Classic SNL Review: March 20, 1982: Robert Urich / Mink DeVille, Buh-Weet And De Dupreems (S07E14)

RATINGS SYSTEM:

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

OPENING: BACKSTAGE

  • After overhearing disparaging comments from Robin and Mary, Robert is frustrated with being compared to Burt Reynolds.  A Clutch Cargo-style Burt head appears and tells Robert that he made him in his image, and that the best way to have a good show is to "be like ME!".


  • An interesting idea, at least.  I wonder if the idea came from the fact that SNL didn't seem to be booking as big stars as it had been a few years ago.
  • I still jokingly refer to Urich as "Robert You-rich" based on Mary's mispronunciation of his name.
  • There were a few awkward stretches: Robert seemed to pause a long time before he said "To Hell with Burt Reynolds!" as if the musical sting was supposed to go there, and the ending had something that felt off about it.
  • The Clutch Cargo Burt head had some funny lines, especially when Robert said talking to him was like talking to God and Burt piped "Better!"
  • It doesn't really hold up well as a separate segment but it does set up an interesting running gag.

**

MONTAGE AND TALENT ENTRANCE:

  • Keeping with the running joke, Urich wears a fake mustache and is credited as Burt Reynolds in the opening montage and does his introduction to Buh-Weet as Burt.


  • Buh-Weet and De Dupreems are also billed as a musical guest.
  • I thought I'd point out here that one of the cameras seems to have a problem with it throughout the show: the upper left and lower right corners are pink.  It's especially visible in the talent entrance, Paul Harvey News and Comment, Golden Age School of Obedience, SNL Newsbreak, and The Embryo.

MUSICAL SKETCH: BUH-WEET AND DE DUPREEMS

  • Buckwheat (Eddie Murphy) mispronounces a medley of Supremes classics, including "Ayby Nub" and "Meech Out and Dutch Dumbody's 'and"
  • After being shoehorned into other sketches, this is the first time since Buh-Weet Sings that Eddie Murphy's Buckwheat carries an entire sketch.  It's more of the same formula of mangled song lyrics, but it's still fairly entertaining.
  • The funniest part was the subtitles during the last song; Buckwheat making the audience members participate was a fun touch.

***

COMMERCIAL: REACH OUT AND TOUCH SOMEONE [REPEAT FROM 02/06/82]

SKETCH: PAUL HARVEY NEWS REPORT

  • Paul Harvey (Joe Piscopo) inserts dramatic pauses and page breaks into "News and Comment" while his producer (Brian Doyle-Murray) assists him.
  • The audience reacted very well at the beginning and end.  Piscopo was a little hammy, but having heard the real Paul Harvey's news reports growing up, I thought it was a good enough impression.
  • Brian Doyle-Murray was actually funny in a mainly silent role, as the producer getting Harvey's coffee and changing his news copy sheets.
  • Best line: "After forty-five years, it's still hard!  (pause, changes page) To say good night!"

***

SHOW: FOCUS ON FILM

  • Raheem Abdul Mohammed (Eddie Murphy) was able to get a big star this week, "Burt Reynolds".  When his suspicious are aroused, Raheem eventually removes Robert Urich's fake mustache.
  • This was a worthwhile payoff for the Burt Reynolds runner in the earlier segments.  Urich's impression, while not going to make anyone forget about Norm MacDonald, was somewhat funny, but more for the high-pitched laugh he would let out after making a racist crack at Raheem.
  • Raheem had a few good lines in this one, such as when he called Burt's movie's rip-offs (Sharkey's Machine not having a shark in it, the Smokey in Smokey and the Bandit wasn't Robinson).  Also funny was Raheem not recognizing who Robert Urich was at first, then  telling him to "get a job!".
  • Keeping with the running joke, the bumper right before this segment has Robert wearing the mustache.  I think the Burt Reynolds running gag would have had more traction if they kept it going for a little longer in the show.  
  • This is the second time they mention Vega$ tonight.  Kind of odd since it went off the air the year before; was it that big a show?
  • The Focus on Film set now has its regular Blaxploitation movie posters.

***1/2

COMMERCIAL: BUY A BULLET FOR A HUNGRY KID

  • Supporting American policy regarding Central America will ensure starving little Maria will be put out of her misery.
  • One of the nastiest political pieces they did that season.

***

SKETCH: HAIL TO THE CHIEF

  • To Ed Meese's (Tony Rosato) horror, Reagan (voice of Joe Piscopo) has hired Dr. Strangelove (Tim Kazurinsky) as an advisor.  Strangelove proposes a smart bomb to rid the world of all except powerful men and beautiful young women.


