Saturday Night Live: The Best of Robin Williams
The well loved star of "Mrs Doubtfire", "Dead Pets Society", "The Fisher King" and "Good Morning Vietnam" is captured on video doing what he does best - live comedy. Supported by the ... See full summary »
In the mid nineties Braveworld Video released a 'Best of Saturday Night Live' Video Collection consisting mostly of two slightly edited episodes per tape. Therefore this 'Best of Robin Williams' features his appearances from November 1986 and January 1988 minus the musical performances by Paul Simon and James Taylor (while Simon still appears in three skits, Taylor only shows up on stage for the good-nights). Whoopi Goldberg's introduction one of Paul Simon's numbers is also missing. Actually, they really could not have made a compilation with only Robin Williams material if they wanted to, for he only hosted once prior to these episodes (during the Eddie Murphy years) and has not returned since.
So what we get instead is a good impression of the way things were on SNL in the late nineteen eighties: In the first episode Jon Lovitz is clearly the breakout star. When he plays Master Thespian even Robin Williams takes a step back. Dana Carvey remains in the background for now, while Kevin Nealon and A. Whitney Brown are mere featured performers. Both of them get a chance to introduce themselves: Brown with a boring editorial on Weekend Update, Nealon with a bit of stand up about road maps. You can clearly see why Kevin became a full cast member while A. Whitney went back to writing. In the second show, Dana Carvey is the star and Jon Lovitz has taken a step back, starting off with Hanz and Franz and ending with Carvey doing an impression of Robin Williams and the both trying to out-lib each other.
As host Robin Williams does all the stuff you would expect him to do: stand up routines on politics and prophylactics, impressions of Ronald Reagan and Elmer Fudd and the inevitable references to the Wizard of Oz. The 1986 show is clearly the better one: with the Sweeney Sisters at the Jewish Retirement home, Williams doing an improv Hamlet and a brief reunion between Simon and Garfunkle. The 1988 episode has stuff like a baby video skit that relies heavily on pre-recorded stuff, Nora Dunn as one of her many talk show host characters and Al Franken taking up so much time on Weekend Update that even Dennis Miller starts flubbing his lines. Only the 8th Anual Ace Awards is good for a few chuckles, relying as it does on obscure movie references. The biggest problem with having the second part of the tape being such a letdown is that you almost forget how funny the first half was.