I was a little surprised when I saw Chevy Chase in the opening segment of the second season premiere of SNL. I was under the impression that he never came back after season one. Then again, most of my knowledge of the history of the show comes from fellow fans sharing things that they've heard over the years.
As soon as I'm done with this challenge, I'll have to buy some of the key books being referenced by these second-hand fans because I'm not entirely sure what is fact and what is only legend that I've created in my head. I think some of these behind the scenes tales had tainted my opinion of Chevy Chase during the viewing of Season 1.
First off, I am a Chevy fan. The first Vacation is my all-time favorite movie, and I'd be first in line to watch a new Fletch as long as he was still in the lead role. This is why I felt disappointed in myself for falling into the camp that was happy to know he would eventually go.
The problem with the first season was that it did feel like Chevy's show. Though he did a decent job, if this was indeed the case, it felt like he was holding the show back from being the ensemble establishment that SNL is supposed to be. This led me to feel like both sides won when he ventured out to be a star on his own.
This was the first episode without Chase behind the wheel, and I could already see more cohesion amongst the cast. Unfortunately, this first go of the new show was hosted by Norman Lear. Though he did fine for behind the scenes personality stepping out into the spotlight, he wasn't the best talent to highlight the changes.
It was still a fun episode that wasn't a chore to get through so with that, I will now share what I saw as I give you...
The Wicker Breakdown:
Gilda Radner opens the show with an announcement that Chevy Chase will not be a part of the show this week due to an injury from a fall from the week before. She went on to attempt to do the fall to open the show only to be interrupted by a phone call from Chase who is in the hospital and trying to talk her out of stealing his thunder. The sketch ends with the phone falling off the edge of the desk so Chevy could fit in one last "Live from New York," before quitting the show (or at least I assume this is coming up very soon.)
Norman Lear then opens the show. He is one of these people that I've always been aware of his name but am never sure if he's a famous writer, politician or personality. It turns out I know his name because he produced every show from the time.
The monolog leads to a bit where Lear interviews all the famous people that he has worked with over the years. Everyone from All in the Family to The Jeffersons had nothing but good things to say about Lear, at least to his face because they all make faces at him the moment he looks away.
Next was a "Paid Political Announcement" from Aykroyd as Carter as he discusses sexual performance in the White House while he stopped to stump for his campaign.
Boz Scaggs then performed Lowdown.
Normal Lear then plays himself as he discusses the creative process as a producer where he ends up talking to a clone of a writer selling him everything he wants to hear, mainly focused on ratings and tested storylines to draw in a very broad audience.
The story being pitched by the writer is then played out in a live sketch. It's mainly All in the Family with plug and play character prototypes all with simple to understand opposing views. It was so over the top in its simplified formula that I could see it being very close to the truth of the working of a non-creative producer's views on what makes a good show.
Gilda Radner then came out to announce the next weeks show as someone was behind her aggressively reading the newspaper.
Next was the news with Jane Curtin. I already like the news much better because there is a better blend of real news to silliness that makes the stories easier to consume.
Norman Lear then steps out on the stage to finally fulfill the full Chevy fall.
This was followed by the girls from the show dressed in doo-wop clothing singing a song to get Chevy back, this adds to my suspicions that this was when he reached the point of no return.
Next, there was an ad from the Council of Standards and Measurements where Aykroyd announces the new metric calendar with a three day week and one hundred hour days.
This was followed by a short film that was very YouTube in style, where there was a guy on the phone humming the tune to a song with live action clips cut in to add punctuation to the notes at the end of each bar.
Belushi then plays a divorce attorney trying to get his client, Gilda Radner, to be more emotional when sharing her story of abuse to the jury. She's so flat in her delivery that Belushi starts to get physical with her until Lear steps in. He tries to show her how to act more emotional only to get abused by Belushi as well.
Boz Scaggs returns to sing What Can I Say?
Belushi then plays Kissinger who works a deal between the ruler of Rhodesia and what I think was a British leader? I wasn't aware of the event in reference to really get any of the jokes.
Next was a quick bit with Lear and a lady from the crowd. He wants to tell a joke and needs her to set it up. She keeps stumbling on the set up in a way that is even funnier than what the joke sounds like it's going to be. It turns out that this is Lear's daughter and they were reenacting a moment he had with her as a child. Though cheesy and sentimental it was a pretty cute bit.
Next was another stop-motion home movie called Spanish Peanuts that had no real story just a bunch of peanuts moving around in sombreros and ponchos to a mariachi sound.
Final the show ended with the host saying his good nights.
Though entertaining, this episode didn't have standout sketches that are easy to select but here are my three favorite moments from the night. First, I really liked seeing Norman Lear interview all the people he has worked with, from the sets of their shows. Next, I really liked Jane Curtin stepping in to take over the news. Finally, I was a fan of the sketch with Lear and his daughter, she played uncomfortable so well that I bought that this wasn't a sketch.