Classic SNL Review: February 26, 1983: Beau & Jeff Bridges / Randy Newman (S08E14)

RATINGS SYSTEM:

***** - Classic
****  - Great
***   - Good / Average
**    - Meh
*     - Terrible

OPENING: CHILDHOOD STORIES

  • Beau and Jeff Bridges re-open their sibling rivalry when tell the audience embarrassing childhood stories about each other; a call from father Lloyd turns their fight physical.
  • Essentially the first part of a two-part monologue segment; the laughs in this segment come from the brothers' reactions to each embarrassing story (Beau being a virgin at 25, Jeff's friend Malcolm trying to kiss him - the latter also has a nice callback to a prior story about Jeff's stutter).  It's derailed a little by an awkward ending, though, as well as a mistimed buzz sound effect.
  • No "Live From New York" tonight.
  • Extra spotting: Andy Murphy plays Jeff's trainer; no clue who the page with the phone is.

***

MONOLOGUE

  • Egged on by Lloyd, Beau and Jeff Bridges box on the SNL home base set, but find common ground again.
  • This is mostly Beau and Jeff boxing; the video inset of Lloyd telling each brother that he's his favorite was marred with some technical and timing issues, and wasn't especially funny.  The brothers' emotional coming together after Beau hurts his back was played a little too saccharine, although there was a small laugh at their mutual hatred of Sea Hunt and their dad pushing their heads under water.

**

COMMERCIAL: TEXXON

  • The oil company vows that beneficiaries of their charitable donations will be the first to feel the pinch if their profits are hurt.
  • A little on-the-nose, but a durable spoof of the strings-attached nature of corporate social responsibility.
  • Directed by Tony Lover, who co-directed the Oscar-nominated short De Duva with early SNL player George Coe in 1968.
  • James Pickens Jr. (Grey's Anatomy) plays the unemployed Vietnam veteran ("If these dudes don't get some offshore oil leases, I'll be back on the streets. And I'll be mad."), while the asthmatic girl ("Please don't pull the plug on me") appears to be Lily Nell Warren (the Ms. Pac-Man addict from Video Victims).

*** 1/2

SKETCH: PIMPLE

  • On prom night, Cindy's (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) mortifying zit causes distress.
  • I'll be honest: this is one of those sketches I've never cared for. The audience reacts well, and there are decent performances from the regulars, but the whole thing just comes off as generic, bland and predictable. The Bridges brothers' appearance (as themselves) had a predictable punchline as well, even if Eddie Murphy got to deliver it.  Jeff's delivery on "It's just a blemish" was a little amusing though.
  • During the pullout, you can see Gary Kroeger fall off the back of the couch.

**

SKETCH: RICK'S CAFE

  • A Casablanca-like ski lodge has Rick (Eddie Murphy), his old flames and their new beaus (all Lazlos), a fascistic ski patrol, and valuable lift tickets.
  • Like last week's Gas Station sketch, this was built around one of Eddie Murphy's impressions; in this case, Humphrey Bogart.  It's a little overlong and repetitive (Murphy lampshades this at the end: "My, this is a long sketch"), but Murphy carries it (despite a line flub: "toast curfew...toast marshmallows after curfew); there are also enough lines and smaller bits to keep this going, even if some work better than others.
  • Extra watch: Laurie Zaks (talent executive, 1982-85, later an executive producer of Castle and currently president of Mandeville Television), plays Vicki Lazlo, girlfriend of Rick's ex Marcia (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). Andy Murphy gets a laugh as bartender Chester (who turns out to be another of Rick's flings); John Murray's also in the group. No ID yet for the speaking extras that played Rick's Vail or Sun Valley flings, though (see this post for caps).

***

MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: "I LOVE L.A."

  • Good performance, less glossy than the studio cut. Steve Khan is on guitar and former SNL band member Steve Jordan on drums. The "we love it" hook is performed by SNL band members Georg Wadenius, Tom Malone and Lou Marini, production staff member Barry Nichols, and two unidentified women (guessing they were also production staff).
  • Beau introduces Randy Newman and announces the song he's about to play; rare that they drop the title in the introduction.

