Published Mar 01, 2004It's really quite amazing that Saturday Night Live has given birth to so much comedic talent that it's able to produce individual DVDs for its former cast members that are actually relevant. Eddie Murphy saved the struggling show from cancellation in the early stages after the original cast had crumbled and it's easy to see why, as he brought some life to sketches by portraying Gumby as a bitter Jewish entertainer and throwing Buckwheat into the middle of a nation-wide crisis. In fact, the Buckwheat assassination seems absolutely brilliant now, especially considering that the ongoing joke of overexposure in the media is still running rampant.
Watching past sketches of Phil Hartman is bittersweet, seeing as he never had the chance to have the huge career he deserved after leaving SNL. Some of his more outrageous characters have made it onto this tribute, including the questionable Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer, as well as two that he'll be remembered for: Bill Clinton and Frank Sinatra. It was in bit characters where Hartman tended to really shine though — playing the frustrated straight man to his slapstick-heavy cast members or an uptight businessman ready to blow his fuse when surrounded by stupidity.
Apart from Wayne Campbell, the reoccurring characters of Mike Myers don't quite hold up to the test of time just yet. Sure, his impression of his mother-in-law spawned some amusing moments as Linda Richman, and a hyperactive young boy chained to a jungle gym with Nicole Kidman produced a memorable skit, but Myers' constant need to play British or Scottish characters becomes tiresome quickly. Still, Wayne's World created some of the best moments in the show's history and Myers went on to become a massive movie star, so that has to count for something.
As talented as Chris Rock is, he does not deserve a DVD to capture his moments as an SNL cast member. Not even one of his "larger" roles (Nat X) is considered one of the more memorable characters when looking at the show's history. Rock would later go on to better things after leaving Saturday Night Live, but while there he never really found a groove and was consistently pigeonholed into playing the role of the angry black man, which he still is. It would have been nice to have seen this young talent branch out.
The DVD extras on all the discs are rather slim. Most range from additional sketches, which are seldom deserving of inclusion, to dress rehearsals and photo galleries. It would have been nice to have gone that extra step and made a more complete package with featurettes and sketch commentary. It's safe to say that these are temporary editions to honour Saturday Night Live's elite, especially in the case of Eddie Murphy, who should be getting the deluxe treatment if the show ever comes off the air. Plus: outtakes and auditions. (Lions Gate)