One and Maybe Only One Recurring Sketch (For Now)
The consensus seems to be that Season 41 was one of SNL's growing-pains years, and while they were certainly dealing with a half-newish, half-oldish cast and weak political material, there was a lot to like about last season, not least the fact that the show seemed to have run out of recurring sketches to run into the ground. I'm sure plenty see this as a problem (SNL is consistently dinged for two things: not having enough memorable characters, and returning to those memorable characters too many times), but to a long-time fan like me, it feels miraculous when the show can go weeks at a time with only a handful of recurring sketches, especially when several of them are more funny than not. The current crew also seems to have a strong sense of when to pull it back. The excellent Girlfriends Talk Show bit, for example, has been done plenty of times, but didn't become a go-to as the number of familiar sketches dwindled. The season premiere is often a time to trot out some beloved recurring characters, but I'd be hard-pressed to name an obvious candidate offhand, beyond the stable of Weekend Update acts that tend to pick up the repetition slack when the sketches go more sui generis. You gotta figure they cast about for something to recur on the premiere, but it's comforting to know that there aren't any Spartan Cheerleaders to eat up the clock.