Classic SNL Review: February 16, 1985: Pamela Sue Martin / The Power Station (S10E14)

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

MONTAGE

  • No cold opening for this episode; this launches straight into the montage for the first live show since the 1982-83 season finale with Mayor Ed Koch.

MONOLOGUE

  • Pamela Sue Martin answers the questions she’s asked the most: “Why did you leave Dynasty?” and “Is Joan Collins (Jim Belushi) really that beautiful?”
  • This felt like the writers were having trouble finding something for her to do here, but I thought Martin did alright with what she was given, and this was paced pretty well. The Belushi in drag punchline is actually spoiled a bit by one of the camera angles at the beginning of the monologue, where he can clearly be seen in the front row.
  • Martin makes a reference to Kojak selling Fords; one of Telly Savalas’s Ford commercials actually appears in a copy of this show I have.
  • As Martin was already off Dynasty at that point, she was actually hosting to promote a movie she co-wrote, co-produced and co-starred in, Torchlight; one of the bumpers shows her in front of a movie theatre with that film on the marquee.

***

COMMERCIAL: STRATEGIC AIRBORNE CONTRACEPTIVE (repeat from 11/10/84)

SHOW: THE JOE FRANKLIN SHOW

  • This week’s panel: Alan Alda impersonator Phil Carpin (Gary Kroeger), psychic Angelica Pearn (Pamela Sue Martin), Jackie Rogers Jr. (Martin Short), and Red Skelton (Christopher Guest).
  • Another enjoyable Joe Franklin sketch, boosted by Gary Kroeger’s impeccable Alan Alda impression, and regular scene-stealer Guest’s Skelton (who gets a big laugh right out the gate for the impression). I also thought this was a little more memorable an appearance for Short’s Jackie Rogers Jr., Pamela Sue Martin didn’t really add too much to this, though her reaction to “Jackie’s getting a chubby” and matter-of-fact “no” to the question of whether it’s possible to contact Jackie’s father in the afterlife were funny.

****

MISCELLANEOUS: THAT WHITE GUY & HIS WIFE

  • More rhymes of privilege from half of A Couple of White Guys (Jim Belushi) and his wife (Pamela Sue Martin).
  • Another character that may have been better left as a one-off, but surprisingly, I thought this was an improvement over the first one. Martin was better at rapping than Karras, and this has some better lines about rich folks who avoided the Vietnam draft, self-professed feminists voting for Reagan, and being insulated from Reagan’s budget cuts.
  • Written by Belushi and Rob Riley.

***

MISCELLANEOUS: NIGHT OF 100 STARS

  • Backstage at the Night of 100 Stars II TV special rehearsals at Radio City Music Hall, Fernando (Billy Crystal) chats with Teri Garr, Susan Lucci, Lynn Swann, and Ann-Margret.
  • There are a few funny moments from Crystal (him thinking Teri Garr was playing Dustin Hoffman’s role in Tootsie), but this really felt a little too much like Fernando for Fernando’s sake, and the whole thing just dragged a little too long for me.
  • Night of 100 Stars II was a follow-up to a televised fundraiser for the Actor’s Fund of America that was staged three years before and won Best Variety, Music or Comedy Program at that year’s Emmys; the second special was taped the day after this episode aired (and took 7 hours to complete), then edited into a 3-hour special that aired on ABC on March 10, 1985.
  • Robert Latta (Rich Hall) makes his third appearance in as many weeks, this time, wandering into Fernando’s interview with Morgan Fairchild.
  • Unusually, this ends with Fernando standing on home base, where he introduces Rich Hall’s stand-up.

**

MISCELLANEOUS: PLEXIGLASS STAND-UP

  • Rich Hall uses pieces of Plexiglass to dramatize a number of situations.
  • It’s unusual that they gave one of the show’s regulars a solo stand-up spot, but Hall was great, this was very fast-paced, and it killed with the audience.

****

SKETCH: CALLED SHOT

  • Custodian (Clarke Gordon) tells the story of Jim Belushi’s Babe Ruth-like promise to a hospitalized boy that he will get the biggest laugh in the show.
  • An unusual live/tape hybrid featuring a prominent role for an outside performer and a hint of the SNL backstage process. I admire this one more for its ambition than content, but there are some funny sight gags in the pretape (directed by John Fox) such as Belushi casually placing an ashtray on the dying boy while he smokes beside him, and I love how deliberately bad the sketch that Belushi saves with his entrance is.
  • Besides stage manager Joe Dicso, the backstage scenes have a number of other personnel visible, including Dick Ebersol and Bob Tischler (visible when Belushi is in the makeup chair), Barbara Armstrong (makeup), Paul Buboltz (wardrobe), and Annette Bianco (hair stylist). I’m not entirely sure if that’s Kelton as the member of the tough audience, but that’s definitely Rob Riley as the doctor who accidentally revives the sick boy by pounding his chest when laughing at Belushi’s sketch.
  • Written by Kevin Kelton, Andrew Kurtzman and Eliot Wald

