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Saturday Night Live: The Complete Second Season & r & & r & by BOB GRIMM & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & T & lt;/span & he 1976-77 season was when SNL really started to take off. Chevy Chase bugged out in the first half and was eventually replaced by a little-known yet far more talented guy named Bill Murray. Some strange guy with an arrow through his head and prematurely gray hair showed up, played "Ramblin' Guy" and became a superstar by exclaiming, "Excuuuuse me!"





The show was still a little rough around the edges, but that was part of its charm. One of Murray's first appearances was in old-age makeup, playing a grandpa waiting to talk to a relative on the phone. The man was a genius right out of the gate, and the sketch is proof of that. You also get a gander at Andy Kaufman's first impression of Elvis on the show. Kaufman was Elvis' favorite Elvis impersonator, and you can see why.





I still think that Frank Zappa's guitar intro during his late-night rendition of "Peaches en Regalia" is one of the finest examples of musicianship the show has ever seen. Watching the show during the holiday season and knowing that the likes of Zappa, Kaufman, Gilda Radner and John Belushi are no longer with us adds a certain level of melancholy to the proceedings. But watching the likes of Murray blossom counters the sadness.





Hosts included the great Steve Martin and Eric Idle (both hosted twice), Ralph Nader and Jodie Foster. Chase, who did his last "Weekend Update" on Oct. 30, 1976, was still in fine form and should've stuck around a couple more years. This was a great season for the show, and things would get even better the following season.





As a bonus, you get the infamous Mardi Gras special in its entirety, in which the cast went to New Orleans and made asses of themselves in a good way. (The interview with Henry Winkler is a classic.) There's also a bizarre Andy Kaufman screen test, where he does a straight reading of "MacArthur Park," and it is total greatness. There's also a "scrapbook" and audio of dress rehearsals. Not a lot of features, but cool nonetheless.

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