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Saturday Night Live: Season 1, 1975-1976

4.5 out of 5 stars 345 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Nicknamed the "Not Ready for Prime Time Players," the original cast of Saturday Night Live ignited a comedy revolution with their mix of irreverent characters and satirical impressions of political figures and pop culture icons. From the premiere of this groundbreaking sketch comedy show on October 11, 1975, live from historic Studio 8H in New York City's Rockefeller Center, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Jane Curtin, Chevy Chase, Garrett Morris, Laraine Newman, and Gilda Radner launched themselves into instant stardom and were often referred to as "The Beatles of Comedy." Created by Lorne Michaels over three decades ago, few other shows have had the cultural impact and relevance of Saturday Night Live. Nowhere else can you see the complete first season of SNL, featuring hosts George Carlin, Rob Reiner, Lily Tomlin, Richard Pryor, Elliott Gould, Candice Bergen, or original musical performances by Simon & Garfunkel, ABBA, Patti Smith Group, Jimmy Cliff, and Carly Simon. And if you're curious as to how the original cast was hired, check out the DVD bonus features that include the screen tests of each performer.

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Saturday Night Live: The Complete First Season boxed set is much more than the sum of its parts, in fact it's one of the most significant TV DVD releases yet. This isn't just an 8-disc set featuring 24 episodes of live sketch comedy, it's a big box of zeitgeist. This really is the complete first season, mostly uncut and complete with every musical act and short film intact (a few bumpers and transitions were removed to make it flow better on DVD). The first broadcast aired on October 11, 1975, hosted by George Carlin and featured musical guests Billy Preston and Janis Ian. At first, things seem a little raw: Carlin's opening monologue is painfully unfunny, Chase's first shot at the seminal "Weekend Update" is amusing but sloppy, and much of the cast seem to be holding back. But the groundwork is all there, and soon in subsequent episodes you can see it all start to come together (especially with John Belushi who lets his simmering intensity out to tremendous effect), proving that the first episode simply belies the historic impact the show would come to have on popular culture. Here you'll find the first airing of some of the many skits that stayed famous over the years: the Land Shark, Samurai Hotel, Chevy Chase's opening pratfalls and the impersonations of Gerald Ford which would spin off into the proud SNL tradition of presidential parodies.

The set is a very entertaining look at a significant point in TV and American cultural history. It is so 1975, but that's a major part of its appeal: did Chevy Chase really used to look that young? Did a young George Carlin really used to look so old? Check out Abba in those disco jumpsuits. And if you're a fan of The Muppets, seeing them here on late-night TV making jokes about getting drunk will blow your mind. Younger fans may not fully understand just how groundbreaking this show was at the time. For example, Richard Pryor hosting the seventh episode, which includes the famous "Word Association" sketch. Back then, to have a comedian of Pryor's reputation joking about drugs, sex, and race on live TV was a tremendous risk (it's also gratifying to see the obvious effect he had on the next generation of comics like Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock), and it helped established the show's cache as unpredictable and edgy. The DVD set is full of moments like this and, like the show itself, it has its ups and downs. Watching hosts like Rob Reiner (back when he was still in his "Meathead" days from All in the Family), Madeleine Kahn, and Desi Arnaz work their comedy chops with the cast are high points. Whereas the infamous Louise Lasser episode, which is known for being among the worst episodes in the show's history… not so much. Still, it's entirely to Executive Producer Lorne Michaels's credit that it's included here. It's a tremendous collection of everything that gave birth to Saturday Night Live, and the seed of what SNL would become, spawning many movies (not to mention a few catch-phrases), launching the careers of many great comedians, and providing TV viewers with some of the most famous, and infamous, moments in broadcast history. And it all started right here.

The set is packaged in a well-designed, sleek fold-out digi-pack with every episode listed on the sleeves, with hosts, musical guests, and the original air date. The special features include a rare look at the cast members' original screen tests, and a 1975 TV interview with the cast. --Daniel Vancini


Special Features

  • Features all 24 episodes from the first season in their original, 90-minute format, including all of the original music
  • Archival footage from the Today Show with Tom Snyder
  • Cast member screen tests

Product Details

  • Actors: Dan Aykroyd, Cheve Chase, John Belushi, Jane Curtin, Garrett Morris
  • Directors: Dave Wilson, A.D. Miles, Christopher Guest, Mike Judge, Tom Schiller
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Color, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 8
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: December 5, 2006
  • Run Time: 1594 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (345 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000JLQPYK
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,344 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Saturday Night Live: Season 1, 1975-1976" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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.
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Format: 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.
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Format: 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.
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