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‘SNL’ Returns and Acknowledges Its Rebuilding Year with ‘ManningCast’ Cold Open

The first sketch of the new season proved that, even if "SNL" has a lot of problems to deal with, the show is in on the joke.

"Saturday Night Live"

“Saturday Night Live”

NBC/screenshot

When “Saturday Night Live” kicked off its 48th season on NBC last night, fans knew that the show was going to look very different. Many longtime cast members departed the show last year, including Pete Davidson, Chris Redd, Kate McKinnon, Kyle Mooney, Aidy Bryant, Melissa Villasenor and Alex Moffat. So the show was tasked with introducing a lot of new faces on Saturday night while working to update its comedic identity. Turnover has always been a part of the show and longtime fans are used to the drill by now, but turning over a new leaf after such a massive talent exodus is never an easy job.

To do that, the show took a page out of ESPN’s playbook. The Season 48 premiere opened with a clever parody of “ManningCast,” ESPN’s alternative broadcast of “Monday Night Football” games that features retired quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning offering a more lighthearted commentary than what viewers would hear on the flagship broadcast. But instead of a football game, the sketch saw Peyton (Miles Teller) and Eli (Andrew Dismukes) analyzing the new “SNL” cast.

The Manning brothers begin watching a fake “SNL” sketch about Donald Trump’s legal troubles, which gave the writers an angle to acknowledge some of the recent criticisms of the show.

“Oh good, a Trump sketch,” Teller’s Peyton Manning said. “Way to mix it up.”

As the sketch goes further and further off the rails, the Manning brothers take the opportunities to point out all of the obstacles that the new season of “SNL” has to overcome. Much of the humor arose from the fact that so many cast members left the show, with Peyton joking that Kate McKinnon’s departure left the show without a single funny political impression. There were also plenty of jokes about the new cast members’ inability to replace their predecessors, with Peyton and Eli analyzing the new talent as if they were rookies on a football field.

It wouldn’t be a “ManningCast” without a celebrity cameo, and “SNL” delivered by bringing in Jon Hamm. The “Top Gun: Maverick” star explained that he was a fan of new cast member Devon Walker and was excited to watch his debut, only to be disappointed by Walker’s deliberately terrible character known as “Corn Kid.”

By the end of the meta sketch, Hamm was echoing the sentiments of many viewers.

“I’m gonna stick around and see what the hell this show’s gonna be,” he said.

You can watch the video of the “Saturday Night Live” Season 48 premiere cold open, “ManningCast,” below:

 

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