*** 1/2

SKETCH: DO YOU KNOW WHAT I HATE? (V)

  • Happy to be working as messengers again, Willie (Billy Crystal) and Frankie (Christopher Guest) relate more tales of self-injury.
  • A back-to-basics outing for Crystal and Guest’s famous two-hander after the relatively weak “waterskiing” outing in the Turner show; I’d place this somewhere in the middle of the pack, but I did like Willie talking about getting philosophical while in the trash compactor, and the continuity of having Willie just leaving a tryst with the secretary from Shedelman Suits was a nice touch.
  • Johnny Carson’s short-lived beard that Willie and Frankie reference was a real thing; he had one on The Tonight Show for a week that month; here’s a clip of bearded Johnny with bearded Glen Campbell.

***

SATURDAY NIGHT NEWS

  • Best joke: Spy satellite
  • A very short 4 minute long edition of Saturday Night News; according to the pictures on GettyImages, there was supposed to be another Jim Belushi airhorn commentary and another appearance by Robert Latta (Rich Hall). It was a wise choice to cut both, but it just goes to show how dependent Dick Ebersol had become on recurring bits by this point in the season. Guest only has a few jokes, the first of which (Jeremy Levin escaping from captivity to catch Hollywood Wives) dies with the audience.
  • After Guest says he’s not going to read viewer mail (“Because that’s what David Letterman does”), Guest reads a childlike letter from “David Letterman, age 35” asking how the pictures appear behind him; Guest explains ChromaKey, but when he removes the green-screen panel, Dwight McNamara (Gary Kroeger) is revealed with a projector, and Guest recognizes him as the narrator of education films. Even though it’s pretty much the same bit as last time (November 1983), Kroeger’s imitation of an improperly threaded projector is always funny, and I liked the setup to this.

** 1/2

MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: "SOME LIKE IT HOT"

  • The Power Station, the supergroup with Robert Palmer, John Taylor and Andy Taylor of Duran Duran and Tony Thompson of Chic, make their American television debut (and only live performance with Palmer on vocals) to premiere their first single from their upcoming album (both would be released in March 1985). It’s a great song, and it sounds good…too good: Palmer’s definitely singing live, but it appears the band is heavily augmented with pre-recorded tracks, if not mimed completely to a headless mix of the sing (stuff that gives it away: the horns being out of sync, Thompson riding cymbals during the percussion part in the chorus). It’s not the last time an SNL musical guest would sing live while musicians mimed to taped backing tracks (Paul Simon would present about half of Graceland on the show in this manner starting a year later), but this is an unusual occurrence at this point in the series.
  • The saxophone player appearing with the band is Lenny Pickett, who would be a key part of a reconstituted version of the SNL Band when Lorne Michaels returned to the show that fall, and is currently the show’s musical director. I’m not sure who the backing vocalists or trumpet player are, though.

SHOW: FIRST DRAFT THEATRE

  • Scribe (Gary Kroeger) chisels the story of Moses (Billy Crystal) and the Ten Commandments into the first draft of the Holy Bible.
  • The final and unfortunately weakest edition of First Draft Theatre. It’s not truly bad, as there are still some very funny moments (God being boastful of his creation, a “great rock led by Moses”, Moses getting applause for his good pronunciation of “Mount Sinai”), but this is weighed down by a few problems: first, Christopher Guest dropped some pages of his script in the middle of his narration and had to retrieve them, leading to some dead air that the sketch doesn’t fully recover from; second, once Jim Belushi starts pointing out the loopholes in the Ten Commandments, it’s a little over-reliant on reaction shots of Billy Crystal shrugging. At least the ending with Moses reading the pornographic Adam and Eve story from earlier in the sketch (which Kroeger frantically chisels) was somewhat funny.
  • I would have loved to see how this played out in dress rehearsal without Guest’s script-drop; in a way, it’s a shame SNL didn’t start saving dress rehearsal footage and doing the post-production fixes to technical problems in the live show until Lorne Michaels came back that fall.
  • In the dress rehearsal pictures from Getty Images, it looks like the redhead from Prince’s entourage two weeks before is the woman sitting next to Belushi.
  • Written by Kevin Kelton, Andrew Kurtzman and Eliot Wald.

** 1/2

COMMERCIAL: DYNASTY'S GREATEST FIGHTS

  • Joan Collins (Pamela Stephenson) and Linda Evans (Pamela Sue Martin) can’t get through a commercial for their charity album before it devolves into another example.
  • This was weak but short; Martin makes her first appearance in almost an hour to do a bad Linda Evans impression, and this was pretty much what one would expect it to be. At least there was a funny moment where Stephenson screams after her black Joan Collins wig gets ripped off.
  • Funny that they had two different cast members playing Joan Collins tonight, just like the two Doug Hennings in the Kathleen Turner show.

