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Saturday Night Live/Candice Bergen/Esther Phillips
From The TV IV
Candice Bergen/Esther Phillips is the fourth episode of the first season of Saturday Night Live, and the fourth episode overall. It is the first appearance by either its host or musical guest.
Special Guests: Andy Kaufman (Foreign Man)
- Chevy Chase as Gerald Ford: A man who thinks he is President Gerald Ford (Chase) enters, but on his way, he bumps into the American flag and drops his papers on the floor. The mix-up means he gets his lines confused, and he pours himself a glass of water, but he drinks from the glass which is empty. He gives a speech, in which he slips twice while trying to speak and bangs his head on the podium. He mixes up the pitcher of water and the other glass of water, and then he tries to cross the stage again, but he trips over chairs set up next to him.
- Candice Bergen's Monologue: Bergen trumpets her claim to being the first female host of SNL on the first broadcast after the defeat of the ERA amendment. As she talks, a giant bee (Belushi) buzzes out and sits on her hand, but she does not notice until Chase alerts her. Bergen says she is allergic to bees, so Chase pulls out a rolled-up script, but Bergen implores him not to hurt the bee. Chase tries to scare the bee off, but when that does not work, he hits it in the head with the script and knocks it to the ground. The bee flies back up, and Bergen convinces the bee she meant it no harm, and the bee flies back to her shoulder.
- Ambassador Training Institute: A working-class man (Aykroyd) complains about eating sandwiches again, and his wife (Newman) says she can't afford more because of his job. The announcer says viewers should apply for a better job as an international ambassador, which pays better. To apply, they should take an easy test at home and send $300,000 as an "illegal campaign contribution" to Mexico City.
- CIA Department of Records: A worker at the CIA Department of Records (Aykroyd) is angry when he is the last to learn of the change of CIA leadership under George Bush. Morris enters and demands to see his CIA file under the Freedom of Information Act, but the worker says he is buried under files and paperwork. To help find his file, Morris lists his crimes—gun running, narcotics trafficking, involvement with radical organizations, advocating the overthrow of the government, conspiracy to inspire riots, bombing a bank and assassination attempts, but the worker says none of these are enough to narrow him down. The worker asks for time and tells Morris to fill out a card. As soon as Morris leaves, the worker orders a tap on his phone and prints on his pencil.
- Jaws II: A woman (Radner) is at home alone, when she gets a knock on the door from someone (Chase) claiming first to be a plumber, then a telegram, but when she opens the door, a land shark eats her. At the police station, Matt Hooper (Belushi) and Martin Brody (Aykroyd) learn they have a clever land shark on their hands. Because of their warning, the second victim (Newman) is at first wise to the land shark, but she is fooled when the land shark claims to be a dolphin. A third woman (Curtin) hears the land shark being honest about himself, but she thinks he is her husband Walter playing a joke, so Brody has to deliver the bad news. The fourth woman (Bergen) gets a call from a supposed Jehovah's witness, so she thinks it is the land shark, and she hits it with a mallet to protect herself, but the Jehovah's witness (Morris) staggers into her apartment and collapses.
- What a Difference a Day Makes: Esther Phillips song.
- Alas, Poor Yurick: (Note: Live Polaroid commercial; not considered an official "sketch" by NBC.) Chase performs the famous speech from Shakespeare's Hamlet with a skull representing the deceased Yurick, but his lines are written all over the plaster skull. He drops the skull, which shatters, so Chase has trouble finding his place again. One of the shards says it's time to do a Polaroid commercial, so he crosses the stage to where Bergen is dressed in a bee costume. They promote the Polaroid Deluxe SX70. At the end, Bergen says Chase looks like a turkey in his Hamlet costume, and he replies, "You look like a wasp!"
- Weekend Update.
- Chase gives a "live, on-the-spot" traffic report for the entire country from his anchor chair.
- Curtin delivers an editorial rebuttal to an editorial statement on WU from last week regarding federal aid to New York. As Curtin speaks, Chase sits over her shoulder and makes faces at her, but he switches to normal whenever she glances over at him.
- Morris helps Chase repeat the top story for the hard of hearing, but all Morris does is shout the headline at the top of his lungs.
- Long Distance: In a commercial which airs during WU, a mother dresses her little boy up in a dress. Years later, the boy is grown into a gay man, and he calls long distance because it's "the next best thing to being her."
- Chanel: Catherine Deneuve (Bergen) rests her head on a bottle of Chanel No. 5 as she talks about how hard it is to be a movie star. When she sits up, the bottle of perfume is stuck to her head.
