Classic SNL Review: November 19, 1983: Jerry Lewis / Loverboy (S09E06)

Classic SNL Review: November 19, 1983: Jerry Lewis / Loverboy (S09E06)

Sketches include: "Surgery", "The Forum", "American In Paris", "Cornet", "Entertainment Tonight", "Parachute", "Fascinating People And Their Friends", "Larry's Corner", "Thanksgiving Dinner", "Gusty" and "Jerry Schtick". Loverboy performs "Working For The Weekend".

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Classic SNL Review: November 13, 1982: Robert Blake / Kenny Loggins (S08E06)

Classic SNL Review: November 13, 1982: Robert Blake / Kenny Loggins (S08E06)

Sketches include: "The Merv Griffin Show", "Little Rascals Reunion", "Space Shuttle", "PBS", "The Best Little Whorehouse On The Prairie", "Tyrone Goes Reggae", "Blue Lagoon", "Masterful Theatre", "Viewer Mail", "DTV", and "No More Andy Kaufman".Kenny Loggins performs "Heart To Heart" and "I Gotta Try".Merv Griffin makes a special appearance.

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SNL Post-Mortem: 10/12/03: Bruce Willis / Katy Perry

One of SNL's current booking strategies seems to be to grab random celebrities who've only hosted the show once many years before.  Tonight's host, Bruce Willis, last appeared on the show's season premiere in 1989.  Willis' musical guest this time around was Katy Perry, whose performance of "Roar" with an animal-suited band was one of the oddest things on this week's show.

Willis' performances were off all night and sloppy compared to his first show; while Perry markedly improved over her 2010 songs, despite a iffy audio mix.  Even iffier was the writing, which was weaker than the previous two shows, with too many of the sketches going nowhere beyond the reveal of the main joke.  

The Lady Gaga Show was the latest dressing on one of SNL's favorite crutches: the talk show sketch.  Besides not being particularly funny, the sketch was a performance misfire for Vanessa Bayer, whose delivery as Gaga seemed too similar to her bar mitzvah boy character Jacob.    

More frustrating was the attempt to recur two one-off sketches from last year; the resurrection of Bobby Moynihan's kittycat-fixated astronaut Kirby was a beat-for-beat remake of a sketch that aired almost exactly a year ago, while Taran Killam's Eddie character predictably hectored a character played by the host over a mispronounced word.  Perhaps the laziest piece of writing was Penelope Cruz (Kate McKinnon) mispronouncing hair product chemicals in Gaga Show, a routine cribbed from a sketch in McKinnon's debut show in April 2012.

There were handful of bright spots: Boy Dance Party got a great reaction from the audience and is likely to be SNL's latest meme-generator, while the Good Neighbor guys' "Sigma" short was well constructed, with several good jokes.  Centauri Vodka had the most interesting and classically funny premise of the night, as well as giving two of the season's least-used castmembers (John Milheiser and Nasim Pedrad) some much-needed airtime.  Brooks Wheelan also managed to show some promise in a Weekend Update desk segment, though Cecily Strong's awkward WU performance felt like a backward step from last week's signs of improvement.

I don't know how the hierarchy at SNL currently works regarding who gets their material on air, or how big a part in the sketch writing process the cast have, but over the last few seasons, I've noticed it's the veteran writers that stick around while the newer hires come and go.  I get the feeling that the writers with the most influence are the ones who are also holding the show back.  It's a shame, really, because the cast has been quite good in the last couple of seasons; Bobby Moynihan is particularly reliable for saving sketches.  However, the show is only as good as its writing, and I have a feeling that even the celebrated original cast or '86-90 ensemble would have trouble salvaging some of tonight's material.

Next week is a dark week for the show, which will return live on October 26 with Edward Norton and Janelle Monae.  I will continue my Classic SNL reviews that week with the next show from 1982-83 (Robert Blake / Kenny Loggins).

Classic SNL Review: October 30, 1982: Michael Keaton / The New Joe Jackson Band (S08E05)

Classic SNL Review: October 30, 1982: Michael Keaton / The New Joe Jackson Band (S08E05)

Sketches included "Makeup Room", "The Interesting Four", "A Sense Of Fear", "Thank You, Ron Reagan", "Snookie", "Bill Smith Cares", "Topol The Idiot", "Nutty President", and "Pumpkin".The New Joe Jackson Band performs "Steppin' Out" and "Another World".

