359 of 380 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Groundbreaking Season
For several years, I stayed up well past 2am on Saturday nights hoping to catch reruns of the classic, full SNL shows from 1975-1980. NBC was re-airing some of these great programs in their entirety (not "best of" packages) with few exceptions, starting in the late 1990s in most NBC outlets. Unfortunately, the original cast shows were the exception and the Dana Carvey...
Published on October 25, 2006 by billymac72
27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One attempt at an objective review.
I didn't watch the first season when it was first telecast, mainly because I was just a bit too young to get it, being in my early teens. The "classic" SNL that I remember watching was probably a season or two beyond this, so when I started watching this season it was really unexplored territory for me. So, here's the upside and the downside.
Published on September 6, 2007 by lighten_up_already2
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359 of 380 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Groundbreaking Season,
This review is from: Saturday Night Live: The Complete First Season, 1975-1976 (DVD)For several years, I stayed up well past 2am on Saturday nights hoping to catch reruns of the classic, full SNL shows from 1975-1980. NBC was re-airing some of these great programs in their entirety (not "best of" packages) with few exceptions, starting in the late 1990s in most NBC outlets. Unfortunately, the original cast shows were the exception and the Dana Carvey and/or Will Farrell years were the norm. After several years, I managed to videotape about 25-30 original cast shows, but only about 4 from the first season.
Younger audiences unfamiliar with the original SNL will likely be surprised by a number of things in viewing this great collection. Firstly, for those of us who remember, SNL was the most weird and cutting-edge show to be found in those days. The concept of "late night" television was certainly not then what it is today either. There really is no "late night" anymore, what with hundreds of cable/satellite channels and the Internet to keep us entertained around the clock. In the '70s, however, late night was a wasteland of old movies and reruns. Most stations ended their broadcast day by about 1 or 2am (for the tech-geners, this means the three network stations, one public station and typically about 3 or 4 local stations). As far as the networks were concerned, Johnny Carson owned the airways after the local news; this was literally true in many ways. Although not on air during the weekend, Carson Productions was quite a powerful entity, owning many weekend program slots. Beyond local news & the Tonight Show, there was little interest in developing a "late night" program. Secondly, SNL had huge shock value for a culture that wasn't used to seeing risqué material paraded constantly on broadcast TV. For that stuff, most of us had to go to the movies for "un-edited" material. VCRs were not yet in every household and cable was only available in limited format in markets like New York. In the culture that was then, SNL's impact was enormous, providing essential "water cooler" chat on Monday morning. It was what people stayed home for on Saturday nights. It was really the only "hip" show on TV.
The Not Ready for Primetime Players were a product of the counterculture 1960s. Much of their humor - especially the now surprising amount of drug references - will seem not only brazenly un-PC (thank heaven!), but incredibly raw for those used to the, ironically, structured and institution-ized nature of the show today. In this sense, the first season shows will not only appear dated, but also register way over-the-heads of most younger viewers. SNL has always been and always will be a victim of instant-datedness, in large part due to one of their greatest attributes: topical comedy. Even some of us still familiar with the pressing issues of the 70s may have a hard time remembering every reference!
These earlier shows are also striking in their experimentation. The format we now know & love was at least two seasons in the making. The cast themselves were not considered as the main draw, amazingly enough, and their presence in the first few shows is remarkably sparse. In fact, the second episode is largely music-oriented. Many creative techniques were tried, and some fail miserably. Watch how poorly Abba (although a good performance) are incorporated into an already-in-progress Robert Klein skit. Fast forward past the Muppets if you will...or, if you found them humorous & innovative, as I did, marvel at Jim Henson's shocking (for him anyway) use of drug-related humor! No matter what the result, it's great to see a show daring enough to explore such diverse elements of entertainment, from short films, stand-up comedy, audience participation, to the even occasional use of dramatic device & pathos in the skits. All these things are largely verboten on the show today. Fondly remember a time when often obscure musical guests were chosen for their performance chops and uniqueness, and rarely their pop status, let alone how well they could lip synch (oddly this was not completely true with Abba...but that's a long story!). And of course, relish forever the genius blend of Chase, Belushi, Aykroyd, Radner, Curtain, Newman and the unsung Garret Morris.
