The non-PC version
Hot on the heals of The Best of John Belushi (1985) and The Best of Dan
Aykroyd (1986), the first two official SNL compilation on the market
overseen by Judith Belushi and Dan Aykroyd respectively, Eddie Murphy
was persuaded to compile his favorite material from his breakthrough
years on Saturday Night Live and release it on VHS under his own 'Eddie
Murphy Television' banner. This is noteworthy as Murphy has been
unwilling to comment on his tenure at SNL ever since 1985. For years,
this version was the easiest to find (bargain basement) tape in the SNL
series, not surprising as Eddie was and still is the most successful
movie star ever to come out of the show. Ironically, the period that
featured Eddie on the show (the five years which Loren Michaels did not
produce) are the least seen seasons on television. With the advent of
DVD and the increase in Saturday Night Live Best of compilations, new
versions of The best of Belush, Ayk and Murph have appeared in the new
century, but while the first two feature almost exactly the same
material as their eighties counterparts, the new 'Best of Eddie' is
seriously lacking in bite. It seems that all of the none politically
correct stuff has been taken out.
This, the 1989 version, is pushing the borders of decency, featuring
skits that might still turn a few heads today, including a jumbo sized
prophylactic ad, Mister Robbinson trying to sell his new born bastard
son on the black market and Eddie pleading for the audience to have sex
with ugly people and drop out of school. All of this is missing in
action on the 1998 DVD, leaving relatively tame stuff such as The Tooth
Fairy and the Fifth Beatle. Which brings me to another point: Eddie's
material seems to fit into three categories: 1) Standup rants
(including some advertisements in the style of Dan Aykroyd). 2) None to
flattering portrayals of children's entertainers (Buckwheat,
MisteRogers). 3) Impersonations of famous black men (Cos, Little
Richard, James Brown, Mohamed Ali, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson).
Also, apart from claiming to be the aforementioned fifth Beatle, Eddie
similarly claims to be Ronald Reagan's son on the 1989 tape. There are
two Mister Robbinson skits, Velvet Jones appears twice, and Buckwheat
appears more times than I care to count, but strangely enough Gumby
(another of Eddie's childhood favorites?) is missing in action.
Most of the material showcases Eddie on his own, talking directly to
the camera, a tactic Chris Rock would desperately cling to a decade
later. Murphy is occasionally given support by Joe Piscopo or
Sweetchuck from Police Academy, while the rest of the early 80's SNL
cast members only appear in the background (if at all). Although this
eighties compilation is slightly shorter than the nineties one, it
seems to cram in twice as many stuff. True, not all of the skits are
shown in their entirety. For example, a whole chunk goes missing form
the middle of 'The Little Richard Simmons Show as a 'special news
report' of Buckwheat's shooting interrupts it. Three more times after
that the Buckwheat story comes in between other, in some cases funnier,
sketches. I guess you had to be there to appreciate the recurring
Buckwheat story, which just seems really repetitive now (they wisely
kept it to a minimum on the latter Best of). Only two full sketches
were added to the 1998 release that were not on the 1989 version: A
Gumby skit with Billy Crystal, Marty Short and Chris Guest and 'Prose
and Cons' featuring Eddie as Tyrone Greene. The latter replacing the
more famous skit that featured him singing 'Kill the White People'. See
what I mean about non-PC stuff being deleted? SNL fans of Eddie who
found themselves disappointed with the current DVD version should try
to track down this VHS to get an more satisfying eighties flashback.
8 out of 10.
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The Best of Eddie Murphy Saturday Night Live is a compilation of the infamous comedians early comedy as featured in the "Critically Acclaimed" and longest lasting television show in history(Saturday Night Live). For fans of "Mr.Deliriously Raw" or "SNL" this is a perfect place to see the development of 2 legendary sources of Great comedy antics!.
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Looks like Eddie Murphy is at it again in this new wave comedy as him once again steps onto the Big Screen in "Imagine That".
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