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
← 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.

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 (unless appearing exclusively as Father Guido Sarducci), 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.


No. in
Host(s) Musical guest(s) Original air date
87 1 Steve Martin Blondie October 13, 1979
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
91 5 Bea Arthur The Roches November 17, 1979
  • 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")[2]
92 6 Howard Hesseman Randy Newman December 8, 1979
  • Newman performs "It's Money That I Love",[2] "The Story of a Rock and Roll Band",[2] and "I'm Gonna Take Off My Pants"
93 7 Martin Sheen David Bowie December 15, 1979
94 8 Ted Knight Desmond Child & Rouge December 22, 1979
  • Desmond Child & Rouge perform "Goodbye Baby"[2] and "Tumble In The Night"
  • 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
  • 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"[2]
  • Chase and Scott perform "Sixteen Tons"
97 11 Elliott Gould Gary Numan February 16, 1980
  • 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"[2]
98 12 Kirk Douglas Sam & Dave February 23, 1980
  • Sam & Dave performs "You Don't Know Like I Know" and "Soul Man"[2]
99 13 Rodney Dangerfield The J. Geils Band March 8, 1980
100 14 none Paul Simon
James Taylor
David Sanborn
March 15, 1980
  • No announced guest host
  • 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"[2]
  • David Sanborn performs "Anything You Want"[2]
  • During a sketch about a medieval band rehearsing for a performance, Paul Shaffer said the word "fuck" live on the air.[3]
101 15 Richard Benjamin
Paula Prentiss
The Grateful Dead April 5, 1980
102 16 Burt Reynolds Anne Murray April 12, 1980
103 17 Strother Martin The Specials April 19, 1980
104 18 Bob Newhart The Amazing Rhythm Aces
Bruce Cockburn
May 10, 1980
105 19 Steve Martin 3-D, Paul McCartney and Linda McCartney May 17, 1980
  • 3-D performs "All-Night Television"[2]
106 20 Buck Henry Andrew Gold
Andrae Crouch & the Voices of Unity
May 24, 1980

DVD release

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


  1. "The SNL Archives: 1979-1980". Retrieved 8 April 2015. 
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 2.22 2.23 2.24 Saturday Night Live: The First Twenty Years. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 1994. pp. 124–127. ISBN 0-395-70895-8. 
  3. Saturday Night Live: The First Twenty Years. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 1994. pp. 26–27, 264. ISBN 0-395-70895-8. 
  4. Doug Hill and Jeff Weingrad, Saturday Night, Beech Tree Books, 1986, p. 376
  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. Retrieved March 5, 2015.