Saturday Night Live Returning

Saturday Night Live is just one of dozens of shows that went on a production hiatus due to the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States and around the world. Since the show is filmed with a live audience and is produced in the span of a single week with a staff of writers and a full crew, it was believed SNL would be shut down until the pandemic had passed. But in the wake of late night television’s revival with special social distancing episodes, we’ll see Saturday Night Live returning this weekend.

NBC announced news of Saturday Night Live returning in its usual 11:30 P.M. EST time slot this weekend with remotely produced content, including sketches featuring the cast and a new edition of Weekend Update. However, at this time, the length of the episode and whether or not the sketches will actually be done live remains to be seen. But executive producer Lorne Michaels clearly thinks they can pull it off, and they haven’t run out of coronavirus material despite having several sketches dedicated to the pandemic in the last episode before hiatus, featuring host Daniel Craig.

Late night talk shows are a bit easier to revive since they mostly rely on a single host and celebrity guests. Even though the production value isn’t there, the formula of the show mostly remains intact. But can Saturday Night Live produce fully formed sketches through Zoom or other teleconferencing services? Perhaps they’ve figured out a way to use the restrictions to their advantage comedically, not unlike that forthcoming workplace comedy idea from the two executive producers of The Office.

Honestly, I’m surprised that NBC didn’t just try to bring back SNL in the form of the half-hour Weekend Update episodes they used to do every now and then during summers. That would be easy to accomplish remotely, and there are plenty of current events to skewer with one-liners from Colin Jost and Michael Che.

However, Michael Che has been hit a little closer to home by the pandemic since Che’s grandmother passed away due to complications from coronavirus. The comedian posted about his grandmother’s passing on Instagram, but has since deleted all of his posts. Furthermore, SNL was hit with another casualty as Hal Willner, a record producer¬† the longtime music producer for all the show’s sketch, also recently died of complications believed to be associated with the coronavirus.

Since we usually review new episodes of Saturday Night Live, check back this weekend to get our take on this surprising revival of the series. Maybe they’ll even round up a cavalcade of surprise special guests remotely in order to lift everyone’s spirits. How fun would a self-quarantine Wayne’s World be if they could somehow pull it off? If it doesn’t work, we can always see what comedian Ian Abramson is doing with his own rendition of SNL that he’s been doing since the show went on hiatus.

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