Classic SNL Review: February 6, 1982: James Coburn / Lindsey Buckingham & The Cholos (S07E11)

RATINGS SYSTEM:

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

OPENING: THE PRESIDENT'S 71st BIRTHDAY

  • Frank Sinatra (Joe Piscopo) sings a medley of his songs, altered for his friend Ronald Reagan's birthday.
  • A good opening, with some funny moments such as Sinatra's revised"It Was A Very Good Year" ("When I was 17...Ron, you were 63!") and Sinatra disparagingly referring to Ron Reagan Jr. as "the dancer".
  • The Lech Walesa mention with the audience applause seemed to have been played in earnest.

***

MONOLOGUE

  • Eddie Murphy asks Schlitz Light spokesman James Coburn to buy drinks for him after the show since he is still underage; James gives him pointers on how to avoid being carded by ordering drinks with authority.
  • Brief and amusing; Eddie was largely the reason why, with him shouting "THUNDERBIRD LIGHT, DAMMIT!" and then coolly going on with his order and what he'll do afterward.

***

COMMERCIAL: REACH OUT AND TOUCH SOMEONE

  • An elderly couple decides it's time for little Jimmy to speak to his parents.
  • A great commercial parody of a then-current Bell Systems campaign; the reveal of the elderly couple being Jimmy's captors instead of grandparents was well executed.

****

SKETCH: I MARRIED A MONKEY

  • Madge, Tim and Baby Ronnie are on vacation at Walt Disney World, but Madge has been having more fun with a gas station attendant (James Coburn).


  • Not quite as good as the last outing.  There were a few unpredictable elements like Tim Kazurinsky having to calm Madge down as Coburn is giving his exit lines and Ronnie knocking a suitcase off a stand before pulling that down too, but it just fell a little flat.  The cue for the baby cry to play also seemed to come a little too late and that didn't help.
  • The audience loved Madge taking lithium and drinking, though.

**1/2

SKETCH: MISTER ROBINSON'S NEIGHBORHOOD

  • Mister Landlord (Tim Kazurinsky) has shut off the heat, so Mister Robinson teaches the boys and girls two new words: "mutha" and "pyromaniac".
  • A forgotten Mister Robinson outing, and a good change from the usual format.  This is the only one that takes place outside of the apartment (it's set near the entrance of the building).
  • The audience really enjoyed the "mutha" part, but my favorite part was the rebus for "pie-row-man-knee-ack".
  • Murphy has a great line when he asks the thug to read the word and he just wordlessly goes to Mr. Landlord's apartment to start the fire: "I guess he didn't graduate, boys and girls!"

****

COMMERCIAL: JESUS IN BLUE JEANS

  • Jerry Falwell (Brian Doyle-Murray) pitches an album of Rock and Roll that contains no sex or drugs, just rockin' love songs to God.
  • I enjoyed this a lot, particularly the list of the fake song titles that would scroll on screen, which were funnier than the actual songs themselves (favorites were "Why Don't We Get Drunk and Pray" and "Short Shorts").
  • This was co-written by Joe Bodolai and Rosie Shuster; Bodolai also mentions that he wrote "Middle Age Of Aquarius" on livevideo.com. The show would do several more similar ads after Bodolai and Shuster left the show ("Heil Hits", "Taking Care of Business", "Direct Hits"); I wonder who wrote those.  [addendum: Eliot Wald has also been credited for this sketch, likely written in collaboration with Bodolai, Shuster and Nate Herman].

***1/2

MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: "BWANA"

  • Buckingham's backing band is mentioned in the montage as "The Cholos"; this is actually an early version of Mick Fleetwood's Zoo, who would appear without Buckingham in November 1983.  Most episode guides list just Fleetwood with Buckingham on this appearance, but they also mention Buckingham in the 1983 show.  Perhaps the confusion comes from this appearance.

SKETCH: CRAZY MARY, GAY JIM

  • Christine Ebersole is smitten with James Coburn, but Mary Gross is convinced he's a homosexual and clues the audience into the tells of his orientation.
  • One of the more memorable segments of this part of the season; this sketch got moved to the cold opening for the rerun, which actually flows well.  
  • I particularly liked the part where Eddie Murphy shows up with an effeminate "James, you bitch!", and the ending with Mary and Christine walking off as a couple, as an inset pops up with a cigar-smoking Coburn smugly concluding "you can't judge a book by its cover".
  • This definitely wouldn't play so well now, but I did have to laugh at the outstretched pinky finger being counted as a sign he was gay.

