Classic SNL Review: January 30, 1982: John Madden / Jennifer Holliday (S07E10)

RATINGS SYSTEM:

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

OPENING: LOSER'S LOCKER ROOM

  • After their Super Bowl loss, John Madden reports from the Cincinnati Bengals locker room in the Pontiac Silverdome, where Archie Griffin (Eddie Murphy) alleges mob conspiracy before being murdered by a vindictive teammate (Joe Piscopo), coach Forrest Gregg (Tim Kazurinsky) has the kicker (Tony Rosato) deported and Kenny Anderson's (Brian Doyle-Murray) Christian faith is shaken.
  • An alright opener with some very dark stuff, like the casual reveal of the one player hanging lifelessly while the coach yells at Rosato's character as he's dragged away.
  • The funniest parts were Gregg asking Madden if he knows what it's like to get this close and blow it, and Madden meekly responding in the affirmative; a bit of an obvious joke, but something about the way Madden delivered it was funnier than usual.
  • The other part that I liked was Kenny Anderson tearfully questioning if there was a God because of a certain call made against him, then matter-of-factly saying "Now I will worship Satan" before taking another swig of Jack Daniels.
  • Madden looked a little glued to the cards at times.

***

TALENT ENTRANCE

  • Instead of the regular pose with the cast, Madden busts through a screen on which the last scene of the opening montage is projected and frozen.

COMMERCIAL: THE JOHNNY CARSON SCHOOL OF ACTING

  • Johnny Carson (Joe Piscopo) as Art Fern and Carol Wayne (Christine Ebersole) as the Matinée Lady advertise the school where you can learn how to rip off other comedians' bits and make a lot of money by working very little.
  • Wow, Piscopo's impression was pretty bad and really started to irritate me.  He had the nasal timbre of the Art Fern character but there was too much of Piscopo's normal shouting rasp in there; the results were pretty painful to listen to.
  • Even though personally I didn't care much for the bit, it was a very mean dig at Carson with some bite to it.
  • Christine Ebersole's oversized breasts did make me laugh a little. but she could have had more to do.

**

COMMERCIAL: JOGGER MOTEL [REPEAT FROM 10/31/81]

COMMERCIAL: BETTY BEER

  • Christine Ebersole, Robin Duke and Mary Gross laud The Bitch's Brew.  They may have lost their equal rights but they have a beer all their own.  Marv Throneberry doesn't know why he's there.
  • Another OK segment, the highlights were Robin cheerfully saying the beer was strong enough to get you 'faced and her letting out a burp after chugging a whole glass.
  • Madden's line "Bitch, that's my Betty!" reminds me a little of the segment Ebersole does next week about the degradation the women face on the show; I have to wonder what she thought of that line and the Carol Wayne bit.

***

SHOW: POETRY CORNER

  • John Madden reads a few selections of his poetry.


  • Somewhat funny; a little bit predictable, though, and it kind of dragged out a little longer than it should have.  I did like the line about festooning the press box with a player's small intestine if the he fumbled again.

**1/2

SHOW: THE LOU GRANT SHOW

  • Lou Grant (Tony Rosato) gets a visit from his old pals from Minneapolis, Mary Richards (Mary Gross) and Ted Baxter (Joe Piscopo), who beg him to come back because he's become too self-righteous and pompous at the Trib.
  • One thing that's always bugged me is that they called the sketch "The Lou Grant Show" instead of "Lou Grant" like the actual series.
  • Rosato's Ed Asner was so-so, but he functioned well in the sketch as the straight man to Mary and Ted.
  • I did enjoy Gross' Mary Tyler Moore impression a lot (which would be used to better effect in the Ed Asner cold opening) but Piscopo's Ted Knight was pretty bad; he kept slipping in and out of the voice, and like Art Fern, just really grated on me after a while.
  • This segment had some potential and a few good lines, but  it really didn't go anywhere and overall it fell flat.  Even the group hug gag from the final episode of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" felt kind of tacked-on.

**

MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: "AND I AM TELLING YOU I'M NOT GOING"

  • A great performance, and the audience loved it as well.

MISCELLANEOUS: NEXT WEEK

  • Robin Duke announces that James Coburn will be hosting next week with musical guests Lindsey Buckingham and Mick Fleetwood; Marv Throneberry comments on not being asked to appear on that program.
  • Duke's mic wasn't working properly at the beginning and it sounds like she was being picked up by one of the audience microphones.