  • Rosato was excellent as usual, and Kazurinsky was a good choice to play Dr. Strangelove.  Unfortunately, the sketch dragged a lot, and the audience was also disconcertingly quiet.  I can't help but think this sketch should have been a bit better than it was.
  • It was interesting that they did this sketch since Terry Southern, who co-wrote the screenplay to the original movie, was on the writing staff at SNL that season.
  • A lot of the Strangelove stuff was just a repeat of the movie, especially the out-of-control arm and the bomb only leaving certain men with a lot of young, nubile women.
  • The funniest part was Meese substituting a postcard of people limboing for a surveillance photo.

**

MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: "MAYBE TOMORROW"

  • Kind of a retroish Brill Building-meets-Springsteen vibe to it; a very tight performance.
  • This season really seems to have a long streak of excellent musical guests.
  • I saw in an old paper that the original choice for musical guest this week was The New Mamas and The Papas; I'd say Mink DeVille was a better choice.

COMMERCIAL: FUR: YOU DESERVE IT!

  • A hunter targets and kills fur-wearing New Yorkers for their coats.
  • A well made, if particularly dark commercial parody.  The image of the hunter clubbing the women at the end like seals may not fly with some.
  • Directed by commercial director Mark Story.  Sela Ward plays one of the fur hunter's victims.

****

COMMERCIAL: GOLDEN AGE SCHOOL OF OBEDIENCE

  • (Eddie Murphy) dog-trains Nana (Robin Duke) and Pop (Tim Kazurinsky) into submission when they start to annoy their son (Robert Urich) and daughter-in-law (Mary Gross).
  • Duke and Kazurinsky are always funny as old people; I heard a little of Duke's Molly Earl character from SCTV when she kept asking "What time is it?" and the post-training sight of her flinching away from Urich was pretty funny.  Kazurinsky yelling "I want a jelly donut!" was stuck in my head for a while after I first saw this.
  • Eddie Murphy does an excellent job as the trainer, particularly when he grabs and breaks Kazurinsky's character's false teeth and makes the old people do push-ups.
  • There's a distracting shadow in the corner of the shot when Piscopo is talking.

****

SNL NEWSBREAK: WITH MARY GROSS AND BRIAN DOYLE-MURRAY, SPECIAL REPORT FROM DR. JACK BADOFSKY (TIM KAZURINSKY)

  • Best jokes: Simultaneous heart attacks, Billy Carter.
  • The segments begins with another pointless relationship segment between the two co-anchors.  This is the last time Mary Gross sits at the Newsbreak desk and it was a funnier than normal segment, but I'm relieved they dropped this angle as it was just a waste of time.
  • Some of the jokes really died hard, namely the Kennesaw, GA, unleaded gasoline/handguns and the Kennedy speech being used instead of Reagan.
  • The Pac-Man Diversified segment was pretty funny, mainly because they kept it fairly short.
  • Dr. Jack Badofsky returns for the second episode in a row to discuss phobias; after a few really groan-worthy puns at the beginning, it really gets rolling with Mofobia (fear of being insulted by a black man).  "Phoebesnobia" (fear of hiccups while singing) was my favorite.  These segments are pretty corny, but some of the individual jokes are usually pretty good.
  • There's another lengthy series-of-pictures and crawl regarding Rev. Donald Wildmon's boycotts of NBC, RCA and Hertz.  This is redeemed largely by the uselessness and absurdity of some of the products and subsidiaries of the companies listed in the crawl (example: "Rely Tampon Repair Kit", "Sexual Harassment Mood Music", "Homes for Dead Cats", "Diff'Rent Strokes Survival Kit", "Video Tapeworm Library")

**1/2

SKETCH: THE EMBRYO

  • Expectant parents Bob (Tony Rosato) and Carol (Robin Duke) learn of a mix-up at the embryo bank: their unborn child is a koala bear.
  • An interesting idea that unfortunately doesn't really take off.  I give Duke and especially Rosato credit for their performances, but the audience clearly didn't know what to make of this.  It didn't play as funny as it should have, and the discussion of abortion weighed an absurd sketch down,  despite leading to a funny line: "What if we have a retarded bear?"  
  • The ending photo album with the real photos of Duke and Rosato posing with a stuffed koala was somewhat funny.

**1/2

SHOW: HEADLINE CHALLENGE

  • Representatives from the CIA, and the militaries of El Salvador and Nicaragua have trouble identifying Jose Tardencillas Espinosa (Tim Kazurinsky).
  • A one-joke premise, although there were a few laughs from the CIA guessing he was Jane Fonda and Ed Asner, and Kazurinsky's surprised facial expression upon receiving a prize of Rice-A-Roni.
  • This sketch has not aged well at all; it was based on a recent event (which was referenced in this week's Newsbreak), but the incident has long been forgotten.

*1/2

MISCELLANEOUS: FUTURE GUESTS

  • Eddie Murphy announces some of the big guests SNL will have on the show in the weeks to come.