SATURDAY NIGHT NEWS

  • Best joke: Chris Wallace/Larry Speakes, Seaver/Torres
  • Unlike last week where nothing stood out, this at least had a few standouts, even if the Wallace/Speakes joke is a little clapter-ish ("Screw you!" "You're out of business" is what the Reagan administration has been saying for the last 2 years). I get the impression that the "tasting each others baseballs" photo joke was originally intended to be much dirtier, but it was an above-average photo joke. Unfortunately, there were also a few flops: a joke about a GM/Fiat car suffered from weak delivery of a predictable punchline (Gen-Italia), and a bit about candidacy announcements peters out (though I did like the "Richard Nixon's orangutan" picture). Due to the presence of four(!) commentaries, this was also a particularly long SNN segment.
  • Hall oddly gets a smaller-than-normal reaction at the beginning of the segment; just a small bit of laughter and some scattered applause.
  • Tim Kazurinsky is back with another Salute To Journalism, this time changing it up a little by using real Post headlines to tell a story about Monaco starting World War 3; it's an improvement over the Salute from the Barrymore show, with some clever twists on the headlines (Queens Water Cancer Risk). It also closes with a strong prop of the Post "on a [toilet paper] roll".
  • Howard Hesseman returns to the show to give an update on last week's "President's Face" mooning and mail-in; the audience gives him a huge round of applause. Hesseman's good but it's underwhelming compared to his monologues; he did everything to sell the twist that the viewer-submitted pictures seem to be more for his own personal enjoyment than anything else, though.
  • Dr. Ruth Westheimer (Mary Gross) is back to comment on the "squeal law" and fields a call from a horny teenager (Gary Kroeger) who enjoys her TV appearances a little too much. This is better than the first appearance and surprisingly dirty (we all know what the teenager's doing and why he suddenly feels better). A point deducted for reprising the dirty finger gestures at the end, though.
  • Joe Piscopo is back with Saturday Night Sports, interviewing Herschel Walker (Eddie Murphy) about forgoing the rest of his college education to turn pro with the (short-lived) United States Football League; Walker blames his giant neck's tendency to block his thoughts for his about-face. Aside from Piscopo's "give me $16 million and I'll talk in complete sentences", this was Murphy doing what he could with a weak premise.

** 1/2

SKETCH: CHEAP HUNT

  • Low on underwater stock footage, Mike Nelson (Jeff Bridges) tries to retrieve an anchor without going underwater.
  • Biggest disappointment of the night; this died in the studio, despite an interesting idea and a lot of meta-referential humor referring to production shortcuts.
  • One thing I'm noticing in this week's show is that Jeff seems to be far more comfortable doing sketch comedy than Beau; here, he dons a pair of fake eyebrows to make fun of his dad's old show, while Beau is in a straight role.

**

SKETCH: BATTERED HUSBAND

  • After his wife beats him up for coming home late, Sam (Gary Kroeger) gets no sympathy from friends or the police. 
  • This is another "good idea, underwhelming execution"; it benefits from a stronger point-of-view and good performances, but it never really takes off and the audience is still as unreceptive as they were to Cheap Hunt. I wasn't crazy about the ending with Gross busting through the door either.
  • Written by Paul Barrosse and Gary Kroeger; I think Brad Hall also may have worked on this one.
  • Extras watch: looks like a few of the Gumby Christmas children are back as the kids (including the omnipresent redhead girl).

**

SKETCH: SAUNDRA'S HOUSE OF MASSAGE

  • A man (Beau Bridges) is put in an uncomfortable situation by his handsy and apparently male massage therapist Saundra (Jeff Bridges).
  • The most bizarre thing in the entire show; nobody from the cast appears in this, and the whole thing is based around Jeff fondling Beau. The audience laughs more at this one, though, and while Jeff is still doing more of the heavy lifting (literally this time), Beau seems more comfortable here playing off him. 
  • I have to wonder whether this was something the writers pitched or if the Bridges brothers brought this one to the table themselves.

***

MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: "REAL EMOTIONAL GIRL"

  • Pardo introduces this one, a solo piano piece done in a single continuous camera shot (like Lionel Richie's "Truly" from earlier in the season). Decent but forgettable.

