Candice Bergen and Esther Philips: 11/08/75

“I’m pleased to be on the Saturday Night with Harvey Cosell,” Says Chevy Chase, doing the cold open as Gerald Ford.

When Chevy Chase impersonates Gerald Ford, he really isn’t impersonating Gerald Ford at all; it’s more like Chevy Chase acting presidential, with the occasional falling down (something Ford did frequently). That’s what makes it funny.

Candice Bergen mentions in her monologue that she is Saturday Night‘s first female host, but that has no bearing on the ERA, a hot topic at the time (and that said, during most of the 1970s). The monologue is followed by a commerical parody for the Ambassador Training Institute, a vocational school that trains you for a career as a diplomat.

This episode marks the first appearance of Chevy Chase’s “Landshark”, a parody of Jaws. Chevy Chase’s shark appears at the door, mentioning that he’s there to deliver a “Candy Gram”. Laraine Newman and Jane Curtain are eaten alive. Candice Bergen tries to club the shark, only to get Garrett Morris instead.

Esther Philips is introduced by Candice, who says that one of them is going to perform “What a Diff’rence a Day Makes”. Phillips does a rousing, disco-style rendition of the song. It’s unusual that Saturday Night would book a disco singer, since the show largely shunned disco. Philips may have been booked because of her background in traditional R&B, rather than the show bowing to current trends.

Chevy Chase does a clumsy performance of Hamlet, which also segues into a live commercial for a Polaroid Camera.

“Weekend Update” opens with Chevy Chase engaged in a personal phone call, only to realize he’s live on Camera. The second part of “Update” features Jane Curtain doing an editorial, commending President Ford’s decision to deny New York City federal funding. Chevy Chase mocks Jane by sarcastically mimicking her, which irritates Jane. Update’s end has another appearance by Garrett Morris, reiterating the broadcast for the hard of hearing.

Candice Bergen lampoons Catherine Deneuve’s Chanel Commercials, which juxtaposed Deneuve’s striking beauty with her halting English. Andy Kaufman makes another appearance, speaking in a very high pitched voice, and playing the bongos.

Gilda Radner and Candice Bergen have a moment onstage where they discuss femininity and the ERA. Gilda talks about her insecurities; Candice, a former model herself, notes that very few people are comfortable with the way they look. Gilda tells the story of her first date and how she was instructed by others to behave. Gilda was advised to have the man open the door for her. When she was about to get out of the car, she accidentally opened the door, and closed it before her date could open it.

The conversation segues into the ERA. Candice voted for it; Gilda didn’t vote at all. Gilda brings up the criticism that was frequently brought up with the ERA: that men and women would be forced to share bathroom. To which Candice gently retaliates: “We can be equal, but different. Like us.”

“Even a super season has super failures,” says the narrator at the start of Albert Brooks’ short film, which centers around midseason replacements on NBC.

Among the midseason replacements include Medical Season, in which preview clips show a doctor telling a woman that she has a year to live, only to find out that she already knows, and then gives her a lecture about how inconsiderate she is for not informing him that she knew. Then a woman on the phone informs someone at the end of the line that she’s “A registered nurse, not a registered prostitute.” Then there is The Three of Us, which features Brooks as one-half of a married couple who live with his wife’s best friend; he tries goading them into a threesome, but both women resist.

Black Vet concerns an African American Vietnam Veteran who also works as a veteranarian in a small southern town. He encounters a racist pet owner, and at one point threatens a man by saying, “I’m not the kind of vet who believes in drowning cats, except for the kind that goes after my wife.” The late screenwriting guru Blake Snyder once said of Black Vet that it is “so close to a real show on real TV, so much about the desperation of Hollywood types trying to squeeze 10 pounds of shit into a five-pound bag”. Finally, there are also specials, among them Bicentennial specials “guaranteed to make you feel 200 years old.”

Following a sketch that has Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi playing Kiwi Bird trappers on a talk show, Candice plays a photojournalist interviews an Arab Diplomat, played by Belushi. “I don’t know how to pronounce your name, so let’s call you raghead.” she says.

Al Franken and Tom Davis make their first appearance on Saturday Night as two college roommates who converse over a game of Pong. At some point, Franken discovers that his girlfriend is cheating on him with Davis. This is followed by another performance by Esther Phillips.

Candice Bergen is showered with Red Roses at the show’s end.


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