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TV CRITIC'S CORNER

‘SNL’ to return — live — in time for election stretch run

A December 2019 episode of "Saturday Night Live" featured (from left) Bowen Yang as Andrew Yang, Maya Rudolph as Kamala Harris, and Colin Jost as Pete Buttigieg.
A December 2019 episode of "Saturday Night Live" featured (from left) Bowen Yang as Andrew Yang, Maya Rudolph as Kamala Harris, and Colin Jost as Pete Buttigieg.Will Heath/NBC

The election is coming on Nov. 3, and it will be preceded by three presidential debates, one vice presidential debate, and, most likely, a long stream of absurd moments. The thought of going through all of it without “Saturday Night Live” is odd. Sure, everyone complains about the show and many of its political sketches, and yet viewers still tune in by the millions and love to talk about it. We also watch those sketches by the millions online.

Now comes news that the show is indeed returning in time to poke a few holes in the campaign. NBC has announced that the 46th season will begin on Oct. 3, and the new episodes will be set in Studio 8H in Rockefeller Center, as usual. In 2016, “SNL” benefited greatly — with higher ratings and much buzz — from its treatment of the election, which included Kate McKinnon’s Hillary Clinton and Melissa McCarthy’s Sean Spicer. Certainly, NBC does not want to miss another possible bump.

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In the spring, after TV production shut down due to the pandemic, “SNL” came up with three episodes, but they were made up of prerecorded sketches that the cast members filmed at their own homes while social distancing. The new episodes will be broadcast live, providing the show with the energy and distinction that has kept it alive for more than 40 years. Will there be a studio audience of some kind? Who will be the hosts, the musical guests, and the cast members? The network hasn’t announced any further information yet. The only thing I’d bet money on is an appearance by Maya Rudolph, whose Kamala Harris is aces.


Matthew Gilbert can be reached at matthew.gilbert@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.