88 of 90 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Restored to original format & titles, but no technical restoration.,
This review is from: Saturday Night Live: The Complete First Season, 1975-1976 (DVD)I must say that it is absolutely great that we can finally see the shows as they were originally broadcast (minus the 25 minutes of commercials that I hated sitting through). This is SNL in its prime. In seeing these uncut shows, you will see just how good the original cast was. Just one show from this season is better than any yearly "Best Of" they can put together from the current cast.
THE DOWN SIDE: There has been little effort made to restore the 30+ year old videotapes. The picture is often soft with color bleeding to the right of objects on screen. This is not the original way we saw the series live, so some restoration would have been nice. Other shows have gotten better DVD treatment.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW if you never saw the first season live:
1) Take away the 25 minutes of commercials and these "90 Minute" shows only run 65 minutes.
2) In those days the show was NOT called "Saturday Night Live", that title was used by sportscaster Howard Cosell for his weekly live vartiety show seen at 9pm, Saturday Nights on the ABC Network. This show's first season was officially called "NBC's Saturday Night" and introduced as "Live from New York, it's NBC's Saturday Night". These original titles were later re-shot as just "Saturday Night" for the hour long syndication run, and "The Best Of Saturday Night Live" for the later cut-down half hour syndication run.
3) While the first show seems to be a in the regular sketch format, the second show is more of a Paul Simon Special with Chevy Chase making a brief appearance to introduce the show, and later to do a "Weekend Update". The "Not Ready For Prime Time Players" make brief appearances in filmed segments. The third show returns to the familiar sketch format, but the end credits roll over a slide of the guest star rather than have everyone waving "by" on stage. It is apparent that NBC was still finding the style & format for the show.
4) Season 1 was the only season with Chevy Chase as a regular, after that he would appear as a guest star.
5) Bill Murray was not a regular in the first season.
49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Set Is Plush and Deluxe-A Fan's Treasure,
This review is from: Saturday Night Live: The Complete First Season, 1975-1976 (DVD)I will tell you now that my review is primarily about the box set itself. It's so nice and something that a fan of the show will really treasure.
SNL The Complete First Season (1975-1976) is a really sweet collectors item. A fan of SNL really would be pleased with this first season set release. Hopefully, the quality of future sets will measure up to the dedication and effort put into the first season set. If you have purchased those SNL "Best of Sets" in the past, don't even compare those to this release. This is a really nice deluxe box set.
The 1975-1976 cast were the one's who got the ball rolling with the series. Cast members from the debut season were Dan Akroyd, John Belushi, Jane Curtain, Chevy Chase, Garrett Morris, Laraine Newman and Gilda Radner. Surely these names ring a bell to you. The majority of the cast members went on to have successful film and television careers in the 1980's.
The great thing about the DVD box set is that it includes the episodes in their original 90 minute format for the first time on DVD--with all musical performances in tact. Season one musical guests included Simon & Garfunkel, Joe Cocker, Neil Sedaka, Desi Arnez, Carly Simon, Kris Kristopherson, and Gil Scott-Heron among others. Each single sided disc includes three 90 minute episodes. The disc case includes the name of the guest host, the musical guest and the episode air date. The first air date on the set is October 11th, 1975 and the set ends with the air date July 31st, 1976.
Another nice feature of the set is a booklet which includes really awesome black and white cast photos from the shows first season. Special features include original screen tests, a 1975 interview with the cast and the aforementioned collector's booklet with the cast photos.
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good look at U.S. culture and comedy immediately post-Watergate,
This review is from: Saturday Night Live: The Complete First Season, 1975-1976 (DVD)If you want to know where the U.S. was culturally and politically post-Watergate, you need look no further than season one of Saturday Night Live. You might say that the 60's didn't happen to America outside of special enclaves such as San Francisco until the 70's, and this show was part of that revolution.
In 1975, NBC was at the bottom of the then three-network barrel. Their only real hit show was Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show". So In 1974, when NBC Tonight Show host Johnny Carson requested that the weekend broadcasts of "Best of Carson" come to an end so that he could take 2 weeknights off and air repeats on those nights rather than on the weekend, NBC had no alternative but to comply with their star's wishes. To fill the gap, Lorne Michaels was hired to produce a new late-night show for the Saturday slot, and "Saturday Night Live" was born.
