Classic SNL Review: November 12, 1983: Teri Garr / Mick Fleetwood's Zoo (S09E05)

RATINGS SYSTEM:
***** - Classic
****  - Great
***   - Good/Average
**    - Meh
*     - Awful

OPENING: CHEER SQUAD

  • Pompom girls (Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Mary Gross and Robin Duke) demonstrate their squad's unusual cheers to the new member (Teri Garr).
  • An unusual choice for the opening sketch: it's not bad, and the cheers were all weirdly funny, but this feels like something that would have fit in later in the show and was quickly repurposed as a cold opening.
  • No clue who the extra playing the other cheerleader is (third picture, far left).

***

MONTAGE

  • Jim Belushi is not credited for this week's show.

MONOLOGUE

  • Teri Garr thinks she's encountered the audience somewhere before, but isn't sure.
  • Very thin idea for a monologue, but Teri Garr is one of the few people who could actually can pull it off with their persona. There are a few mild laughs here.

**

SHOW: MISTER ROBINSON'S NEIGHBORHOOD

  • The word of the day is nutrition when Mister Robinson (Eddie Murphy) walks off with a woman's bag of groceries.
  • A lower-key Mister Robinson sketch; I'd place this above the Koch one because this has some good quick jokes ("Nut-rit-eon...someone screwed up, boys and girls, it's supposed to say 'nutrition'!", the list of "food groups') and a change-up in the "Mister Robinson answers the door" routine ("What you want, man?" instead of "WHO IS IT?")
  • Recorded September 21, 1983 at the preview show.

*** 1/2

COMMERCIAL: THIRSTY GUY

  • Rosie (Robin Duke) demonstrates the contraceptive sponge's effectiveness to a pregnant and promiscuous customer (Teri Garr)
  • Robin Duke gets airtime! This is a parody of the Bounty paper towel commercials with Nancy Walker, and also a bit of a topical sketch (the Today sponge was first available in June of that year). The audience is a little weird, but this was actually quite good. I'm surprised how much this gets away with, including the visual joke of the sponge and the cream. Brad Hall's skeevy trucker was also good for a laugh.
  • Another appearance of the maternity dress that Christine Ebersole wore in Meet The People
  • Blooper: Duke accidentally pours sugar into the cups instead of the cream she mentions before realizing her mistake.

****

SHOW: HISTORY: THE REAL STORY

  • Boorish theatergoer Abraham Lincoln (Joe Piscopo) provokes his own death with his obnoxious behavior.
  • Joe Piscopo's performance makes this; his tendency to go big has had mixed results over the years, but it's used well to portray Lincoln as a loud, bad joke making ("Send the bill to my GETTYSBURG ADDRESS!"), leering jerk.
  • Written by Nate Herman, Andrew Kurtzman and Eliot Wald.

*** 

SKETCH: DION'S

  • When Dion (Eddie Murphy) lends counsel to a recently jilted customer (Robin Duke), she makes a move on him.
  • An underrated sketch, and the best of the Dion sketches so far as it combines the best elements from the previous two: the more grounded character comedy from the Hesseman show and the interplay with Piscopo from Wonder. Duke actually gets a really nice showcase here.
  • Recorded September 21, 1983.

*** 1/2

SKETCH: CORONET MAN

  • Educational film narrator Dwight MacNamara (Gary Kroeger) is the special guest at a school assembly.
  • A blackout, but Kroeger gets the audience going with his impression of a poorly-threaded film projector.

***

FILM: DOPEBALL

  • A parody of Terry Cashman's "Talkin' Baseball" focuses on recent drug scandals in professional sports.
  • Another topical bit; this is well-produced, although I found the last part a little preachy.
  • The clip of Piscopo with the bag of cocaine is from last season's Chevy Chase show.

***

SKETCH: CAFFEINE ACHIEVERS

  • Multiple cups of coffee during multiple takes agitate Teri Garr during a commercial shoot.
  • A little one-joke, but nicely played by Garr, and redeemed by her freakout at the end.
  • The real Coffee Achievers commercials ran during SNL at this time; Garr name-checks Cicely Tyson, Kurt Vonnegut and Jane Curtin, who appeared in the real ads.
  • SNL cue card man Al SIegal is visible during this sketch. As well, the slate has the name "McCarthy" visible (possibly indicating that Michael McCarthy wrote the sketch), as well as the name "R. [Roberta] Savold-Indig", a production assistant on the show.

