp
  • Jimmy Cliff - "Wahjaka Man"
  • H & L Brock 3
  • Home Movie - The Apple Follies
  • Al Alen Petersen
  • Goodnights & Credits
Disc 5 (3:15:49)
Peter Boyle (1:02:53)
  • St. Valentine's Day
  • Monologue
  • Corrida
  • Samurai Divorce Court
  • The Shapiro Sisters - Everlasting Love
  • Acid Trip
  • Al Jarreau - "We Got By"
  • Update 1
  • K-Put
  • Update 2
  • Tag Team Bees
  • Nixon Reflects
  • Weis Film - Pledge Allegiance
  • Duelling Brandos
  • Janitor in a Fridge
  • A Home Movie
  • Valentine's Day Card
  • Al Jarreau - "Pretty as a Picture"
  • Weis Film - Homeward Bound
  • Goodnights & Credits
Desi Arnaz (1:06:34)
  • Ford's Shrink
  • Monologue
  • Rubin Carter
  • Impotence
  • Vampire
  • Habberwocky
  • Very White
  • The Lucy Show
  • Update 1
  • Diet Pills
  • Update 2
  • Untouchables
  • Lucy & Ethel Intro
  • Cuban Pete
  • Weis Film - Pet Talk with Taylor Mead
  • Cuban Acupuncture
  • Double Talk
  • Bisexual Minute
  • Lucy Intro - Desi Book
  • Babalu / Goodnights & Credits
Jill Clayburgh (1:06:22)
  • Chevy & Lorne
  • Monologue
  • Herstory - Anna Freud
  • Guidance Counselor
  • Leon Redbone - "Ain't Misbehavin'"
  • White Guilt Relief Fund
  • Herstory - Isadora Duncan
  • Update 1
  • H & L Brock - Religion
  • Update 2
  • Coast Guard Choir - Sea Cruise
  • Car Yummies
  • The Milkman
  • Gary Weis - Wegman
  • Andy Kaufman - Old MacDonald
  • Restaurant
  • Leon Redbone - "Big Time Woman"
  • Herstory - Indira Gandhi
  • Home Movie - Mr. Bill
  • Grable & Lombard / Goodnights & Credits
Disc 6 (3:21:54)
Anthony Perkins (1:07:34)
  • Chevy at Desk
  • Monologue
  • Marijuana 1
  • Hello Dolly Therapy
  • Household Hints
  • Bates Motel
  • Muppets 1
  • Betty Carter - "Music Maestro Please & Swing Brother Swing"
  • Marijuana 2
  • Update 1
  • Shopping Center
  • Update 2
  • Happy Hour
  • Muppets 2
  • Marijuana 3
  • Weis Film - Cats & Dogs
  • You Got a Bee
  • Coming Attractions
  • Home Movie - Peanut Fever
  • Better Carter - "I Can't Help It"
  • Butt Country
  • Muppets / Goodnight & Credits
Ron Nessen (1:06:39)
  • Gerald Ford / Dead String Quartet
  • Monologue
  • Bassomatic
  • Oval Office
  • Fluckers
  • Patti Smith Group - "Gloria"
  • Press Secretaries Throughout History 1
  • Lie Detector
  • New Army
  • Update 1
  • Rubin Wallpaper
  • Update 2
  • Weis Film - Garbage
  • Autumn Fizz
  • Snyder
  • Home Movie - Men's Room Urinal
  • Press Secretaries Throughout History 2
  • Supreme Court
  • Press Secretaries Throughout History 3
  • Billy Crystal
  • Cliche
  • Patti Smith Group - "My Generation"
  • Goodnights & Credits
Raquel Welch (1:07:41)
  • Presidential Candidates
  • Monologue
  • Purina Rat Chow
  • Decibet
  • Muppets 1
  • Phoebe Snow - "All Over"
  • Claudine Longet Ski
  • Polaroid
  • Herstory - Howard Hughes
  • Jane Curtin - Next Week Promo
