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 originUnited States
No. of episodes20
Original networkNBC
Original releaseOctober 13, 1979 (1979-10-13) –
May 24, 1980 (1980-05-24)
Season chronology
← Previous
Season 4
Next →
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.

This season was 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).


Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi 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 comedy 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.season.

Cast roster[edit]

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.


No. in
Host(s)Musical guest(s)Original air date
871Steve MartinBlondieOctober 13, 1979 (1979-10-13)

882Eric IdleBob DylanOctober 20, 1979 (1979-10-20)

893Bill RussellChicagoNovember 3, 1979 (1979-11-03)

904Buck HenryTom Petty and the HeartbreakersNovember 10, 1979 (1979-11-10)

915Bea ArthurThe RochesNovember 17, 1979 (1979-11-17)

  • The Roches perform "Bobby's Song" (from its second album, "Nurds") and "The Hallelujah Chorus" (from its third album, "Keep On Doing")[1]
  • Andy Kaufman guest stars.
  • Credited Featured Players: Tom Davis, Paul Shaffer, Harry Shearer
926Howard HessemanRandy NewmanDecember 8, 1979 (1979-12-08)

  • Newman performs "It's Money That I Love",[1] "The Story of a Rock and Roll Band",[1] and "I'm Gonna Take Off My Pants"
  • Credited Featured Players: Don Novello, Paul Shaffer, Harry Shearer
937Martin SheenDavid BowieDecember 15, 1979 (1979-12-15)

948Ted KnightDesmond Child & RougeDecember 22, 1979 (1979-12-22)

  • Desmond Child & Rouge perform "Goodbye Baby"[1] and "Tumble In The Night"
  • G.E. Smith plays guitar for Desmond Child
  • Credited Featured Players: Tom Davis, Al Franken, Paul Shaffer, Harry Shearer
959Teri GarrThe B-52'sJanuary 26, 1980 (1980-01-26)

9610Chevy ChaseMarianne Faithfull
Tom Scott
February 9, 1980 (1980-02-09)

  • New opening montage, featuring all cast members in rolling still images in a bar setting
  • Faithfull performs "Broken English" and "Guilt"[1]
  • Chase and Scott perform "Sixteen Tons"
  • Harry Shearer's first episode as a member of the main repertory cast rather than as a featured performer
  • Credited Featured Players: Peter Aykroyd, Tom Davis, Brian Doyle-Murray, Al Franken, Don Novello, Paul Shaffer
9711Elliott GouldGary NumanFebruary 16, 1980 (1980-02-16)

  • A running gag where Father Guido Sarducci attempts to interview former President Richard Nixon, and stakes out his New York apartment building
  • JAP character Rhonda Weiss (Gilda Radner) performs a takeoff on Jordache: "She's the Jewess in Jewess jeans"
  • Numan performs "Cars" and "Praying to the Aliens"[1]
  • Credited Featured Players: Peter Aykroyd, Tom Davis, Brian Doyle-Murray, Al Franken, Don Novello
9812Kirk DouglasSam & DaveFebruary 23, 1980 (1980-02-23)

  • Sam & Dave performs "You Don't Know Like I Know" and "Soul Man"[1]
  • Credited Featured Players: Tom Davis, Jim Downey, Brian Doyle-Murray, Al Franken
9913Rodney DangerfieldThe J. Geils BandMarch 8, 1980 (1980-03-08)

10014nonePaul Simon
James Taylor
David Sanborn
March 15, 1980 (1980-03-15)

  • No announced guest host
  • David Sanborn's only time as musical guest
  • The show's 100th episode, featuring several cameos, including cameos of Michael O'Donoghue and John Belushi.
  • Simon and Taylor perform "Cathy's Clown", "Sunny Skies", and "Take Me to the Mardi Gras"[1]
  • David Sanborn performs "Anything You Want"[1]
  • During a sketch about a medieval band rehearsing for a performance, Paul Shaffer said the word "fuck" live on the air.[2]
  • Credited Featured Players: Peter Aykroyd, Tom Davis, Brian Doyle-Murray, Paul Shaffer
10115Richard Benjamin
Paula Prentiss
Grateful DeadApril 5, 1980 (1980-04-05)

  • Grateful Dead performs "Alabama Getaway" and "Saint of Circumstance,"[1] both from the album Go To Heaven
  • Credited Featured Players: Tom Davis, Al Franken
10216Burt ReynoldsAnne MurrayApril 12, 1980 (1980-04-12)

10317Strother MartinThe SpecialsApril 19, 1980 (1980-04-19)

  • Strother Martin's final television appearance before his death in August, 1980[citation needed]
  • The Specials perform "Gangsters" and "Too Much, Too Young"[1]
  • Credited Featured Players: Tom Davis, Brian Doyle-Murray, Tom Schiller, Paul Shaffer, Alan Zweibel
10418Bob NewhartThe Amazing Rhythm Aces
Bruce Cockburn
May 10, 1980 (1980-05-10)

  • 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[3]
  • The Amazing Rhythm Aces performs "Who Will the Next Fool Be"[1] and "Third Rate Romance"[1] (Joined by Murray on the Maracas)
  • Cockburn performs "Wondering Where the Lions Are"[1]
  • Credited Featured Players: Brian Doyle-Murray, Al Franken, Paul Shaffer
10519Steve Martin3-D, Paul McCartney and Linda McCartneyMay 17, 1980 (1980-05-17)

  • 3-D performs "All-Night Television"[1]
  • Paul McCartney premieres the music video for his single "Coming Up"[4]
  • Credited Featured Players: Don Novello

The final episode for Don Novello until season 11

10620Buck HenryAndrew Gold
Andrae Crouch & the Voices of Unity
May 24, 1980 (1980-05-24)

DVD release[edit]

SNL's fifth season was released on DVD on December 1, 2009.[7] There are no plans to release any further seasons.[8]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y Saturday Night Live: The First Twenty Years. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 1994. pp. 124–127. ISBN 0-395-70895-8.
  2. ^ Saturday Night Live: The First Twenty Years. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 1994. pp. 26–27, 264. ISBN 0-395-70895-8.
  3. ^ Doug Hill and Jeff Weingrad, Saturday Night, Beech Tree Books, 1986, p. 376
  4. ^ "Saturday Night Live: Steve Martin/Paul and Linda McCartney Episode Summary". Retrieved 13 August 2011.
  5. ^ Saturday Night Live: The First Twenty Years. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 1994. p. 109. ISBN 0-395-70895-8.
  6. ^ Saturday Night Live: The First Twenty Years. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 1994. p. 264. ISBN 0-395-70895-8.
  7. ^ "Saturday Night Live: Season 5, 1979-1980". Amazon. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
  8. ^ Lambert, David (November 4, 2010). "Saturday Night Live - Season Set Outlook is Not So Good for SNL, Studio Says". TV Shows on DVD. Archived from the original on March 19, 2015. Retrieved March 5, 2015.