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Saturday Night Live: Season 3, 1977-1978

4.6 out of 5 stars 145 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Continuing the enormous success of the previous two years, the third season of SNL (1977-78) showcased a fearless cast that created some of the most memorable sketches to ever appear on the show. With hilarious breakthrough characters like The Nerds (Bill Murray and Gilda Radner), Coneheads (Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin), lounge singer Nick Winters (Bill Murray), Samurai Warrior (John Belushi), a singing King Tut (legendary SNL host Steve Martin) and featuring Father Guido Sarducci (Don Novello) as well as "The Franken and Davis Show" (Al Franken and Tom Davis), SNL continued to define itself as the pinnacle of irreverent humor and political satire. The complete third season of SNL contains unforgettable appearances by hosts Steve Martin, Michael Palin, Hugh Hefner, Buck Henry, Robert Klein, Chevy Chase, Madeline Kahn, Richard Dreyfuss, O.J. Simpson and the winner of the "Anyone Can Host" contest, Miskel Spillman, and classic musical performances by Elvis Costello, Billy Joel, Ray Charles, Leon Redbone, Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Ashford & Simpson, Meat Loaf and The Blues Brothers.

Television history continued to be written in the third year of Saturday Night Live. After a wobbly debut in SNL's second season, Bill Murray got some traction as a performer and America began to see just how brilliant a comedian he truly could be. Dan Aykroyd owned Jimmy Carter with his extraordinary impression of the late-1970s president, and he partnered with Steve Martin three times in Festrunk Brothers sketches featuring the "wild and crazy" Czech siblings looking for a "swinging" time with American "foxes." John Belushi mined familiar territory with his image as a brash reprobate, Jane Curtin (with Aykroyd) made "Weekend Update" her own, and Garrett Morris remained a rock-steady second banana. Laraine Newman proved, as always, to be the cast's chameleon-like wild card, capable of anything. As for Gilda Radner, her luminous charm and gifts in the classic television comedienne tradition balanced the show's steep irony with pure mirth. There is so much to talk about when listing highlights of Saturday Night Live: The Complete Third Season. The attention-grabbing "Anyone Can Host" contest was a cute stunt that resulted in SNL's Christmas episode being officially hosted by 80-year-old Miskell Spillman, a non-celebrity. Spillman proved game enough to pull off an opening monologue (with Buck Henry) and participate in several sketches. But the truly notable event in that December 17, 1977 program was the first appearance of Elvis Costello (replacing the previously-announced Sex Pistols), who underscored the dangers of live television by interrupting his own performance of "Less Than Zero" and instructing his band, the Attractions, to play "Radio Radio" instead. (For a moment, no one watching could have predicted what was about to happen--whether benign or bizarre.) Also of significance to longtime viewers of SNL was the return of Chevy Chase (on 2/18/78), the show's first breakout star who left the series early in season two, as host. By now, the story of Chase's backstage brawl with Murray just before showtime that night is legend, and it's easy to see how flustered Chase looked in a clunky opening monologue. (He recovers sufficiently for some fine sketchwork and a cameo appearance harassing Curtin on "Update.") Andy Kaufman did one of his best bits portraying a non-English-speaking comic who plays drums and drags a woman out of the audience for a nonsensical sight gag. The Coneheads (Aykroyd, Curtin, Newman) return in a very funny "Family Feud" piece, while Al Franken and Tom Davis continue to have an impact with a sketch that finds Franken attacking his own parents. Belushi mixes pop culture influences in a big way in "Samurai Night Fever." Hosting three times, Steve Martin makes as huge an impression on season three as anyone, introducing his musical novelty number "King Tut" and playing a lonely lover in a wistful-slapstick sketch in which he dances with Radner.

The overall slate of musical guests is good though not great, and except for Costello, Randy Newman, Keith Jarrett, and Paul Simon, the artists tend toward middle-of-the-road. Besides Martin, there are a few other strong hosts, including Buck Henry and a magnificent Michael Palin, who opens his show by dumping a plate of seafood and two cats down his pants. Faring less well as hosts are O.J. Simpson, Hugh Hefner, and Michael Sarrazin. As always, there are hits and misses over the course of another sprawling season of Saturday Night Live. --Tom Keogh

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Stills from Saturday Night Live – The Complete Third Season (click for larger image)

Product Details

  • Actors: Gilda Radner, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Steve Martin
  • Producers: Lorne Michaels
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, Limited Edition, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 7
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: May 13, 2008
  • Run Time: 1353 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (145 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0013LRKQC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,749 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Saturday Night Live: Season 3, 1977-1978" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Movie Mania VINE VOICE on February 18, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This season still features the original Not Ready For Prime Time Players - John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner, Garrett Morris,Jane Curtin and Laraine Newman. Plus newcomer Bill Murray.