Michaels fought and cajoled network executives to accept his vision for the show, which was far removed from standard variety-show conventions. For example, one network executive, visiting a dress rehearsal, noticed that the band was in blue jeans and asked when their tuxedos would arrive. Before the show began Michaels had remarked that he knew what the "ingredients (of the show) would be, but not the proportions," and that the show would have to "find itself" on-air. Indeed, the Not Ready for Primetime Players were hardly featured in the premiere, but quickly became the focus of the show, with the guest host and musical act playing a secondary role. Albert Brooks and the Muppets were also dropped after the first season.
As other reviewers have mentioned, if you weren't old enough to follow politics or popular culture in 1975, you aren't going to get the jokes in their entirety like you would if you were old enough. Fortunately, even if you are younger, you are in for quite a few musical treats as the musical guests are outstanding - Billy Preston performs "Nothing for Nothing"; Janis Ian performs "At Seventeen"; Paul Simon performed "Still Crazy After All These Years" and "Loves Me Like A Rock" solo and "The Boxer" and "Scarborough Fair" with Art Garfunkel;ABBA performed "Waterloo" and "S.O.S."; and The Stylistics performed "You Make Me Feel Brand New." These are all mainstream 70's songs and performers that should be recognizable to almost anyone. Musical guest appearances on TV may seem like no big deal in the age of the iPod, but in 1975 such appearances were treasured.
However, if you are younger, you are going to miss out on some of the hard-biting political satire, including Chevy Chase's hilarious imitations of then President Ford featuring him constantly tripping over things, talking with the phone receiver inverted, and repeatedly telling a ceramic dog placed near his desk "Down Liberty, Down! Good Dog!" Also, the significance of certain guests such as President Ford's press secretary Ron Nessen will escape younger viewers - nobody under 40 who isn't a political science major is going to know who he is. Many elements of the regularly featured news skit "Weekend Update, which paved the way for shows such as "The Daily Show", will not be familiar to under-40 viewers such as the "Ferdinand Francisco Franco is still dead" remark that Chevy Chase keeps making. You'll find the original cast as "The South American Killer Bees" hilarious, but you probably won't know that at the time there actually was a scare that a particular poisonous and aggressive species of bee might migrate north from South America and start attacking Americans. I could go on and on, but you get the picture.
One of my favorite "characters", who makes his first appearance in a short skit in episode 15 of the first season, is "Mr. Bill". Mr. Bill is the clay figurine star of what at first appears to be a children's show. Each Mr. Bill episode would start innocently enough, but would quickly turn dangerous for Mr. Bill. Along with his dog, Spot, he would suffer various indignities inflicted by Mr. Hands, a man seen only as a pair of arms. Although often the abuse would ostensibly come from the mean Sluggo, another clay figure character. The violence would inevitably escalate, generally ending with Mr. Bill being crushed or dismembered while squealing, "Ohhhh noooooooooooooo...." It is like seeing the claymation duo of Davey and Goliath being run over and crushed by a tank, and is typical of the great "nothing is sacred" attitude this show had.
In summary, old or young, I would say this is a definitely essential purchase. If you're older you'll just get more out of the show because you'll likely remember the context of it all.
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A vital addition for everyone's dvd collection!,
This review is from: Saturday Night Live: The Complete First Season, 1975-1976 (DVD)This box set will remind you what the fuss about Chevy Chase was all about and will make you a Chevy fan all over again. Right from the beginning, the fun starts as Don Pardo screws up the troup name, calling them the "NOT FOR READY Prime Time Players." You'll see missed cues, flubbed lines and all the mistakes of a fresh, new live show!
One of my favorite all-time bits is here, "Citizen Kane II" (where Chevy, Laraine Newman and Buck Henry bust out laughing at the ridiculousness of the sketch) along with Lorne Michaels paltry $3,000 bribe to the Beatles, Spud Beer, Flucker's Jam, a Simon & Garfunkel reunion, the Killer Bees, the REAL President Gerald Ford (!), lots of 70's drug humor, double entendre's and, guys, take note: when Raquel Welch hosts the show you will DEFINITELY be using your rewind A LOT! WOW! Your eyes will POP!
My favorites from the first season were always Chevy and Dan Aykroyd; I feel Belushi was talented, but he seemed to be an "angry" comedian, which always turned me off...plus the fact that he was extremely jealous of the attention Chevy was receiving from the public and the press. During the last half of the season, you'll notice the animosity Belushi had for Chevy when they appear in skits together, most notably the Weekend Update editorials.
