Best SNL ever? Eddie Murphy brings back Gumby, Buckwheat, more

Murphy also reprised Mister Robinson and Velvet Jones for an episode that fans are calling one of the best of all time.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
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  • Co-author of two Gen X pop-culture encyclopedia for Penguin Books. Won "Headline Writer of the Year"​ award for 2017, 2014 and 2013 from the American Copy Editors Society. Won first place in headline writing from the 2013 Society for Features Journalism.
Gael Cooper
2 min read

Saturday night was nostalgia night for fans of Saturday Night Live. Host Eddie Murphy, who blasted to stardom after appearing as an SNL cast member from 1980 to 1984, returned to host, and brought back many of his most iconic characters and skits, including Gumby, Buckwheat, Velvet Jones and Mister Robinson.

Murphy's version of animated clay character Gumby showed up on Weekend Update, and he's just as angry as ever, complaining to anchors Michael Che and Colin Jost that he should've been in more skits, with Murphy cracking up several times as he delivered his lines. Don't ask him about his horse pal Pokey if you want to stay on his good side. But he's pretty fond of musical guest Lizzo, even if he gets her name wrong.

Murphy also reprised his parody of beloved childhood TV host Mister Rogers, Mister Robinson, in a new episode of Mister Robinson's Neighborhood. His run-down apartment looks the same, but the neighborhood is gentrifying. How can he afford to stay? Well, the word of the day is actually two words -- "Squatter's Rights."

His grown-up Little Rascals character, Buckwheat, returned dressed as a cob of corn on a parody of The Masked Singer. Really, you haven't lived until you've heard his version of "I Shot the Sheriff."

And Murphy's infomercial huckster, Velvet Jones, showed up on Black Jeopardy. He's come into the 21st century and now is fully supportive of women becoming not just hos, but Instagram hos.

In a holiday baking skit, Murphy didn't play a familiar character, but did find himself in a familiar SNL situation. While yelling at a flaming demonic cake (you have to see the skit for that to make sense), Murphy seemed to have accidentally sworn and been bleeped out. Whoops.

Murphy's monologue was greeted with a chant of "ED-DIE, ED-DIE!" He joked about having 10 kids and taking over the imprisoned Bill Cosby's role as America's dad. Next, Tracy Morgan, Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle showed up to ask if Murphy would be performing sketches they all wrote for him. (Answer: Not on your life.)

Fans on social media were thrilled by Murphy's return, with some calling it an episode for the ages.

"Mr. Rogers. Buckwheat. It's over. Even if the next 50 minutes suck this has been the best SNL episode in forever," wrote Wajahat Ali on Twitter.

"Someone could literally set fire and burn down the SNL set and this would still be the best episode all year," wrote Jenelle Riley.

Just wait until next year, SNL fans. Adam Driver of Star Wars fame will be host for the next new episode, on Jan. 25, with musical guest Halsey. Driver has hosted twice before, once playing his Star Wars character, Kylo Ren, as he might appear on the reality show Undercover Boss.