Some Hopes Before the Season Premiere:
- Much like the last two seasons I covered live as they aired, I’m going to share some of my hopes for the new season before doing the review properly.
- As much as I enjoy them, I think the show should stop leaning so heavily on PDD the way they did through the second half of last season. It felt clear SNL didn’t have as many unique voices creating pretaped material as they did in previous years. So, here’s hoping we’d get more offbeat, creative pretapes that aren’t bloated or feel generic.
- Keep using James Austin Johnson the way he was utilized in a lot of last season and have him grow more and more into an essential, beloved utility player that will become one of the backbones of the show. James already achieved so much, and any new highs he would reach will be deserved.
- Less reliance on Bowen and Kenan this season; the heavy usage of both of them during a lot of last season annoyed the hell out of me. Especially considering the very demoralizing regression both faced (Kenan especially). When you have such an incredibly versatile cast member such as James Austin Johnson and a promising group of newer and featured players, I feel it is the time for both of them to leave.
- While I feel Ego noticeably declined last season in her lead work, she remained as solid as ever in support roles. I hope this season Ego finds a good balance between her sketches and support work, and not have one of them noticeably being stronger and more consistent than the other. Use Ego more as the MVP/utility leader she is, and less sketches with Ego playing a generic, no-nonsense lady that waste her talents and range. The female cast is very shaky at the moment, with either underused performers (Sarah & Punkie), and ones who are very hit-or-miss at best (Chloe & Heidi), so Ego is not only the current best female on the cast, but after JAJ, the best cast member all-around.
Cold opening – Pete Davidson
PED evokes the healing power of comedy amidst the Israel/Gaza conflict
- Very classy, short opening addressing the Israel Gaza war. I truly commend SNL and Pete himself for doing this instead of a tired, endless cold open; Pete’s choking voice as he speaks of his childhood post-9/11 and the tragic death of his father is really getting to me.
- Same montage as last season.
- I’m not too upset with Mikey returning for another season, even when last season was the perfect way for him to bow out. I did hope he’d leave and for James to take more and more of the usual support roles Mikey would get. But considering both how well James’ been doing in general and the strong previous two years Mikey’s had, I have no problem with him back for a potential final season.
- Great seeing James & Sarah finally promoted to repertory players. Both had pretty solid tenures so far and easily are the best hires in quite some time.
- Chloe Troast has been added to the cast starting with tonight’s premiere. I am very excited to see her debut, as I’ve been a fan of her work and could see her working well with a number of her fellow cast members, as well as the writers. It is also nice to have a new female cast member, considering how quite shaky that side of the cast has become last season.
- Wow, PDD are now credited in the opening, including a montage shot of them?! So well-deserved, in my view. This is probably the first time this happened since the days when Smigel did TV Funhouse.
PED delivers stand-up about bonding with sister over GOT, incest, and revenge on ex-girlfriend
- Interesting that Pete is doing a stand-up set, complete with a microphone handed to him like previous stand-ups hosting SNL.
- I’m enjoying Pete’s whole bit about bonding with his sister. This is relatable to me as the youngest kid in the middle of many and many older sisters.
- As soon as Pete brought up Game of Thrones, I knew this will get into incest jokes. Pete is doing an ok job with a touchy, albeit overused subject in modern stand-up.
- Ok…. So we can say “pussy” on live TV? I was really caught up by that it made me laugh.
- Pete’s fun riffing on Staten Island always makes me laugh, especially the whole Esptein Island being less hated than Staten Island is decent.
- I’m noticing Pete going into Gilbert and Adam Sandler-esque vocal imitations during several of his punchlines, which I assume is unintentional; it comes off more endearing than annoying as it shows how much Pete is influenced by them.
- This whole Pete & his ex-girlfriend bit eventually leading up to him bragging about banging her after she dies from an overdose as the ending punchline of his joke about her bragging about banging him to her future husband is pretty solid and the best part of this whole overall good stand-up set.
NFL on Fox
professional sports panel devolves into Swiftie competition; Travis Kelce [real] cameo
- Odd not only seeing pretty much the same sports impressions we saw in last season’s Aubrey Plaza cold opening, but as our leadoff sketch.
- Molly once again playing an overweight male figure, which pretty much became the norm for them last season. I’m not happy seeing them in such a box already.