***

GUEST PERFORMANCE

  • Comic, magician and spy Joel Hodgson does some prop-based tricks and bits. 
  • An impressive SNL debut for the future MST3K creator; his best bits were the card trick, "three minutes left", lawn dart and the invisible man at home.

**** 

MISCELLANEOUS: NEXT WEEK

  • Joe Piscopo announces that Jerry Lewis will be next week's host.
  • This is not in the repeat version of the show (currently the only version of the show I have access to). If anyone has access to an original airing, please let me know.

SATURDAY NIGHT NEWS

  • Best joke: Hefner love child.
  • Fairly weak night for Brad Hall; for the second week in a row, he segues out of a commentary with "Here now with more news is Brad Hall; thank you Brad", which got no reaction either time.
  • Linda Ellerbee (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) comments on the cancellation of her show NBC News Overnight and thanks the shows (five) viewers before performing her new job duties: the voice of the "Time of Day" phone number. I enjoyed this, even though it's a little harsh on Ellerbee and Overnight (apparently, it was a very well-regarded if little-watched show).
  • Gary Kroeger reviews Star 80; despite the acting, directing and script, he disliked it because Mariel Hemingway got breast implants ("I did not pay $5 to see fake boobs!"). The biggest laughs come when Kroeger rips off his clothes to show a camisole that was in the movie; there's also a nice little bit of (non-verbal) interplay between Hall and Kroeger at the end.
  • Ann Landers (Mary Gross), now an advisor to El Salvador, reads a letter from "Sad Sack in San Salvador" and advises him to "wake up and smell the coffee"...rich towns and strategically attack them. Quick, but it works.
  • Tim Kazurinsky returns with another "Salute to Journalism" prompted by Rupert Murdoch's purchase of his hometown newspaper, the Chicago Sun-Times, showing recent New York Post headlines about Grenada and Beirut as examples of what they can expect, before demonstrating the Post as "a paper for the whole family" by lining a litter box with it. An improvement over the last few "Salute to Journalism" bits but not as good as the first one.

** 1/2

SHOW: KENNEDY: THE MAN BEHIND THE WOMAN!

  • JFK's (Joe Piscopo) secret White House rendezvous with Marilyn Monroe (Teri Garr) was to get her advice on the Berlin crisis. 
  • Interesting idea, though the execution was off; Garr doesn't quite nail the Monroe impression. Piscopo's JFK is well-done and understated, but the sketch's real energy comes from the scenes with Gary Kroeger as Bobby Kennedy; Piscopo and Kroeger ad-libbed the "the-uh-the-uh-the-uh" bits.
  • Written by Kevin Kelton.

** 1/2

MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: "TONIGHT"

  • Bassist George Hawkins handles the vocals on this, a track from the band's album I'm Not Me; I didn't mind the song, but the mix seemed off in the vocals, and Steve Ross's guitar solo was too noodly for its own sake. Fleetwood's drumming (complete with his patented "drum face") is the main thing that holds it together.
  • The band previously appeared on SNL in February 1982 as The Cholos, Lindsey Buckingham's backing group.

SKETCH: SARCASTIC MOTHER SUPERIOR

  • Father Alexander (Tim Kazurinsky) confronts Mother Rose (Mary Gross) after her sarcastic advice lands her novices in trouble.
  • The audience is pretty dead for this, but Gross does some really good character work; I liked how much contempt she had for everyone's naivete. The ending joke felt a little predictable, though.

** 1/2

SKETCH: HELP ME - SHE'S A WITCH

  • While buying groceries, (Gary Kroeger) tells the cashier (Robin Duke) that his wife (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) turned him into a rabbit five years ago.

 

  • A late-in-the-show highlight, with some good work from all three performers, and a strong ending. This doesn't feel like a standard Ebersol-era sketch

*** 1/2

MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: "WAY DOWN"

  • Guitarist Billy Burnette sings lead on this one. This doesn't appear on I'm Not Me; Burnette would record it for the soundtrack of 1985's Just One of the Guys.
  • Saturday Night Live: The First Twenty Years incorrectly lists this song's title as "Gary Thinks He's a Rabbit", evidently mistaking a description of the last sketch for the name of the song. 