  • Update 1
  • Bisexual Minute
  • Update 2
  • John Sebastian - "Welcome Back"
  • Beatle Offer
  • One Flew Over the Hornet's Nest
  • Equal time
  • Weis Film - Raquel
  • Phoebe Snow - "Two Fisted Love"
  • Ain't Necessarily So
  • Muppets 2
  • Shirt Off / Goodnights & Credits
Disc 7 (3:19:13)
Madeline Kahn (1:05:58)
  • Ronald Reagan
  • Monologue
  • Wilderness Comedian
  • Not For Ladies Only
  • Slumber Party
  • Fondue
  • Muppets
  • I Feel Pretty
  • Update 1
  • Panty Hose
  • Update 2
  • Carly Simon - "You're So Vain" & "Half a Chance"
  • Final Days
  • Weis Film - No Reason to Leave New York
  • Follow Him
  • Parakeet
  • Lost in the Stars
  • Goodnights & Credits
Dyan Cannon (1:06:26)
  • Chevy's Repeat Fall
  • Monologue
  • Soft Drink Test
  • Hearing Test
  • Dead Delivery Boy
  • Bulgaria This Winter
  • Leon & Mary Russel - "I Want to Satisfy You"
  • Buck, Gilda & Laraine - Next Week Promo
  • Update 1
  • Anita Bryant
  • Update 2
  • Funeral
  • Weis Film - Niagara Falls
  • Bathwater of the Stars
  • Marine
  • Leon & Mary Russel - "Daylight"
  • Johnny Angel
  • Cresk
  • Home Movie - The Hub Cap Theif
  • Goodnights & Credits
Buck Henry (1:06:49)
  • Crutches
  • Monologue
  • Peter Lemon Mood Ring
  • Samurai Tailor
  • Phone-in Talk Back
  • Toads
  • Gordon Lightfoot - "Summertime Dream"
  • Polaroid
  • Update 1
  • Germasol
  • Update 2
  • Crowd
  • Beatle Offer 2
  • Baba Wawa & Lina
  • Weis Film - Toilet Seats
  • Sex Talk
  • Gordon Lightfoot - "Spanish Moss"
  • Garrett Song
  • Mr. Mike - Tony Orlando & Dawn
  • Goodnights & Credits
Disc 8 (3:19:05)
Elliott Gould (1:06:01)
  • Wax Museum
  • Monologue
  • Academy of Better Careers
  • Card Game
  • Uvula
  • Leon Redbone - "Shine on Harvest Moon"
  • Star Trek
  • Muppet Postcard
  • Update 1
  • Vibramatic
  • Update 2
  • Shirley Temple
  • Weis Film - Dance & Singing Teacher
  • The Honeymooners
  • Leon Redbone - "Walking Stick"
  • People Movers
  • Harlan Collins & Joyce Everson - "Heaven Only Knows"
  • Goodnights & Credits
Louise Lasser (1:06:35)
  • Back From Vacation
  • Monologue
  • Idi Amin
  • Swedish Movie
  • Pot Holders
  • Louise & Dog
  • Cathode Ray
  • Update
  • Girl Talk
  • Diner Sketch
  • Belushi Clothes
  • Jimmy Carter
  • Preservation Hall Jazz Band - "Panama"
  • Mary Mary
  • Goodnights & Credits
Kris Kristofferson (1:06:29)
  • Help Me Make it Through the Night
  • Monologue
  • Elizabeth Ray
  • Samurai General Practitioner
  • Rita Coolidge - "Hoola Hoop"
  • Jesse Owens
  • Ford Delegate
  • Police State
  • Update 1
  • Talk Country
  • Update 2
  • Bobby McGee
  • Blind Date
  • Kris & Rita Duet - "Eddie the Eunuch"
  • Carter-Young
  • Waiting for Pardo
  • Kris Kristofferson - "I've got a Life of My Own"
  • Goodnights & Credits


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