Saturday Night Live The Complete Second Season

BY Ian DanzigPublished Jan 5, 2008

This eight-disc set covering the entire 1976/'77 season of Saturday Night Live (really just called Saturday Night back then) includes 22 complete 90-minute shows, plus a rarely seen Mardi Gras Special. You'll definitely find some sketches that haven't made the rerun or "best of" circuit because they just don't pull together but compared to the hit-to-miss ratio of the current SNL, the vast majority of the material is pure gold. Not only do these shows provide an important cultural artefact from the mid-'70s, this was the launching pad for John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner and Jane Curtain, and this particular season saw Chevy Chase leave the fold and introduced perhaps the biggest long-term success story of SNL: a young, multi-talented goof ball named Bill Murray. The sketches reflect the political climate of the day, featuring Aykroyd's Jimmy Carter, along with many references to the energy crisis and American whipping boy Fidel Castro. The classic recurring characters are all here, like the land shark, the Coneheads, Radner's Emily Litella and Belushi's proto-slacker Samurai. Another great reason to own this collection is the contributions from the guest hosts, the best of whom return for multiple appearances during the same season: Buck Henry (three times), Eric Idle (twice), Steve Martin (twice) and Lilly Tomlin (twice). There are also star turns from Sissy Spacek, Shelley Duvall, Elliott Gould, Candice Bergen and Jodie Foster. And then there's the music. I was hugely influenced by the music SNL introduced to its young audience, as were many. Frank Zappa, the Kinks, Joe Cocker, James Taylor, Paul Simon, George Harrison, Santana, Brian Wilson, Ry Cooder, the Band and Tom Waits are all featured during this particular season, and all the performances are fantastic. Also included in the package are the audio-only material from dress rehearsals, a photo booklet and a ridiculous Andy Kaufman screen test featuring a ridiculously straight reading of the lyrics to Jimmy Webb's "MacArthur Park."

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