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Best Of SNL (1979-80 series)? (1 Viewer)

Mark Y

Mar 20, 2006
The first five seasons of "Saturday Night Live" have been on DVD for years, so this might be kind of moot, but I remember watching a compilation series called "The Best Of Saturday Night Live" which aired (IIRC) for 13 weeks during the 1979-80 season. It was preceded by at least one (maybe two?) prime time specials the previous year (1978-79).

This was different from both the one-hour and half-hour syndicated versions of the show which launched in 1981. This was usually one hour (first on Friday nights, then moved to Wednesdays) although a few times it was expanded to 90 minutes.

When the series started, at first they'd feature a guest host that week, like the regular SNL. But the shows were compiled from more than one episode, which allowed them to have "all eight" cast members (with the exception of the Michael Palin show, which didn't include Chevy Chase).

The show opening was based on the Season 4 intro but was shorter, with fewer "New York" scenes and only one picture for each cast member compared to two in the regular show. They took Chevy Chase's picture from one of the bumpers when he guest-hosted in Season 3. Don Pardo did new voice-over announcing.

The closing credits usually cross-faded to more New York images or pictures of that week's guest host. Later in the season they stopped having one single guest host and instead had material from a bunch of different shows with various guest hosts, who were named in the show opening as "special guests."

As I recall, each of these "best of" episodes was aired only once. I had just started watching the show regularly, so these shows were my introduction to some of the material from the early seasons.

Also towards the end, they started including skits from the then-current season, but they didn't add Harry Shearer to the cast montage at the beginning of the show.

Again, this is completely superfluous given that they released the first five seasons -- but part of me would like to have a set of these. I wonder if they were even saved, given that they were only aired once.

(And a few years later in 1982, they did a similar special called "The Best Of Saturday Night Live" featuring the then-current cast with Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo. However, this time it did not lead to a weekly "Best Of" series.)

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