SNL: S03E11... HOST: CHEVY CHASE... DATE: FEBRUARY 18, 1978

or...

A Happy Homecoming

In some of my reviews during the second half of the first season as well as the first couple episodes of season two, you might not think that I am a fan of Chevy Chase at all. This idea is far from the truth, I've always been a huge fan of his movies going so far as publicly stating on this very site, far before I even started this challenge, that National Lampoon's Vacation is my favorite movie of all time. That said, for whatever reason, I found that I just wasn't a fan of the final days of his run Saturday Night Live.

I think part of the problems is that this was my first time watching these episodes after hearing vague rumors about contract negotiations and how he felt too big for the show. Part of me agrees with the second rumor but I'm not even sure if it's true or even a real rumor at all. These are just ideas that I picked up through interviews and pop culture references that I chose to believe after Chevy's attitude seemed to change after his midseason "injury" that I'd assume was a negotiation tactic even if this wasn't the rumor.

I know that there are books written about the true history of the early days of the show that I plan to read and report on as soon as I'm done with the challenge. I also know that I've loved Chevy's interaction with the show from the moment that he dropped out of the cast. There was the time that he played a busker begging for change as Paul Simon runs late for his hosting duties. There was another time Chevy was just sitting in the crowd with the subtitle pointing out that he used to work there. He also played the Land Shark in one episode without his face ever getting any air time.

I like that Chevy was able to walk away from the show without burning bridges, at least not bad enough to where he wasn't welcome back. Where I really was getting annoyed with his attitude toward the end of his run, I now get excited when I see that he's involved in an episode and loved this homecoming episode where old friends got together to play.

Alright, enough with my feelings about Chevy, it's now time to share what I saw as I move on to give you...

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1.  Tonight special episode is "interrupting" The Little House on the Prairie Burns to the Ground.
  2. The opening sketch is titled A Former President Speaks to the Nation, which is pretty much just an excuse for Chevy to do his "Ford is dumb" character. As always it's fun but not all that specific of an impersonation. This sketch also leads to an excuse for Chevy to fall down and announce, "Live from New York..."
  3. Chevy then opens the show with a monolog about his return to the show after quitting. Not only that but he talks about his return to New York after living in Los Angeles for quite a while. As I said in the intro above, I like Chevy on the show way more as a guest than I did during his contract negotiations.
  4. This was followed by a fake ad for The Moth Masher which is a device that mashes moths for decorative purposes. It seems that Dan Aykroyd really likes to abuse already dead animals. So far he's blended fish and bats and now he's mashing moths.
  5. Chevy and Gilda are in bed after sex discussing the level of her satisfaction. It's obvious by the way that they talk that not only is Chevy clueless when it comes to women but this is a one night stand. As the sketch goes on it turns out that Chevy is clueless to everything, ending on a joke where Chevy is about to leave even though it's his own apartment.
  6. Billy Joel then performs Only the Good Die Young.
  7. They must have been trying to stick to the good dying young theme because the next sketch was a "Docudrama" called King with a conversation between MLK, JFK, and RFK filled with subtle jokes about each of their upcoming assassinations. This sketch must have had to do with some new news from the time because the audience laughed several times where I really didn't get the humor.
  8. Once again, Jane and Dan host the news... that is until Chevy Chase tricks Dan into leaving the set so he can take over his old role as the lead anchor. I think Chevy read one of the jokes that Jane bailed out on last week due to Dan's over ambitious fuck up. I think this because the image to the joke was the one on the screen as the time of the incident. Belushi also joined the news with a recap of the Ali vs Spinx fight. This leads to a tale of a Belushi bar fight and ends with him beating up Jane to test her self-defense response. Finally, there is also a reunion between Chevy and Emily Litella.   
  9. This was followed by a sketch was Aykroyd trains Chevy the art of airline customs. He openly tells him to use racial profiling mainly keeping an eye out for black folks. The first in line is a Catholic Priest who gets to pass without being searched because he's white and part of the clergy. Garrett Morris then tries to pass and gets busted after they find one marijuana seed in his luggage. Aykroyd takes Morris to deal with the law leaving the rookie to check the rest of the passengers. Belushi and Laraine play an overly nervous couple who get past security despite the fact that they have tons of cocaine in their luggage. Both Chevy and Aykroyd let them pass because they're white, without even noticing loose cocaine that's now covering every flat surface. 
  10. The short film this week was Laraine going about her day with an Omen-esque soundtrack that makes it look like she's losing her mind to evil. Then she gets back to her place and approaches what looks to be an ominous room only to find her roommate recording her singing audition which was the source of our horrific soundtrack.
  11. Sermonette is a sketch where Chevy plays an all-inclusive religious leader that give a crazy sermon mixing all sorts of religious lessons.
  12. Somewhere in France 1944 is a sketch with three US soldiers guarding the base entry. Two obvious Germans in US uniforms try to sneak past the guards but first have to answer questions about American culture to prove that they are not actually German. Their accents are too strong for anyone to really believe they're American but they get all the questions right so they almost gain access to the building. Then one of the three US soldiers suggests a better question. The Germans get this one wrong but so does one of the original three US soldiers. This causes the other two US soldiers to think that they have a third spy on their hand and then four when the other US soldier also fails to answer. Finally, the head US soldier who is in charge of this mess realizes he doesn't know the answer either. This leads him to believe that he too is a spy and the sketch ends without going much further.
  13. Billy Joel returns to the stage to sing Just the Way You Are.
  14. Three old biddies then have a tea party in what seems to be a boring last sketch that's going nowhere. It gets to the part of the scene where Chevy is supposed to enter which he does but he's not in character. He just wants the sketch to end because he has a routine that he wants to do during his goodnights but then the girls realize the sketch has no ending which lands them in the Twilight Zone and the sketch grows to me very convoluted but entertaining as they have twist ending after twist ending until finally, the Land Shark finishes the sketch by eating the final survivors but then finally finally ends with Garrett Morris as the Pope who sees the mess and decides to shuffle off to Buffalo.
  15. Finally, Chevy thanks the crowd and closes the show with his goodnights.

I wouldn't say that I had the best time writing the above recap because of how convoluted so many of these sketches were but this is the exact reason that I liked watching this episode. Now it's time to try to boil down these bits even more as I attempt to share my favorite moments.

First, I loved the final sketch that had no end because I love a surreal approach to comedy. Next, I found the airport customs sketch because even though it was offensive it had a valid point and was delivered in a way that was more funny than just being blatantly racist. Finally, I was a fan of news in general because it wouldn't have been a proper homecoming without Chevy taking the reins.  

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.