- Foreign Man: Kaufman performs a monologue as his "Foreign Man" character. He tells a joke and does an impression of Archie Bunker, but his impression is just calling everyone stupid in his normal voice. When he tries to do his second impression, he forgets whom he was going to impersonate, so he gets nervous. He asks that they stop filming, but they don't. He ad libs with some singing, but he still can't remember his impression, so he gets upset and starts to cry. His sobs are rhythmic, and he starts to bang a bongo drum nearby in rhythm to his sobs. Still rhythmically sobbing, he dances off stage.
- Insecurities: Radner and Bergen talk about how insecure Radner feels when she is around a woman as beautiful Bergen, but Bergen reassures her that she, too, sometimes feels insecure. Radner talks about how self-conscious she is about being feminine, but Bergen tells her to be happy with who she is. They talk about the recently defeated ERA, and Bergen says she voted for it, but Radner didn't vote. Radner says the ERA might have led to sharing public bathrooms with men, but Bergen says that is a misconception.
- Albert Brooks Film - Mid-Season Replacement Shows - An advertisement for three new NBC midseason replacement shows: Medical Season is a typically melodramatic, overwrought medical drama with a tough-talking, cruel older doctor and a square-jawed younger doctor who argues with everyone and tells women he's having sex with how tortured he is. The Three of Us is a cheesy sitcom which stars Brooks as a husband who lives with his wife and her college roommate and is obsessed with the idea of having a threesome, but the two women refuse. Black Vet is an "issues" drama of the era about a Black Vietnam veteran who moves to the South and becomes a veterinarian, but he has to face racism and mistrust in his veterinary practice. The network also promotes its upcoming specials, including a cabaret series, a production of Death of a Salesman performed by children, and bicentennial specials "guaranteed to make you feel 200 years old," plus Brooks gets his own special to make lots of money.
- Midnight Probe: Bergen hosts a late night talk show where she interviews American kiwi trappers Dennis X (Aykroyd) and Anthony Q (Belushi), now living in New Zealand. They talk about how dangerous kiwis can be in flocks and how they have come to respect the small, flightless birds, whose feathers are useful for making bulldozer blades. Bergen asks for a demonstration of how they trap kiwis, so they stand on opposite sides of her and make noises until she runs, at which point they grab her and put her in a bag, but they continue to make strange noises long after they have bagged her.
- Attractive: Chase plays the man in an attractive couple who are out on a date at the fair and the beach. The announcer says they use no commercial products to be this attractive.
- Trans American Airlines: A caller (O'Donoghue) calls a Trans American Airlines receptionist (Newman) and describes the violent, gruesome fantasies he has about her. When the caller says good-bye, the receptionist cheerily replies, "Good-bye and thank you for calling Trans American."
- The Muppets - The Gligs: King Ploobis (Henson) eats his favorite dish of gligs. When he asks for more, his serving girl, Vazh (Brill) says there are only two left alive, although they used to be plentiful. Ploobis blames Vazh for having a glig-skin coat and Queen Peuta (Tweedy) for having glig-skin shoes and a handbag for the birds' near extinction. Ploobis and his lackey Scred (Hunt) go to the Mighty Favog (Oz) for advice. Before they ask advice, Favog asks for two chickens and a glig as payment, so they catch a glig and throw it into Favog's pit. As Ploobis describes his problem, Scred realizes they have just paid one of the last two gligs, so Favog returns their glig.
- Third World Practical Jokes: Bergen conducts a TV interview the king of a peaceful Middle Eastern country (Belushi) where people are happy and well-fed. When the interview starts, Bergen insults and torments the king—calling him "raghead" and "porkface," cutting his tie with scissors, drawing a goatee on his chin, sticking a pen up his nose, pouring coffee in his lap, stamping his foot and dropping a recently lit match in his hand. The king becomes agitated and orders his guards to kill Bergen, who says the king is a vicious dictator who oppresses the press.
- Black Perspective - Jane Curtin: Morris hosts a talk show for Black voices. His guest is Curtin, who has written about the "urban Black experience," which she says she learned about when she grew up in midtown Manhattan. She says she prefers the term "junglebunny" for Black people, and her photograph on the book—which is of a Black woman—doesn't look like her because she doesn't "photograph well."
- Pong - Thanksgiving Weekend: A game of "Pong" is shown while the two players talk off-screen about their plans for Thanksgiving. The player on the right is going home with his girlfriend Carol, but he doesn't think he should sleep in the same bed as Carol. The player on the left encourages him to stand up to his parents. The guy on the right asks why the guy on his left knows all this stuff, and the guy on the left says he went through it last Thanksgiving when Carol slept with him.
- I Can Stand a Little Rain: Esther Phillips song.
"Live from New York, It's Saturday Night!"
