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Saturday Night Live

Season 36 premiere (NBC)

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A bad SNL premiere is more depressing than a bad SNL in general: “They had four months to think up material, and THIS is the best they came up with?” But Saturday’s episode was particularly depressing as the show was returning from arguably its worst season of the modern era, a black hole of unfunny that even dependable hosts like Jon Hamm and Alec Baldwin couldn’t rise above. (The inspired Betty White episode was a notable exception.) Sadly, it looks like we’re in for another stinker in season 36. Relying on tired recurring sketches long past their best-before dates and blink-and-you-miss-’em cameos, the episode’s lazy writing once again dragged a talented host (Amy Poehler) down with it. Even the digital short was a misfire and of the five new cast members, only Jay Pharoah made an impact, thanks to his spot-on Will Smith impersonation. At this point, it’s hard to tell whether Lorne Michaels and company don’t realize their product is struggling creatively or if they just don’t know what to do about it.

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