SNL NEWSBREAK WITH BRIAN DOYLE-MURRAY

  • Best jokes: Dozier/George Carlin/Wendy O. Williams, Super Bowl 16 Ratings
  • Rosato's segment as Carman Forgione, the captain of the incompetent Italian police force, was OK, with a few funny lines (like them training by playing "hide and seek") and an understated performance by Rosato, but ultimately forgettable.
  • Gross' segment on devices used to make rodeo animals buck was similar, a few funny parts (particularly the way she said "yee-hah!" after showing the part that goes around the genitals) but again, not particularly memorable.
  • The most memorable segment is the crawl of programs that will be reverting to the states as part of Reagan's "New Federalism"; not so much for the content of the crawl (they're already starting to rely on these things as a crutch only two episodes after the Khaddaffi crawl) but for the timing error that led the crawl to run a whole minute after Doyle-Murray finishes his dry explanation of how it works, leading to him to fidget a little, look at his watch comically, and comment that the crawl "rolled a lot faster in dress rehearsal".  As well, the audience applauds prematurely when one segment ends and Brian has to apologetically say "No, there's some more".  The error actually made the whole segment funnier and more worth watching than if nothing had happened.

**1/2

SHOW: THE UNCLE TOM SHOW

  • Tom Snyder (Joe Piscopo) resurfaces as a kids-show host on the Turner Broadcasting System; Captain Kangaroo (Tony Rosato) reads a story about his troubles with CBS and recent heart attack, while Buckwheat plugs his new album "Buh-Weet Sings Por De Tids".
  • A funny concept, although Joe's Snyder wasn't as good as it normally was.  He seemed to slip towards the beginning, but by the end he was back in form.
  • I liked the Captain Kangaroo segment, especially his rueful ending of the story where the cancellation of his show lead to kids joining gangs, smoking dope and getting run over.  Some audience members actually cheered at the reference to smoking dope.
  • The Buckwheat segment was guaranteed laughter and applause; I have to wonder if it was added just as a crutch.  Kind of a lesser Buckwheat appearance anyway.

***1/2

MISCELLANEOUS: MADDEN STORY

  • John Madden tells a story about a linebacker who dropped some money in the toilet.
  • This actually was the funniest segment of the entire show.

****

MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: "ONE NIGHT ONLY"

  • Another highlight of the show.
  • I found the way they dressed the stage interesting: they normally didn't do this for musical performances, but they actually had a set on the main stage, probably to help the Broadway show effect.

I don't normally mention ads or promos aired during the show, but it is worth noting that during the 12:30 station break of the original broadcast, there was a promo for the first-ever episode of "Late Night with David Letterman".

SKETCH: MAFIA NAME GIVER

  • Mobsters Vito (Tony Rosato) and Tino (Tim Kazurinsky) meet Don DePollo (Brian Doyle-Murray) and his family, as they wait for Nick (Eddie Murphy) to bestow a nickname.  Nick keeps spouting unflattering names which leads to violence.
  • Wow, this was just bad.  It really didn't go anywhere, it dragged, and even the normally funny Kazurinsky got on my nerves with his repeated high-pitched "what'dIdowhat'dIdo?".
  • There's a lot of in-jokes in this sketch, such as Don Novello being the head of the Vatican operation and Don Pardo being "no longer with us" (a clever reference to Pardo's absence, which fell on an unresponsive audience).  As well, Don DePollo is the name of a Second City veteran and Tino Quinsana is a reference to another Second City performer, Tino Insana.
  • Robin Duke's role as "Mama" had her dressed in the same fat suit, dress and wig she used as "Maria" in the "Papa's Advice" sketch in Tim Curry.  Speaking of Duke, she actually missed a cue after Rosato' line about rubbing out Don Ameche: the camera is on her and Mary Gross for a second before Gross nudges her to get her to read her line.  I was surprised because Duke usually was pretty solid on SNL. (Edit: I checked my recording of the rebroadcast version from Classic SNL and Duke's missed cue is removed).

* 1/2

GUEST PERFORMANCE: ANDY KAUFMAN

  • As Elvis, Andy Kaufman, accompanied by members of the SNL Band, performs "I'm Evil" and lip-syncs the chicken number from the Disney cartoon "Orphan's Benefit".  He gets bodyguard Red West (Bob Zmuda) to pick out two girls from the audience to bring to his dressing room where he asks them to wrestle, before revealing that this is a re-enactment of a portion of Albert Goldman's Elvis biography.  He disavows both the book and his actions in the segment.
  • Backing Kaufman are Tom Malone (trombone), Alan P. Rubin (trumpet), Lou Marini (sax), David Spinozza (guitar), Neil Jason (bass), Buddy Williams (drums) and Chris Palmaro (piano).
  • A very odd performance and not quite as entertaining as his other Elvis segments.
  • Some sources like the IMDB say this was Gates McFadden's TV debut, but it's definitely not her.

