SNL 1982-83: Final thoughts

In summary:

This has always been an "in-the-middle" season for me; it has some good shows, some weaker shows, but none of the peaks or valleys of 1981-82, nor does it have that oddball feel the previous season had. The renamed Saturday Night News wasn't great, but it has more energy than the often sluggish SNL Newsbreak, particularly the bloated spring 1982 editions. Like with the latter portion of 1981-82, it feels a little too "safe" at times, with less space for weirder, conceptual material, and the political material has little bite to it. There's also a tendency in the second half of the season to bring out some racial humor (particularly some stereotypical Asians in what seems like every other show in March, April and May), as well as some unusually bold sexual references.  

As for the cast: Eddie Murphy stands out as usual, dominating even more after his hosting gig; however, Joe Piscopo also has a very good year, managing to improve on his weaknesses from the previous season and demonstrating some more relaxed energy. The remainder of the cast is decent, with Gary Kroeger already establishing himself as a solid player in his first year, but the focus on Murphy and Piscopo constrains them considerably, and they only display hints of their full potential. Robin Duke is particularly underused.

I can understand why it made sense to base the show around Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo, and rein in some of the more "cutting-edge" tendencies that were associated with the old show. It's still frustrating to think about what was sacrificed in the name of pragmatism, though.

Strongest shows:

  1. Stevie Wonder (Average sketch rating: 3.25/5)
  2. Howard Hesseman / Men At Work (Average sketch rating: 3.17/5)
  3. Joan Rivers / Musical Youth (Average sketch rating: 3.12/5)

Weakest shows:

  1. Jeff and Beau Bridges / Randy Newman (Average sketch rating: 2.5/5)
  2. Ed Koch / Dexy's Midnight Runners (Average sketch rating: 2.5/5)
  3. Ron Howard / The Clash (Average sketch rating: 2.5/5)

Best sketches:

  1. Buckwheat Buys The Farm (March 12, 1983)
  2. Merry Christmas, Dammit! (December 11, 1982)
  3. Buckwheat Dead (March 19, 1983)

Worst sketches:

  1. Dung In The Oval Office (April 16, 1983)
  2. Heil Hits (March 19, 1983)
  3. Whiner Vietnam (May 14, 1983)

Best musical guests:

  1. Stevie Wonder
  2. Kenny Loggins
  3. Queen

Worst musical guests:

  1. Duran Duran
  2. Laura Branigan
  3. Musical Youth

Writer tally and turnover:

(*) indicates the writer returned the next season, (~) indicates a previous writer returning to SNL.

  • Paul Barrosse
  • Barry W. Blaustein~
  • Robin Duke*
  • Ellen L. Fogle
  • Nate Herman*~
  • Tim Kazurinsky*~
  • Andrew Kurtzman*
  • Eddie Murphy*
  • Pamela Norris*~ (Caesar through Koch)
  • Margaret Oberman*~
  • Joe Piscopo* (Howard through Koch)
  • David Sheffield~
  • Andrew Smith*~
  • Bob Tischler*~
  • Tracy Tormé (Chase through Moranis/Thomas)
  • Eliot Wald*~

Special thanks to Paul Barrosse, Nate Herman and Gary Kroeger for their insight on this time in the show's history; I will also update previously published reviews with new information as it becomes available. If anyone with further information about SNL during the Ebersol era would like to get in touch, provide background or correct previously published information, I would appreciate it.

I will be taking a short break from reviewing, but plan to begin 1983-84 in early July.  Over the next two months, I will be posting on roughly a bi-weekly schedule, including my thoughts on the current season in about two weeks (after the season finale airs on May 16).

Classic SNL Review: May 14, 1983: Mayor Ed Koch / Kevin Rowland & Dexy's Midnight Runners (S08E20)

Classic SNL Review: May 14, 1983: Mayor Ed Koch / Kevin Rowland & Dexy's Midnight Runners (S08E20)

Sketches include "What's The Most Disgusting Thing You've Seen In New York", "Mister Robinson's Neighborhood", "Ledge", "Bald No More", "Vietnam Whiner", "Late Night with David Letterman" and "Birthday A Go-Go". Kevin Rowland & Dexy's Midnight Runners perform "Come On Eileen" and "The Celtic Soul Brothers". Harry Anderson also appears.

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Classic SNL Review: May 7, 1983: Stevie Wonder (S08E19)

Classic SNL Review: May 7, 1983: Stevie Wonder (S08E19)

Sketches include "V.D.", "Kannon AE-1", "Stevie Experience", "Hitler: The Secret Diaries", "The Story of Stevie", "Dion's", "Cotton Land" and "Busboy". Stevie Wonder performs "Fingertips", "Overjoyed" and "Go Home". Michael Davis also appears.

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Classic SNL Review: April 16, 1983: Susan Saint James / Michael McDonald (S08E18)

Classic SNL Review: April 16, 1983: Susan Saint James / Michael McDonald (S08E18)

Sketches include "Taking Care Of Business", "Sit On It!", "The Ladies Room", "The Exercises Of Love", "Our Generation", "Tootsie Cosmetics", "Magic Fish" and "Dung In The Oval Office". Michael McDonald performs "If That's What It Takes" (with Edgar Winter) and "I Can Let Go Now". Steven Wright also appears.

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Classic SNL Review: April 9, 1983: Joan Rivers / Musical Youth (S08E17)

Classic SNL Review: April 9, 1983: Joan Rivers / Musical Youth (S08E17)

Sketches include "The Whiners", "The David Susskind Show", "The Enquirer", "Joan vs. Joan", "Oscars", "Calvin Klein Jeans", "Old Age Home", "Club Doolittle", and "Caribbean Gyno". Musical Youth perform "Pass The Dutchie" and "Never Gonna Give You Up".

