Saturday Night Live : The Complete First Season (DVD)

Looking back on the first season of “Saturday Night Live” is like staring at a photograph of your 10th birthday party: You knew you had a wonderful time first-time around, but you wonder whether it’d get you as excited now.


Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Garrett Morris, Gilda Radner

Looking back on the first season of “Saturday Night Live” is like staring at a photograph of your 10th birthday party: You knew you had a wonderful time first-time around, but you wonder whether it’d get you as excited now.

Don’t get me wrong, “SNL” is a terrific show – its been running long enough, after all – but as the years have gone, the jokes lose something (largely because they’re so topical for their time) and the skits don’t play as well as they use to. Having said that, that’s the case with many sketch shows – Australia’s “Fast Forward” being a prime example – return to them years later and they won’t play as well as they did first-time around. Most of the time, its only because you remember the joke – or it was never that great of a skit to begin with, so the [one] thing you found funny about it the first time around has vanished like BETA.

“SNL” was a slow-burner though. The first season was a very mixed bag, and the show never really found its feet until about years 3 or 4. The problem with these early sketches is that they weren’t aimed at the lower or middle-class audience, but more so only white collars, and they would spend too much time parodying commercials – ads that would be off the air by the time the show aired. It’s sometimes rather painful to watch actually – there are too many incomplete gags, the pacing is off, and a lot of the jokes go down like a lead balloon. Nobody was quite prepared in the freshman year.

There’s a reason to watch it, still.

Looking at the cast list of is like reading a who’s who of the biggest names in films of the 80s, notably John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd. Possibly the best is Chevy Chase, who will have you in stitches in a scene in which he forces guest-host Richard Pryor into a word-association exercise. It’s awesome to watch where these guys got their start – and, well, seem them blossom into the comic geniuses they all became.

The first season DVD set is fat. Very fat. It features all 24 episodes of the debut season in their original 90-minute format – adding up to more than 30 hours of sketches – and comes complete with several old but worthwhile extras, including the audition tapes of the cast.

Though the first season never quite reached Gold status (or Silver for that matter), it’s still great to have the classic show in its complete season-format – up till now, they’ve only released multi-episode discs or SNL specials on DVD – so we can skip and jump through some of the moments that did work.

Rating :
Reviewer : Clint Morris