Episode 1.8 – 12/20/75: Candice Bergen
It’s Christmas. It’s 1975. And it’s first of what would be many Saturday Night (Live But Not Live) Christmas episodes, hosted by returning Season One Episode Four host Candice Bergen or “Candy” Bergen as she was apparently known to the Saturday Night (Live But Not Live) cast, or at least cast member Gilda Radner, who referred to her as Candy in a promo a few episodes back. Why do I mention that? To prove that sometimes I do pay attention — except for when there’s Muppets involved. Muppets are among the list of things that have no place on Saturday Night (Live But Not Live), a list that would later be expanded to include Sinead O’Connor, Rage Against The Machine, Martin Lawrence and Andrew “Dice” Clay. On that note, that is the last time I will mention Muppets in this article except to say that toward the end of this episode Brown Muppet and Green Muppet sing “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” with Candy Bergen.
So the story here is simple, so simple that I’m just going to make it up. When Bergen, actress (Murphy Brown, Boston Legal, and a bunch of 1970s film and television that you young whippersnappers have probably never heard of) and daughter of famed puppeteer Edgar Bergen, hosted back in November, she left such a lasting impression on the Not-Ready-For-Primetime Players or Lorne Michaels or NBC executives that the blonde-haired beauty and heir to Edgar Bergen’s puppet empire was invited to come back the next month. That makes her the first person to host multiple episodes of Saturday Night (Live But Not Live), as well as the first female host.
I had nothing but good things to say about Candy Bergen’s first stint as SN (L but not L) host. She’s just as good a host this time around. She just happens to have landed in a dud of an episode. The sketches are bad and based around some pretty lame-o ideas. The most groan-inducing is a faux commercial for a “Mel’s Char Palace”, a steakhouse that promises “You cut your own steaks! You bind it, you stun it, you cut it!” The worse part is, three versions of the commercial air throughout the episode with little variation – as if the producers of the show thought the premise might get funnier with age.
Another sketch that thought bombed has Chevy Chase playing a son who calls his parents (Jane Curtain and Dan Akroyd) from jail and tell them he’s accused of murder. His parents tell him that they’ll get him the best lawyer they can. Chase tells them that it was because he murdered “26 boys.” At least it wasn’t marijuana, Akroyd and Curtain agree. The whole thing goes nowhere, but at least it’s short. There’s a noticeable lack of Belushi during this episode, which is not a good thing.
There are two sketches worth noting. Chevy opens the show with probably his most well-known Gerald Ford bit, that ends with him falling off a Christmas tree. I’m not a huge fan of Chevy’s Ford impression, but it’s a historical moment that would be replayed countless times in show retrospectives. Another funny sketch has Chase playing a “closeted elf” who is “outed” when his sister walks in on him “frolicking.”
Music guests are a mixed bag. The Stylistics are great. Martha Reeves is meh. There’s a good amount of Christmas music, in addition to just Candy and The Muppets.
There’s also a good deal of unfunny stuff — not things that are supposed to be funny and fail, but stuff that’s generally not funny and almost feels like filler. Candy has a chat with Margaret Kuhn of the anti-ageism “Grey Panthers” movement. There’s a super sappy film by Robert Weis which is basically nothing more than a series of images of people greeting each other set to Simon & Garfunkel’s Homeward Bound. There’s Candy appealing to the SN (L but not L) audience to send their home movies in to the show. Oh yeah, and there’s also one of those damn Kodak commercials.
Overall, recommendation to avoid. Or may I suggest watching just the opening sketch with Chevy. The rest is pretty forgettable.
Next: 1.9 – 1/10/75: Elliot Gould