We’re deep into the 45th season of “Saturday Night Live” now, and also deep into the holiday season. In the most recent episode of “SNL,” which aired on Dec. 21, was hosted by Eddie Murphy. The host had several big moments in his return to the sketch show for the first time in 35 years, like throwing major shade at Bill Cosby and bringing back his Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood sketch.
In season 45, Alec Baldwin has made four appearances as Donald Trump thus far — he’s shown up in the last two episodes, as well as in the premiere episode, and in the cold open on October 26, when he shared the stage with Darrell Hammond, the former “SNL” cast member who played Trump on the show for years. Baldwin popped up less often in season 44 than he did in the previous two seasons, when he would appear as Donald Trump in the cold open most weeks. Thus far he’s made one appearance per month in season 45.
This week, on Saturday, January 18, there WILL NOT be a new episode of “SNL.” NBC’s sketch comedy will resume its 45th season on January 25, when Adam Driver will host, with Halsey as the musical guest. As is always the case with reruns, this episode of “SNL” will not be simulcast from coast to coast — on the West Coast it’ll air at 11:30 p.m. In addition, at 10 p.m. NBC will pay tribute to the late Buck Henry this week by airing a shortened version of the episode he hosted way back in the show’s first season, which will last for one hour before the network breaks for local news.
While season 44 saw “SNL” seemingly tire of doing political commentary late in the season, season 45 has seen it return its politics-heavy form. Every cold open this season has been political, and each has featured some surprise celebrity cameos. Including, perhaps most shockingly, Darrell Hammond’s brief appearance — Hammond was devastated three years ago when it picked Baldwin to play Trump over him. We’ve also seen Lin-Manuel Miranda and Billy Porter feature in one cold open, and Matthew Broderick in another.
While it certainly was surprising how light “SNL” was on politics in the back half of last season, it’s certainly no surprise that it’s back to its old ways given that we’re now neck deep in a new presidential election cycle. So the focus has been not just on mocking Trump, but also the circus that has been the run up to the Democratic primaries.
Not that the sketch show has in any way shied away from mocking Trump. The impeachment has certainly been a common topic for cold open sketches this season. There was the one where Baldwin’s Trump went through his contacts list trying to find a fixer who could make the impeachment stop, ending with a call to Liev Schreiber playing himself — Trump thought his character Ray Donovan, a fixer on the eponymous Showtime series was actually a real person.
There was also that one where “SNL” sent up the impeachment hearings by doing a “Days of Our Lives” parody that starred Jon Hamm.
As for the madness with the Democratic primary, we’ve had numerous big cameos in the debate sketches, as presumably “SNL” is already preparing for how season 46 will handle the general election this fall. So we’ve had Woody Harrelson make a couple appearances as Joe Biden, as well as Lin-Manuel Miranda as Julian Castro, Larry David as Bernie Sanders, Rachel Dratch as Amy Klobuchar, Fred Armisen as Michael Bloomberg, Mara Rudolph as Kamala Harris and Will Ferrell as Tom Steyer.
That’s a lot of cameos, and “SNL” actually managed to jam nearly all of those folks into a single sketch — a 12-minute debate parody from a late November episode. Miranda did not appear in that one, but he had previously popped up as Castro in October in a parody of the Democrats’ LGBTQ town hall that was moderated by Billy Porter in character as himself.
Meanwhile, the show is staying in-house for Elizabeth Warren, who has been played this season by “SNL” cast member Kate McKinnon several times, including a town hall sketch that she had all to herself.