- The sports-centric program becoming gossip-obsessed around the Travis Kelce/Taylor Swift romance is pretty funny; JAJ’s enraged reactions, as well as Devon’s dead-on Michael Strahan are the funniest highlights here.
- Pete yet again sounding very Adam Sandler-esque. The Taylor Swift photo analysis, complete with a circle around her eyes is really stupid, but funny.
- Did we really need the very brief Travis Kelce cameo? At least he came off likable as always.
- For the obligatory Taylor Swift sketch of the night, this was pretty good.
I’m Just Pete
PED sings about embracing his identity
- Very expected to see Pete starring in a musical short, which is easily a given.
- Ok, this now turned into a Barbie parody? This is doing a dead-on job nailing the movie’s look and feel, as expected.
- The cast is doing a fun job playing versions of Pete; Mikey is a lot of fun and Devon, once again tonight, is very fun as Black Pete. His reaction as well to being just ”Black Pete” is great.
- This short now centering around Pete’s personal life is giving unwanted memories of the hyperfocus on his personal life during the height of his gossip fame back in the day. This is coming off fine and nowhere near as desperate.
- Loved the very blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Kanye diss.
- Decent self-deprecating ending with the car crash.
Wired’s autocomplete format spills chaos for PED
- Mikey’s been all over this episode so far, and I absolutely love his look here, to say the least.
- Ok, the sketch’s now turning into a gossip about the anchors, is fine, but nothing I would call hilarious.
- Adorable height comparison bit between Chloe and Marcello; thanks to the latter.
- The shitting (pun intended) on Mikey’s Zach Elliot, complete with bathroom humor is pretty cheap, but it isn’t too bad.
- I really loved the ending with Pete’s character saying Chloe’s grandma was a Nazi; solid delivery from the latter that she was, but just during the war.
- Overall, these types of sketches do not do too much for me, but even with the repetition, this was alright.
PED’s do-it-all secretary (HEG) is wacky
- Heidi getting her obligatory sketch of the premiere. Considering how extremely tired I’ve grown of her last season, I’m going to get into this one with worry.
- Solid fast-paced delivery and performance from Heidi, but this isn’t any different from that desk piece she did as that busy co-worker. It only shows how one-note Heidi’s becoming in this late stage in her run.
- This brief role is a real waste of James’ great talents. I did love his delivery as the classy new co-worker, at least.
- This HAS to be a Jimmy Fowlie sketch.
- Good, committed pratfall from Heidi, but this sketch ain’t working for me as a whole. This is not that different from the endless “wacky” sketches we got last season, especially from Heidi and Chloe.
- The ending with Bowen’s message to the camera was awful. In a typical cringey Bowen way.
Please Don’t Destroy – The Original Princes of Comedy
John Higgins, Ben Marshall, Martin Herlihy [real] show PED their un-PC childhood standup days; John Mulaney [real] cameo
- Our obligatory PDD short of the premiere.
- Aww, that Pete stand-up clip, while didn’t make me laugh out loud, was quite endearing. This short already has a fun, solid concept that it is perfect for PDD.
- Pete is solid straight man throughout this short. Actually, a better one than I expected him to be.
- The kids here are really good, especially for their age; the white kid at Def Comedy Jam acting all “black” is priceless.
- I’m really enjoying the stand-up clips of the kid playing younger Martin roasting the hell out of the audience members; the use of that SNL writer (sorry, forgot his name) is hilarious.
- Another Taylor Swift mention, and this one honestly came off pointless.
- Pretaped John Mulaney cameo! As expected, his whole bit was excellent and gave me the biggest laughs so far in this episode. A testament to his brilliant comedy style that he can make me laugh so hard while bombing in front of the audience.
- Good to see Che, much like Colin making a rare appearance outside of Update. His mom recognizing Ben from the old videos was a good way to end this piece.
- An overall very fun inaugural PDD short for the season.
Musical Performance – “In Ha Mood”
Christopher Columbus (BOY) brags around Indigenous Peoples’ Day
MIC torments COJ with endless ”Ebony Alerts” jokes
Deion Sanders (KET) is still prime time as he coaches college football teams
- It is absolutely surreal to me that this is the 10th year of the Che/Jost era of Update. Don’t get me wrong, this era is my all-time favorite, but no anchor should remain for this long. However, unlike some fellow reviewers, I’m not sick of Che & Jost yet, but do hope they would bow out gracefully after this season and hand over the reins to a new Update team. (Crossing my fingers for the solid Rosebud Baker and possible a male or female co-anchor alongside her to take over.)
