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Saturday Night Live (abbreviated as SNL) is a late-night live sketch comedy television show created by Lorne Michaels. The show premiered on NBC on October 11, 1975, and continues to be shown on the network Saturdays at 11:30 pm. Many future stars got their start as cast members, including Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Jimmy Fallon, Phil Hartman, Chris Farley, Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Eddie Murphy, Bill Murray, Mike Meyers and Adam Sandler. Each week features a celebrity host, musical guest, and a series of sketches featuring the cast (and usually the host).

On October 10, 1981, cast member Eddie Murphy began portraying what many consider his most popular character impression, Buckwheat. Murphy played what was meant to be a grown-up Buckwheat, who still wore the same outfit and hairstyle that he had as a child. To top off the impersonation, Murphy mimicked the real-life speech impediment of young William Thomas Jr., regularly garbling the simplest words. Murphy later grew tired of fans referring to him as "Buckwheat," and thus decided to kill off the character. On March 12, 1983, the Buckwheat character was shot to death in a parody of the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan.

Murphy's impersonation drew complaints from both George McFarland and William Thomas III (William Thomas Jr.'s son), both of whom felt that Murphy portrayed Thomas as an unintelligent person.

On November 13, 1982, former Little Rascals Robert Blake hosted SNL. In his opening monologue, Blake admitted to having played Mickey Gubitosi in the Our Gang series. A Rascals reunion was held with Buckwheat (Murphy), along with grown-up versions of Alfalfa (Mary Gross), Darla (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), and Froggy (Joe Piscopo). The cast would reprise their impersonations when John Candy hosted on October 22, 1983 (with Candy portraying Spanky). Gross would reprise Alfalfa for a number of the "Buckwheat is Dead" sketches.

Our Gang references

Pictures Episode Description
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"Susan Saint James and the Kinks"
October 10, 1981
"Buh-Weet Sings:" In a parody of advertisements for records, Buckwheat (Eddie Murphy) presents his own rendition of hit songs. The sketch opens with the "Good Old Days" theme playing over a series of photos of the Rascals. A photo of William Thomas Jr. fades to a now adult Buckwheat, saying to the viewers, "Boy, id bin a nong time since dem days. Hi, I'm Buh-weet, amembuh me? And I have compiled for you and your nistening pleasure, dum ub my mavorite tongs. Id's all ite here in dis uhn pectacular opper: "Buh-weet Sings." Take a wisten."

Buckwheat presents samples of "Fee Times a Mady" (Three Times a Lady), "Wookin' Pa Nub" (Looking For Love), "?????" (Bette Davis Eyes), and "Una Panoonah Banka (Una Paloma Blanca)." An announcer tells the viewers that Buckwheat "sold more records than Elvis or the Beatles - in Kenya." He then explains that "if you order now, you'll get Buh-Weet's tribute to Alfalfa." Buckwheat begins singing a sample of "Barbah Ob Dabil" (The Barber of Seville"). Buckwheat ends the commercial by saying "Take it fum "Ow Gang": yo gang will nub it. Buy my wecord! O-tay!"

