Years ago, my two brothers and I were watching television one night my freshman year of high school. That gives you an indication of how raucous my life was back then. We turned to channel 5, the station NBC uses in Chicago, expecting to watch a newsmagazine show we liked called "Weekend." We were surprised to find that our regular show was not on; instead, Richard Pryor,whom we liked, was hosting some sort of comedy show with a bunch of people we'd never seen. There was a bit in which Chevy Chase and Richard Pryor played a psychiatrist and patient doing a "word association" activity while trading racial slurs. A guy named John Belushi did a bit called "Samurai Hotel." It was irreverent and hilarious, and we were hooked immediately.
It turned out that we had missed the first six episodes of Saturday Night Live, a very, very funny show.
A few weeks later, we talked my father into staying up with us and watching it. It happened to be the episode with the "Bass-o-Matic." My father was hooked too.
Saturday Night Live these days is painfully unfunny, and it really should be euthanized. I've been waiting forever for the first few seasons to come out on DVD. The wait is over, at least for the first, and maybe best, season. It was released, with surprisingly little fanfare, a couple of weeks ago.
The first season had, for my money, many, many of the pieces that would make the show legendary. One I remember very well was from the episode the British comedy duo Peter Cook and Dudley Moore hosted. It was called "Lifer Follies," and it involved Peter Cook as a director casting the play "Gigi" in a prison. There were killer bees, land sharks, Mr. Bill and inspired guest hosts like Dick Cavett and Desi Arnaz.
Here's an episode guide from that fabulous first season.