When SNL (at this time it was NBC's Saturday Night Live) first came on it changed the variety format from skits and musical numbers to what is now called sketch comedy with music from popular and upcoming rock groups. Each episode was "hosted" by an actor who was usually promoting their new film.

Each show had an opening skit that end with "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night", the credits followed, then the guest host would come out do some sort of monologue. This would fade into either an original SNL cast commercial (remember The Taste Bud's for Budweiser) or a parody of a commercial. Skit, musical guest, skit, Weekend Update, skit, second musical number, skit and closing.

The show had a number of reoccuring skits, which were rotated to keep them fresh (unlike today when they get an idea they flog it to death!). The best were Two Wild and Crazy Guys (Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd), the coneheads (Aykroyd, Jane Curtin and Lorraine Newman), Samuari "Whatever" (John Belushi), the Killer Bees (cast).

If you have not seen the original episodes uncut then you will understand why this show was so revolutionary. And remember that at this time people had to stay up to watch the show "Live" as most people did not own VCR's in 1977. So it became a fashionable for groups of young people to have parties and watch the show.
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Format: DVD
Many reviewers say these early Saturday Night Live seasons are products of their times, that they aren't nearly as funny today as we all thought they were back then. To that I say dude, what have you been smokin'? Yes, I was one of those who watched these shows in college, usually at a party where everyone was, shall we say, already in a purple haze. But thinking that's what made these shows great is simply revisionist history.

Sure there are some dated cultural jokes, a few lame musical guests and an occasional skit that falls flat. However, each episode is still, for the most part, solidly entertaining. As I sat down with these discs today partaking of nothing stronger than a few Diet Cokes, what I noticed is just how watchable these shows still are. Even when not at their best, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, Jane Curtin and the others each did at least interesting work, and always in their own personal style. What resulted was a true comedy variety show, a witty take on middlebrow culture that though edgy at times, rarely takes a cheap shot or wallows in the gutter.

Originally 90 minutes long with commercial breaks, each commercial-free episode here runs between 66 and 68 minutes.

This third season may be the best in Saturday Night's history. Most every show includes at least one of SNL's most famous recurring skits as well as some hilarious forgotten moments. For example, the first show includes Lorne Michaels upping his offer to the Beatles from $3,000 to $3,200 and a commercial parody for the Kromega III, "a watch so complex it takes two people to make it work.
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Format: DVD
This third season, along with the fourth, represent the height of the original Not Ready for Prime Time Players. For the first time, we are introduced to The Blues Brothers, The Festrunk Brothers, Roseanne Roseannadanna, Point Counterpoint, The Olympia Restaurant and many others. Favorites such as the Coneheads and the Samurai return in force as well.

I taped most of this season in its entirety over the years, and am quite familiar with the strength of these episodes. I especially like the Steve Martin/Blues Brothers appearance, as well as the season-ender with Buck Henry/Sun Ra.

I've shared my thoughts on the value of the original SNL before, so instead, I'd like to point out a few highlights to look forward to:

1. Chevy Chase returns for first time hosting duties on 02/18/78. There was quite a bit of backstage animosity/tension towards him, and one particular spat ensued over the Weekend Update anchoring duties. Bill Murray, still the "new kid," was out to hold his ground against Chase, and became defensive of Jane Curtin. Apparently, Belushi - who was the clearest Chase rival - delighted in stirring up the situation to the point that Murray punched Chase right before air time. The fight was broken up, with Murray walking away calling Chase a "medium talent." If Chase seems nervous, this was why. Still, Chase does a superb job performing under these circumstances. More trivia: this is the only time Belushi, Aykroyd, Murray and Chase ever share screen time together (for a military-themed skit). Even more trivia: Billy Joel, as Chase tells us, missed his 10th high school reunion to appear.

2. Steve Martin/The Dirt Band (aka Nitty Gritty...
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