Saturday Night Live The Complete Third Season

BY Ian DanzigPublished Jun 3, 2008

This seven-disc set collects together the entire 20-episode '77/'78 season of Saturday Night Live. By this point the iconic cast was in full stride, fully aware of the satirical touchstone they were creating for the youth culture of the day. Although subsequent SNL cast members broke through in really big ways (Eddie Murphy, Mike Myers, etc.), there was never another ensemble cast like this one, churning out ridiculous characters and spot-on satire that have stood the test of time: Belushi as a samurai and Blues Brother, Bill Murray the nerd and lounge singer, Ackroyd as the wild and crazy Czech swinger, Jane Curtain's Conehead, Gilda Radner's Barbara Wawa and Emily Litella, along with the often underrated Garret Morris and Loraine Newman tackling everything from Egyptian political leaders to rock band groupies. The musical guests were always a huge highlight of the show and this particular season features early breakthrough performances by Elvis Costello and Billy Joel alongside classic '70s rock from Eddy Money, Meat Loaf and Jackson Browne, in addition to American music icons like Ray Charles, Leon Redbone, Willie Nelson and Sun Ra. As has always been the formula, the evening's host played a big part in the show. Once again the white-suited Steve Martin is practically a cast member, with three appearances, Buck Henry clocks in with two and other notables include Hugh Hefner, Richard Dreyfuss and Michael Palin. However, looking at things with a 2008 perspective, one of the most interesting has to be the O.J. Simpson episode from February 25, 1978. Coming out as a Conehead for his monologue, Simpson (a football superstar and endorsement juggernaut at this point) is unbelievably comfortable in front of the camera, both funny and smooth. I can't think of another professional athlete who could pull this off. Another interesting note is that this was the season where 2008 political hopeful Al Franken moved solidly from writer to on-screen persona with the "Franken and Davis Show." His dry, absurdist humour was already fully formed 30 years ago and if it wasn't for the risk taking of the early SNL, you have to wonder whether some of these off-beat talents (Andy Kaufmann was another great) would have ever reached a broader audience.

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