Saturday Night hasn’t been live from New York since March, when the coronavirus pandemic shut down production on SNL and pretty much every television show around the country. Saturday Night Live wound up closing out its 45th season with a series of shows produced remotely by the cast and crew from their homes. The first was hosted by Tom Hanks, the third by former cast member Kristen Wiig. That episode aired on May 9.

SNL has been dark since then, but NBC announced today that the show would not only return for its 46th season premiere on October 3, it would do so with its first live episode since the pandemic began. They have yet to announce a host or musical guest for the show.

Saturday Night Live faces some significant obstacles in returning to live tapings. The show thrives on the energy pumped out by its studio audience, something that’s all but impossible because of the continuing pandemic. If they’re going to shoot in Studio 8H, they’re putting a lot of cast and crew members in a tight space for a significant period of time, which will require some serious safety protocols to ensure everyone’s safety. Even with thorough protections, there will be some risks.

Still, SNL typically draws huge ratings in the run-up to national elections, and the Fall 2020 season should be no exception. The race plus the virus itself should provide plenty of fodder for sketches. It should be a very interesting year on Saturday Night Live, assuming they are actually able to shoot all the episodes.

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