***

FILM: FROM SUPER BOWL TO SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE

  • John Madden and Brent Musberger take the Amtrak from Detroit to New York; Madden tells stories and signs autographs.
  • More of a curiosity; not particularly interesting, though.

**

SKETCH: OLD FRIENDS

  • In a dive bar, retired lumberyard worker Solomon (Eddie Murphy) visits old buddy Pudge (Joe Piscopo), the bar's piano player.  Solomon comments on Reagan's government cheese program and the "Hitler War"; his bunions stop him from doing his dance and he starts to remember his dead wife.
  • I've always liked these sketches.  Very loose, character-based, and mainly focused on the chemistry between Joe Piscopo and Eddie Murphy.
  • This one actually has a very melancholy ending: as Solomon remembers his wife he comments on how he loved her and misses her, and Pudge gently says "Everyone's crazy" as he plays a slow, sad song and the scene ends.

***1/2

GOODNIGHTS

  • Marv Throneberry still doesn't know why he's there.  Mel Brandt announces that next week's show will feature James Coburn, Lindsey Buckingham and Mick Fleetwood.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Another bad show.  The producers wisely kept Madden out of sketches for the most part, but the sketches they came up with continued to be underwhelming.  Madden himself actually provided one of the funnier moments in the show with his anecdote, oddly enough, and didn't weight down the show as badly as Robert Conrad did.  Even usually reliable cast members like Tim Kazurinsky, Robin Duke and Joe Piscopo had an off night tonight.  The writing continued to be uninspired and for the most part this episode was completely forgettable.  The main thing this episode had to recommend for it were the two performances by Jennifer Holliday, which stood out from the rest of the show.

EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Madden Story
  • Old Friends
  • The Uncle Tom Show

EPISODE LOWLIGHTS:

  • Mafia Name Giver
  • The Lou Grant Show
  • The Johnny Carson School Of Acting
  • From Super Bowl to Saturday Night Live
  • SNL Newsbreak
  • Poetry Corner

MVP:

  • Jennifer Holliday (I really couldn't give it to anyone in the cast for this episode)

CAST & GUEST BREAKDOWN:

cast

  • Robin Duke: 3 appearances [Betty Beer, Next Week, Mafia Name Giver]
  • Christine Ebersole: 3 appearances [The Johnny Carson School of Acting, Betty Beer, The Lou Grant Show]
  • Mary Gross: 4 appearances [Betty Beer, The Lou Grant Show, SNL Newsbreak, Mafia Name Giver]
  • Tim Kazurinsky: 2 appearances [Loser's Locker Room, Mafia Name Giver]
  • Eddie Murphy: 4 appearances [Loser's Locker Room, The Uncle Tom Show, Mafia Name Giver, Old Friends]
  • Joe Piscopo: 5 appearances [Loser's Locker Room, The Johnny Carson School of Acting, Jogger Motel (voiceover only), Betty Beer (voiceover only), The Lou Grant Show, The Uncle Tom Show, Old Friends], 2 voiceovers [Jogger Motel, Betty Beer]
  • Tony Rosato: 5 appearances [Bengals Locker Room, The Lou Grant Show, SNL Newsbreak, The Uncle Tom Show, Mafia Name Giver]

featured players:

  • Brian Doyle-Murray: 4 appearances [Loser's Locker Room, The Lou Grant Show, SNL Newsbreak, Mafia Name Giver]

crew and extras:

  • Yvonne Hudson: 1 appearance [Betty Beer]
  • Neil Jason: 1 appearance [Andy Kaufman]
  • Tom Malone: 1 appearance [Andy Kaufman]
  • Lou Marini: 1 appearance [Andy Kaufman]
  • Chris Palmaro: 1 appearance [Andy Kaufman]

  • Alan P. Rubin: 1 appearance [Andy Kaufman]
  • David Spinozza: 1 appearance [Andy Kaufman]
  • Liz Welch: 1 appearance [Betty Beer]
  • Buddy Williams: 1 appearance [Andy Kaufman]

guests:

  • John Madden: 5 appearances [Loser's Locker Room, Betty Beer, Poetry Corner, Madden Story, From Super Bowl to Saturday Night Live]
  • Jennifer Holliday: 2 appearances ["And I Am Telling You That I'm Not Going", "One Night Only"]
  • Andy Kaufman: 1 appearance [Guest Appearance]
  • Brent Musberger: 1 appearance [From Super Bowl to Saturday Night Live]
  • Marv Throneberry: 2 appearances [Betty Beer, Next Week]
  • Bob Zmuda: 1 appearance [Andy Kaufman]

REBROADCAST HISTORY: 

  • April 3, 1982

Known alterations:

  • Next Week removed
  • Exxico from Lauren Hutton (11/07/81) added.
  • Robin Duke's missed cue from "Mafia Name Giver" is fixed.