Classic SNL Review: March 15, 1986: Griffin Dunne / Rosanne Cash (S11E12)

Classic SNL Review: March 15, 1986: Griffin Dunne / Rosanne Cash (S11E12)

Sketches include: “Rumors”, “Double R Marcos”, “Mr. Monopoly”, “You Bet Your Finger”, “Bad Seed”, “Buon Giorno Ireland Buon Giorno”, “Two Jones Cable Installers”, “You Can Pick Your Friends, You Can Pick Your Nose, But Your Can’t Pick Your Friend’s Nose”, “Business Beat”, and “Tea and Sympathy”. Rosanne Cash performs “Hold On” and “I Don’t Know Why You Don’t Want Me”. Penn & Teller also appear.

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Classic SNL Review: February 22, 1986: Jay Leno / The Neville Brothers (S11E11)

Classic SNL Review: February 22, 1986: Jay Leno / The Neville Brothers (S11E11)

Sketches include “Studio Tour”, “Target Earth”, “Dinner With Mike”, “Star Search”, “Evil Twin”, “Stand-Ups”, “Man Beat” and “The Further Adventures of Biff and Salena”. The Neville Brothers perform “The Big Chief” and “The Midnight Key”.

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Classic SNL Review: February 15, 1986: Jerry Hall / Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble (S11E10)

Classic SNL Review: February 15, 1986: Jerry Hall / Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble (S11E10)

Sketches include “Bar”, “The Limits of the Imagination”, “Models Against The Wilderness”, “Master Thespian”, “Line of Death”, “The Pat Stevens Show” and “Sore Toe”. Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble perform “Say What!” and “Change It”. Sam Kinison also appears.

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Classic SNL Review: February 8, 1986: Ron Reagan / The Nelsons (S11E09)

Classic SNL Review: February 8, 1986: Ron Reagan / The Nelsons (S11E09)

Sketches include “Risky Business”, “The Pat Stevens Show”, “Dalkon Shield Trout Lure”, “Back To The Future”, “The Limits Of The Imagination”, “Shakespeare In The Slums”, and “David’s Date”. The Nelsons perform “Walk Away” and “Do You Know What I Mean”. Penn & Teller also appear.

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Classic SNL Review: January 25, 1986: Dudley Moore / Al Green (S11E08)

Classic SNL Review: January 25, 1986: Dudley Moore / Al Green (S11E08)

Sketches include “Monastery”, “Miss Pregnant Teenage America”, “The Pat Stevens Show”, “The Limits Of The Imagination”, “Name That Tune”, “Master Thespian”, and “Concerto”. Al Green performs “Going Away” and “True Love”.

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Classic SNL Review: January 18, 1986: Harry Dean Stanton / The Replacements (S11E07)

Classic SNL Review: January 18, 1986: Harry Dean Stanton / The Replacements (S11E07)

Sketches include: “Press Conference”, “Gulf Coast Furniture Warehouse” “Cleveland Vice”, “Death of a Gunfighter”, “Hospital”, “That Black Girl”, “Big Ball Of Sports”, “No Offense” and “Jack’s Discount Emporium”. The Replacements perform “Bastards Of Young” and “Kiss Me On The Bus”. Sam Kinison also appears.

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Classic SNL Review: December 14, 1985: Tom Hanks / Sade (S11E05)

Classic SNL Review: December 14, 1985: Tom Hanks / Sade (S11E05)

Sketches include “Entertainment Tonight”, “Trojans II”, “Liars at Home”, “The Pat Stevens Show”, “Fantasy”, “Stand-Ups”, “Holiday Moms”, and “Fisherman”. Sade performs “Is It A Crime” and “The Sweetest Taboo”. Steven Wright also appears.

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Classic SNL Review: November 23, 1985: Pee-wee Herman (Paul Reubens) / Queen Ida (S11E03)

Classic SNL Review: November 23, 1985: Pee-wee Herman (Paul Reubens) / Queen Ida (S11E03)

Sketches include “Tightrope”, “Say No”, “Locker Room”, “Pee-Wee’s Thanksgiving Special”, “The Pat Stevens Show”, “Die Foreigner Die!”, “Big House”, “Dinosaur Town”, “Love Letter”, “Pregnancy Tips”, and “Money Magnetism Seminar”. Queen Ida and the Bon Temps Zydeco Band perform “La Louisiane” and “Frisco Zydeco”.