**** 

SNL NEWSBREAK WITH BRIAN DOYLE MURRAY

  • Best jokes: Let Poland be Nova Scotia, Bert and Ernie come out.
  • Doyle-Murray has a lengthy photo montage at the beginning of the segment about Bush getting a rock thrown at his limo and a line of succession influenced by free association.  It was largely a waste of time but it had a few funny suggestions like "Sandy" from Little Orphan Annie and Elizabeth Taylor being the wild card.  They would do a lot more of these lengthy and unfunny montages as the season goes on.
  • The Raheem Abdul Mohammed commentary started off as a rewrite of the "no blacks in the movies" commentary from the season premiere; in fact, he actually screws up and says "Those were great movies!" again before correcting himself.  It got funnier once he asserted that Gary Coleman wasn't black but "a little short Jewish man named Stu" and that NBC really meant "No Blacks and Coloureds".
  • I also enjoyed him snapping to Doyle-Murray "You ain't funny, and this show ain't funny!  And Eddie Murphy ain't funny neither!"
  • The book review started the final Gross/Doyle-Murray co-anchor stretch in motion by having Mary Gross takes her glasses off and Doyle-Murray fall in love with her (a la the "Beautiful All Along" trope).  It wasn't particularly funny, aside from the exaggerated passionate kissing between the two.

**1/2 

COMMERCIAL: VICTIMS

  • Dan Rather (Joe Piscopo) speaks on behalf of people who were forced into destitution thanks to 60 Minutes'  investigative journalism.
  • I still don't like Piscopo's Rather impression, but it was somewhat funny.  The 60 Minutes watch sound effect at the end was well placed.

***

SKETCH: MAGNIFICENT ANALYST

  • Ronald Reagan (voice of Joe Piscopo) goes over birthday cards and meets with Coburn, whose film roles in Our Man Flint, The President's Analyst and The Magnificent Seven have the President convinced he's the right man to help liberate Poland.  Ed Meese (Tony Rosato) isn't so persuaded.
  • This is another "Hail To The Chief" segment from Reagan's point of view , which continues the theme of Reagan still being convinced he's only acting in a movie.  It wasn't quite as good as the first one, but it had a few good moments like Reagan insisting Coburn has one up over other politicians and diplomats because he had acting training, and it picked up when Ed Meese came in.  Rosato makes a good foil in these sketches.
  • The use of the Sinatra cold opening on Reagan's TV at the beginning was interesting.

*** 

MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: "TROUBLE"

  • A very good performance, with a different sound from the studio version.  Buckingham also has a better solo in this version.
  • Buckingham seems pretty twitchy and agitated in these performances, almost as if he  were on cocaine.

COMMERCIAL: THE KHADDAFFI LOOK [repeat from 10/03/81]

SHOW: UNIQUE PERSPECTIVES

  • Harmony Hart-Seely (Robin Duke) interviews two survivalists (Tim Kazurinsky and Tony Rosato), who see nuclear war as an opportunity to pick up chicks.
  • I didn't really care for this, although I did like Kazurinsky's "It's going to be bitchin'" line about nuclear war.

*1/2

SKETCH: THOSE CRAZY TABOOSTERS

  • When Cookie Tabooster (Robin Duke) won't date Medgar Montessori (Eddie Murphy), his parents visit her family and make some unsettling discoveries about Cookie's clan.
  • Another of tonight's most memorable sketches, but mainly for how disturbing it actually is, with the focus being on an inbred, incestuous family (the parents and children are both twins, the parents are also dating the children) who also practice cannibalism (or, as Mrs. Tabooster says, "We like to think of it as eating our old").  The audience is quiet through much of this, aside from a little uncomfortable laughter, and a few of the lines are really squicky, particularly Piscopo mentioning that other men are breast men and leg men and he happens to be a "family man", as well as "The grass is greener in your own backyard".
  • Disturbing aspects aside, it was still pretty well written and had good performances from all involved.  Rosie Shuster mentions she wrote it in the Live From New York book; she also co-wrote Uncle Roy so it actually isn't too much of a leap of the imagination that she would write a sketch like this.
  • Eddie Murphy got some of the biggest laughs as the kid from the other family who just bluntly asks the Taboosters about their weird habits.  I also enjoyed a few choices of delivery and business, such as the way Murphy said "Goodbye, Ruby Tabooster" at the end, or Robin Duke's little curtsy and skip as she goes to the kitchen to get a hot beverage.
  • Did anyone else notice that the Taboosters' family dynamic was cast the same way as Sugar Breakfast from the Pleasence show?  Joe Piscopo and Mary Gross were the parents while Robin Duke and Tony Rosato were the children.

