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DVD SAVANT

Saturday Night Live Halloween
&
Saturday Night Live Christmas

Separate releases Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

Lion's Gate has put out quite a few Saturday Night Live discs, usually organized by performer. Last year they released a multi-disc set of musical performances from the show that pleased many DVD fans but disappointed others with specific omissions, like Prince. These two SNL specials were compiled in 1999 and gather together skits themed for Halloween and Christmas. Both collections are successful, with the Christmas compilation having the edge in classic material.


Saturday Night Live Halloween
Lion's Gate Home Entertainment
1975+
Color
1:33 flat full frame
59 min.
Street Date October 28, 2003
14.99

Starring Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, Pamela Anderson, Al Franken, Gilda Radner, John Travolta, Chris Farley, James Woods, Dan Ackroyd, Adam Sandler, Laraine Newman

Contents:

1. Land Shark
2. opening montage
3. Wayne's World Top Excellent Babe Costumes
4. Gay Dracula
5. Martha Stewart
6. Matt Foley, motivational Speaker
7. Cheerleaders
8. Vampire Dating
9. Rich the Copy Guy
10. Twilight Zone
11. Consumer Probe
12. Sandler's Costume Ideas
13. Return of the Coneheads
14. Daily Affirmation with Stuart Smalley
15. Wayne's World Top 5 Worst Treats

There's some great material here, but the show isn't quite an hour long and doesn't really establish a tone of its own. The classic bits are two vampire skits with guest stars John Travolta and James Woods. Woods is so funny, we wonder if he's wasted his career in straight roles. Also strong are Al Franken's intense Stuart Smalley bit, the Coneheads routine and Rich the Copy Guy. Others have a knee-jerk nostalgic appeal, like the original Land Shark gag, and there's nothing bad about the Twilight Zone Eye of the Beholder takeoff with Pamela Anderson. Perhaps cued by the Myers-Carvey Wayne's World best-of skits used as bookends, the show leans heavily in favor of mean-spirited humor ... not a bad thing for Halloween, I suppose.

I get the feeling that some great material that had to be chopped because of legal rights problems - mainly Madeline Kahn's drop-dead funny I Feel Pretty, that she sings as the Bride of Frankenstein. The Bernstein-Sondheim estates probably had something to do with it.


Saturday Night Live Christmas
Lion's Gate Home Entertainment
1975+
Color
1:33 flat full frame
74 min.
Street Date October 28, 2003
14.99

Starring Dana Carvey, Chevy Chase, Jane Curtin, Phil Hartman, Jon Lovitz, Garrett Morris, Eddie Murphy, Bill Murray, Mike Myers, Laraine Newman, Adam Sandler, Alec Baldwin, Candice Bergen, Danny DeVito, Steve Martin, Rosie O'Donnell, Paul Simon, William Shatner.

Contents:

1. Christmas Eve at the White House
2. Opening Montage
3. Bill Murray welcomes Santa
4. Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood
5. Delicious Dish
6. Church Chat
7. Martha Stewart Living
8. Hanukah Song
9. A Holiday Wish
10.Matt Foley, Motivational Speaker
11. Consumer Probe
12. Lost Ending of "It's a Wonderful Life"
13. Santa Wrap
14. Hanukah Harry
15. Deserted Island Christmas
16. Winter Wonderland
17. Dysfunctional Family Christmas
18. Rita From Brooklyn
19. Master Thespian

This Christmas show is longer both in length and in amusing content. Surely due to the broader possibilities inherent in the Christmas holiday, there are more classics here. Eddie Murphy's skit has to be one of his best, and the same goes for Carvey's Church Lady (Santa = Satan) and Jon Lovitz' Hanukah Harry and Master Thespian skits. There's the expected Martha Stewart skewering, and another Matt Foley exercise for Chris Farley. Dan Ackroyd's schtick as Mainway, the evil marketer of deadly kid's toys is helped enormously by the presence of Candice Bergen, who has a wonderful time trying not to laugh. Steve Martin's A Holiday Wish monologue is equally hilarious.

The best skit by far is the incredibly accurate parody of It's a Wonderful Life. It's a truly wicked satirical jab. Dana Carvey's uncanny Jimmy Stewart imitation is just too perfect to not be funny.

Christmas has the requisite edgy material, such as the jarring and rather cruel-spirited Martha Stewart's Topless Christmas. On the other hand, the special has some great musical material that shows SNL at its best as an ensemble of killer comedy talent. Dysfunctional Family Christmas is a spoof of a syndicated K-Tel type music ad with vicious Xmas Carol parodies, but Winter Wonderland is a practically straight caroling number with most of the early cast members (+ a delightful Candice Bergen, again) belting out backup for Garrett Morris. It's charming to see the original cast (some of them gone now) having so much fun, and it even generates some Christmas cheer. This very satisfying show is more than the sum of its parts.


The quality of these Lion's Gate shows is fine, with some of them limited by the video quality of 1970s broadcast TV. There's a refreshing absence of host intros like the ones that mar the music compilation discs. I only caught one clip with a distracting edit, in the Xmas Church Lady routine. It looked as if it was made to excise most of a musical performance - ?

Savant recommends the Halloween show to SNL fans, and the Christmas show to everyone.


On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor, Saturday Night Live Halloween rates:
Show: Very Good
Video: Good
Sound: Excellent
Supplements: None
Packaging: Keep case
Reviewed: January 19, 2004

On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor, Saturday Night Live Christmas rates:
Show: Excellent
Video: Good
Sound: Excellent
Supplements: None
Packaging: Keep case
Reviewed: January 19, 2004




DVD Savant Text © Copyright 2007 Glenn Erickson

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