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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: February 14, 1981: Deborah Harry / Funky 4 + 1 (S06E10)

Classic SNL Review: February 14, 1981: Deborah Harry / Funky 4 + 1 (S06E10)

Sketches include "Sinatra Interview", "Don't Look In The Refrigerator", "Livelys II", "Newsbreak I", "Where's Cooter?", "The Rocket Report - Central Park", "Card Store", Big Brother", "Sweet Hearts", "SoHo", "Newsbreak II", "Big Ape" and "Dropout".Deborah Harry performs "Love TKO" and "Come Back Jonee".Funky 4 + 1 perform "That's The Joint".Poland invades Russia.

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Classic SNL Review: January 24, 1981: Robert Hays / Joe "King" Carrasco & The Crown, 14 Karat Soul (S06E08)

Classic SNL Review: January 24, 1981: Robert Hays / Joe "King" Carrasco & The Crown, 14 Karat Soul (S06E08)

Sketches include "America Not Held Hostage Anymore", "Dazola", "Love American Style", "Saturday Night Live Sports Central", "Reaganco", "Save-A-Network Telethon", "Pre-Superbowl Pre-Game Preview", "The Foreign Film", "Funeral", "Disco Meltdown", "The Rocket Report", "The Pacesetter", "Ravi Sings", "Cut 'N Curl", "Promotion", "Dream Date", "Ordinary Elephant People", and "National Enquirer".Joe "King" Carrasco & The Crown perform "Don't Bug Me, Baby".14 Karat Soul performs "I Wish That We Were Married" and "This Time It's For Real".

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SNL Season 36: Still ill.

I wrote last year about how SNL was showing signs of severe creative fatigue, with an over-reliance on recurring material, and a higher number of disappointing shows than in seasons past.I mentioned that unless the show took steps to fix some of these very noticeable signs of wear, the show is only going to get worse. SNL is still sick.I would argue it's a bit worse than last season, ever so subtly.There weren't any violently obvious symptoms like with last season, but the times when it appears to be firing on all cylinders are fewer and further between.

The staleness has been lingering for years now and the stench is starting to get pungent.At least when the show was at its worst they took quick emergency measures to fix the show.I do hope for next year that the creative powers-that-be realize they need to operate, or we're going to watch the show suffer and decay even further.

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Classic SNL Review: May 22, 1982: Olivia Newton-John / The SNL Band (S07E20)

Classic SNL Review: May 22, 1982: Olivia Newton-John / The SNL Band (S07E20)

Sketches include "The Pig Meets Olivia", "Ebony & Ivory", "I Married A Monkey IV", "Pearly Gates", "Not A Record Ad", "Buzz Words", "Sandy's Curse" and "Sports Organ Classics".Olivia Newton-John and the SNL Band perform "Physical", "Make A Move On Me", and "Landslide".Michael Davis also appears.

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Classic SNL Review: May 15, 1982: Danny DeVito / Sparks (S07E19)

Classic SNL Review: May 15, 1982: Danny DeVito / Sparks (S07E19)

Sketches include "Taxi", "Whiners", "Stress Out", "Old Friends", "Enzo", "Table Talk", and "Looks At Books". Sparks perform "Mickey Mouse" and "I Predict". Andy Kaufman appears with footage of his wrestling match with Jerry Lawler.

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Classic SNL Review: April 24, 1982: Robert Culp / The Charlie Daniels Band (S07E18)

Classic SNL Review: April 24, 1982: Robert Culp / The Charlie Daniels Band (S07E18)

Sketches include: "Tennis Club", "Middle Age of Aquarius", "Egg & Sperm", "Party Girl", "James Brown Is Annie", "Babies In Make-Up", "Happy's Mayonnaise Palace", and "Sunken Submarine". The Charlie Daniels Band performs "Still In Saigon" and "The Devil Went Down To Georgia".

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Classic SNL Review: April 17, 1982: Johnny Cash / Elton John (S07E17)

Classic SNL Review: April 17, 1982: Johnny Cash / Elton John (S07E17)

Sketches include The Honeyrooneys, Last Request, Hail To The Chief, Jay Clay Gets Depressed, Tegrim, Train Poet and Black Talk. Johnny Cash performs "Man In Black", "I Walk The Line", "Folsom Prison Blues", "Ring of Fire", and "Sunday Morning Coming Down". Elton John performs "Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)" and "Ball and Chain".

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Classic SNL Review: April 10, 1982: Daniel J. Travanti / John Cougar (S07E16)

Classic SNL Review: April 10, 1982: Daniel J. Travanti / John Cougar (S07E16)

Sketches include: "Ridealong", "Whiners", "The Merman Zone", "Hill Street Blues", "Bavarian Butterfly", "Career Corner" and "Reagan Brand Economics". A 1-900 number phone-in vote is held to determine the fate of Larry The Lobster. John Cougar performs "Hurt So Good" and "Ain't Even Done With The Night". Bruce Weitz also appears.

