Saturday Night Live (season 5)

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Saturday Night Live (season 5)
The title card for the fifth season of Saturday Night Live.
Country of origin United States
No. of episodes 20
Original network NBC
Original release October 13, 1979 (1979-10-13) – May 24, 1980 (1980-05-24)
Season chronology
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Season 4
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Season 6
List of Saturday Night Live episodes

The fifth season of Saturday Night Live, an American sketch comedy series, originally aired in the United States on NBC between October 13, 1979, and May 24, 1980.

John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd left the show at the end of the fourth season, leaving a void in the cast that most fans thought would be the beginning of the end of the late-night sketch show.

To keep the show going, Lorne Michaels upgraded many of the show's writers to featured cast member status: Peter Aykroyd (Dan's brother), Jim Downey, Brian Doyle-Murray (Bill's brother), Don Novello, Tom Schiller and Alan Zweibel. Band leader Paul Shaffer also joined the cast, becoming the first person from the SNL band to become a cast member. Harry Shearer joined the show as a featured cast member and was promoted to repertory status during the season.

This season was also the first to have two members of the same family as cast members, (Bill Murray and Brian Doyle-Murray).

This would be the final season for everyone in the cast. Tom Davis and Downey would return to the show in future seasons as writers. Al Franken, Doyle-Murray, Novello, and Shearer would rejoin the cast in future seasons (Franken would also return as a writer).


bold denotes Weekend Update anchor

Featured cast members announced and shown during the "Opening Introductions" varied from week to week, as noted below in each episode's description.


As previously mentioned, Michaels upgraded many of the show's writers to cast member status, including Aykroyd, Downey, Doyle-Murray, Novello, Schiller and Zweibel. Doyle-Murray would be the only one to return, as a writer, in the following season.

This season's writers were Peter Aykroyd, Anne Beatts, Tom Davis, Jim Downey, Brian Doyle-Murray, Al Franken, Tom Gammill, Lorne Michaels, Matt Neuman, Don Novello, Sarah Paley, Max Pross, Herb Sargent, Tom Schiller, Harry Shearer, Rosie Shuster and Alan Zweibel. The head writer was Herb Sargent.


