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STUDIO: Lion’s Gate
RUNNING TIME: 92 Minutes
• Original Screen Test
• Rolling Stone article
• ‘An Inside Look’ featurette
• Photo gallery
"It’s Saturday Night Live with no commercials and one-fifth the bullshit!"
Dan Aykroyd; John "Hey Gordo, gimme another shot!" Belushi; Gilda "I Really AM 12" Radner; Jane "Ignorant Slut" Curtin; Mick "I’m Rick James, Bitch!" Jagger
He was one of the last to join the original cast, but Aykroyd was one of the reasons Saturday Night Live wasn’t merely a mid-season roadbump in the NBC schedule. This collection of roughly 20 sketches has some of his best stuff — an ad for the Bassomatic, Irvin Mainway the skeevy salesman, Fred Garvin, male prostitute and a few of the many news and talk show type personas that were Aykroyd mainstays. It isn’t all brilliant, but about a third of the 90 minutes are better than anything SNL has run in 20 years.
"If you call me Dick again, I’ll cut off the top of your head and use it as an artificial vagina."
The ‘Best of SNL’ packages are never much more than a collection of sketches. The best bonus material here is Aykroyd’s original screen test, where he riffs through a half dozen characters in only a few minutes. It shows why he was a star in the first place. The ‘Inside Look’ is typical Behind the Music sorta shit, with a couple good lines from Steve Martin and Aykroyd himself. The actual sketches are presented without any frills, and they look and sound fine, considering they were shot for television thirty years ago.
I’m not going to bullshit anyone with some song and dance about how this is all perfectly classic material. The Blues Brothers performance which opens the disc is average at best, and though the Tom Snyder piece with Mick Jagger has a few chuckles, I certainly wouldn’t miss it. The fridge repairman bit is long and pretty dull, since it’s mostly mugging from Bill Murray and Gilda Radner. It’s always great to see Murray, but I would have been happy just with the ‘Coneheads on Family Feud’ sketch near the end of the disc, where he’s fargin’ brilliant as Richard Dawson.
That’s right, it really is just that simple.
Sadly, Aykroyd’s non-Blues Brothers collaborations with Belushi are mostly M.I.A. Instead, this collection demonstrates how well the comedian worked with Jane Curtin. She’s the perfect straightwoman for Aykroyd, whether as Jane Face interrogating the shady Halloween costumes peddled by Irvin Mainway (I love ‘Invisible Pedestrian’ — an all-black suit!) or as half of the point/counterpoint discussion where the topic is Lee Marvin’s divorce. More of Irvin Mainway would have been great, too, since that sort of slimy pitchman is one of Aykroyd’s best character types.
Aykroyd was a great impersonator, but the disc wastes five minutes on his Julia Child act, which becomes a simple gore gag. I’d rather see two more sketches like ‘Ask President Carter’ where Aykroyd, as Jimmy, helps fix a post office sorting machine and talks a kid down from a bad acid trip. That’s comedy.
It always makes me proud to see ol’ dad on the teevee.
But even with the padding, this is gold, and so much more welcome than most of the SNL discs available. I never get tired of hearing Steve Martin scream about holding onto big American Breasts (in the ‘Wild and Crazy Guys’ bit), or watching Aykroyd’s chump salesman schtik. And if I ever come down with cancer, a few glimpses of the Bassomatic ’76 ad — complete with liquefied bass — should clear it up. For that, the disc is absolutely worth a couple bucks.
7.5 out of 10