MISCELLANEOUS: MAN ON THE STREET

  • Answers to "What's the stupidest thing you've ever done?"
  • As with the other "man on the street" segments, no rating. Some amusing responses, though, including a woman who stopped RIchard Chamberlain on the street and invited him to her office for coffee.
  • I have to wonder if a sketch was cut at the last minute, or if they otherwise ran quicker than expected, because anytime a pre-tape ends the show, it usually means something like this happened.

GOODNIGHTS

  • Teri Garr explains that Jim Belushi couldn't be in the show this week as he was closing True West, but promises he'll be on the show next week as a regular castmemberJoe Piscopo has little Joey with him again. 
  • The rerun version uses the canned closing theme; because of the different makeup of the SNL band, a new one was used for 1983-85. I don't have access to the original broadcast, but I remember seeing the 60-minute version with Pardo's voiceover announcing that portions of tonight's show were pre-recorded.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Eddie Murphy's (and Jim Belushi's) absence is felt, but that doesn't mean it's a bad show; in fact, aside from the jokes on Saturday Night News, this is actually the most solidly watchable episode so far this season. A lot of the credit goes to normally underutilized performers who finally have the space and airtime to make impressions this week: Gary Kroeger and Robin Duke, normally lagging behind the others in airtime, both get particularly good spotlights this week. As host, Garr has a weaker outing compared to her 1980 and 1985 gigs, yet this is probably the most consistently good show that she's hosted.

SHOW HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Guest Performance: Joel Hodgson
  • Thirsty Guy
  • Help Me - She's A Witch
  • Dion's
  • Mister Robinson's Neighborhood

SHOW LOWLIGHTS:

  • The jokes on Saturday Night News
  • Monologue

MVP:

Gary Kroeger

CAST & GUEST BREAKDOWN:

cast

  • Robin Duke: 5 appearances [Cheer Squad, Thirsty Guy, Dion's, Coronet Man, Help Me - She's A Witch] 
  • Mary Gross: 4 appearances [Cheer Squad, History: The Real Story, Saturday Night News, Sarcastic Mother Superior]
  • Brad Hall: 4 appearances [Thirsty Guy, Caffeine Achievers, Saturday Night News, Kennedy: The Man Behind The Woman!]
  • Tim Kazurinsky: 6 appearances [History: The Real Story, Caffeine Achievers, Saturday Night News, Kennedy: The Man Behind The Woman!, Sarcastic Mother Superior, She's A Witch]; 1 voice-over [Mister Robinson's Neighborhood]
  • Gary Kroeger: 5 appearances [History: The Real Story, Coronet Man, Saturday Night News, Kennedy: The Man Behind The Woman!, Help Me - She's A Witch]
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus: 5 appearances [Cheer Squad, History: The Real Story, Saturday Night News, Sarcastic Mother Superior, Help Me - She's A Witch]
  • Eddie Murphy: 2 appearances [Mister Robinson's Neighborhood, Dion's]
  • Joe Piscopo: 6 appearances [History: The Real Story, Dion's, Dopeball, Caffeine Achievers, Next Week, Kennedy: The Man Behind The Woman!]; 2 voice-overs [Dopeball, Man On The Street]

writers, crew & extras:

  • Barry Nichols: 2 appearances [Thirsty Guy, She's A Witch]
  • Al Siegal: 1 appearance [Caffeine Achievers]
  • Dave Wilson: 1 voice-over [Guest Performance]

guests

  • Teri Garr: 5 appearances [Cheer Squad, Monologue, Thirsty Guy, Caffeine Acheivers, Kennedy: The Man Behind The Woman!]
  • Mick Fleetwood's Zoo: 2 appearances ["Tonight", "Way Down"]
  • Joel Hodgson: 1 appearance [Guest Performance]

REBROADCAST HISTORY:

  • July 14, 1984

Known alterations:

  • Next Week removed

Sketches included in the 03/24/84 Best Of special:

  • History: The Real Story

Additional screen captures from this episode are available here.