- Theme from Jaws, composed by John Williams: Although he had previously won Oscars and nominations for scoring such films as Valley of the Dolls, Goodbye, Mr. Chips and Fiddler on the Roof, it was his simple theme for the 1975 Steven Spielberg film Jaws—two low, deep notes played slowly at first, then increasing in speed as they are repeated to suggest impending danger and a shark attacking from deep underwater—which made Williams one of the most famous and recognizable film score composers in the world. The successful collaboration, his second with Spielberg, also launched a long career together, in which Williams has scored almost every Spielberg film, including such popular and award-winning themes as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial and Schindler's List. The Jaws theme plays in this episode in the sketch "Jaws II," whenever the land shark talks to any of the women he is about to eat.
- What a Difference a Day Makes, performed by Esther Phillips: Originally written in Spanish by María Méndez Grever in 1934, "Cuando Vuelva a Tu Lado" was adapted into English by Stanley Adams. In 1959, legendary jazz singer Dinah Washington recorded the most famous version, although Phillips' 1975 cover, sung in her distinctive nasally, gravelly voice, was the most popular and successful re-recording and Phillips' biggest hit of the 1970s after a string of R&B successes in the 1950s and '60s. It appeared on her album What a Diff'rence a Day Makes.
- I Can Stand a Little Rain, performed by Esther Phillips: Another blues cover which Phillips recorded and released on What a Diff'rence a Day Makes, this time of a song originally written by Joe Cocker (himself primarily a cover artist) and released on his 1974 album of the same title.
- First Appearance: This episode marks the first appearance of Chevy Chase as Gerald Ford, or indeed of anyone impersonating a United States President on SNL. Chase would continue to impersonate Ford throughout his term. This is also the first appearance of the Land Shark, Pong and Black Perspective sketches. The Pong sketches feature writer Al Franken as one of the unseen players, and this would be his first dialogue on the show, although he would make many appearances on the show over the coming years.
- Uncredited Cast: Possibly due to a title card error, cast members Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Chevy Chase and Jane Curtin are not credited this episode, although they all appear. George Coe also is not credited, but he does not appear.
- Girl Power: With this episode, Bergen becomes the first female to host SNL. She also becomes the first host of either gender to impersonate a celebrity on the show with her role as Catherine Deneuve in the "Chanel" sketch.
- Host vs. Star: Bergen's appearance in the sketch "Jaws II" marks the first appearance of an SNL host in a sketch in character throughout the sketch. In fact, with its two performances by a musical guest and frequent appearances of Bergen in character, interacting with the Not-Ready-for-Primetime Players, this is the first episode in series history to display the format which would become familiar to future viewers. However, after this episode, the show returned to a more varied format, and this basic framework would not be seen again for several more episodes.
- Deleted Sketches: The sketches "Long Distance" and "Attractive" were edited out of rebroadcasts of this episode, as was the "Alas, Poor Yurick" commercial.
- He's Chevy Chase, and I'm Not: This episode's Weekend Update was the first time Chase opened the segment with the line, "I'm Chevy Chase, and you're not," which became his catchphrase throughout the remainder of his run on SNL. It also sees the first time Chase made faces at someone trying to give an editorial reply, another trademark of Chase's WU.
Behind the Scenes
- Quick Cash: "Alas, Poor Yurick" is not a sketch but a live commercial. During the first season, cast members made extra money with these live Polaroid commercials, which harkened back to the live commercials done during TV shows in the Golden Age of Television.
- Star Writers: The Muppets sketch "The Gligs" was conceived by the previous episode's host, Rob Reiner, and screenwriter Carl Gottlieb, best known for co-writing the screenplay to the 1975 blockbuster Jaws, which is parodied in this episode in the sketch "Jaws II." Incidentally, Gottlieb would also co-write the actual Jaws 2, which was released in 1978.
Allusions and References
- Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell: A sports news show on ABC hosted by Howard Cosell. For its first season, Saturday Night Live was titled NBC's Saturday Night to avoid confusion. (Hence the opening line, "Live from New York, it's Saturday night!")
- Man Who Thinks He's Gerald Ford: Thank you all for being here, and I am truly honored to be asked by you to open the Saturday night show with Harvey Cosell.
- Jaws II.
- Curtin's editorial reply.
- Kaufman as Foreign Man.
- Chevy Chase: Good evening. I'm Chevy Chase, and you're not.
- Foreign Man: Right now, I vould like to do for you some imitations. So first, I vould like to imitate Archie Bunker. "You... stupid... you are so stupid. Everybody stupid. Eh. Get... get out of my chair, Meathead. You... go... in de, de Dingbat get into de kitchen making de food. Eh. Every... everybody stupid! I don't like nobody, is, is so stupid!" Thank you veddy much.