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Classic SNL Review: November 16, 1985: Chevy Chase / Sheila E. (S11E02)

Classic SNL Review: November 16, 1985: Chevy Chase / Sheila E. (S11E02)

Sketches include “Firefighters”, “Wacky Glue”, “The Pat Stevens Show”, “Ford & Reagan”, “Trojans (I)”, “Those Unlucky Andersons”, “Jose Cuervo’s Party School Bowl”, “The Jose Cuervo Institute”, “The Life of Vlad the Impaler”, “The Blue, The Gray, And The Yellow”, “Drums Drums Drums”, “Pathological Liars Anonymous”, and “Craig Sundberg: Idiot Savant”. Sheila E. performs “Hollyrock” and “A Love Bizarre”.

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Classic SNL Review: November 9, 1985: Madonna / Simple Minds (S11E01)

Classic SNL Review: November 9, 1985: Madonna / Simple Minds (S11E01)

Sketches include: “Drug Testing”, “Where You’re Going”, “National Inquirer Theatre”, “Pinklisting”, “Critic”, “The Jones Brothers”, “El Spectaculare De Marika”, “Royal Visit”, “The Limits of the Imagination” and “Coloring Book”. Simple Minds perform “Alive and Kicking”. Penn & Teller also appear.

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SNL Up Close: 1985-86

SNL Up Close: 1985-86

In four seasons, executive producer Dick Ebersol had brought Saturday Night Live back from the cancellation, had the hottest comedian in America in the cast, and oversaw its transition from a live incubator of new comic talent to an increasingly prerecorded showcase for established comedians. By 1985, though, Ebersol found himself tired of the show’s grueling schedule, and, after toying with staying with a mostly-prerecorded version of the show that wouldn’t premiere until the next January, decided to step away. Brandon Tartikoff, president of NBC Entertainment, had to consider his options, and fast.

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Another thought on SNL rerun edits

I had written before about how the repeats of Saturday Night Live are different from the live shows before (in an earlier blog post as well as a piece for Splitsider.com about segments cut from reruns), but one thing I've been thinking about lately is how there really isn't any detailed information in the major SNL episode guides about the repeat-only segments, although sometimes there would be information added to the trivia section of the TV.com listings.  

Part of it is that some of these bits are so rare and unaccounted for (such as Gilda Radner's segment in Aviva Slesin's "First Love" series), and part of it is that if you're going to compile a list of those segments, you might as well compile a list of the segments that have major changes between live broadcast and rerun, including dress rehearsal substitutions and fixed errors.  The amount of effort that would go into it wouldn't really be worth it, unless I were actually getting paid to do this (and you know Broadway Video / SNL Studios must have all this information on a private file somewhere).  It still seems like an interesting project, though.

Here are but two examples of the many dress rehearsal changes that have become the "official" version of segments in reruns, syndication or streaming.  Both come from the heavily edited 1985-86 season, which is notable in itself for the amount of technical issues fixed and canned laughter added in the rebroadcast versions.

"You Can Call Me Al" (Catherine Oxenberg, Paul Simon / Ladysmith Black Mambazo, 05/10/86)
The dress rehearsal take can be quickly differentiated from the live version by the color of Paul's shirt (pink in dress, blue in live), but the performances themselves turned out quite different.  The dress rehearsal version is pretty straightforward: Paul sings the song, then introduces himself before delivering the "Live from New York" (which is a slight variant on the usual line this time around).  The live show version is somewhat of a disaster: part of the problem is that the audience gives Paul an extended burst of applause at the very beginning, which delays his cue to start singing.  All through the first verse, Paul struggles to keep up with the music (a backing track that the musicians are miming to) and gives up part of the lyric so he can sing the chorus in time.  He seems a little thrown all through the song, but another big gaffe happens later when the director cuts to the SNL band after the "palindromic bass solo": the horn line begins but one of the players obviously doesn't have his instrument at his mouth.

The Cliffhanger (Anjelica Huston, Billy Martin / George Clinton & the Parliament-Funkadelic, 05/24/86)
The season finale of the troubled 1985-86 season had a runner where the devil (Jon Lovitz in a cheap Halloween costume) gets Billy Martin to fall off the wagon during the show, which leads to his inevitable "firing" as host.  This plotline culminates in the final segment of the show: instead of going straight to home base with the hosts, guests and cast waving goodbye, the cast congregates in the locker room to congratulate themselves on the season, before it cuts to Billy pouring gasoline just outside to light the whole place on fire.  The green-screened fire effect is marred somewhat in the live show by a visible folding chair in the flames, and Lorne Michaels doesn't look at the camera when he delivers the "they won't be able to do the show next year line".  The biggest difference is in the part where Martin joins Anjelica Huston and George Clinton at home base for the goodnights: when Anjelica asks where Billy is, her question is interrupted by a still mic'd Billy's very loud footsteps running; Anjelica laughs and does a slashy "cut" motion with her hand, and they don't do their dialogue for the closing.  The rerun also has a visible edit during the end sequence with the cast in the smoke-filled locker room (removing Anthony Michael Hall yelling for help in an exaggerated way).