Monday, April 1, 2013

Blast from the Past (Bonus): Sigourney Weaver in Alienses on SNL

Every once in a while, I happen upon an old post that is worthy of a rerun. And I think this is one of them. Enjoy.


Saturday Night Live isn't as funny as you remember. I don't mean now versus yesterday, I mean it was never as funny as you remember. I've watched since the very first episode in 1975, and am an unabashed fan. Even with its wild swings in quality (often within the same episode), I've stuck with it through thick-and-thin, only abandoning it during the abysmal 1980 season (and even caught a couple of those). As terrific as it could sometimes be in its original years, and successive reboots, it's always been hit-and-miss, with nostalgia painting it "better than it was."

You know how sometimes these days, the "cold open" or the monologue, Weekend Update or the SNL Digital Short might be absolutely hilarious, and then the rest of the show might suck? Yeah, it's always been that way, really. I think it's the nature of live TV. You don't know what's going to work until it's over. A Debbie Downer might only be funny because all of the cast cracked up during the live show. A bit might only work with repetition. But one thing SNL has only rarely been is: funny all the way through.

I can think of two episodes that were. One was a show hosted by Roseanne Barr (Arnold). And the other was the episode hosted by Sigourney Weaver in 1986. Hers was the premiere episode of the season, after the abysmal single season that marked Lorne Michaels' return to the show after a long absence. Though the 1985 season introduced Dennis Miller, Nora Dunn and Jon Lovitz to America, the rest of the cast (which included Robert Downey Jr., Randy Quaid and Anthony Michael Hall) never clicked, and the show was nearly cancelled. Madonna (the host of the 1985 premiere) even came back to declare the whole season a "horrible, horrible dream."

But in 1986, Lorne Michaels hired perhaps the best cast in SNL history, barring the original. For the next several years, the cast remained intact, and segued along nicely for many more. 1986 saw the introduction of Dana Carvey, Victoria Jackson (batshit teabagger, these days), the fabulous Jan Hooks, Kevin Nealon and the sadly departed Phil Hartman. And in that first episode (which also featured Weaver's friend, playwright Christopher Durang and musician Buster Poindexter), SNL aired probably their strongest premiere episode ever, including the first Church Chat, featuring "church lady" Enid Strict. There was the great "Quiz Masters" game show segment. Also, the Derek Stevens "Chopping Broccoli" bit.  Then there was the timely Aliens parody, spoofing Weaver's huge hit movie, called Alienses.

I found and watched this episode (after having had it saved on videotape for years, since discarded) on Netflix. I was disappointed to find that Alienses and a duet with Buster Poindexter (and any other possibly included musical guest) were curiously missing from the episode. Why on earth they would do this, I have no idea. I know that sometimes bits that didn't go ever well are excised in reruns. But Alienses is a fan favorite, with Carvey's colonial marine aping Bill Paxton's character:  "We're shredded wheat, man! We're grated cheese, man!" So after that (very) long introduction, here is Alienses. . .

Sigourney Weaver in "Alienses" by alienfan

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