Saturday Night Live (Season Premiere, 11:30 p.m. Saturday, NBC) has come a long way since its humble beginnings as NBC’s Saturday Night in 1975. The show has kick-started countless careers, welcomed movie stars, musicians, athletes and politicians to its stages and provided millions of night owls with laughs and quotable moments that can only come from after-hours live TV.
Throughout SNL’s history — good seasons and bad — it’s remained a barometer of current events and public opinion. The show is accessible to all since it’s on a broadcast network, so everyone has a favorite skit or character, whether you consider the president to be a clumsy Chevy Chase (Gerald Ford, 1975-76) or a cool Jay Pharoah (Barack Obama, 2012-present). When Monday morning rolls around, “Did you see SNL?” is a question that can be heard from the water cooler to the White House. Saturday Night Live is a lasting piece of American pop culture.
This week SNL’s 40th season kicks off with host Chris Pratt — who’s effectively replaced Jennifer Lawrence as America’s BFF — and musical guest/professional sexy baby Ariana Grande.
Changes this season: Former SNL writer and The Daily Show correspondent Michael Che will join Colin Jost behind the Weekend Update desk, replacing Cecily Strong (though she’s still part of the cast); SNL lifer Darrell Hammond returns as the announcer after the passing of the great Don Pardo; 20-year-old comic Pete Davidson joins the cast as the first featured player born in the ’90s (it stings, doesn’t it); only three of last year’s newbies — Beck Bennett, Kyle Mooney and Sasheer Zamata — will return to the stage
WEDNESDAY SEPT. 24
Modern Family (Season Premiere, 9 p.m., ABC) – Season Six picks up after Mitch and Cam’s honeymoon and Alex’s summer away on a humanitarian trip, proving that getting back to reality bites. Elsewhere, Gloria is fed up with Jay’s lack of effort in the looks department and gives him a taste of his own medicine.
black-ish (Series Premiere, 9:30 p.m., NBC) – Anthony Anderson stars as a husband and father trying to keep his family in touch with their African-American roots.
South Park (Season Premiere, 10 p.m., Comedy Central) – The Washington Redskins and the concept of crowdfunding get skewered as Cartman & Co. return for an 18th season.
The League (10 p.m., FXX) – The romantic tale of When Rafi Met Randy (Spoiler Alert: It happened in a mental institution).
Key & Peele (Season Premiere, 10:30 p.m., Comedy Central) – Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key are back with their take on dangerous aliens, gay marriage and racist views.
THURSDAY SEPT. 25
Project Runway (9 p.m., Lifetime) – The final seven give runway-worthy makeovers to people hanging out around New York City. But first, they have to find willing participants.
Grey’s Anatomy (Season Premiere, 8 p.m., ABC) – Thursdays are hereby known as Shonda Rhimes Day, as the TV drama queen locks down three hour-long spots on ABC: The 11th season of Grey’s premieres first, followed by the return of Olivia Pope for the fourth season of Scandal, then a new offering Rhimes executive produced — How to Get Away with Murder — starring Viola Davis at 10 p.m.
Parenthood (Season Premiere, 10 p.m., NBC) – Amber’s pregnant! Kristina’s opening a school! Haddie likes girls! It’s Zeek’s birthday! It’s the final season, and there will be tears.
FRIDAY SEPT. 26
Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (10 p.m., Food Network) – Corryville’s Island Frydays gets a feature in this week’s ep.
The Knick (10 p.m., Cinemax) – After some serious progress between Thackery and Edwards, a stabbing of a police officer by a black man reignites racial tensions. Gallinger returns to the Knick to find changes made during his absence.
SUNDAY SEPT. 28
Boardwalk Empire (9 p.m., HBO) – Nucky and Margaret reunite for mutual benefit; Luciano meets Capone in Chicago where he recognizes Van Alden from his days as a Fed.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Season Premiere, 8:30 p.m., Fox) – New season, new night! Jake returns after his stint undercover.
TUESDAY SEPT. 30
New Girl (9 p.m., Fox) – Jess’ dad (Rob Reiner) comes to visit and drops a bomb: He’s engaged to Jess and Cece’s high school nemesis (Always Sunny’s Kaitlin Olson).
The Mindy Project (9:30 p.m., Fox) – Mindy fakes a make-up with Cliff when faced with tax issues.
CONTACT JAC KERN : [email protected] or @jackern