Fall TV 2014RecapReviewTV

‘Saturday Night Live’ Review: “Live from New York is a New Season!”

Devika Syal ’18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Chris Pratt in the season premiere of Saturday Night Live. Photo Credit: NBC Universal.
Chris Pratt in the season premiere of Saturday Night Live. Photo Credit: NBC Universal.

Saturday Night Live premiered its 40th season on September 27th with host Chris Pratt and  musical guest Ariana Grande.

The season introduced two new featured cast members, Michael Che and Pete Davidson. Last season’s Beck Bennett, Colin Jost, Kyle Mooney and Sasheer Zamata also returned to the show, while John Milhiser, Mike O’Brien, Noël Wells, and Brooks Wheelan were not asked back. All previous regular cast members returned with the exception of Nasim Pedrad.

The show jumped right into its regular schedule, with a cold open focusing on the recent scandals that have been prevalent in the NFL. The sketch relied more on returning cast members Kenan Thompson and Jay Pharoah’s impersonations of NFL members than it did on actual comedy.

Pratt’s monologue was as endearing and sweet as he is. It featured him on an acoustic guitar singing about how excited he was to be hosting the show, forgetting the lyrics at one point and acknowledging his mistake with a joke. He made a reference to his wife, actress Anna Faris, who was seated in the front row watching him perform. Longtime fans of the show must have been overjoyed to finally hear those familiar words of introduction that he sang at the end of his song: “Live from New York, it’s Saturday night!”

Kenan Thompson, Jay Pharoah and Aidy Bryant in the season premiere of Saturday Night Live. Photo Credit: NBC Universal.
Kenan Thompson, Jay Pharoah and Aidy Bryant in the season premiere of Saturday Night Live. Photo Credit: NBC Universal.

That sentiment, however, was not completely true of Saturday’s episode. While most of the sketches were performed live, Saturday Night Live included three pre-recorded segments. This is something the show has increasingly been doing over the past few seasons. Previous cast member Andy Samberg’s hit “Digital Shorts” used to be the only consistent pre-recorded aspect of the show.

The sketches included a fake advertisement for medication that not only helped with medical conditions, but also helped the patient get “turnt,” a concept popularized over the summer by various musicians. Host Pratt starred in the summer blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy, so the show also spoofed many fake movie trailers advertising similar films. However the only connection they had to the real movie was the well-known trailer sequence featuring the main characters turning a corner and walking towards the camera.

The Weekend Update, a segment on the show that features real news stories told with a punchline, returned with a new host. After longtime host Seth Meyers left the Weekend Update last season to host his own late night talk show, he was replaced by new cast member Colin Jost and Cecily Strong. This season Strong was demoted back to regular cast member and replaced by former Saturday Night Live writer Michael Che.

Kate McKinnon, Chris Pratt, Cecily Strong and Vanessa Bayer in the season premiere of Saturday Night Live. Photo Credit: NBC Universal.
Kate McKinnon, Chris Pratt, Cecily Strong and Vanessa Bayer in the season premiere of Saturday Night Live. Photo Credit: NBC Universal.

However the first impression of the new Weekend Update anchor was not a favorable one. Fumbling his first joke of the season, Che could not seem to keep a straight face throughout the entire segment. Jost proved to be a mini-Meyers, presenting his jokes in the same manner as his predecessor, appearing serious most of the time until he cracked an especially good one and smirked at the audience.

The Weekend Update included an interview with a popular character played by Strong, known as the “Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started A Conversation With At A Party.” She is characterized as trying to educate the news anchors on social justice issues she is extremely uneducated in. It is unfortunate that Strong had to leave her job at the Weekend Update desk to bring back this character, since she and Jost made an excellent pair last season.

Also making his debut on the Weekend Update was new cast member Pete Davidson. He was playfully introduced as the show’s “Resident Young Person,” seeing as he is the first Saturday Night Live cast member to have been born in the 1990s. Featured in a few other sketches throughout the night, Davidson proved to be a good addition to the cast, different from the many white males who have been filtered through the cast in the recent years.

Ariana Grande performs in the season premiere of Saturday Night Live. Photo Credit: NBC Universal.
Ariana Grande performs in the season premiere of Saturday Night Live. Photo Credit: NBC Universal.

While most of the sketches were not what could be classified comedy gold, they still provided laughs based on how outrageous they were. One sketch featured cast member Aidy Bryant and Pratt playing two shy characters meeting in a bar who didn’t know how to speak to each other. They ended up rapping obscene verses to each other as a form of communication while their friends looked on.

Musical guest Ariana Grande’s performance was a good way to premiere the season, showcasing her talent at singing live. There were no mishaps nor was it boring. Donning cat ears and a simple black outfit, Grande took the stage singing her song “Break Free,” starting with a basic piano intro that transitioned into a dance number. Her second song was “Love Me Harder,” a collaboration with musical artist The Weekend. Both these songs are from her recently released album My Everything, which was released at the end of August. Grande also appeared in a sketch, reminding the audience of the acting career she had on Nickelodeon’s Victorious and Sam and Cat before her musical career took off.

The season premiere of Saturday Night Live provided a great way to ease viewers into the return of the show. With the hopes that they are saving some of their best comedy for future episodes, fans can look forward to another entertaining season of Saturday Night Live.

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