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The fourth season of Saturday Night Live is a peak year for appearances by most of the iconic characters associated with the original Not-Ready-for-Primetime-Players. Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd are still red-hot as the wild and crazy Festrunk brothers from Czechoslovakia. The Coneheads (Aykroyd, Jane Curtin, and Laraine Newman) treat host Frank Zappa to their alien madness. John Belushi and Buck Henry appear in yet another samurai skit, with Belushi as a sword-wielding, Japanese optometrist. Aykroyd continues to have a hammerlock on Jimmy Carter with insightful impressions of the then-president. Bill Murray and Gilda Radner appear several times as nerds Lisa Loopner and Todd LaBount. Even Belushi's hated Bees turn up in a one-off sketch co-starring Walter Matthau in a The Bad News Bears satire. One of the show's most underrated, recurring sketches--the St. Mickey's Knights of Columbus monthly meeting--occurs several times with a certain warmth and preciseness that suggests they spring from a writer's childhood memories. The fourth season took place at a time before SNL hosts were largely ephemeral celebrities. Thus, sort-of cult figure Buck Henry hosts twice, as does Monty Python's Michael Palin. Perennial favorite (at least during the early years) Elliot Gould hosts once. So do Richard Benjamin, Kate Jackson, Cicely Tyson, Fred Willard, Eric Idle, Matthau, Zappa, and Maureen Stapleton. Rising stars Carrie Fisher and Margot Kidder each host a show, the former game to perform in a sketch inspired by Star Wars, the latter happy to appear as Lois Lane alongside Murray's Superman. Not every episode is brilliant, and the season opener, more or less hosted by the Rolling Stones, is a bit of a train wreck. What stands out are several sketches that are television classics, including Aykroyd's brilliant impression of Julia Child bleeding everywhere in her studio kitchen; the first broadcast performance of Aykroyd and Belushi's Blues Brothers; Garrett Morris singing a Mozart piece at Matthau's request; Aykroyd's weirdly avuncular "Fred Garvin: Male Prostitute;" Paul Shaffer's remarkable impression of rock impresario Don Kirshner; and a Twilight Zone spoof starring Rick Nelson accidentally lost at the Leave It to Beaver residence. Musical guests in season four include the Stones in a rocky performance, Ornette Coleman in an abrasive one, James Taylor doing fine, as do Van Morrison, the Chieftains, the Doobie Brothers, Talking Heads, and the Grateful Dead. The Gould show has two highlights besides the wonderful Christmas edition of the St. Mickey's sketch: Mick Jagger (making up a bit for the earlier Stones fiasco) surprising everyone by joining Peter Tosh in a number, and an appearance by comedy team Bob and Ray. Bob Elliott's son, Chris Elliott, of course, eventually became a cast member of SNL, and consequently Chris' daughter, Abby Elliott, joined the 2008-09 cast.

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MC02145 Saturday Night Live Complete 4th Season DVD (1976-Saturday Night Live Complete 4th Season DVD (1978-79) $39.98 $35.99