***** - Classic
**** - Great
*** - Good/Average
** - Meh
* - Awful
- Dion's (Eddie Murphy) estranged mother Geraldine (Flip Wilson) visits the salon.
- I've always been of two minds regarding Murphy's "Dion" character; I recognize that he's a stereotype (and indeed, this sketch has a few cheap jokes, particularly "Son...or whatever" and "He wanted a boy, I wanted a girl, and wait til he find out out we got a little bit of both!"), but Murphy manages to imbue him with such a likability that makes him entertaining, and a bit more human than Piscopo's Blair (who gets some particularly catty lines here). This sketch is mainly an excuse for Flip Wilson to do his Geraldine character, though, and Murphy seems to be thrilled to get the chance to perform opposite Wilson (at one point, Wilson's antics cause him to break character).
- The rerun version mutes Wilson's use of the word "tits".
- Flip Wilson does a bit of "discontinued humor" the censor wouldn't approve for air.
- There's not much to this monologue; Flip mentions that doing the show is his "birthday and Christmas present" (Wilson's 50th birthday was two days earlier) before telling a forbidden Polish joke about a man who tried to pass himself off as Italian.
- The repeat version cuts the Polish joke entirely; the edit is actually fairly seamless, but it makes the monologue seem even less consequential to the point where I would have been able to rate it had I not been able to get access to the uncut version. Guess Bill Clotworthy really did nix the joke.
SKETCH: UNREQUITED SEX
- Donna (Robin Duke) and Steve (Joe Piscopo) exchange gifts and innuendo.
- Robin Duke's only sketch of the night, but at least she gets a starring role here. The sketch itself wasn't anything special, but there were some decent jokes (the "does this remind you of anything" response to the overflowing eggnog), the pace was quick, and end the ending worked.
SKETCH: AIRPLANE RESTROOM
- Passenger (Brad Hall) doesn't need an attendant's (Flip Wilson) services in the cramped quarters of an airplane restroom.
- Another fast moving sketch; the idea was strong but the action in the restroom set was maybe a little too chaotic for everything to fully come across; in a way the quick pace keeps the premise from being too labored, but the ending feels a little too abrupt.
- Written by Kevin Kelton and Pam Norris.
SKETCH: UNANSWERED QUESTIONS OF THE UNIVERSE
- Havnagootiim Vishnuuerheer (Tim Kazurinsky) answers viewer-submitted mysteries.
- I wasn't originally sure how to review this, since this is mostly a group of crowdsourced joke set-ups that Kazurinsky gives the punchlines to; this segment and the remaining "Unanswered Questions" are mixed bags, but Kazurinsky has a few strong answers tonight (notches on belt, looking in the toilet, why men have nipples).
- Of note: one question was submitted by longtime SNL standby line stalwart Louis Klein.
SHOW: HELLO, TRUDY!
- A call-in show's guest (Joe Piscopo) learns the show is more about appeasing its sole viewer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) than discussing his book.
- I've always liked this one; Jim Belushi anchors this sketch nicely, mediating between Piscopo's straightman and Julia Louis-Dreyfus' nitwit (portrayed in voiceover). The reveal was handled well, and there's a dig at Alan Thicke's ill fated talk show in there as well.
MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: "STAND BACK"
- One of the standout musical performances of the entire Ebersol era; this has an added power compared to the album version on The Wild Heart. A great deal of this comes from the all-star lineup accompanying Nicks: Waddy Wachtel (guitar, also appeared with James Taylor in 1979 and Keith Richards in 1988), Wyzard (of Mother's Finest, bass), Bill Payne (Little Feat, piano and keyboards), Benmont Tench (Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, organ), Liberty DeVitto (drums) and Bobbye Hall (percussion), as well as Nicks' backing vocalists Sharon Celani, Marilyn Martin and Lori Perry-Nicks.
COMMERCIAL: OLDER SISTERS OF THE YOUNG
- Mary Tyler Moore (Mary Gross) demonstrates the holiday spirit of giving by "adopting" an attractive young medical student.
