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'SNL' RECAP: Chris Pratt Launches New Era of 'Saturday Night Live'

You may be wondering why the Popculturology SNL recap is posting halfway through the week. Honestly, my plan going into this season of Saturday Night Live was to just relax and watch the show. Maybe I'd catch it live on Saturday night, as God/Lorne Michaels intended. Maybe I'd catch an episode on my DVR on Sunday. To accompany that laid-back viewing schedule, there wasn't going to be a SNL recap. Not to whine about writing about a TV show, but the SNL recap takes more work than anything else on Popculturology, and I thought I wanted a break from it.

Then Sunday came, and I had a few people ask where the SNL recap was. Same thing on Monday. After getting that question again on Tuesday, it became clear that people who got used to reading my recap the past two years missed it when it wasn't there this past weekend.

I'm sorry for leaving you. I'm going to try to not do it again. I can't always promise that the SNL recap will post on Sunday. Maybe it'll show up on Monday. It'll happen, though. Don't worry. We're not breaking up.

So ... welcome to Edition No. 43 of Popculturology's Saturday Night Live recaps. All of your questions about the Chris Pratt-hosted episode will soon be answered.

How'd Chris Pratt do?

Even before Pratt was announced as host of the Season 40 premiere, the Internet was clamoring to see him score this role. Thanks to Guardians of the Galaxy and a stellar promotional campaign, Pratt transformed into a superstar over the summer. Could he bring that energy to SNL?

Pratt was nervous at first, but he was genuine during his monologue. There was a cute reference to his wife, Anna Faris, who was in the audience. During the rest of episode, Pratt was up for anything, even if that anything was showing off his superhero abs during several sketches. 

Unlike some hosts in recent seasons, Pratt was never reduced to background scenery. If he wasn't the star of a sketch, he was at least the No. 2 guy.

Overall, SNL should be praised for going all in with the cast it has now, finally highlighting the cast it has instead of relying on returning past castmembers like Kristen Wiig and Fred Armisen. Bill Hader hosts the show in a few episodes, which will really test whether SNL has kicked its addiction to past castmembers.

What were the best sketches of the night?

OK, so the best sketch of the night was one of the ones where Pratt wasn't the star. That honor goes to Aidy Bryant, who absolutely killed it during "Booty Rap." Who knew that Bryant was hiding an amazing Nicki Minaj impression? Nice work by the SNL writing staff to take advantage of Pratt's rap talents for this sketch too.

Abs. That was one of the highlights of Pratt's Guardians of the Galaxy promotional tour, right? Pratt unleashed those abs early on during this episode, playing He-Man to Taran Killam's Lion-O. (Despite his history of stripping down on SNL, Killam had fake abs.) Musical guest Ariana Grande made an appearance as She-Ra.

Did SNL shoot this sketch on the set that was once Joey and Chandler's apartment on Friends ... or did they purposely rebuild a replica of that set? Kyle Mooney and Beck Bennett spent parts of last season experimenting with bringing their own offbeat brand of humor to SNL, and this sketch continued that trend. What Mooney and Bennett are doing is different from what Andy Samberg and The Lonely Island did during their time steering the direction of SNL. I'm not quite sure if it's a brand of humor that appeals to a wide audience, but I love it.

I'd watch Fancy Ghosts. Don't lie. You would too.

Sure, Key and Peele did this first, but you can't hate Pete Davidson saying "treason."

Any shorts or commercials?

I love the phrase "turnt" and all its various forms. I love being super uncool and yelling "Turnip for what!" whenever turnips are announced as a mystery basket ingredient on Chopped.

How was 'Weekend Update'?

SNL didn't waste much time addressing one of the show's biggest changes going into Season 40, bringing back Cecily Strong to the "Weekend Update" desk as The Girl You Wish You Hadn't Started a Conversation With at a Party. With Strong being an "Update" anchor last season, this popular character hadn't been seen since Season 38. Strong addressed the fact that she and Colin Jost were no longer anchoring "Weekend Update" together when The Girl You Wish You Hadn't Started a Conversation With at a Party told Michael Che that Jost looked like her ex ... who died at Burning Man.

Overall, "Weekend Update" was weird. Between a co-anchor who did little last season to prove to SNL fans that he belonged on the "Update" desk, a co-anchor who's new to SNL, and a brand new "Weekend Update" set, there was little familiarity to the segment. Hopefully the new setup will grow on us over the next few episodes. If not, the belief that Strong should have remained a co-anchor won't go away.

Davidson's the one new castmember Michaels added to SNL for this season. (Not counting Che, that is, even though Che appeared in a sketch.) The 20-year-old definitely made an impression during his inaugural episode, going on a bit about whether he would blow a guy for $1 million.

After this episode, the Internet wanted to know why Leslie Jones isn't a castmember on SNL. As someone who doesn't talk to Michaels on a regular basis (or ever), I don't have an answer to that question. In a few appearances on "Update," Jones has consistently delivered edgy material that gets people talking. 

Anything else worth mentioning?

SNL didn't waste Pratt, getting the host into the action during the cold open. I love Bryant's Candy Crowley impression, but the SNL playing catchup with the NFL scandal wasn't enough to earn this sketch mention in my Best Sketches segment.

Pratt and Vanessa Bayer making out doesn't live up to Kate McKinnon doing it with previous hosts like John Goodman and Louis CK.

Speaking of McKinnon, where was she all episode? The SNL star was pretty much in the background the entire episode, getting some early exposure during "Vet Office" then disappearing. 

What's next?

SNL is back on Oct. 4 with Sarah Silverman hosting and Maroon 5 as the musical guest.
'SNL' RECAP: Chris Pratt Launches New Era of 'Saturday Night Live' Reviewed by Bill Kuchman on 9/30/2014 Rating: 5

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