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Classic SNL Review: March 19, 1983: Robert Guillaume / Duran Duran (S08E16)

Classic SNL Review: March 19, 1983: Robert Guillaume / Duran Duran (S08E16)

Sketches include: "Buckwheat Dead", "Motown Upon The Swanee River", "Heil Hits", "The Mrs. T. Birthday Special", "I Married A Monkey", "Oil Is Us", "Pudge and Solomon", and "Wrong Number". Duran Duran performs "Hungry Like The Wolf" and "Girls On Film".

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Classic SNL Review: March 12, 1983: Bruce Dern / Leon Redbone (S08E15)

Classic SNL Review: March 12, 1983: Bruce Dern / Leon Redbone (S08E15)

Sketches include "Backstage", "Buckwheat Jeans", "Donny & Marie St. Patrick's Day Special", "Buckwheat Buys the Farm", "The Home For Disgusting Practices", "The Buckwheat Story", "Jerry Lewis School", "Gumbys", "Old Jew Beer", "Old Negro Beer", "Songwriters", "Old Chinaman Beer", and "Veggie Burgers". Leon Redbone performs "Sweet Sue, Just You", "When You Wish Upon A Star" and "I Ain't Got Nobody".

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Classic SNL Review: February 19, 1983: Howard Hesseman / Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers (S08E13)

Classic SNL Review: February 19, 1983: Howard Hesseman / Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers (S08E13)

Sketches include "Dressing Room", "Sleepy Boy 2000", "Gas Station", "Mad Magazine Theatre", "The A-Team", "Holiday Inn", "My Date with Dion" and "The Laughing Buddha". Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers perform "Change of Heart" and "The Waiting". Tonight also features a personal tribute to John Belushi by his wife Judith Jacklin Belushi, featuring an original song by Rhonda Coullet.

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Classic SNL Review: February 5, 1983: Sid Caesar / Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes (S08E12)

Classic SNL Review: February 5, 1983: Sid Caesar / Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes (S08E12)

Sketches include: "The Scheme", "Funeral In A Cab", "Hospital Whiners", "Hotel", "Crime and Self-Punishment" and "A Few Minutes With Andy Rooney".  Joe Cocker performs "Up Where We Belong" (with Jennifer Warnes) and "Seven Days".  Harry Anderson also appears.

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Classic SNL Review: January 29, 1983: Rick Moranis & Dave Thomas / The BusBoys (S08E11)

Classic SNL Review: January 29, 1983: Rick Moranis & Dave Thomas / The BusBoys (S08E11)

Sketches include "Super Bowl Party", "McKenzie Brothers", "Whiners V", "I'll Be the Judge of That", "Hitchcock Hygiene", "Guy Talk", "Porta-Dish", "Hell Bent for Glory", "Rent Ed McMahon", "Five Minutes to Reflect" and "The Biological Watch".  The BusBoys perform "The Boys Are Back In Town" and "New Shoes".

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Classic SNL Review: December 11, 1982: Eddie Murphy / Lionel Richie (S08E09)

Classic SNL Review: December 11, 1982: Eddie Murphy / Lionel Richie (S08E09)

Eddie Murphy fills in for scheduled host Nick Nolte; sketches include "Substitute Host", "Rubik's Grenade", "Merry Christmas, Dammit!", "Clysler-Prymouth", "I Came, I Saw, I Came Again", "Hairem Scarem", "Herpes Gone Bananas", "Joy of Christmas" and "A Special Christmas Message".  Lionel Richie performs "You Are" and "Truly".  Harry Anderson also appears.

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Classic SNL Review: December 4, 1982: The Smothers Brothers / Laura Branigan (S08E08)

Classic SNL Review: December 4, 1982: The Smothers Brothers / Laura Branigan (S08E08)

Sketches include "The Tonight Show", "Ledge", "Rubbers", "Who Do You Prefer", "Truckstop Teases", "TV", "Pudge & Solomon", "Rules & Noodles", "The Inside Story" and "Handsome Men With Big Noses".  Laura Branigan performs "Gloria" and "Living A Lie".

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Classic SNL Review: November 20, 1982: Drew Barrymore / Squeeze (S08E07)

Classic SNL Review: November 20, 1982: Drew Barrymore / Squeeze (S08E07)

Sketches include "Dressing Room", "E.T.", "The Adoption", "Brain Surgery", "Oklahoma", "Dress-Up", "My Friend Zeus" and "Single".Squeeze performs "Annie Get Your Gun" and "Pulling Mussels From The Shell".A phone-in poll is held to determine whether Andy Kaufman ever appears on Saturday Night Live again.

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Classic SNL Review: October 23, 1982: Howard Hesseman / Men At Work (S08E04)

Classic SNL Review: October 23, 1982: Howard Hesseman / Men At Work (S08E04)

Sketches include "Hallway", "Girls of SNL", "DeLorean Home", "Good Morning America", "The Confession", "Caribbean Vacation", "Naked Wake", "Uncle Teddy's Little Theatre" and "The Amazing Ronco Answer Book".Men At Work perform "Who Can It Be Now?" and "Down Under".Bill Irwin also appears.

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Classic SNL Review: September 25, 1982: Chevy Chase / Queen (S08E01)

Classic SNL Review: September 25, 1982: Chevy Chase / Queen (S08E01)

Sketches include "Live From Burbank", "Art Opening", "Joe Takes A Wife", "Hinckley", "The Web", "Mystery Theatre", "Video Victims", "Popeil", "Late Night with David Letterman", and "PTC Club". Queen performs "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" and "Under Pressure".Cameos by John Zacherle, Danny DeVito, Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert.

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