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SNL Spoofs the Billionaire Space Race With Star Trek Sketch

Saturday Night Live returns for its 47th season.

Saturday Night Live returned last night with the premiere of its 47th season. Host Owen Wilson brought his signature laidback charm to the proceedings, projecting an easy confidence throughout the night’s sketches. As with most SNL season premieres, there was a mix of sketches based on current events, as well as nods to the events of the summer. Thankfully, SNL couldn’t let the season premiere pass by without mocking the billionaire space race, in the pre-taped sketch “Billionaire Star Trek”, which sees Amazon head /cowboy spaceman Jeff Bezos piloting the latest Paramount+ entry Star Trek: Ego Quest.

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Wilson’s Bezos leads a crew of “random weirdos” that includes Bezos’s brother (a Luke Wilson cameo), science officer “rich kid from the Netherlands”, and 823-year-old astronaut Wally Funk (who was part of Bezos’s Blue Origin team). Their mission? To fly around space goofing off on a penis-shaped rocket.

Along the way, Bezos encounters Alex Moffat’s Richard Branson as they embark on a “midlife crisis of cosmic proportions,” which sees them crashing into a space station and battling Mikey Day’s giggly Elon Musk. Kenan Thompson stops by as an Amazon delivery worker, who is beamed back down to Earth with nothing but an empty Gatorade bottle. It would have been nice to see more pointed criticism at the environmental effects and blatant waste of money of these ego trips, but it was still a fun jaunt.

The other standout sketch of the episode was “Cars 4”, which saw Wilson reprising his role as Lightning McQueen (kachow!) in a sequel that sees his character take a turn for the creepy. Cars 4 sees McQueen hitting on underage cars, trying to date his friend’s sister, and dropping the r-word repeatedly.

SNL returns with its largest cast ever, topping out at 21 cast members. Many veterans who we thought were retiring returned (Aidy Bryant, Cecily Strong, Kate McKinnon, Pete Davidson) as well as several new featured players including James Austin Johnson, who had to most screen time of any new cast member in recent memory, and who held down the cold open with his Joe Biden impression.

It also appears that, given the massive size of the cast, many of its stars are given leeway to drop in and out throughout the season (McKinnon was absent this episode entirely). This allows those actors to pursue other opportunities while still being able to appear when they’re available. This also allows the underserved cast members to get more character showcases, like Ego Nwodim’s Weekend Update appearance as a Black woman who has been missing for ten years:

Sadly, the show missed an opportunity to trot out Melissa Villaseñor’s own excellent Owen Wilson impression in front of Wilson himself. Not even a “wow”-off, SNL? Still, the season opener saw the show finding new footing, a welcome return given than last season was part pandemic, part insurrection. Here’s hoping the waters will be less choppy for season 47.

(image: screencap/NBC)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.

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