Jim Downey's first episode as a cast member

No. in
Host(s)  Musical guest(s)  Original air date 
87 1 Steve Martin Blondie October 13, 1979
  • Steve Martin's seventh time as host
  • Blondie's only time as musical guest
  • Blondie performs "Dreaming" and "The Hardest Part"
88 2 Eric Idle Bob Dylan October 20, 1979
89 3 Bill Russell Chicago November 3, 1979
90 4 Buck Henry Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers November 10, 1979
  • Buck Henry's ninth time as host
  • This is Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers's first time as musical guest
  • Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers perform "Refugee" and "Don't Do Me Like That"
91 5 Bea Arthur The Roches November 17, 1979
  • Bea Arthur's only time as host
  • The Roches' only time as musical guest
  • The first episode as featured players for Peter Aykroyd and Paul Shaffer
  • The Roches perform "Bobby's Song" (from its second album, "Nurds") and "The Hallelujah Chorus" (from its third album, "Keep On Doing")
92 6 Howard Hesseman Randy Newman December 8, 1979
  • Howard Hesseman's first time as host
  • Randy Newman's third time as musical guest (not including the "Mardi Gras" special, in which he was billed as "Special Guest")
  • Newman performs "It's Money That I Love", "I'm Gonna Take Off My Pants", and "The Story of a Rock and Roll Band"
93 7 Martin Sheen David Bowie December 15, 1979
94 8 Ted Knight Desmond Child & Rouge December 22, 1979
  • Ted Knight's only time as host
  • Desmond Child & Rouge's only time as musical guest
  • Desmond Child & Rouge perform "Tumble In The Night" and "Goodbye Baby"
  • G.E. Smith plays backup guitar
95 9 Teri Garr The B-52's January 26, 1980
96 10 Chevy Chase Marianne Faithfull
Tom Scott
February 9, 1980
  • Chevy Chase's second time as host
  • Marianne Faithfull and Tom Scott's only time as musical guests
  • Harry Shearer's first episode as a member of the main repertory cast rather than as a featured performer
  • New opening montage, featuring all cast members in rolling still images in a bar setting
  • Faithfull performs "Broken English" and "Guilt"
  • Chase and Scott perform "Sixteen Tons"
97 11 Elliott Gould Gary Numan February 16, 1980
  • Elliott Gould's fifth time as host
  • Gary Numan's only time as musical guest
  • A running gag where Father Guido Sarducci attempts to interview former President Richard Nixon, and stakes out his New York apartment building
  • Numan performs "Cars" and "Praying to the Aliens"
98 12 Kirk Douglas Sam & Dave February 23, 1980
  • Kirk Douglas' only time as host
  • Sam & Dave's only time as musical guest
  • Sam & Dave performs "You Don't Know Like I Know" and "Soul Man"
99 13 Rodney Dangerfield The J. Geils Band March 8, 1980
  • Rodney Dangerfield's only time as host
  • The J. Geils Band's only time as musical guest
  • The J. Geils Band performs "Love Stinks" and "Sanctuary"
100 14 none Paul Simon
James Taylor
David Sanborn
March 15, 1980
  • No announced guest host
  • Paul Simon's second time as musical guest (though unbilled as such in the opening credits)
  • James Taylor's third time as musical guest (though unbilled as such in the opening credits)
  • David Sanborn's only time as musical guest
  • The show's 100th episode, featuring several cameos
  • Simon and Taylor perform "Cathy's Clown", "Sunny Skies", and "Take Me to the Mardi Gras"
  • David Sanborn performs "Anything You Want"
101 15 Richard Benjamin
Paula Prentiss
The Grateful Dead April 5, 1980
  • Richard Benjamin's second and final time as host
  • Paula Prentiss' only time as host
  • The Grateful Dead's second and final time as musical guest
  • The Grateful Dead performs "Alabama Getaway" and "Saint of Circumstance" (both from the album Go To Heaven)
102 16 Burt Reynolds Anne Murray April 12, 1980
103 17 Strother Martin The Specials April 19, 1980
  • Strother Martin's only time as host, and his final television appearance before his death in August, 1980
  • The Specials' only time as musical guest
  • The Specials perform "Gangsters" and "Too Much, Too Young"
104 18 Bob Newhart The Amazing Rhythm Aces
Bruce Cockburn
May 10, 1980
  • Bob Newhart's first time as host
  • The Amazing Rhythm Aces's first and only time as musical guest
  • In a Weekend Update commentary, "A Limo For A Lame-O", Franken laments that he does not have limo service like NBC president Fred Silverman, despite the network's poor ratings and shaky finances under Silverman's leadership. This ruined Franken's slim chance of succeeding Lorne Michaels as the show's executive producer[2]
  • The Amazing Rhythm Aces performs "Who Will the Next Fool Be" and "Third Rate Romance" (Joined by Murray on the Maracas)
  • Cockburn performs "Wondering Where the Lions Are"
105 19 Steve Martin 3-D, Paul McCartney and Linda McCartney May 17, 1980
  • Steve Martin's eighth time as host
  • Paul McCartney's first time as musical guest
  • Linda McCartney's only time as musical guest
  • 3-D's only time as musical guest
  • 3-D performs "All-Night Television"
106 20 Buck Henry Andrew Gold
Andrae Crouch & the Voices of Unity
May 24, 1980

DVD release[edit]

SNL's fifth season was released on DVD on December 1, 2009.[3] There are no plans to release any further seasons.[4]


  1. ^ "The SNL Archives: 1979-1980". Retrieved 8 April 2015. 
  2. ^ Doug Hill and Jeff Weingrad, Saturday Night, Beech Tree Books, 1986, p. 376
  3. ^ "Saturday Night Live: Season 5, 1979-1980". Amazon. Retrieved March 5, 2015. 
  4. ^ Lambert, David (November 4, 2010). "Saturday Night Live - Season Set Outlook is Not So Good for SNL, Studio Says". TV Shows on DVD. Retrieved March 5, 2015.