- A fairly mean-spirited dig at Moore's recent marriage to the much younger Dr. Robert Levine, portraying her as what would now be called a cougar. Gross's impression is still excellent, though.
- No idea who's playing the medical student (called "Richard" here).
- Gross is quoted in the First Twenty Years coffee table book about her discomfort with the piece; according to New York Magazine, then-NBC president Grant Tinker was not amused. This segment is not in the repeat version.
SKETCH: PUDGE & SOLOMON
- Solomon (Eddie Murphy) rests his throbbing feet and chats with Pudge (Joe Piscopo).
- No new ground broken here, but these sketches are always enjoyable, with the rapport between Piscopo and Murphy carrying the sketch as usual. The sentimental ending with Pudge buying Solomon a new pair of shoes was expected, though.
- According to Hill and Weingrad in Saturday Night, there was an incident immediately after this sketch wrapped: executive producer Dick Ebersol repeatedly urged Piscopo to keep the sketch tighter than usual this time, and Ebersol walked off with his arm around Murphy, Piscopo angrily confronted both backstage over what he perceived as Ebersol publicly fawning over the show's superstar. Neither appear in the show again until the goodnights.
- Joel Hodgson does a trick with a candle and Godzilla and shows off the many devices that turn him into "Agent J".
- A step down from Hodgson's previous appearance due to some bits being stretched a little long and over-reliance on the Agent J gun joke (though that has an appropriate ridiculous payoff), but it's still enjoyable on the whole.
- Before Hodgson's routine, Flip Wilson tells the audience the story of Hodgson leaving the prop bomb alarm clock from last month's routine in a wastebasket; the hotel maid found it and the NYPD bomb squad were called. Kevin Kelton confirms the incident really did happen, and that Hodgson was actually detained and questioned.
SKETCH: REVEREND LEROY
- Fed up with another empty collection plate, Reverend Leroy (Flip Wilson) tries to inspire his flock to give.
- The punchline was a little too obvious for my tastes, but this was short and Flip's energy carries it.
- Reverend Leroy, like Geraldine, was one of Wilson's old characters from The Flip Wilson Show.
COMMERCIAL: CRAZY WEINSTEIN
- A manic pitchman (Jim Belushi) doesn't have anything to sell. Don't touch his hat.
- Crazy Eddie was a regular parody target for SNL in those days, but this is better than usual. While this is normally Piscopo's turf, this benefits from Jim Belushi's committed performance here, as he goes all out as the ranting, raving pitchman.
SKETCH: SHOE TIER
- Walter (Gary Kroeger) stubbornly insists that the money he makes from tying Flip Wilson's laces is enough to keep afloat.
- The debut of Kroeger's underrated Walter character. Like with a lot of tonight's sketches, this is a very "quick hit" type of sketch, but it benefits from such a quirky premise and the performances of Kroeger and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Flip Wilson himself is mostly a placeholder, but that's not a problem.
SATURDAY NIGHT NEWS
- Best joke: Sammy Davis Jr's black Cabbage Patch Doll.
- Not very many jokes in tonight's show, which are mostly par for the course, but Brad Hall goes out with a strong bit for what turned out to be his final show as the Saturday Night News anchor: the Cabbage Patch Cookbook, featuring various dolls mutilated into different dishes.
- Dr. Ruth Westheimer (Mary Gross) returns with a comment on the various ways the Christmas season provides sexual stimulation; pretty much the same Dr. Ruth bit as last time, but a little tighter this time around.
- Tim Kazurinsky criticizes Ballantine Books for publishing Blanche Knott's (real name Ashton Applewhite) Truly Tasteless Jokes, and has some suggestions for next year's schedule. I got the impression Kazurinsky was serious about his dislike of the book, but this had some good jokes once the bit got going (favorites: The Alive! Cookbook, Nancy Drew's Unbearable Cramps, Pooh Gets an Aching in his Loins).
