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Saturday Night Live: Season 01 ()

Imbued by a strong counterculture sentiment, the first season of the late-night comedy series is raw, raucous and laugh-out-loud funny thanks to the talents of the original -- and some might argue, the best -- cast, which includes Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner, and Jane Curtin. It also features satiric short films from Albert Brooks, a few off-the-wall spots from Andy Kaufman, and segments starring an adult-oriented group of Muppets. Among the inaugural season's popular bits: Chase's impersonation of President Gerald Ford, whom he envisions as both a bumbler and a fool, and "Weekend Update" ("Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead"); Aykroyd's demented "Bass-o-matic" commercial; Belushi's spastic homage to rock star Joe Cocker; and producer-creator Lorne Michaels' offer to pay the Beatles $3000 to reunite on the show. Of course, plenty of humor also comes from the guest hosts. George Carlin sets a high standard when he chaperones the show's debut, but the hosts who follow him more than hold their own, including Richard Pryor, Lily Tomlin, and Kris Kristofferson. Candice Bergen, Elliott Gould, and Buck Henry host two episodes apiece. Even Ron Nessen, Ford's press secretary, fares better than expected, most notably in a sketch with Chase that mercilessly lampoons his boss. The season's musical guests are also top drawer, including Abba, the Stylistics, Patti Smith, and Paul Simon, who hosts a music-heavy episode that features a reunion with him and old friend Art Garfunkel. Jeff Gemmill, Rovi Hide synopsis

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