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‘Saturday Night Live’ jumps right back into politics in season premiere

(From left) Colin Jost as Pete Buttigieg, Kate McKinnon as Elizabeth Warren, Larry David as Bernie Sanders, and Woody Harrelson as Joe Biden, on “Saturday Night Live” this weekend.
(From left) Colin Jost as Pete Buttigieg, Kate McKinnon as Elizabeth Warren, Larry David as Bernie Sanders, and Woody Harrelson as Joe Biden, on “Saturday Night Live” this weekend.Will Heath/NBC/NBC

The 45th season of “Saturday Night Live” kicked off this weekend and jumped right back in to the political news cycle, addressing impeachment, the scandals of the Trump presidency, and the Democratic presidential primary during the season premiere.

The episode opened with “SNL” alumnus Alec Baldwin again appearing as President Trump, who was commiserating with various allies about the pending impeachment inquiry into his phone calls with the president of Ukraine and other foreign leaders.

Baldwin’s Trump spoke with Rudy Giuliani (played by Kate McKinnon), William Barr (Aidy Bryant), Mike Pence (Beck Bennett), and even called North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (“SNL” newcomer Bowen Yang).


He appeared stressed, telling Barr he needed “somebody to take the blame” and checking with Donald Trump Jr. (played by Mikey Day) to make sure he had “taken care of that thing” in Russia.

Watch: Trump worries about impeachment on “SNL”

Trump ended the skit by reaching out to Ray Donovan, the “fixer” played by Liev Schreiber in the Showtime drama, in hopes he could help him “take care of stuff” and get rid of the whistle-blower in the Ukraine affair. Schreiber corrected Trump, telling him Donovan, whose backstory is that he’s a hoodlum from South Boston, is fictional, and Trump asked for John Wick, the fictional Keanu Reeves assassin, before settling on actor Liam Neeson as the guy who could help him out.

In a brief follow-up sketch about the impeachment inquiry, Aidy Bryant hosted a political panel show “Inside the Beltway,” where she discussed the Ukraine affair with Cecily Strong, Kenan Thompson, and guest host Woody Harrelson.

The quartet compared the impeachment inquiry with other “turning points” of Trump’s presidency and Thompson, playing the role of an African-American studies professor, threw cold water on the group’s talk of impeachment.

“Ain’t nothing going to happen,” Thompson declared, before the group revisited previous Trump news cycles, including the introduction of Robert Mueller’s report, the emergence of the “Access Hollywood” tape, and several speeches from Trump’s 2016 campaign.


Watch: “Inside the Beltway” discusses the impeachment inquiry on “SNL”

At each point in history, the other guests gush about the nature of the “turning point” and Thompson’s character emphasizes that “ain’t nothing going to happen,” to Trump.

The show brought multiple special guests on to tackle the premiere’s other notable political sketch — a Democratic presidential primary town hall.

In addition to cast member Kate McKinnon as Senator Elizabeth Warren, the sketch featured Harrelson as former vice president Joe Biden, Larry David as Senator Bernie Sanders, and Maya Rudolph as Senator Kamala Harris.

The four sparred briefly over issues and debated Trump, with Harris delivering lines to camera about being America’s “fun aunt”: Biden telling long stories and ending with “Barack”; Warren referencing her “energy” and her “fight”; and Sanders declaring his new campaign slogan would be, “Let’s Bern this place to the Ground!”

Watch: A Democratic presidential town hall on “SNL”

As the campaign season and this season of “SNL” both continue, it remains to be seen if this grouping of comedians will retain their roles as various politicians. The show usually holds one actor in place as a politician throughout a campaign, but occasionally substitute them out for someone else.

For example, Taran Killam initially played Trump in the 2016 cycle until Baldwin replaced him prior to the debates. Hillary Clinton, once played by “SNL” alumnus Amy Poehler, was played by McKinnon in 2016, and Biden, played by Harrelson this weekend, has recently been portrayed by Jason Sudeikis.



Also (briefly) on “SNL” this week: The Boston Globe. In a sketch parodying the trailer from the “Downton Abbey” movie, a fake movie review quote from the Globe flashed on screen to “promote” the film.

The quote?

“Exciting for the people who liked the show.”

(The Globe gave “Downton” 3 1/2 stars: Read the full review here.)

Peter Bailey-Wells can be reached at peter.bailey-wells@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @pbaileywells.