- We are starting with our obligatory Israel/Gaza talk. Knowing this era of Update, I’m optimistic they’ll handle it well.
- Great joke from Che about the first black gay senator and George Santos; the following “seen here” joke by him was funny as well.
- Che’s joke Mia Khalifa/Lorne joke “I was searching her for work!” was very funny. This Update in general has been good in terms of jokes and pacing.
- OH, GOD. After Che introduced the Columbus commentary, I expected another fun Michael Longfellow piece. Instead, we are getting our obligatory Bowen Vamp piece of the night. Bleh.
- This is fucking terrible so far. Bowen is performing this with his usual ease and confidence, but as usual with him, this is just dull and nothing more. And now, complete with our billionith Taylor Swift mention.
- This performance, as usual with this performer, is completely joyless. There’s such coldness in Bowen Yang when he performs these D.O.A. trash on a weekly basis. Instead of getting a much warmer, more talented performer instead of him here such as JAJ or Sarah, we get the billionth Vanity Island desk piece from an out-of-date cast member. I’m sure Bowen Yang is a great person behind the scenes at SNL and everything, but I only get cold, joyless vibes from almost everything he does nowadays on the show. Even in the tiniest of support roles, like his role in Secretary, he removes me completely from the sketches themselves. I cannot remember the last performer who kills sketches dead for me so many times since…. God, Kristen Wiig and Fred Armisen?
- Anyways, this was a dull, suffocating dud of a commentary that seemed endless.
- Fantastic “Ebony Alerts” string of jokes from Colin; completely making up for the dull Bowen piece I just sat through.
- I’m loving how several of the jokes tonight are bombing; Colin’s reaction to the Texas crocodile joke bombing was excellent.
- Man, after sitting through that Bowen piece, now I’m getting a Kenan desk piece? This Update, jokes-wise, has been great, but the commentary choices so far are rough, to say the least.
- As always, Kenan is not even doing anything to imitate Deion Sanders, and is just doing his usual smug routine, which is getting zero laughs from me. This piece is no different than the Mario one he did nor his awful Herschel Walker impression last season.
- We are now getting Kenan cracking up for no reason in the middle of his speech. It is absolutely surreal to me how this man keeps sinking by each passing week; giving Horatio Sanz a run for his money in terms of being an unprofessional jackass.
- This commentary keeps going on and on and on….
- I’ll say, however, the bit with us being shown a brief bit from the very notorious Must Be The Money musical performance from Deion’s S20 episode was an interesting meta moment.
- Very classy ending to the inaugural Update of the season with request for donations to help the affected civilians in Israel and Gaza.
- All-in-all, this Update actually had a lot of fun jokes and moments, especially the string of priceless jokes during the “Ebony Alerts” bit, but the desk commentaries were so awful, rambling, overlong that they’ll bring down my rating by half-a-star, at least.
Rating: ***1/2 (the latter for the excellent “Ebony Alerts” bit)
Weirdo (BOY) returns to old spaceship amidst battle
- Great set design and great costumes on the cast; Heidi’s look as a robot is fantastic, as well as Chloe’s look being clearly inspired by Seven of Nine.
- How much Bowen vamping and camping can an episode have? A season premiere, nonetheless. Of course, Bowen is playing this role as…. Bowen. And this guy is supposed to be one of the show’s stars??
- Not two minutes in and this sketch has eerie season 20 vibes, especially the lavish production spent on what appears to be so far a thin, jokeless sketch.
- Much like that secretary sketch with Heidi, this one also feels VERY Jimmy Fowlie. Not a good thing. I mean, from Bowen’s look and character, the lines delivered, the hollow, cold feel, THIS has to be our second Jimmy Fowlie-written sketch of the night.
- This sketch is fucking TERRIBLE so far. Completely unwatchable. What the fuck is this sketch even going for?!
- I…. I really do not have much to say about this D.O.A. dud. These Bowen Vamp sketches always come off extremely D.O.A. right out of the motherfucking gate. And…. so suffocatingly dull, which gives me NOTHING to say about them.
- Now Bowen Vamp sacrifices himself and saves the spaceship, complete with a mock-sentimental ending to the camera? Bleh.
- Overall: no.