Jane Curtin appears to be sexier than I remembered her and Gilda Radner seems to be the most approachable, but Laraine Newman is the one I had the hots for...and watching this set reminds me why! Garrett Morris always appeared to be the most ignored of the cast and you can tell he's nervous in some of the shows, but he pulls off some top-notch moments, like his Sammy Davis impersonation and the Namibia spokesman. He also seems to be one of the friendlier members of the cast.
Billy Crystal makes an appearance (as Bill Crystal) in one of the shows and you wonder why he chose the material he used for his standup routine. It's not funny at all; it's more of an extended impersonation that's humorless...even the audience can barely muster up a snicker! It's interesting to see this performance and realize what an accomplished comedian, actor and host he has become since.
The bonuses are the screen tests of all seven stars and a five minute appearance Lorne and the cast made on Tom Snyder's "Tomorrow" show before SNL made it's debut.
I hope this sells well so Lorne will churn out the remaining seasons, MORE than just one a year! I can't wait over 30 years to collect the whole set! AT LEAST release them on a quarterly basis so we can get 'em! I realize it's a pain to get clearance for the music but it's worth it and it shows. I wish I could give it more stars! GET IT!
27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One attempt at an objective review.,
This review is from: Saturday Night Live: The Complete First Season, 1975-1976 (DVD)I didn't watch the first season when it was first telecast, mainly because I was just a bit too young to get it, being in my early teens. The "classic" SNL that I remember watching was probably a season or two beyond this, so when I started watching this season it was really unexplored territory for me. So, here's the upside and the downside.
First the upside:
You get a lot for the money: the entire season -- everything -- for a reasonable price.
The nostalgia factor alone is worth something.
There are a lot of performances by great musical acts of the time period.
Now the downside:
It's not nearly as funny as I thought it would be. I actually hit the "fast forward" through a lot of it. This show took some time to hit it's stride. The good news is that it is all there, so I can pick and choose what I consider to be the "best of".
The video is a bit hard to watch some times. It looks like whoever mastered this DVD just took the videos out of the vaults and dumped them to the DVD. It doesn't look like any restoration or enhancement was attemped. So, it looks like old video, not that sharp "live" image you watched on your Sony Trinitron TV in 1975.
The bottom line is that it is what it is, and there's a lot of it.
76 of 93 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where it all began!,
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This review is from: Saturday Night Live: The Complete First Season, 1975-1976 (DVD)Finally, they have begun to release SNL in seasonal box sets. What made the show work were its great ensembles, and this was one of the best. As I remember, Bill Murray joined the cast a couple years later, making it the best ever. But here in you get the memorable first performances anchored by Belushi, Ackroyd and Chase. George Carlin inaugurated the show as the guest host. Jim Henson even had his muppets on the show. Janis Ian was the first musical guest. The first skit was John Belushi in "The Wolverines." You also get now famous sketches like "Samurai Hotel," with John Belushi, and Chevy Chase anchoring the "Weekend Updates." Many great guest hosts appeared in the first season in addition to Carlin, such as Richard Pryor, Buck Henry, Elliot Gould and the lovely Raquel Welch. Also, many vintage performances from Gordon Lightfoot, Jimmy Cliff, Bill Withers, Leon and Mary Russell. Hard to believe the show is still going strong 30 years later, inspiring whole new generations of audiences with many fine comics.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is Ground Zero for Comedy, Folks,
This review is from: Saturday Night Live: The Complete First Season, 1975-1976 (DVD)Looking back on stand-up comedy, sketch comedy, and even improv comedy, as they exist today, there is no doubt where the dividing line is drawn, separating the "current" from everything that came before it. The first season of SNL is that dividing line. This is the first time the Baby Boomers, the Sixties Kids, the people that were handed a Golden Plastic Suburban Society and rejected it wholesale, were given control of a show. Fortunately, at that time, light night TV was a wasteland, a virtual graveyard of test patterns, or, if an insomniac was lucky, old black and white movies. The "suits" weren't paying attention to what the "kids" were doing with their airwaves at 11:30 on a Saturday. At the time, hard-to-believe as it may be, there was no cable, no satellite, and no internet. SNL was the first time America at large got a look at anything even close to subversive on the airwaves.
