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Power Rankings: Saturday Night Live, Season 6 – 1980-81

12 Sep

(Power Rankings sum up:  Each week, we’ll pick a television show and rank the actors/actresses/contestants/correspondents/etc. based on what they’ve done after the series ended (unless we’re ranking a current series, in which case we’ll have to bend the rules).  Preference will be given to more recent work, but if the work was a long time ago, but much more important/relevant, that will be factored in as well)

Not all power rankings can be power-packed, and some of them have to sink pretty low.  Not too many will get lower than this one, I predict and hope though.  We’re going to take a stab at a ranking for the legendarily terrible 1980-81 (season 6) season of Saturday Night Live.  A quick backstory:  Before this season, Lorne Michaels, SNL’s famous producer left, along with the entire cast.  After the season, the entire cast aside from two members were replaced.  Get ready, because this could get brutal.

7.  Ann Risley – it’s never a great sign when your wikipedia article mentions the number of movies you’ve been in the first lines, and it’s in single digits.  Even those movies were all before SNL.  After, Risley’s got a bunch of TV movies from the early ‘90s with names like Telling Secrets, Jericho Fever, and Four Eyes and Six Guns (I really want to know what these are about).

6.  Joe Piscopo – Piscopo was actually kept on SNL and stuck around ’til 1984, becoming one of the most important actors on the show.  Sadly, that was the highlight of his career.  He appeared in the 1986 “Let’s Go Mets Go” music video (one of the many elements which dates the video) and films Johnny Dangerously, Wise Guys and Dead Heat.  He had a voice role in 2000’s Nickelodeon series 100 Deeds for Eddie McDowd.  He also appeared in three episodes of Law & Order.

5.  Gail Matthius – Matthius, who co-hosted Weekend Update, did about nothing live action, but had a bit of success with voice acting.  The most notable of these roles were as Bobby’s mom Martha Generic in cult favorite Bobby’s World and as Shirley the Loon in Tiny Toon Advenures.  She also appeared in several episodes of Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain.

4.   Denny Dillon – the shortest ever SNL cast member by stature at 4’11”, she had to be one of the shortest by tenure as well.  It took a while, but unlike many of the cast members, Dillon was actually able to find some regular work.  She showed up in a couple of episodes of the TV show Fame, and then in the main cast of one season sitcom Women in Prison, about, well, women in prison.  She got her big role on HBO’s Dream On, one of HBO’s first sitcoms, which employed a gimmick of using old black and white clips to show the main character’s feelings.  Dillon appeared on much of the series as Toby Pedalbee, the main character’s assistant.

3. Charles Rocket – the other half of the Weekend Update team, Rocket was fired immediately after cursing during a sketch on air.  Rocket actually had a far more productive career than I had realized.  He appeared in episodes of Remington Steele, Hardcastle and McCormick, and Miami Vice, and four of Max Headroom and six of Moonlighting.  He appeared in three separate failed series over a decade, Tequila and Bonetti in 1992, The Home Court in 1995, and Normal, Ohio in 2000.  He appeared in Earth Girls Are Easy, as Pat-stalker Kyle in It’s Pat (which is sadly how I best know him) and as villainous Nicholas Andre in Dumb and Dumber.  Later he appeared in 10 episodes of Touched by an Angel, and single episodes of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, The King of Queens, and 3rd Rock From the Sun.  Sadly, he killed himself in 2005.

2. Gilbert Gottfried – probably the second biggest name to come out of this season, Gottfried is best known for his irritating voice, but apparently didn’t use it much in SNL.  Because of this voice, he is probably best known for his vocal roles – chief among them Iago from Aladdin in the movie and many other tv and video game incarnations.  He also lent his voice to Fairly Oddparents and Cyberchoice and as Mr Mxyzptlk in Superman: The Animated Series.  Amongst his most famous non-vocal roles are his role as a sleazy orphanage employee in Problem Child and well, appearing at just about every Comedy Central roast.  He also told one of the most memorable renditions of the title joke in the movie The Aristocrats and was the voice of the Aflac duck until he was fired for insensitive comments about the Japanese tsunami.

1. Eddie Murphy – so this isn’t really fair.  I don’t think there’s been a power rankings yet where the #1 has been so far ahead of the #2.  Piscopo and Murphy were the only two cast members asked back from this miserable season, and of course Murphy became a massive star.  His film roles are too numerous to name, but include bona fide ‘80s classics like Trading Places, 48 Hours, Beverly Hills Cop, and Coming to America.  Murphy fell into a bit of a slump in the early ‘90s, but came back with box office success, if not the critical success he enjoyed earlier with films like The Nutty Professor, Dr. Doolittle, Daddy Day Care (the movie made $164 million – I didn’t believe it either) and voice roles in Shrek and Mulan (we’ll forget about Holy Man and The Adventures of Pluto Nash)   His non-Shrek career hasn’t been so great at least, but he was nominated for an Oscar for his work in Dreamgirls.