Musical Performance – ”Pretty Girl”
Taylor Swift [real] introduces musical guest
(AND) delivers emotional pep talk to PED in the middle of the sand
- Andrew! Sorry, but it feels sadly so rare seeing Andrew being used in a sketch nowadays. Considering how unfairly underused and maligned he’s been since last season, it’ll always be a pleasent a surprise to see him being actually used in a piece.
- I know this is obvious, but new cast member Chloe Troast looks a lot like Sarah. It feels like we strangely barely saw her this episode. I understand this is her first show, but odd how she barely did anything so far.
- I’m absolutely loving the awkward turn with Pete’s grandma’s farm being destroyed and Andrew, in the middle of the sand, giving him a pep talk. Andrew’s so good in delivering these offbeat concepts and making them work for me. I laughed so hard at both the visual and delivery from Andrew of his condolences to Pete.
- I’m pretty surprised Pete isn’t breaking at all during Andrew’s whole spiel, which is something I could see Pete breaking easily in reaction towards.
- I could’ve used a better ending, but I overall loved this piece, especially considering the dull “star” showpieces we got in different parts of this episode. Refreshing, offbeat sketch concepts such as this are always up my alley of humor I love.
Despite its horrific side effects, Glamgina is the best cosmetic product for female genitalia
- Right out of the gate, I get the feeling I’m probably in for a patented oddball Sarah Sherman piece; pieces I’m always such a sucker for.
- I love the reveal that Sarah put makeup on her vagina as this piece is now starting to reveal itself in the tradition of female-centric hygienic ads.
- Solid, fun delivery from Sarah as she reveals Glamgina’s benefits to the vagina; her overly-cheery delivery is so dead-on of these typical spokesman ads.
- Fun appearance from Ego, especially her casual delivery of where she came from.
- Ah, more and more this piece is becoming an all-female showcase; the ridiclious premise and how seriously it’s treated makes it funnier.
- Great appearance from Heidi which creeps out Pete, who’s been giving a solid and fun straight man performance.
- Very funny bit with Chloe Troast appearing in the closet to a terrified Pete’s discomfort.
- In a typical Punkie Johnson fashion, she’s coming off so likable and fun casually eating chips in the middle of the ad.
- Not even the Kenan bit at the end annoyed me. It, and the ending tagline, actually made me laugh.
- An overall really solid, creative piece with all the girls in the cast getting chances to shine.
PED & (AND) meet with (KET) in a bar in the middle of nowhere
- Ah, another patented oddball Andrew Dismukes piece tonight? This episode is really starting to be very enjoyable to me with these creative, offbeat pieces this half (Bowen Vamp notwithstanding).
- Andrew’s characterization and look is both fun and endearing to me here. Much like Melissa before him, Andrew’s natural warmth and endearing presence was sadly barely used so far in his run.
- Yet another fun character work from Pete tonight; he’s been impressing me so much as the host.
- Surprisingly, Kenan is actually a pretty solid straight man throughout this sketch and I’m enjoying his befuddled reactions to Pete & Andrew.
- The “not driving tonight” running bit is funny, especially considering the bar the sketch is set in is in the middle of nowhere.
- I usually love Michael Longfellow as the straight man in a sketch, but something about his performance here feels off to me. It’s like he’s not interested in the premise. I noticed hints of that in the (terrible) spaceship sketch earlier tonight. Odd how a very professional performer such as Michael is seemingly a little rusty during the season premiere, of all episodes.
- The turn with the foot pics is so, so dumb. But, in a typical Andrew Dismukes fashion, he is making it work just fine for me.
- Not an ending I would’ve chosen, but an overall silly little 10-to-1.
Segments Ranked From Best to Worst
Please Don’t Destroy – The Original Princes of Comedy
NFL on Fox
I’m Just Pete
- I learned not to expect too much from season premieres; they’re either gassed out or very strong for the most part. This premiere, however, as a whole was agreeable enough. The first half was mostly just ok, but with the second half, minus that unwatchable Bowen Vamp sketch, the episode became more consistently enjoyable to me (including several solid, creative and offbeat pieces). All-in-all, minus two duds, we got mostly good stuff, including two pretaped and live pieces I loved (PDD & Beach Day). Pete Davidson was a quietly solid, likable and charming host who fit perfectly back into the SNL format, and contrary to what I feared, he came into this episode being such a sport and clearly having fun; I especially loved his work throughout the post-Update half of the night.
My Favorite Moments of the Episode, Represented with Screencaps:
- Bad Bunny.
My full set of screencaps from this episode is here