SHOW: LOW CLASS ITALIAN THEATRE

  • A production of "Hamlet" has elements of Rocky and Raging Bull.
  • I didn't really care for this segment; the audience was pretty quiet for this as well, and there were a lot of awkward silences which broke the sketch's flow.  There also didn't seem to be much of a payoff.  The cast tried, though, and the visual of Piscopo's Horatio wearing a white tank top was funny.
  • This was Christine Ebersole's only appearance all night.

*

MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: "LOVE & EMOTION"

  • After a string of uninspiring material, this was a welcome respite.

FILM: "THE THING THAT DESTROYED TOKYO" BY GARY SNEGAROFF, BRAD SOLOTOFF, FRANK VITTORI

  • An ersatz Japanese monster movie about a giant hammer smashing the city.
  • So shamelessly dumb and cheap that it's funny.  The audience didn't seem to be into it, but I always enjoyed the part where the scientist tests the formula, drops dead, and his daughter says "But Daddy, you're not a hammer!".

***

MISCELLANEOUS: JOHN BELUSHI TRIBUTE

  • On the first live show after John Belushi's death, Brian Doyle-Murray tells the story of the time Belushi pushed him out of the way of an incoming truck and survived getting hit himself.
  • I can't really give this a rating but this was the best segment of the night: a very simple, moving remembrance by someone who was evidently very close to John Belushi.  Doyle-Murray was restrained but very clearly emotional in this segment, and it fades in silence to a still bumper of Belushi.
  • Cruelly, this remembrance is taken out of the repeat version of the episode.  I was fortunate to be able to track down an original West Coast airing.

GOODNIGHTS

  • Robert Urich says the cast are the "greatest people in the world".  The feed cuts off before the credit roll.
  • Addendum: Margaret Oberman joins the writing staff with this episode. 

FINAL THOUGHTS:

A weak episode that runs out of steam shortly after SNL Newsbreak.  I can't really put a lot of the blame on Urich, who didn't really get a whole lot to work with besides the whole Burt Reynolds gimmick that only lasts for about 15-20 minutes.  It's almost like the writers didn't know what else they could do with him; he's considered one of the "Bobs" (four underwhelming and questionably relevant hosts named Robert) but he wasn't bad, and at least the right age for SNL's demographic.  There were a few good ideas that unfortunately weren't able to fully deliver on their promise, and the second half of the show had a few unfunny stinkers (again, partial blame goes to the datedness of the topical humor).  The main things this episode has going for it are Mink DeVille's two excellent performances and the touching tribute to Belushi.

EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS:

  • John Belushi tribute
  • Golden Age School of Obedience
  • Fur: You Deserve It!
  • Focus on Film

EPISODE LOWLIGHTS:

  • Low Class Italian Theatre
  • Headline Challenge
  • parts of SNL Newsbreak
  • Backstage
  • Hail To The Chief
  • The Embryo

MVP:

  • (tie) Tony Rosato / Brian Doyle-Murray

CAST & GUEST BREAKDOWN

cast

  • Robin Duke: 3 appearances [Backstage, Golden Age School of Obedience, The Embryo], 1 voiceover [Buy a Bullet for a Hungry Kid]
  • Christine Ebersole: 1 appearance [Low Class Italian Theatre]
  • Mary Gross: 4 appearances [Backstage, Golden Age School of Obedience, SNL Newsbreak, Low Class Italian Theatre]
  • Tim Kazurinsky: 4 appearances [Hail To The Chief, Golden Age School of Obedience, SNL Newsbreak, Headline Challenge], 1 voiceover [Low Class Italian Theatre]
  • Eddie Murphy: 5 appearances [Buh-Weet and de Dupreems, Focus on Film, Golden Age School of Obedience, Headline Challenge, Future Guests]
  • Joe Piscopo: 6 appearances [Backstage, Paul Harvey News Report, Golden Age School of Obedience, Headline Challenge, Low Class Italian Theatre], 1 voiceover [Hail To The Chief]
  • Tony Rosato: 3 appearances [Hail To The Chief, The Embryo, Low Class Italian Theatre]

featured players

  • Brian Doyle-Murray: 4 appearances [Paul Harvey News Report, SNL Newsbreak, Headline Challenge, John Belushi Tribute]

guests

  • Robert Urich: 5 appearances [Backstage, Focus on Film, Golden Age School of Obedience, Headline Challenge, Low Class Italian Theatre]
  • Mink DeVille: 2 appearances ["Maybe Tomorrow", "Love & Emotion"]
  • De Dupreems: 1 appearance [Buh-Weet and de Dupreems]

REBROADCAST HISTORY:

  • June 19, 1982

Known alterations:

  • Upcoming Guests and John Belushi Tribute are removed.
  • Jogger Motel (from 10/31/81) is added.

Additional screen captures from this episode are available here.