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'Saturday Night Live' premiere recap: The start of something new (and odd)

Are SNL‘s growing pains over as it enters its 40th season? It certainly didn’t seem that way from the show’s bizarre season opener. While Chris Pratt—and Chris Pratt’s abs, in a supporting role—conducted themselves amiably, the show seemed to lack the festive air we’d expect from a premiere tied to such an important season. Instead, it seemed on a mission to prove that a new era has come to Studio 8H—one with a markedly different tone.

There was only one notable cameo, and it came from Pratt’s wife, Anna Faris—not, as might have been expected, his Parks and Recreation costar Amy Poehler. In fact, there was little about the show that was familiar. It seemed intent on showing off the new generation, lingering on new cast member Pete Davidson and its brand-new Weekend Update lineup. Even Leslie Jones, an SNL writer who joined the show midway through last year and made a controversial appearance on Update in May, had a chance to show off her material.

This confidence resonates better than last season’s opener, when the new cast members were forced to endure the “New Cast Member or Arcade Fire” sketch. But in doing so, the show seemed to push aside some of its strongest, more veteran players, like Kate McKinnon and Vanessa Bayer. Let’s move on to specifics:

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Chris Pratt hosts tonight's 'Saturday Night Live' premiere: Talk about it here!

Saturday Night Live comes back tonight? Honestly, thanks to a hiatus filled with casting announcements and Update shakeups and meticulous analysis of the show’s history (not to mention Live from New York‘s rerelease), it sort of feels like it never left. (Just me?)

Which doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be champing at the bit for tonight’s 40th season premiere—a sure-to-be splashy episode featuring a leaner, meaner cast, an all-new pair at the Weekend Update desk, and a host with potential to immediately join the list of greats. Maybe it’d be best to go over topics of discussion point by point: READ FULL STORY

The bachelor George Clooney bon voyage tour: 10 romantic roles in Clooney history

A million leggy models/bartenders/aspiring red carpet hosts are having a little cry on the inside as George Clooney prepares to marry lawyer Amal Alamuddin in a reported 4-day fete in Venice. WE tv shares the same sentiment as they announced a “Bye George!” Roseanne marathon, airing Clooney-centric Roseanne  episodes starting Sunday, Sept. 28, at 10 a.m. E.T. To those around the world who are still holding a candle for the Cloonz, here’s a nostalgic look back at some of Clooney’s great romantic roles in past and recent history.

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EW discusses the derivative-yet-original brilliance of 'Shadow of Mordor'

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While plenty of The Lord of the Rings games have been released, few have taken so much mind-share of the industry as Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor has—and the game hasn’t even come out yet. The game promises an interesting spin on the third-person action genre, which has recently been dominated by games like the Batman: Arkham series—which is published by the same company as Mordor, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.

Mordor comes from Monolith Studios, however, who are no strangers to J.R.R. Tolkien’s world. The studio has aimed to make a game fun enough for both die-hard Tolkien fans and players who may have only gotten around to Peter Jackson’s film adaptations.

So is Mordor a good, or even great, game? EW‘s Aaron Morales and I, who have both played a sizable chunk of the game, shared our thoughts on the journey so far. While neither of us has finished the game, we’ve made enough progress to discuss what makes this trip into Middle-earth so special.

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Chris Pratt plays Word Sneak, explains his first headshot on 'Fallon'

Chris Pratt stretched his improv skills ahead of his Saturday Night Live hosting duties this Saturday, Sept. 27 by appearing on The Tonight Show. And if his game of “Word Sneak” with Jimmy Fallon is any indication, Pratt is more than ready for any off-the-cuff moments Studio 8H might require of him.

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'Daily Show' airs controversial Washington Redskins segment

Part of the fun of the Daily Show is watching passionate—though not always eloquent—people make their case for a cause that’s important to them (and sometimes only them).

It’s fair to say that some eventually regret opening their mouths on TV. Last week, a Virginia woman who volunteered to defend the Washington Redskins nickname in a segment contacted the police and the Washington Post after she and three other Washington football fans were introduced by Jason Jones to several Native American activists protesting the nickname, which they consider a slur. “The encounter at a Dupont Circle hotel was so tense that an Alexandria fan said she left in tears and felt so threatened that she later called the police,” Ian Ahapira wrote in the Post. “She has told the Daily Show to leave her out of the segment but doesn’t know whether the producers will comply.”

Well, Jon Stewart aired the segment Thursday night after acknowledging the controversy:

“We learned later that some of the individuals who participated in the piece, they didn’t enjoy the experience. It’s something that happens a lot less than you would think. But we take the complaint seriously. We generally don’t want people who participate in the show to have a bad experience. We work very hard to find real people who have real beliefs and want to express those beliefs on television, and we work hard to make sure that the gist of those beliefs are represented accurately, albeit sometimes comedically on our program. If we find out that someone in a piece was intentionally misled or if their comments were intentionally misrepresented, we do not air that piece. We would not air that piece. So that being said… I hope you enjoy the following piece.” READ FULL STORY

Hear Sara Bareilles and Cyndi Lauper's 'Truly Brave' mash-up

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Sara Bareilles’ “Brave” and Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors” seem like a perfect match with their inspirational messages of self acceptance.  READ FULL STORY

Beyond 'Gilmore Girls': 10 other exciting Netflix additions

Given the news that Gilmore Girls is coming to Netflix in October, you might be tempted to spend the entire month binging on that. We wouldn’t blame you, but there are some other exciting editions coming to the site this month if you want to take a break from Stars Hollow.  READ FULL STORY

Tarantino fan knows every 'Kill Bill' pop culture reference: Do you?

The pop culture saturation of a film by Quentin Tarantino cannot be denied, whether it’s paying homage to Bruce Lee in the Bride’s yellow jumpsuit in Kill Bill or inserting spaghetti Western motifs in basically all his flicks. But one fan has perhaps matched the master of meta.

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Key and Peele's ultimate comedy curriculum, from 'Who's on First?' to 'Veep'

What are the essential sketches, performers, and shows every comedy nerd should know? EW’s guest editors Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele offer a master class. Warning: Some of the clips ahead contain strong language.

1. Eddie Murphy
As Key says, “I don’t know if there’s ever been anybody in history working at a level like he was working at. To have that much talent, that much charm, that much discipline, all of that wrapped up into one. To think about 48 Hrs., Trading Places. Aw, man!” Adds Peele: “If I had a kid and I wanted to form him into a perfect comedy nerd, I would tell him to watch the Saturday Night Live sketch where he puts on whiteface and he goes on the bus, and the last [nonwhite] guy walks off the bus and everyone starts a party. They’re passing around cigars and sh–. That’s a huge one.” READ FULL STORY

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