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"Lauren Hutton and the Stone City Band"
November 7, 1981)
"Lauren's Dressing Room": Host Lauren Hutton invites Eddie Murphy to her dressing room. At one point, she asks Murphy to do his impersonation of Buckwheat. He reluctantly goes into character, saying "Hi, I'm Buckwheat! O-tay! You sure are a beautiful woman, Miss Hutton! O-Tay!"
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"Tim Curry and Meat Loaf & the Neverland Express"
December 5, 1981
"Mick!": Mick Jagger (Tim Curry) of the Rolling Stones has his own television special. Guests include the Mandrell Sisters (Robin Duke, Christine Ebersole, and Mary Gross), Shari Lewis and Lambchop (Robin Duke), Rip Taylor (Joe Rosato), Frank Sinatra (Joe Piscopo), and Buckwheat (Eddie Murphy). At one point, Mick sings "Brown Sugar," but is interrupted by Buckwheat, who explains that he was "dust atoss da hall taping a bew special" based on the album "Buh-Weet Sings." He adds that the albump is "Number 18 on the charts with a bullet, and we hoping dat it's gonna doe dold!" "Doe dold?" asks Jagger. "Doe dold!" confirms Buckwheat. Jagger reminds the audience that Buckwheat's next special airs this Thursday night on NBC at nine o'clock. "Eight o'cock pentral!" adds Buckwheat. Jagger wishes Buckwheat luck with his special and promises to watch it, to which Buckwheat responds with an "O-tay!"
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"John Madden and Jennifer Holliday"
January 30, 1982
"The Uncle Tom Show": Tom Snyder (Joe Piscopo) hosts a children's show on TBS. Captain Kangaroo (Tony Rosato) reads a story about his troubles with CBS and heart attacks. Buckwheat plugs his new album, "Buh-Weet Sings Por De Tids."
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"Robert Urich and Mink DeVille"
March 30, 1982
"Buh-Weet and de Dupreems": Buckwheat mispronounces a medley of Supremes classics, including “Ayby Nub” (Baby Love) and “Meech Out and Dutch Dumbody’s ‘and" (Reach Out and Touch Somebody's Hand). For the latter song, Buckwheat makes the audience sing along by reading subtitles at the bottom of the screen.
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"Robert Blake and Kenny Loggins"
November 13, 1982
Opening Monologue: Former Little Rascal star Robert Blake is reunited with Buckwheat (Murphy), Alfalfa (Mary Gross), Darla (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), and Froggy (Joe Piscopo). Froggy is seen wearing a prison uniform and handcuffs. When asked what happened to him, Froggy responds: "Remember how I swore I'd find the doctor who removed my tonsils and accidentally did this to my voice? Well, I found him!" Darla, dressed as a hooker, mentions that she had "been turning tricks in Washington." Blake was banned from Saturday Night Live following this, his first and only appearance on the show.
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"Bruce Dern and Leon Redborne"
March 12, 1983
  • "Buckwheat Jeans": The camera pans up along a man's sneakers and pant legs. The man can be heard whistling the "Good Old Days" theme. An announcer (Mary Gross) speaks: "Calvin Klein? Mm-mm. Jordache? Mm-mm. Sassoon? Mm-mm." The man is revealed to be Buckwheat, who says "Buh-Weet? Yes!" The voiceover announces the jeans that Buckwheat is wearing as "Buckwheat Jeans." "O-tay!" says Buckwheat, revealing the word "Otay" on the seat of his pants.
  • "Buckwheat Buys the Farm": In a special Nightline report, Ted Koppel (Joe Piscopo) announces that Buckwheat was shot after a special guest appearance on Saturday Night Live. A video of the event is presented, which shows Buckwheat leaving 30 Rockefeller Plaza with his date and a few bodyguards and greeting his fans. Buckwheat stands in front of a car, and an off-screen voice calls to him (as "Mr. Wheat"). Gun shots are fired at Buckwheat, as his bodyguards try to cover him.

An off-screen voice announces the special as "The Shooting of Buckwheat: America Stunned," which is sponsored by Texxon ("Life goes on. And Texxon is there"). Koppel reruns the video of the shooting of Buckwheat ("for the benefit of those of you who have just joined us"). Koppel takes us live to the hospital that Buckwheat was taken to. The camera passes through a group of Buckwheat's worried friends in the waiting area. The camera stops on Alfalfa (Mary Gross) talking to a woman. "I can't believe it. I can't believe they shot him. It's just terrible," says Alfalfa. Koppel asks Alfalfa if he saw the footage of Buckwheat being shot, to which Alfalfa responds that he has not. Koppel runs the video for Alfalfa, and later asks for his response to it. "Oh! I'm hurt, and confused, and I don't know what to say! No comment!" Alfalfa states.

The camera then goes into the operating room where doctors are busily working on Buckwheat. Koppel asks the doctor if he saw the footage of Buckwheat being shot, to which the doctor responds that he has not. Koppel once again runs the video. The announcer's voice returns, now calling the special "Emergency Surgery: America Waits and Worries" (again sponsored by Texxon). Koppel then learns that Buckwheat died, and reports the news to the viewers. The announcer returns again, now calling the special "Buckwheat Dead: America Mourns" (once again sponsored by Texxon - "Life goes on. And Texxon is there. Because Buckwheat would have wanted it that way").

