with Bill Needle

Mailbag / Critic's Corner

Bill Needle, SCTV's resident critic, has hosted a variety of shows, notable mainly for the incendiary rhetoric of their host and their swift cancellation. Mailbag, his first show, was successively trimmed from 2 minutes to 3 seconds, and pretty much set the tone for his subsequent efforts. Important Bill Needle episodes include:

Dave Thomas' book numbers the Mailbag shows starting at 3, a convention I use here; presumably, some Mailbags never aired.

1 Bill Needle's Mailbag 3 [3 - 13 (8)]

Bill doesn't have any good mail. Bill editorializes about celebrities, but can't use any names for legal reasons, so he refers to them using the names of fruit.

Bill Needle - Thomas; Announcer - staff announcer

2 Bill Needle's Mailbag 5 [3 - 14 (3)]

Bill's show has been cut from 2 minutes to 1. He's got a letter where he's been referred to as a fruit. But he's going to continue his fight for free speech.

Bill Needle - Thomas; announcer - staff announcer

3 Bill Needle's Mailbag 6 [3 - 15 (6)]

Bill's show is cut to 30 seconds, but Bill's still fighting.

Bill Needle - Thomas; announcer - staff announcer

4 Bill Needle's Mailbag 7 [3 - 17 (7)]

The show has been cut to 15 seconds.

Bill Needle - Thomas; Announcer - staff announcer

5 Bill Needle's Mailbag 8 [3 - 18 (7)]

The show is cut to seven and a half seconds.

Bill Needle - Thomas; announcer - staff announcer

5 Bill Needle's Mailbag 9 [3 - 19 (5)]

Bill's show has been cut to three seconds.

Bill Needle - Thomas; crew - extras; announcer - staff announcer

6 Bill Needle's Mailbag 10 [3 - 20 (3)]

Bill is muffled from the top. But his point, I think, is made.

Bill Needle - Thomas; Announcer - staff announcer; crew, Soccer player - Wally, extras

7 Promo: Starting Out with Bill Needle [3 - 21 (1)]

Bill Needle uses his vast experience to teach young stars what they'll need to know to succeed.

Bill Needle - Thomas; Young starlet - Duke; Young Star - Rosato; announcer - staff announcer

8 Critics Corner with Bill Needle: The Moral Majority [4/1 - 6 (7)]

Bill thinks television has gone to the dogs and comes out hard against the moral majority. However, when they go to commercial, Sunbright yanks their spot. Startled by their quick response to his comments, Bill revises his opinion of the moral majority. The commercial is aired. Bill signs off, holding a box of Sunbright. (Later in the same episode, Bill does a commercial for Sunbright.)

Bill Needle - Thomas

9 Critic's Corner with Bill Needle: RCA editorial [4/1 - 7 (8)]

Bill starts by making it clear he isn't for sale. He takes a piece out of RCA for not giving NBC satellite time. He gets a phone call. Apparently it was a decision made at the highest level. He gets another call. He says good night.

Bill Needle - Thomas; announcer - staff announcer

10 Wrong Side Of the Bed with Bill Needle [4/1 - 9 (2)]

Bill's new show is a morning show - Bill Needle-style: no fake cheeriness, and he'll get it over with as painlessly as possible. His first guest is Lola, who shows up a little late and a little wasted. Bill chews her out for taking pills on a family show and she walks.

Host: Bill Needle - Thomas; Lola Heatherton - O'Hara; Crew - extra; announcer - extra

11 Critic's Corner with Bill Needle: Theatre Beat [4/2 - 2 (9)]

Bill carps about being put on the theatre beat by management. He hates theatre. But he invites us to join him later tonight for his new show Theatre Beat.

Bill Needle - Thomas; announcer - staff announcer

12 Theatre Beat with Bill Needle: I'm Taking My Own Head [4/2 - 2 (12)]

Bill reviews Libby's play, takes it apart, and shows some clips.

Clips: I'm Taking My Own Head...

Two women complain about men. They console the man, even though he's a sexist pig. The finale.

Libby Wolfson - Martin; Sue Bopper Simpson - O'Hara; Seth Dick III - Flaherty

Bill rips Libby's play apart some more, and gets some reactions from audience members, friends and relatives, including Lenny and Max. To conclude, he gives Seth a good review, and notes the play is closing after only one show.

Bill Needle - Thomas; Lenny Schectman - Moranis; Max Kerbel - Candy; audience - extras

13 Shoot for the Stars with Bill Needle [4/2 - 8 (6)]

Bill's new show gets up close and personal with the stars. First, after slavishly praising him, he takes Rupert Holmes apart for writing a song about booze and kicks him off the show. Then, after slavishly praising him, he takes Chuck Mangione apart for coming on to his show wearing a bad hat, and boots him off too.

Bill Needle - Thomas; Rupert Holmes - Levy; Chuck Mangione - Moranis; announcer - staff announcer

14 Stand Up and Be Counted with Bill Needle [4/3 - 5 (16)]

Bill has a late night phone in show. He gets calls from Carl Sagan and Tip O'Neil, but refuses to talk to them. Guy Caballero calls and cancels the show.

Bill Needle - Thomas; Phone operator - extra

15 TV Talk with Bill Needle [4/3 - 9 (8)]

Bill takes on AC Nielson and the ratings system. After getting some surprisingly good instant overnite ratings for his new show, he congratulates them on doing well at a difficult job. He shows a brief montage of all the shows he's done over the years. And he walks away.

The Bill Needle collection of shows: Stand Up and Be Counted; Theatre Beat; Royal Wedding Talk Back; Bill Needle's Hate Line; Bill Needle's Mail Bag; Sporting Life; Critic's Corner; The Wilderness Is for the Birds.

Bill Needle - Thomas