Lily Tomlin, Howard Shore & The All Nurse Band: 11/22/75

Yet another opening with Chevy Chase as President Ford. Subtitles appear: “This is not a good impression of Gerald Ford, but Rich Little won’t work for scale.” As Gerald Ford, Chevy Chase discusses New York City’s financial problems. He hasn’t granted New York City federal funds yet, stating:

The longer I hold out on New York City, the better chances I have with those Conservative Republicans who would otherwise support Ronald Reagan, pretty smart, eh?

Ford has two Rotary Phones at his desk: Henry Kissinger on one phone, Anwar Sadat on the other. He accidentally hangs up on both of them, falls down, and declares, “Live from New York, It’s Saturday Night!”

Lily Tomlin delivers her monologue on a brand new set, the set that would remain through the 1978-79 season. Lily delivers a short rap that closes, “Take pride in yourself, you could be Philadelphia.”

Saturday Night is still experimenting. John Belushi makes three appearances as Beethoven in this episode: in his first appearance, he attempts to play “Moonlight Sonata”, only to get frustrated and switch up to “Tie A Yellow Ribbon”. In the second Beethoven segment, he tries to play his “Fifth Symphony”, then gets bored and starts playing “My Girl”. Late in the episode, the third and final appearance, Beethoven snorts coke and starts playing Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say”. Laraine Newman and Gilda Radner, playing maids, appear dumbfounded by his raucous change of pace and become a ad-hoc version of the Raelettes. Beethoven’s “What’d I Say” is an irrevrent stab at Masterpiece Theatre.

Howard Shore and his “All Nurse Band” is the musical guest for tonight, which is to say that the musical guest is in-house. With Lily Tomlin, they perform “St. James’ Infirmary”. The entire band–mostly male–is dressed in Nurses’ Attire.

The Jaws landshark makes a second appearance. Jane Curtain appears to disregard a radio warning about the landshark preying on single women. Then she opens her apartment door. Expecting the landshark, she hits Dan Ackroyd instead. Catching Jane off guard, the landshark eats her.

Dan Ackroyd returns to his headquarters to make plans to capture the landshark. What he doesn’t know is that the Landshark is right behind him, making suggestions on how to catch him. The landshark eats Dan Ackroyd alive, then Gilda Radner. The sketch is cut short, upsetting Lily Tomlin and John Belushi.

Edith Ann, Lily Tomlin’s 5-and-a-half year old character, makes an appearance in a short film. The props are built in a manner to distort Tomlin’s height and make her more believable as a little girl (the trademark of these sketches). Edith’s dog, Buster, is not allowed on the ice, so she has had his paws pasted to the floor.

“Weekend Update” features another appearance by a recurring gag. An incident where President Ford’s life appears to be in danger, and the culprit is “seized and wrestled to the ground”. In a previous episode, it was a wrecked car; this week, it’s Ford Puncturing himself with a fork. It is reported that General Fransisco Franco of Spain has died. Update is sponsored by Spud Beer. In Spud Beer’s commercial, Alan Zweibel plays a mental patient that has just been through electroshock therapy. Its slogan is: “Spud Beer: For Those Who Can’t Tell the Difference”.

The second half of “Update” features a news item that has the Peanuts character Woodstock replaced with Altamont, whose appearance is basically Woodstock dressed as a Hell’s Angel, and who will “beat birds to death with a pool cue.”

In “The Land of Gorch”, Scred is missing, and after digging up the hole he lives in, it is revealed that he is obsessed with Fran Allison and Lily Tomlin. Scred has joined Lily Tomlin onstage, and they perform a sweet, delectable version of “I Got You Babe”.

The weekly Albert Brooks short film is actually a rebroadcast of “The Impossible Truth”, the short that appeared in the pilot.* It is a newsreel parody that’s sort of a parody of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!‘s outrageous-but-true stories. It features a blind New York City cab driver who can navigate traffic perfectly; the age of consent being lowered to seven in Oregon; and the country of Israel and the state of Georgia relocating and trading places. “The Impossible Truth” ends with this warning:

“‘The Impossible Truth’ is a fully copyrighted feature. Infringment of that copyright can lead to a long and costly legal battle that we will win. As for now, ‘The Impossible Truth’ continues to scan the globe.

A construction class features Lily Tomlin instructing female workers how to objectify and hit on men, doing a gender reversal on construction-worker stereotypes. This is an incredibly unusual sketch for this period of SNL, as SNL was pretty much a boys’ club in those days. The sketch is contrasted by its follow-up, a commercial parody featuring a housewife with boundless energy. She has her paper grocery bags neatly folded into place with cupboard. What does she owe all her energy to? Why Speed, of course!

The final sketch is a monologue performed by Lily Tomlin, dressed in a poodle skirt and cackling bubble gum, engaging in 1950s teenage gossip.

At the show’s closing, the cast dressed in bee costumes. Gilda asks Lily to autograph one of her albums. The cast does some scat-singing, and the show concludes.

*Since I didn’t write about “The Impossible Truth” in the pilot post, I’m writing about it here.


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