SummaryWhere’s the cast? Joe Piscopo and Eddie Murphy are still there, but what happened to everyone else? The “new” cast wasn’t working out, nor was the new producer, so NBC placed Dick Ebersol in charge of production, and he gave the show a brand new face-lift. Ebersol produced the very last episode of the 1980 season (just before the writer’s strike), brought in a few new players, and they’ve carried over into the new season. Joining Piscopo and Murphy this season are part-time “SCTV” players Robin Duke and Tony Rosato, Christine Ebersole, Mary Gross, Tim Kazurinsky and former writer/featured SNL performer Brian Doyle-Murray.
This season did things a little differently. The cold openings didn’t end with the shouting of “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!”, and in fact were often replaced by a fake commercial bumper. Missing, also, was the monologue. Instead, the cast was introduced as a group on the front stage, then they would run into their places for the first sketch.
However, older fans of the show received a treat (on Halloween night, no less), when former cast member John Belushi made a cameo appearance in the men’s room on an episode hosted by Donald Pleasance. Belushi had promised to make the cameo appearance if Fear was booked as a musical guest. Even though he had no lines in the skit, there he was, the original “Bad Boy” of “SNL”.
This season played out in an unusual manner, but the show was saved from cancellation by the performances of the new cast – Eddie Murphy, especially, with his huge assortment of characters, including Ho Entrepreneur Velvet Jones and Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood. Still not the greatest season in SNL history, but 1981 picked up the pieces that had been scattered rampantly at the beginning of the decade.