SNL: S02E12... HOST: RUTH GORDAN... DATE: JANUARY 22, 1977

or...

And Then There's Maude

When I first saw that Ruth Gordan was hosting, I had no idea who she was. After quickly looking at the episodes thumbnail my first thought was she might be the little old lady from Poltergeist but seeing her on the full screen I quickly knew I was wrong but now I was even further from knowing who she was because I just couldn't place her face. 

Usually, when I don't know who a host is, I wait until the end of the episode to turn to the internet to help me figure it out but most of the time when this is the case, I know either the name or can at least recognize their face. This just wasn't happening with this Ruth Gordan who was in charge of this show.

There was no way that I was going to make it through this entire episode without looking her up and when I did, I found that she was a titular character from the movie Harold and Maude. I love that movie but have only seen it once, and minus the signature hair style from the cover of the movie I would have never pieced together who she was through the show alone.

I have a sort of funny story about Harold and Maude. I first heard the title in a cheesy comedy where a character kept referencing the title. At the end of the movie, I turned to my friend and pointed out how odd it was that they made up a title when he was obviously referring to Benny and Joon.

Keep in mind, this was later in life and I think it might have even happened while I was in film school. I felt kind of stupid when I finally saw Harold and Maude because it turned out to be a classic that is dead center in the style of movies I like, especially after years of hanging out with the arthouse film crowd.

Though it's unfortunate that they never referenced her most famous role but it was still a pretty solid episode. Alright, enough with my history of my knowledge of the host, it's time to break down what else I say as I give you...

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1.  The show starts with Loran Michaels on the phone stressing over the Belushi situation. I think it's a contract negotiation because they are using the same excuses as when Chevy Chase decided to leave the show, even wheeling Belushi out in a wheelchair to blur the line between fact and fiction. I can't wait until this challenge is over to read the books about this time period because I know there are plenty of them out there. The sketch ends with Belushi coming to life when the doctor announces he will not be able to afford the drugs without the SNL income. 
  2. Ruth Gordan then opened the show with a real quick monolog. I had no idea who she was so I broke my rule and turned to the internet before the show was over.
  3. This was followed by another repeat of the gay Marine sketch where Garrett Morris is looking for "A Few Good Men."
  4. Laraine Newman then imitated Judy Garland as she sang a song about her self-absorption. 
  5. Next was a sketch called The Litella Sisters at Home where Gilda played her Emily Litella character still living with her sister (Ruth Gordan) and the two mishear one another as they attempt to come up with Emily's topic for this night's news.
  6. Aykroyd then did his Tom Snyder impersonation as they wheeled out Belushi who was impersonating whoever the crazy Italian was that directed the latest King Kong from the time. It was mainly a sketch of eccentricity while pointing out how bad of a host Tom Snyder was, at least through the eyes of Aykroyd. 
  7. Chuck Berry then performed Johnny Be Good.
  8. Once again, Jane Curtin does the news and though I didn't find anything this episode, I'm still continuing to get more out of her stories than the silliness and one-off jokes that came from Chase as the anchor.
  9. The news commercial was for Crazy Ernie's Stereo Shop where a literal crazy Aykroyd was selling his cousin's merchandise for outrageous prices while his cousin, who really ran the store, was out of town.
  10. The news returns with Emily Litella having nothing to say even after her brainstorming sketch with her sister. This continues the feud between this character and Jane Curtin who takes the news very serious.
  11. The short film this week was an unofficial music video for the song Night Moves, where Garrett Morris being broadcast on the TV has a relationship with a very sexy woman.
  12. This was followed by a sketch called Old Ladies of the Night, where Ruth Gordan played a runaway prostitute in her sixties which is a growing trend according to the sketches statistics.
  13. Chuck Berry returns to perform both Marie and Carol.
  14. Next was a sketch that they've done a couple times now where they had Gilda Radner as a little kid asking her elder babysitter about sex. I get that part of the reason is that it allows the characters to be way off on what sex means but it's bordering on a creepy obsession but that's mainly because I'm assuming that Michael O'Donoghue is to blame for all the creepy kid stuff and there's something about him that makes me question the intent of his humor.
  15. Once again we get another segment with Mr. Bill!!! Though they are all pretty much the same, I am very happy to see my favorite childhood segment.
  16. Ricky Jay then does a couple magic tricks where there was one misdirect that was pretty funny but I still hate most magicians.
  17. This was followed by a sketch that delves into the life of Howard Hughes during his crazy years as a shut-in. 
  18. Aykroyd then played the host of World of Adventure which was basically just a show that uses any excuse to show Native African boobs ala National Geographic.
  19. Mr. Mike did another one of his creepy Least Loved Bedtime Tales this time using it as an excuse to get Gilda to dress as a French maid to sit on his lap as he told his tale.
  20. Finally, Ruth Gordan ended the show by saying her good nights. 

As I said, this was a pretty solid episode even though the host was relatively unknown, at least with the passage of time. I kind of like these episodes where the host is only featured in about half the sketches because it allows the permanent cast to shine while still having fun with the guest. Some of my favorites had the host while others did not and with that, here is my list of favorites.

First, I was a fan of the Litella sisters because I'm a huge fan of the Emily Litella character so it was fun to see her outside of the news. Next, I was a fan of the Howard Hughes sketch because of the solidarity that I have with a fellow shut-in. Finally, I was a fan of Mr. Bill and he'll probably make the list whenever he makes an appearance. 

Matt Bunker

I started out with a goal of becoming a paid screenwriter. I had no interest in any other aspect of filmmaking. I received and scholarship to The Vancouver Film School's Writing for Film and Television program where I graduated in 2005. I fell in love with being on set during my first non-school produced short, . I loved being around all the creative people, seeing people having fun while working. The whole liking your job was a new world to me, so I decided to give it a shot. I volunteered for any project I could, doing what ever was needed. The set was my Film School this time. While working as a PA on a feature I was informed that the DP wanted the three tallest PAs to help out in the grip and electric department. That is when I found the department that felt like the best fit for me while I continued to write.