In March, NBC announced that Saturday Night Live would be airing four episodes of Weekend Update Summer Edition during August. But as Colin Jost and Michael Che began hitting the talk show circuit to promote the show earlier this month, that number had dropped to three. No explanation has been given for the missing episode, but each previous incarnation of summertime Update only had three episodes at the most, with only two airing in 2012.
For the finale of this experiment, WU Summer Edition went back to a familiar formula by having a cold open and was even able to convince Alec Baldwin to appear as clean coal expert, and current president, Donald Trump. This parody of his Phoenix rally from Tuesday was a greatest hits package touching on the eclipse, his remarks about Charlottesville, Steve Bannon leaving the White House, Afghanistan, and of course, “the wall.”
It was a fairly typical Trump cold open, and without an appearance by Kenan Thompson as the “only black Trump supporter,” would have been pretty lifeless. SNL has obviously struck gold with Baldwin’s portrayal of Trump ratings-wise, but it’s also very boring. SNL and NBC will want to keep Baldwin around as long as possible, but after 18 appearances in less than a year they’re teetering very close to overkill with this impression.
As for the Update portion of WU Summer Edition, it was pretty light on Jost and Che with the cold open along with four guest spots taking time away from them. Of the jokes that did appear, Jost had a larger number of cringe-inducing ones from the covered Confederate statues in Charlottesville looking like Muslim women to Tiger Woods’ “hole in one.” He did make up for it slightly with a joke about a dog playing “jazz sax.”
Pete Davidson appeared to discuss the Colin Kaepernick rally outside NFL headquarters this week, and actually got a good shot in at the league about their refusal to discuss CTE. Also appearing was Conor McGregor (Alex Moffat) who was under the impression he’d be able to kick Floyd Mayweather this weekend, and an extremely short segment with Mikey Day as a roving travel reporter named Wes.
The big hit of the night was the return of Cathy Anne (Cecily Strong) to the Update desk. Sporting a patch over one eye due to the eclipse, and her signature unlit cigarette, Cathy Anne went off about white supremacists. Any appearance by Strong is bound to be solid, and she once again hit it out of the park as Cathy Anne. With Bobby Moynihan moving on from SNL after last season, the show may have found its (less racist) replacement for Drunk Uncle going into Season 43.
NBC and SNL wanted to keep the ball rolling over the summer, and while SNL is probably not in danger of being forgotten by audiences, WU Summer Edition was a nice prologue for the upcoming season. Jost, Che, and the cast members who joined them were able to knock some rust off, and ratings were good for the dog days of summer.
These episodes may not have been Jost and Che’s best Updates, but they were more consistent than portions of Season 42. Jost and Che continue to show that they have a great rapport with each other, and are becoming two of SNL’s best Update anchors. As long as something catastrophic doesn’t happen in the next month, we should all be looking forward to the season premiere.
Saturday Night Live will air its 43rd season premiere on Sept. 30 with host Ryan Gosling and musical guest Jay-Z.