"Saturday Night Live: The Complete Third Season" DVD Review
May 13, 2008 by Zach Demeter
While itís only been seven months since the last release of Saturday Night Live on DVD, those hoping to fill up their DVD collection with the legendary sketch comedy show will welcome this release with open arms. The showís third season had a lot to live up to after the tweaked and perfected second season, but the SNL cast delivered in every way they knew how. More zany characters showed up and plenty of wacky sketches made it to air, as well as the return of fan favorite characters that showed up in the past two seasons.
SNLís third season brought the satirical sketch show to a new level with even more biting humor and political commentary thrown into the pot. Mega-host Steve Martin returns for a few more hosting sessions in this season, alongside other hosts such as Michael Palin, Hugh Hefner, Buck Henry, Robert Klein, Chevy Chase, Madeline Kahn, Richard Dreyfuss, O.J. Simpson and Miskel Spillman alongside musical guests Elvis Costello, Billy Joel, Ray Charles, Leon Redbone, Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Ashford & Simpson, Meat Loaf and The Blues Brothers. Itís a packed season full of hilarious sketches and entertainmentóeverything a season of SNL should be.
I said this in my review of the second season, but itís really quite interesting to look back on these old seasons of SNL and attempt to see where the show generated such a strong fan base. You can mock the show all you want in its current state, but it honestly wasnít all that better off with the original cast. Sure, we owe a lot to SNL for what it pioneered and how it set the stage for other satirical shows, but the formula really hasnít changed over the years. Not all of the sketches have you rolling on the floor, nor are there any full episodes where your mouth hurts from laughingÖbut there are a lot of great sketches to be had in this season and those sketches alone are what make the show worth watching.
Of course even with the shine coming off of some of these older seasons now that weíre actually able to view them as they were when they originally aired (except in better clarity, anyway), these older seasons do eclipse the newer productions in several ways. The biggest thing is the chemistry the cast has with one another; while newer seasons of SNL come off as stiff at times simply due to the comedians not gelling with one another as well as they could be. That never seems to be the case with these old seasons; if a joke falls flat itís almost always because it wasnít funny to begin with and the comedians here all work with one another in perfect timing. Perhaps they were more relaxed (or more nervous, who knows) being the first cast, so they felt naturally comfortable with one another, but I just sit back and watch some of these sketches and think to myself that the casts ability to play off one another is really the strongest aspect of the early seasons.
The third season saw the introduction of The Nerds (played by Bill Murray and Gilda Radner) as well as the return of the second-season premiered Coneheads (Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin), but one of the funnier and more memorable bits from the third season was Steve Martinís singing King Tut. Iíve seen this clip used around so many places and I had no idea what season of SNL it came from, but Iím glad to be able to finally pin its location.
As with the second season, I binge watched so much of this set that trying to pick out individual segments from individual episodes has all but become impossible at this point. This is a general side affect of reviewing and watching TV shows on DVDósometimes you watch the seasons so fast that it all becomes one giant blur (after recently watching all of the Buffy and Angel series in the span of a couple months, I honestly couldnít tell you anything about the individual episodes, just general season overviews). Even though picking out specific elements is difficult, I can assure you of one thing: even after twenty-two and a half hours of SNL I never once got the desire to stop. Sure, there were slow moments in over half of the episodes, but itís just a real treat to even be able to see every one of these episodes in as much clarity as theyíre presented in that I kept saying ďjust one moreĒ and before I knew it I had spent an entire weekend with this set.
Overall Saturday Night Live Ė The Complete Third Season may not live up to the rose-tinted glasses image everyone has of it, but itís certainly still a knockout season. Highly Recommended.
This particular edition of Saturday Night Live Ė The Complete Third Season is apparently the ďLimited EditionĒ set; supposedly two editions of the set was announced (one with limited edition packaging and four collectible character cards and another with just the digi-paks), but Iím only seeing one SKU on Amazon for it currently, so I donít know if the non-LE edition was pulled for now or what. For those picking up the set on day one, however, itíll likely be this LE set regardless, so hereís what you can expect: the same thing as the last two sets. The fold out digi-pak tray housing the seven discs (yup, we lose one extra disc in this set for some reason, simply wasnít needed) sits inside of the cardboard packaging which has a photo of that seasons cast. Attached to the back is the products description and contents; the fold out digi-pak tray repeats the rear product description and each one of the seven discs boasts unique art with imagery taken from the series iconic opening.
Video and audio are once again up another notch from the last release simply due to this one being a tad bit more recent. Picture is clean and isnít quite as full of dirt and grain as last time; itís a bit softer, but the loss of the excessive grain is a fair trade off. There are some video banding issues as well, but, again, thatís what the source material has so not much you can do about that. Audio is a Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (that sounds contradictory, but thatís what the packaging states) and is clean and clear; occasionally the audience will muffle the actors, but, again, source audio.
Moving onto the extras we have ďThings We Did Last SummerĒ (42:38), a SNL original production that showed what some of the cast members did during the summer. We see the Blues Brothers performing, Bill Murray playing (or attempting) to play baseball and Gilda Radner selling tickets for tours of her apartment. This extra has its moments and itís cool to see more of the Blues Brothers, but I really didnít laugh much during the Radner bits. Murray was entertaining as usual, so all in all this is still a plus and nice extra to have.
The final extra here is a Jim Belushi and Howard Shore wardrobe test (2:19). Itís really not funny at all and really just seems to be added for historical purposes. Admittedly itís cool to see what the performers were like off-camera (so to speak), but these old behind-the-scenes nuggets such as wardrobe and auditions really just make you wonder how they ended up making something funny.
Overall the extras are a tad light, but with twenty two and a half hours of SNL to watch, I canít imagine that even the most die-hard of fans would want to watch it all over again with commentary or making-ofís. Hopefully they can get a retrospective together of all of the retired SNL members once these sets reach that point, but for now Universal is doing a hell of a job just releasing this mammoth show on DVD. Highly Recommended.
Saturday Night Live: The Complete Third Season is now available on DVD.