MUSICAL SKETCH: GUY CRAZY

  • As Jeff Bridges gives a speech to a National Organization of Woman convention, the emcee (Robin Duke) fantasizes about him in a musical number.

 

  • Robin Duke did what she could, but this felt very thin and rushed; the white "dream sequence" border through the whole fantasy was distracting (a video transition effect would have worked better). The only thing that really stands out is Bridges' surprisingly dirty "I'll take you to the woods and play house in your nest" line.
  • Another technical issue: the camera stays on the fantasy a little too long after the song ends and you can see Jeff and the others start to return to their places.
  • Written by Duke with Paul Barrosse and Brad Hall

**

GOODNIGHTS

  • The Bridges brothers say they had a great time; Scandinavian Ski Shop (which closed in winter 2008) gets a credit for the gear in Rick's Cafe.
  • Credits cut off early.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

The weakest show in a while, full of forgettable sketches and ideas that don't live up to their promise. Nothing's truly awful, but there's a lot of blandness throughout the night and the better material isn't quite strong enough to offset it; even the Eddie Murphy showcase is a little too long tonight. A number of technical issues also lent the air that something was "off" tonight. As hosts, the Bridges brothers were merely OK, with the more willing Jeff doing the better job. 

SHOW HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Texxon
  • Tim Kazurinsky's "Salute to Journalism" on Saturday Night News

SHOW LOWLIGHTS:

  • Cheap Hunt
  • Pimple
  • Guy Crazy
  • Monologue
  • Battered Husband

MVP:

  • Brad Hall

CAST & GUEST BREAKDOWN

cast

  • Robin Duke: 2 appearances [Rick's Cafe, Guy Crazy]
  • Mary Gross: 5 appearances [Pimple, Rick's Cafe, Saturday Night News, Battered Husband, Guy Crazy]
  • Brad Hall: 4 appearances [Pimple, Rick's Cafe, Saturday Night News, Battered Husband]
  • Tim Kazurinsky: 5 appearances [Pimple, Rick's Cafe, Saturday Night News, Cheap Hunt, Battered Husband]
  • Gary Kroeger: 4 appearances [Pimple, Rick's Cafe, Cheap Hunt, Battered Husband]; 1 voice-over [Saturday Night News]
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus: 3 appearances [Pimple, Rick's Cafe, Guy Crazy]
  • Eddie Murphy: 3 appearances [Pimple, Rick's Cafe, Saturday Night News]
  • Joe Piscopo: 3 appearances [Pimple, Rick's Cafe, Saturday Night News]

crew & extras

  • Joe Dicso: 1 appearance [Monologue]
  • Tom Malone: 1 appearance ["I Love L.A."]
  • Lou Marini: 1 appearance ["I Love L.A."]
  • Andy Murphy: 3 appearances [Childhood Stories, Monologue, Rick's Cafe]
  • John Murray: 1 appearance [Rick's Cafe]
  • Barry Nichols: 1 appearance ["I Love L.A."]
  • James Pickens, Jr.: 1 appearance [Texxon]
  • Clint Smith: 1 appearance [Rick's Cafe]
  • Georg Wadenius: 1 appearance ["I Love L.A."]
  • Lily Nell Warren: 1 appearance [Texxon]
  • Laurie Zaks: 1 appearance [Rick's Cafe]

guests

  • Beau Bridges: 6 appearances [Childhood Stories, Monologue, Pimple, Rick's Cafe, Cheap Hunt, Saundra's House of Massage]
  • Jeff Bridges: 7 appearances [Childhood Stories, Monologue, Pimple, Rick's Cafe, Cheap Hunt, Saundra's House of Massage, Guy Crazy]
  • Randy Newman: 2 appearances ["I Love L.A.," "Real Emotional Girl"]
  • Lloyd Bridges: 1 appearance [Monologue]
  • Howard Hesseman: 1 appearance [Saturday Night News]
  • Steve Jordan: 1 appearance ["I Love L.A."]
  • Steve Khan: 1 appearance ["I Love L.A."]

REBROADCAST HISTORY:

  • Not rebroadcast on NBC (not counting a 2004 NBC All Night airing).

Additional screen captures from this episode are available here.