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Saturday Night Live aired its twelfth season during the 1986-1987 television season on NBC. Despite plans to have SNL canceled due to its disastrous 11th season, Lorne Michaels pushed Brandon Tartikoff to give the show another chance, provided that a better cast be found for the next season. As a result, many of season 11's castmembers were fired, save for Jon Lovitz, Nora Dunn, Weekend Update anchor Dennis Miller, and featured player A. Whitney Brown (with Al Franken hired back as a writer). Hired in their places were Jan Hooks (who auditioned to be in the season 10 and 11 casts, but was turned down), Victoria Jackson, Phil Hartman (who wrote season 11's Thanksgiving episode hosted by Pee-wee Herman, and appeared in a sketch as a Pilgrim), Kevin Nealon, and Dana Carvey. This resulted in a new golden age for the show, as critics and (most) viewers began to comment on the show more favorably. In a Dallas-esque joke, the season started with Madonna (who hosted the first episode of the previous season with musical guest Simple Minds) reading a "statement" from NBC about season 11's mediocre writing and bad cast choices. According to the "statement", season 11 was "...all a dream. A horrible, horrible dream."
The 12th season started on October 11, 1986 (coincidentally, the 11th anniversary of the show's first episode), and ended on May 23, 1987.
Repertory cast members
Featured cast members
|Episode #||Air Date||Host(s)||Musical Guest(s)||Remarks|
|214 (12.1)||October 11, 1986||Sigourney Weaver|
|215 (12.2)||October 18, 1986||Malcolm-Jamal Warner||Run DMC|
|216 (12.3)||November 8, 1986||Rosanna Arquette||Ric Ocasek|
- This episode marks the first time that a first-run SNL episode did not air live on the East Coast. The episode was originally supposed to air live on October 25, but was pre-empted by the 1986 World Series until 1:00 am. Rather than air the episode live at that time, it was videotaped, and aired the week after the World Series.
|217 (12.4)||November 15, 1986||Sam Kinison†||Lou Reed|
- This episode, much like the Richard Pryor episode from 1975 and later the Andrew "Dice" Clay episode from 1990, was put on a seven-second delay.
|218 (12.5)||November 22, 1986||Robin Williams||Paul Simon|
|219 (12.6)||December 6, 1986||Chevy Chase, Steve Martin and Martin Short||Randy Newman|
- Chevy Chase acknowledged his recent stint in the Betty Ford Center in the monologue and cold opening (a skit where klutzy people hold a support group meeting called Stumblebums Anonymous).
|220 (12.7)||December 13, 1986||Steve Guttenberg||The Pretenders|
|221 (12.8)||December 20, 1986||William Shatner||Lone Justice|
- This show features the sketch where William Shatner, sick of Star Trek fans asking him inane questions, tells them to "Get a life!"
- Comedian Kevin Meaney makes a special guest appearance that was later revealed to be an audition to join the cast.
|222 (12.9)||January 24, 1987||Joe Montana|
|223 (12.10)||January 31, 1987||Paul Shaffer||Bruce Hornsby & The Range|
- With this episode, Paul Shaffer becomes the first (and only) member of the Saturday Night Live Band to come back and host, and the only regular from Late Night with David Letterman (later renamed The Late Show with David Letterman, following Letterman's move to CBS) to host SNL.
|224 (12.11)||February 14, 1987||Bronson Pinchot||Paul Young|
|225 (12.12)||February 21, 1987||Willie Nelson|
|226 (12.13)||February 28, 1987||Valerie Bertinelli||Robert Cray Band|
- Bertinelli's then-husband, Eddie Van Halen, appeared in a sketch and played with the SNL Band.
|227(12.14)||March 21, 1987||Bill Murray||Percy Sledge|
- On the original version of this episode, there is a Donahue sketch where one of the guests (played by Nora Dunn) reveals that she had a bad relationship with Jean Doumanian-era/Dick Ebersol-era castmember Joe Piscopo. All reruns of this sketch are replaced with a dress rehearsal version where Nora reveals that she had a bad relationship with Gallagher.
- With this episode Bill Murray is the only person to host shows produced by all three executive producers (Doumanian, Ebersol and Michaels).
|228 (12.15)||March 28, 1987||Charlton Heston†||Wynton Marsalis|
- The episode features a short film by Ben Stiller, who would join the cast in 1989.
|229 (12.16)||April 11, 1987||John Lithgow||Anita Baker|
|230 (12.17)||April 18, 1987||John Larroquette||Timbuk 3|
|231 (12.18)||May 9, 1987||Mark Harmon||Suzanne Vega|
|232 (12.19)||May 16, 1987||Garry Shandling||Los Lobos|
|233 (12.20)||May 23, 1987||Dennis Hopper||Roy Orbison†|