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'Saturday Night Live' returns, acknowledges concern over churn

Following the departures of key cast members before the show's 47th season, 'SNL' evaluated its performance as if it were an NFL game.
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"Saturday Night Live" put the matters of cast turnover, the quality of its comedy and concerns over its future front and center during its 47th season opener.

The show's cold open was a spoof of a streamed talk show hosted by NFL legends and brothers Peyton Manning (played by host Miles Teller) and Eli Manning (played by cast member Andrew Dismukes), "Peytoncast."

"Instead of football, we decided to check out the season premiere of 'SNL,'" Eli Manning said.

The show has been the subject of high expectations and scrutiny after the exit of many of its most beloved cast members over the summer. In a story about "SNL" creator and executive producer Lorne Michaels last month, The New York Times counted the bodies:

Gone are Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant, Pete Davidson, Kyle Mooney, Melissa Villaseñor, Alex Moffat and Aristotle Athari, the Times reported.

A slate of four new cast members for the season made it vulnerable to ribbing by Teller's Peyton Manning: "Let’s see what they spent the entire summer coming up with."

The siblings focused on "SNL" in real time, analyzing it as if it were a football matchup. It took a look at a sketch about the FBI raid on former President Donald Trump's Florida residence, Mar-a-Lago.

Trump, played by James Austin Johnson, was depicted as a man at peace just before agents burst in. He said, "There’s no lawyers. There’s no FBI. I’m in my happy place."

The brothers criticized the performance of cast member Bowen Yang, noting that he's now one of the more senior performers on the show.

"He was supposed to step up this year, but you can tell the pressure’s getting to him," Peyton Manning said.

The football siblings went to a graphic to explain the show's performance so far: 14 attempted jokes and three chuckles were listed.

Jon Hamm joined the pair to note that new featured player Devon Walker has "really got something" when it comes to comedy.

But Hamm and the hosts expressed disappointment when Walker entered the Trump sketch to portray South Dakota's "Corn-bassdor," the "Corn Kid."

"It's Devon Walker’s first appearance on national TV, and they got him doing Corn Kid?" said Peyton Manning.

A sketch had fun with pop star Adam Levine's exposed direct messages to a model who is not his wife. The sketch came in the form of a television game show in which contestants, all men, could win $100 million by simply sending a "normal" Instagram DM to a woman.

Of course, it couldn't be done, with Mikey Day's Levine serving as contestant and prime example of men who send women inappropriate messages.

But one man was up to the challenge: Yang. Asked what his secret was, he said, "Being gay."

News segment "Weekend Update" featured Colin Jost and Michael Che as returning hosts.

Che noted that Hurricane Ian this week brought loss and damage to Florida, a state led by Gov. Ron DeSantis, known for his opposition to the hypothetical teaching of critical race theory in public schools

"It's such a historic tragedy," Che said of the storm, "that DeSantis won't let them teach about it in Florida schools."

Meanwhile, Jost made fun of President Joe Biden's public gaffes by quoting the 79-year-old president as asking for the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to join him during Friday's formal investiture ceremony for Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.

"Where is Justice Ginsberg," he said. "Ruth, come on up here."