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Classic SNL Review: March 27, 1982: Blythe Danner / Rickie Lee Jones (S07E15)

Classic SNL Review: March 27, 1982: Blythe Danner / Rickie Lee Jones (S07E15)

Sketches include "Lorne Greene: The Meat Dogs Love", "Come On Out America", "The New Celibacy", "20/20", "The Khaddaffi Look", "Poets", "Fab Fifties", "The Uncle Tom Show", "Meet The People" and "Blythe's Plea". Rickie Lee Jones performs "Pirates (So Long Lonely Avenue)", "Lush Life", and "Woody & Dutch On The Slow Train To Peking". Juggler Michael Davis also appears.

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Classic SNL Review: March 20, 1982: Robert Urich / Mink DeVille, Buh-Weet And De Dupreems (S07E14)

Classic SNL Review: March 20, 1982: Robert Urich / Mink DeVille, Buh-Weet And De Dupreems (S07E14)

Sketches include "Backstage", "Buh-Weet and De Dupreems", "Reach Out and Touch Someone", "Paul Harvey News & Comment", "Focus On Film", "Buy A Bullet For A Hungry Kid", "Hail To The Chief", "Fur: You Deserve It!", "Golden Age School of Obedience", "The Embryo", "Headline Challenge", "Low Class Italian Theatre" and "The Thing That Destroyed Tokyo". Mink DeVille performs "Maybe Tomorrow" and "Love & Emotion". Brian Doyle-Murray pays tribute to John Belushi.

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Classic SNL Review: February 27, 1982: Elizabeth Ashley / Daryl Hall & John Oates

Classic SNL Review: February 27, 1982: Elizabeth Ashley / Daryl Hall & John Oates

Sketches include: "CBS Evening News with Dan Rather", "Big Damn Plastic Bubble", "Speaking As A Woman", "The Party", "Hostage Audition", "Papal Tour" and "Lowembrau". Daryl Hall & John Oates perform "You Make My Dreams", "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)", and "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'". Comedian Harry Anderson appears, Joseph Papp also cameos.

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Classic SNL Review: February 20, 1982: Bruce Dern / Luther Vandross (S07E12)

Classic SNL Review: February 20, 1982: Bruce Dern / Luther Vandross (S07E12)

Sketches include "Backstage", "Ski Trip", "Who Do You Hate?", "Focus On Film", "The Bizarro World", "Songwriters", "The Mild One", "Fracas", "The Flight" and "Melina's Cafe". Luther Vandross performs "Never Too Much" and "A House Is Not A Home"

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Classic SNL Review: February 6, 1982: James Coburn / Lindsey Buckingham & The Cholos (S07E11)

Classic SNL Review: February 6, 1982: James Coburn / Lindsey Buckingham & The Cholos (S07E11)

Sketches include: "The President's 71st Birthday", "Reach Out and Touch Someone", "I Married A Monkey", "Mister Robinson's Neighborhood", "Jesus In Blue Jeans", "Crazy Mary, Gay Jim", "Victims", "Magnificent Analyst", "The Khaddaffi Look", "Unique Perspectives" and "Those Crazy Taboosters". Lindsey Buckingham and The Cholos (an early version of Mick Fleetwood's Zoo) perform "Bwana" and "Trouble". Christine Ebersole performs "Don't Let It Show". Marc Weiner also appears.

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Classic SNL Review: January 23, 1982: Robert Conrad / The Allman Brothers Band (S07E09)

Classic SNL Review: January 23, 1982: Robert Conrad / The Allman Brothers Band (S07E09)

Sketches include "The People's Court", "In The News", "Wild Wild Wild West", "Babies In Makeup", "Overexposure", "Battle Of The Week", "A Few Moments With Andy Rooney", "Nixon Vs. FDR", and "Sister". The Allman Brothers Band perform "Midnight Rider", "Southbound", and "Leavin'".

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Classic SNL Review: November 14, 1981: Bernadette Peters / The Go-Gos, Billy Joel (S07E06)

Classic SNL Review: November 14, 1981: Bernadette Peters / The Go-Gos, Billy Joel (S07E06)

Sketches include "Texxon", "Johnny Keep Your Gun Clean", "Escape From Escape From New York", "I Married A Monkey", "A Message From Eddie Murphy", "Hidden Photo", "Bedtime Story", "Man Ray And Mic", "Sketch In The Dark", "42nd Street", "Nick The Knock", and "Rock 'N Roll Heaven, Incorporated". The Go-Gos perform "Our Lips Are Sealed" and "We Got The Beat". Billy Joel performs "Miami 2017" and "She's Got A Way". Bernadette Peters performs "Making Love Alone".

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