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Featured TV on DVD Review: Saturday Night Live: The Best of Eddie Murphy

September 23rd, 2010

Saturday Night Live: The Best of Eddie Murphy - Buy from Amazon

For much of his time on Saturday Night Live, Eddie Murphy was widely considered the funniest person on the show. In fact, one could argue he was the funniest person to ever appear on that show. This is a re-release of his Best Of... DVD, with a bonus section containing additional material. But is it worth upgrading if you have the previous DVD? Or worth picking up if you missed out the first time around?

It was during Eddie Murphy's tenure on SNL that I first became a fan of the show (I was barely one year old when it first debuted). I was seriously temped to try and write this review without watching the DVD, and instead judging the quality of the skits based on my recollections using just the names printed on the back of the DVD case. Even though I could remember roughly half the skits based on just their names, I decided against this, just in case my recollections didn't match reality. The reality starts with...

  1. James Brown's Hot Tub
    The disc gets off to a fun starts with Eddie Murphy doing a James Brown imitation singing and dancing about hot tubs. It's a simple setup, but it's funny and one of the skits I remembered all this time.
  2. Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood
    A parody of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood with Eddie Murphy has the titular character living in a slum. Also very memorable.
  3. Buckwheat Sings
    If you don't remember Eddie Murphy's imitation of Buckwheat, then this DVD is not for you. Very much a highlight of the DVD.
  4. White Like Me
    Eddie Murphy dresses up like a white man to see how white people act when there are no black people around. Absolutely hilarious, and one of the most biting bits of social satire to appear on SNL.
  5. Velvet Jones School of Technology
    Informercial extolling the virtues of being a prostitute. Funny, but short.
  6. Ebony and Ivory
    A parody of "Ebony and Ivory", a song originally done by Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney. This version has Eddie Murphy as Stevie Wonder and Joe Piscopo as Frank Sinatra. I always thought Joe Piscopo was overrated on the show, but this is one of a few skits where he shined. Excellent inclusion on the DVD.
  7. Black History Minute
    An actual bit of history explaining how George Washington Carver invented peanut butter, but it was stolen by white people. Eddie Murphy was playing the character of an angry history professor but after messing up one line, he nearly broke character, which was the funniest part of the skit.
  8. Little Richard Simmons Show
    Combine Little Richards and Richard Simmons into one character and make them lead an exercise program. The end result is not as funny as it should be.
  9. Jesse Jackson
    Jesse Jackson apologizes for his bigoted remarks against Jewish people... and does so with a song.
  10. Buckwheat is Shot
    More social satire, this time on the smothering nature of the news media. If there's a news story worth covering, it's worth going overboard on. Very funny, very memorable, but it is tame compared to the reality of today. (Remember Balloon Boy?)
  11. Prose and Cons
    A look at the people behind bars and how life in the joint is a pathway to literary success. It's funny, for the most part, but Eddie Murphy is only in it for about 30 seconds.
  12. Career Corner
    After a short ad for "The Buckwheat Story", Eddie Murphy appears on Career Corner as the Tooth Fairy.
  13. Gumby
    "I'm Gumby Dammnit!"Gumby reminiscences with his old show biz compatriots, Martin Short, Christopher Guest, and Billy Crystal, all playing Borsch Belt veterans.
  14. The 5th Beatle
    Eddie Murphy plays a man claiming to have been the creative force behind The Beatles. There are not many laughs here.
  15. Buckwheat is Dead
    The third Buckwheat skit. The joke is how the media will overuse the limited footage and repeat the details to stretch a story out as long as possible, so that happens a lot here as well. It's a fine line between making fun of stretching out a story, and being guilty of stretching out a joke yourself. They manage to walk that line.
  16. Solomon & Pudge
    Is this a Best of Joe Piscopo DVD? Yet another skit with Joe Piscopo, and one that proves he was overrated.
  17. The Stevie Wonder Story
    Eddie Murphy teaches Stevie Wonder, playing an actor up for the lead in The Steive Wonder Story, how to do a Stevie Wonder impersonation. Wonderfully warped.
The hit to miss ratio on the DVD is good, but not great. There are a number of classic skits (Buckwheat Sings, White Like Me, etc.) but also more than a few that feel like filler (Solomon & Pudge) while there are many classics skits that are missing.

The Extras

The extras include a monologue from when Eddie Murphy was the host, half-a-dozen more skits, and five minutes of outtakes. In total, that's more than 30 minutes of additionally material, which is about half as long as the main program itself. However, it is also about as hit and miss as the main feature. That is to say, a little more hit than miss, but not great.

The Verdict

Saturday Night Live: The Best of Eddie Murphy is a good representative sample of Eddie Murphy's run on the show, but the DVD includes too much filler and misses out on a couple classics to be really enthusiastic with any recommendation.

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