Koppel repeats the news of Buckwheat's death, and shows the video footage of his shooting. Buckwheat is given a final tribute (the "Good Old Days" theme plays over a series of stills of William Thomas Jr.), ending with still of Eddie Murphy's Buckwheat, and Buckwheat's reaction to being shot.

  • "Saturday Night News with Brad Hall": Brad Hall reports that Buckwheat is dead. Hall shows the video footage of the shooting for the viewers that had not already seen it. Hall mentions that tributes of Buckwheat "the man, and the performer" have been pouring in from all over the world. Stock footage of various celebrities, each talking about an unnamed person are shown. Among these clips is one of President Ronald Reagan ("Nancy and I feel that we have lost a close and dear friend") and one of Pope John Paul II delivering a speech in Italian (subtitles read: "The entire world mourns the loss of this great humanitarian. Buckwheat was a man of peace! We all know how he died. But, perhaps some of you haven't seen the videotape. Let's take a look"; the video footage is shown yet again).
  • "The Buckwheat Story": A still photo of Buckwheat with Bryon Allen's face pasted on his body is shown on a gray background. A voice-over announces "Coming Thursday night at 9:00, The Buckwheat Story, a world premiere movie starring Bryon Allen. Otay!"
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"Robert Guillaume and Duran Druan"
March 19, 1983
"Buckwheat Dead": A voice-over announces the title of this week's special as "Buckwheat Dead: America Mourns," which is sponsored by Mutual Life ("Because you could die tomorrow"). Ted Koppel (Joe Piscopo) reruns the video footage of Buckwheat being shot for those that have not seen it. Stock footage of a large army in military parade is shown, while Koppel says that "Buckwheat was buried today, and the entire world mourns. World leaders gathered to offer a final tribute." Additional stock footage is shown, with shots of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Henry Kissinger, Nancy Regan, and Princess Diana all looking serious. The "Funeral March" plays in the background, and switches to a few notes from the "Good Old Days."

"We now join millions of mourners around the world in observing a moment of silence," Koppel says. A second of silence is interrupted by the news theme and the off-screen voiceover announcing that "this moment of silence is sponsored by Mutual Life. Because you could die tomorrow." Koppel announces that Buckwheat's assailant has been identified as John David Stutts (Eddie Murphy). He reports that Stutts is described by those who knew him as "a loner." The camera heads to criminal court where Stutts is being escorted by policeman and attorneys while reporters aim microphones at him. A dreamy-sounding Stutts begins throwing out random sentences. A reporter interrupts Stutts by asking if he killed Buckwheat. "Sure," Stutts replies positively. He states that his dog (named "Petey" after "the dog on the 'Our Gang' follies"). is the Antichrist, who told him to kill Buckwheat.

Koppel asks the expert opinion of a psychiatrist, Dr. Irwin Fletcher. Fletcher claims that people like Stutts murder celebrities for publicity. Koppel then goes into Stutt' life story. The voiceover announces the special as "John David Stutts: The Man Behind the Gun." People who knew Stutts are interviewed, including his Reverend, his former boss, his tailor, all of whom remember him as a loner. All seem to agree that he killed Buckwheat because "that's all he ever talked about." In his High School yearbook, he is referred to as "the Loner" and "Most Likely to Kill Buckwheat." It is also revealed that he was the president of "The Future Assassins of America" club. Koppel takes the viewers back to Stutts who is being escorted to his jail cell. Stutts is suddenly shot by an unseen person. The special is rechristened "The Shooting of John David Stutts." Koppel reruns Stutts' shooting, and then reports that Stutts is dead. The special is renamed "The Shooting of John David Stutts," and is sponsored by Mutual Life ("Because you could die tomorrow. Just like John David Stutts").