Of course, even SNL didn't come out of nowhere. Even SNL had influences, the biggest two of which were Monty Python's Flying Circus (for its looney, jovial anarchy), and the early National Lampoon magazine empire(for its looney, drug-addled anarchy). SNL and that golden original cast didn't exactly invent comedy, they just were given the perfect platform to take over the position of most influential purveyors of comedy on the pop culture landscape.
And what a cast it was! The smarmy WASP banter of Chevy Chase, the lovably spastic wailings of Gilda Radner, the various sleazy characters personified by Dan Ackroyd, and the manic blustery energy brought to the stage by Belushi. It is true that the first season will be a shock to many; the format was not quite yet established and was more of a variety show. It wasn't even called Saturday Night Live! It was called NBC's Satruday Night, since there was another show (a variety show of the traditional stripe) on ABC called Saturday Night Live that was hosted by (get ready) Howard Cosell! So this first season might be shocking to some (younger) viewers; but you can see the potential for greatness there, right from the first sketch, which honestly, is a bit of a rip-off of the Monty Python "Hungarian phrasebook" sketch. But soon enough, the cast members found their own notes and bits, they fired The Muppets, and the legend was born for the rest of the Scary 70's.
SNL has been a good companion over the years. I saw that first show when it originally aired, at age nine (I sneaked my viewing in my bedroom with the covers over my head), and have always come back to it time and again, even if I didn't see every single show.
Even the worst shows SNL ever did provide entertainment, or comedy, be it intentional or not. Going back and looking at the full shows at this late date will allow the viewer to realize that not everything the original cast did back then was gold. They did bomb out from time to time with unfunny material; it's just the funny stuff that gets remembered in the haze of golden nostalgia. But still, it's great to have it all, funny, not funny, the whole ball of wax, even the musical guests, available to pull off the shelf at a whim. If you have any regard at all for comedy, this is a MUST BUY. A MANDATORY PURCHASE. Get it now.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A mix of classic, cult, and offbeat entertainment,
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This review is from: Saturday Night Live: The Complete First Season, 1975-1976 (DVD)Just a few random thoughts on this memory-provoking set.
In a "complete" set, such as this fine collection, one is obviously going to get plenty of stuff that could be considered weird or offbeat, but that's what I believe made Seventies television--and expecially Saturday Night Live--what it was: An attempt to stretch what was possible on a major network show. I personally like the films by Gary Weis and Albert Brooks, although they might not be to everyone's taste. I never liked the show once it got too slick, somewhere around 1984, and if those collections are released I will not be buying them (despite some awesome musical guests).
Mostly, these 1975-76 shows make me feel nostalgic. I also mourn so many of the talent that are no longer with us: Of course, John Belushi, Gilda Radner and Michael O'Donoghue; but Jim Henson, Andy Kaufman, Richard Pryor, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Billy Preston, Madeline Kahn, Peter Boyle, Desi Arnaz, Anthony Perkins, a few others... The level of talent in front and behind the camera was so very high: Bandleader Howard Shore now composes Academy Award-winning scores; and there's Paul Shaffer leading Murphy Dunne and Lou Marini (to name but two) through their versatile paces in several numbers.
I find it all hugely entertaining and I am looking forward to the rest of the Seventies SNLs in their complete form.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ground Breaking Show,
This review is from: Saturday Night Live: The Complete First Season, 1975-1976 (DVD)for me SNL between 75-80 was the best Cast top to Bottom. now over the years over Cast members such as Eddie Murphy,Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman,Bill Murray,and a few others had that "IT",but the Orginal Cast bar none truly made SNL the Ground-Breaking Weekend late night special show it was. I mean this is back in the day when Chevy Chase was Cool&Happening. John Belushi was the Truth as was Steve Martin. Gilda.Garrett Morris is One of the Most Underrated Comedians Ever. He truly was something else. the writing,pacing&overall depth&also the ability to challenge the censors is the adventure that is missing from day Tv. I ain't thought SNL has really counted after 1990 aside from a few folks. but the Original Cast Not Ready for Prime Time Players were the Real Deal. this is still a Ground Breaking show that is the Mother of all the Weekend Sketch comedy shows.
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Saturday Night Live: The Complete First Season, 1975-1976 by James Signorelli (DVD - 2006)