"Saturday Night Live" returned from a planned break that turned into a monthlong coronavirus hiatus and made the most of its cast members and host Tom Hanks, who sent in a series of fast-moving videos from self-isolation at home.
The show did not open with its usual refrain, "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!" But Kate McKinnon did say, "Live from Zoom." And an announcer said, "It's Saturday Night Live at home." The usual opening credits of cast members on the town in Manhattan were nixed in favor of footage of them at home, in kitchens, with children and even in bed.
Tom Hanks emerged as a surprise host of the evening. "It’s good to be here," he said. "But it's also very weird to be here hosting 'Saturday Night Live' from home."
Hanks, who has recovered after developing COVID-19 while working on a film in Australia, called himself the "celebrity canary in the coal mine for coronavirus."
He said he was thrown off when medical workers Down Under initially took his temperature in Celsius.
"Turns out 36 is fine," Hanks said. "Thirty-eight is bad. How Hollywood treats female actors."
He said he was proud to be hosting, but given that isolation has muddied the concept of time, "There’s no such thing as Saturdays anymore."
The first traditional skit of the evening featured McKinnon as Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who shows off "RBG's Workout Corner." Her routine includes exercises to impact the "abs, gams, tuchus" and "critical thinking."
"I’m very tough," she explains. "I’m 87 years old. I went to law school during the Spanish flu."
Ginsburg wonders aloud about the origins of the virus, believed by some to have come from human interaction with bats in China.
"Apparently that virus came from a sick bat," she says. "Which makes me wonder, what was Giuliani doing in China?"
A subsequent skit seemed to capture the zeitgeist of American office work in the age of coronavirus: "Welcome to Sales Corp Industries first Zoom call," says "SNL's" Mikey Day as he conducts business from home.
The meeting soon descends into confusion as two of the at-home workers, played by McKinnon and Aidy Bryant, have technical difficulties. "I thought this computer only did solitary," says Bryant.
"We ruined the Zoom," McKinnon adds, sobbing.
"No one ruined the Zoom," Day says.
Later in the show, Larry David's Bernie Sanders, who this week quit the race for the Democratic nomination for president, makes an appearance. He expresses concern for medical workers who don't have the proper protective gear as they treat highly contagious coronavirus patients.
"They don’t even have the little key chain that has the bottle of Purell that goes on your purse," he says.
Sanders also suggests American customs would never be the same after the virus with handshakes and high fives likely to vanish. Playing a little more David than Sanders, the character suggests people adopt his hand wave greeting, which really says, "Go away, go way."
"It’s worked for me for years," he says.
Satirical news segment "Weekend Update" had hosts Colin Jost and Michael Che delivering headlines from home.
Jost says that with the presidential race down to President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, "I just want to say on behalf of all comedians, thank you."
"We have comedy gold for the next four years," he says.
Che expresses concern that African Americans have been disproportionately impacted by the virus in places like New York City. He feared that Trump, after calling it the "Chinese virus," might turn his vocabulary on them.
"Once Trump starts calling this the Harlem flu, we ain’t never gonna get a cure," he says.
Trump, performed by Alec Baldwin, called in to the show. "America is not No. 1 in the world for coronavirus," he proclaims. He offers guidance for Americans worried about getting COVID-19.
"I’ve always said it was a giant hoax that we should take very seriously," Trump says. "So everyone needs to wash their hands. Or not."
Trump says he doesn't want to set an example by wearing a face mask to prevent spread because if he does, he might end up looking "like a reverse Homer Simpson."
Che memorialized his grandmother, who died from coronavirus. The show also memorialized SNL music producer Hal Willner, who died of complications from the virus.
"We are going to miss you so damn much," Adam Sandler said of Willner.