- Cut from dress: commentaries from Julia Louis-Dreyfus (dressed as a little girl) and Robin Duke (as an older lady character; possibly Molly Earl?).
- When subway passengers sing along to their portable radios, an advertisement for the classical station brings their fellow commuter (Tim Kazurinsky) some peace.
- Not so much a comedic sketch as a chance for the cast to show off their singing voices; this was well executed, and serves as a nice "last sketch" for the Christmas show. Good job by the five singing cast members on their respective songs and the Hallelujah Chorus.
- Another sketch featuring Flip Wilson as a drill sergeant training a group of Santas was performed at dress rehearsal but cut before air.
MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: "NIGHTBIRD"
- A lower-key performance of a song inspired by the death of Nicks' childhood friend Robin Anderson the year before. Lori Perry-Nicks shares vocals on the chorus, while Bill Payne plays the piano solo.
- Flip thanks everyone individually and gives the women kisses before jokingly telling the control room "...Y'all can just fade to black". Eddie Murphy appears on stage a bit later and gives Flip a big hug; he and Piscopo seem to be keeping their distance.
- Dave Weckl continues to fill in for Buddy Williams on drums.
- Don Pardo thanks the viewers for another wonderful year and gives individualized holiday greetings for different groups (with another dig at Alan Thicke).
- The credit roll ends with "Nine Years of Thanks to Heino Ripp", SNL's technical director, who left SNL after this show to direct Lorne Michaels' ill-fated sketch series The New Show. For more information about The New Show, check out Dennis Perrin's excellent article for Splitsider.
An enjoyable, if somewhat unmemorable episode, with nothing really terrible to weigh it down, but Eddie Murphy's presence doesn't really provide the boost Dick Ebersol was expecting. This was actually a night where the rest of the cast had more of a presence on the show (save for the perpetually unused Robin Duke); Jim Belushi in particular rebounds nicely from last week's show. Flip Wilson was a good host, but was mostly out-of-the-way and not really in the fabric of the show, much of which was overshadowed by Stevie Nicks' performances (particularly on "Stand Back").
- Crazy Weinstein
- Shoe Tier
- Hello, Trudy!
- Reverend Leroy
- Stevie Nicks
CAST & GUEST BREAKDOWN:
- Jim Belushi: 3 appearances [Hello Trudy!, Crazy Weinstein, Subterraneans]
- Robin Duke: 1 appearance [Unrequited Sex]
- Mary Gross: 4 appearances [Airplane Restroom, Older Sisters Of The Young, Saturday Night News, Subterraneans]
- Brad Hall: 3 appearances [Airplane Restroom, Saturday Night News, Subterraneans]
- Tim Kazurinsky: 4 appearances [Unanswered Questions of the Universe, Shoe Tier, Saturday Night News, Subterraneans]
- Gary Kroeger: 3 appearances [Airplane Restroom, Shoe Tier, Subterraneans]
- Julia Louis-Dreyfus: 2 appearances [Shoe Tier, Subterraneans]; 1 voice-over [Hello, Trudy!]
- Eddie Murphy: 2 appearances [Dion's, Pudge & Solomon]
- Joe Piscopo: 4 appearances [Dion's, Unrequited Sex, Hello Trudy!, Pudge & Solomon]
crew and extras
- Andy Breckman: 2 appearances [Airplane Restroom, Shoe Tier]
- Andy Murphy: 2 appearances [Airplane Restroom, Shoe Tier]
- Flip Wilson: 5 appearances [Dion's, Monologue, Airplane Restroom, Reverend Leroy, Shoe Tier]
- Stevie Nicks: 2 appearances ["Stand Back", "Nightbird"]
- Joel Hodgson: 1 appearance [Guest Performance]
- May 26, 1984
- Dion's and Monologue edited
- Older Sisters Of The Young removed
- Man On The Street (11/19/83) added
Additional screen captures from this episode are available here.