* 1/2

COMMERCIAL: TOM, DICK, AND HORNY

  • The new low-quality teen sex comedy features Tom Cruise, Tom Hulce, Tom Hanks and Jennifer Beals.
  • This was just a series of still pictures and a Guest voice-over, and felt like filler. I get the feeling this was only added because the show was running short.

* 1/2

MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: "GET IT ON (BANG A GONG)"

  • The Power Station do their cover of the T. Rex hit. Again, it’s Palmer’s live vocals over what sounds like the band miming to a headless mix of the song; Palmer seems to be deliberately gasping his lines in the verses to show he’s singing live.

FILM: "SHOOTOUT AT THE ZEPPLIN CHORALE" - TIM BOXELL & DREW TAKAHASHI

  • Two dueling cowboys’ bullets are airships with high-society parties within.
  • This was well made, but not really a comedy piece so much as an animated short art film (this was an outside film production that the show acquired; it was shown at the San Francisco Film Festival that year). Again, it feels like the show is trying to pad time here.

***

GOODNIGHTS

  • Holding a bouquet of roses, Pamela Sue Martin says “Great week, great cast, thank you, goodnight!” Julia Louis-Dreyfus seems a little bummed until she calls two blonde girls to the stage (one is her younger sister Lauren Bowles). Clarke Gordon leaves the stage early.
  • Don Pardo announces an interview with Bruce Springsteen on next week’s Friday Night Videos and a repeat of the Eddie Murphy show from last December.

Final Thoughts:

A very odd show: the first half of the show was good to great (aside from the Fernando pretape, which felt out of place), and while Pamela Sue Martin wasn’t anything special as a host, she did alright in the monologue and the White Guy and His Wife rap; then the quality dips quite a bit for the second half. There was so much else about this show that felt odd: the lack of a cold opening, the stand-up showcase for a castmember (as funny as it was), the really short news segment, the pretapes to fill time at the end of the show, the disappearance of Martin for about an hour, and even the musical guest’s use of taped instrumental tracks (though the last one seemed more of an artistic/practical choice on their part). I have to wonder if there were some other issues like sketches dying in dress rehearsal that meant the show was short on material by the end of the night.

SHOW HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Plexiglass Stand-up
  • The Joe Franklin Show
  • Called Shot

SHOW LOWLIGHTS:

  • Tom, Dick & Horny
  • Dynasty’s Greatest Fights
  • Night of 100 Stars

MVP:

Jim Belushi

CAST & GUEST BREAKDOWN:

cast

  • Jim Belushi: 4 appearances [Monologue, That White Guy & His Wife, Called Shot, First Draft Theatre]
  • Billy Crystal: 4 appearances [The Joe Franklin Show, Night of 100 Stars, Do You Know What I Hate (V), First Draft Theatre]
  • Mary Gross: 1 appearance [Called Shot]
  • Christopher Guest: 3 appearances [The Joe Franklin Show, Do You Know What I Hate (V), Saturday Night News]; 2 voice-overs [First Draft Theatre, Tom Dick & Horny]
  • Rich Hall: 3 appearances [Night of 100 Stars, Plexiglass Stand-up, Called Shot]
  • Gary Kroeger: 4 appearances [The Joe Franklin Show, Called Shot, Saturday Night News, First Draft Theatre]
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus: 1 appearance [Called Shot]
  • Martin Short: 2 appearances [The Joe Franklin Show, Called Shot]
  • Pamela Stephenson: 2 appearances [Called Shot, Dynasty’s Greatest Fights]

crew and extras

  • Barbara Armstrong: 1 appearance [Called Shot]
  • Annette Bianco: 1 appearance [Called Shot]
  • Paul Buboltz: 1 appearance [Called Shot]
  • Joe Dicso: 1 appearance [Called Shot]
  • Dick Ebersol: 1 appearance [Called Shot]
  • Rob Riley: 1 appearance [Called Shot]
  • Bob Tischler: 1 appearance [Called Shot]
  • Dave Wilson: 1 voice-over [Dynasty’s Greatest Fights]

guests

  • Pamela Sue Martin: 4 appearances [Monologue, The Joe Franklin Show, That White Guy & His Wife, Dynasty’s Greatest Fights]
  • The Power Station: 2 appearances [“Some Like It Hot”, “Get It On”]
  • Clarke Gordon: 1 appearance [Called Shot]
  • Ann-Margret: 1 appearance [Night of 100 Stars]
  • Morgan Fairchild: 1 appearance [Night of 100 Stars]
  • Teri Garr: 1 appearance [Night of 100 Stars]
  • Susan Lucci: 1 appearance [Night of 100 Stars]
  • Lynn Swann: 1 appearance [Night of 100 Stars]

REBROADCAST HISTORY:

  • June 1, 1985

Known alterations:

  • First Draft Theatre, Tom Dick & Horny and Shootout at the Zepplin Chorale removed
  • Ballplayers and Massacre on 34th Street added

Additional screen captures from this episode are available here.