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"Joan Rivers and Musical Youth"
April 9, 1983
"The David Susskind Show": David Susskind (playing himself) interviews one of Buckwheat's bodyguards, who has footage of Buckwheat's shooting, as well as Buckwheat impersonators.
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"John Candy and Men at Work"
October 22, 1983
"Village of the Damned Little Rascals": Buckwheat, Spanky (John Candy), Alfalfa (Mary Gross), Darla (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), and Froggy (Joe Piscopo) take over the school with their glowing eyes and telekinesis.
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"Father Guido Sarducci (Don Novello) and Huey Lewis and the News"
January 14, 1984
"Buckwheat's Ghost": Alfalfa (Mary Gross) gets a visit from Buckwheat's ghost.
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"Eddie Murphy and Robert Plant and the Honeydrippers"
December 15, 1984
  • "Buckwheat's Still Alive": Alfalfa (Mary Gross) is sitting in a chair reading a newspaper. He spots Buckwheat in picture of a crowd scene at a Giants game. "It's him, alrighty, he's alive! Buckwheat is alive!" exclaims Alfalfa. A "To Be Continued" subtitle appears on the screen.
  • "The End of Buckwheat": Buckwheat is now hiding out in a house, using a false name and wearing a phony beard. A Rotary Club member (Gary Kroeger) shows up at the door, but Buckwheat refuses any visitors, dramatically saying that he's "quite ill." He slams the door in the man's face, and walks over to a cassette player, saying that he needs to work on his "speech making." Buckwheat practices saying "I am sorry, I cannot have any visitors. I am quite ill." Alfalfa then arrives at the door, insisting on entering. He becomes rather suspicious of the man at the door, and asks him to take his shirt off ("because my friend Buckwheat had a tattoo on his chest that read "mother"). Buckwheat does so, revealing the mother tattoo with "Tom" and two "S"'s written next to it (the tattoo now reads "Tom Smothers").

Alfalfa is confused, until Buckwheat responds that he's Smothers' "biggest ban." Alfalfa recognizes the speech impediment, removes Buckwheat's beard, and reunites with his old friend. Alfalfa then claims that he saw Buckwheat getting shot. "Aw, apple-toss, Albalba," Buckwheat replies. "Da dun was bull of banks." "Blanks?" asks Alfalfa. "'Es. Banks," Buckwheat responds. Alfalfa asks Buckwheat why he faked his own death; Buckwheat explains that he did it because he heard that somebody really did want to kill him. "But Buckwheat, who would want to hurt you?" Alfalfa asks. "I non't know," Buckwheat responds. Alfalfa says that "everyone loves Buckwheat. You're a perfect angel." His smile then fades. "'Ceptin for that time you put a frog in my pants," Alfalfa continues. Buckwheat is confused, but Alfalfa reminds him of the incident. Alfalfa was singing in front of Miss Crabtree's classroom, when Buckwheat put a frog inside of his (Alfalfa's) pants. The class laughed at the embarrassed Alfalfa.

Alfalfa then announces that he wants his revenge. He tells Buckwheat to pick up the box that he brought with him. Oblivious to Alfalfa's plan, Buckwheat simply says "O-tay, I picked up the box." An annoyed Alfalfa tells Buckwheat to open the box. "O-tay, I opened the box, now what you want me to do?" Alfalfa tells Buckwheat to take the frog out of the box and put it in his own pants. Buckwheat does so. "Albalba, it tickles!" Buckwheat says. Alfalfa demands Buckwheat to sing "The Object of My Affection," just as he did in Miss Crabtree's class. Buckwheat does so, and is promptly shot by Alfalfa. "Oh no! Not a-din!" Buckwheat exclaims, before passing out. Alfalfa looks over Buckwheat's body, and yells out, "Free! Free at last! Who's laughing now, Buckwheat? I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille." He begins singing "The Object of My Affection," as the sketch fades to Buckwheat's gravestone, which now has two death dates listed.

Related References

  • In a stand-up bit away from Saturday Night Live, Murphy questioned the names used in The Little Rascals series. Murphy mentions that he is "from a predominately black family, and have yet to run into a relative named Buckwheat." Murphy pretends to be at a cook-out, and introduces himself to a guest as "Buckwheat." He goes on to introduce his relatives: cousin Stymie, brother Farina ("you know how most people are named after their father? He was named after our father's favorite breakfast"), younger sister "Shredded Wheat," twin brothers "Quisp" and "Quake," mentally retarded nephew "Special K," prostitute sister "Trix," homosexual brother "Lucky Charms," and his brother's friends "Froot" and "Loop."

Connections

  • SNL cast member Phil Hartman provided voices for the Little Rascals animated series.

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