****

MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: "DON'T LET IT SHOW"

  • Christine Ebersole performs a song for the other women on the show, who have to put up with sexism and degrading roles in sketches.
  • I can't really assign a star rating because this is pretty much a straight musical performance, and unlike "Single Women" or "I'm So Miserable" (aka Last Night I Killed My Husband), it wasn't by any of the writers but was a straight cover of an Alan Parsons song (already covered by Pat Benatar).
  • I can't fault Ebersole's performance or the song, but it really was quite a downer; even with the stills of the various roles, the mood is surprisingly sad.

GUEST PERFORMANCE: MARC WEINER

  • Weiner tells of his mother undermining his father and involves two audience members in a nautical-themed stand-up.


  • Wasn't too crazy about this; the funniest moments were actually from the female audience member's (Jane Wald?) comments and reactions to him, particularly when he asks her to pull out her sword and she says she doesn't have one.  When Weiner is doing one of his "mother in the background doing this" moments, she also goes behind him and makes some faces of her own.

**1/2

GOODNIGHTS

FINAL THOUGHTS:

The first decent episode after O'Donoghue's firing and easily the strongest and most memorable show during the January-February stretch.  Coburn was an alright host, playing himself two times and straight roles in everything else, but he did pretty well in what he appeared in.  There still were some weaker elements in the show, including a subpar "I Married A Monkey", and Ebersole's song really seemed to abruptly dampen the mood.

EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Crazy Mary, Gay Jim
  • Those Crazy Taboosters
  • Mister Robinsons' Neighborhood
  • Reach Out and Touch Someone
  • Jesus in Blue Jeans

EPISODE LOWLIGHTS:

  • The non-Eddie segments of SNL Newsbreak
  • I Married A Monkey
  • Marc Weiner's standup

MVP:

  • Eddie Murphy

CAST & GUEST BREAKDOWN:

cast

  • Robin Duke: 2 appearances [Unique Perspectives, Those Crazy Taboosters]
  • Christine Ebersole: 4 appearances [Crazy Mary Gay Jim, Magnificent Analyst, Those Crazy Taboosters, "Don't Let It Show"]
  • Mary Gross: 3 appearances [Crazy Mary Gay Jim, SNL Newsbreak, Those Crazy Taboosters]
  • Tim Kazurinsky: 4 appearances [I Married A Monkey, Mister Robinson's Neighborhood, Victims, Unique Perspectives]
  • Eddie Murphy: 5 appearances [Monologue, Mister Robinson's Neighborhood, Crazy Mary Gay Jim, SNL Newsbreak, Those Crazy Taboosters]
  • Joe Piscopo: 3 appearances [The President's 71st Birthday, Victims, Those Crazy Taboosters], 1 voiceover [Magnificent Analyst]
  • Tony Rosato: 3 appearances [Magnificent Analyst, Unique Perspectives, Those Crazy Taboosters]

featured players

  • Brian Doyle-Murray: 2 appearances [Jesus In Blue Jeans, SNL Newsbreak]

crew and extras

  • Dick Ebersol: 1 voiceover ["Don't Let It Show"]

guests

  • James Coburn: 5 appearances [Monologue, I Married A Monkey, Crazy Mary Gay Jim, Magnificent Analyst, Those Crazy Taboosters]
  • Lindsey Buckingham & The Cholos: 2 appearances ["Bwana", "Trouble"]
  • Marc Weiner: 1 appearance [Guest performance]

REBROADCAST HISTORY:

  • May 8, 1982

Known alterations:

  • Crazy Mary, Gay Jim is the cold opening in the rebroadcast, while The President's 71st Birthday is moved after the monologue; other sketches are shuffled.

Additional screen captures from this episode can be seen here.