Michael Che, Colin Jost front a muscular Weekend Update on ‘SNL’

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The 40th season premiere of “Saturday Night Live” was a show with something to prove, never more so than 36 minutes in, when Weekend Update commenced with new graphics, a new set and a new co-anchor.

Rebuilding was ever-evident last season, when a gaggle of new cast members jockeyed for airtime and a pair of fake-news novices tried to keep Update afloat in the absence of Seth Meyers. It was never a good fit for Cecily Strong, who stepped off the desk over the summer.

In her place: Michael Che, a former “SNL” writer and “Daily Show” correspondent who made his Update debut Saturday like he knew he belonged there. Confident after years as a stand-up, he delivered his jokes with poise and volleyed well with incumbent anchor Colin Jost.

This was an epic Update, 17 minutes worth of statement. Between jokes (decent ones, if not knockouts), no less than three commentators came on, each an announcement of what’s up:

•Returning as the dependably funny Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With at a Party, Strong was stronger than she was as Strong.

•Though Leslie Jones’ routine about single life had nowhere near the edge of her much-criticized May commentary about slavery, the very fact that she was back signaled an endorsement of her brash style.

•And on his very first episode, 20-year-old Pete Davidson got a few minutes in the Update spotlight, though his discussion about gay sexual favors for money seemed like the thoughts of someone, say, 15.

The anchors capped off Update in mighty fashion, trading funny riffs on why Barack Obama has reason for hope, introduced by Kenan Thompson singing that “things are gonna get easier.” Che had the last word, assuring the president that his support in the ‘hood was solid, and “it’s gotta be pretty cool to know that one day, parents may tell their children not to go south of Barack Obama Boulevard.”

Related: Cecily Strong out, Michael Che in on ‘Weekend Update’

Related: Chris Pratt to open 40th season of ‘Saturday Night Live’

Long before Update arrived, it was clear “SNL” was dressing up pretty for its milestone season. In the opening credits, the names were in a fresh font, the cast in newly shot video snippets. The mahogany tones of the late Don Pardo were gone, replaced by announcer Darrell Hammond, speaking the intro in tones that were strictly his own (and sort of faint, as though under-miked).

Yes, last year’s cast may have been considerably thinned, but it seemed like “SNL” could survive the loss of John Milhiser.

After a low-key musical monologue by host Chris Pratt — who seemed ill-at-ease with this position that wasn’t a movie or taped TV —we got an ad for a “turnt” version of Cialis and a scene with Kyle Mooney as a boy wishing his toys would come alive. The He-Man (Pratt) and Thundercat (Taran Killam) who resulted had a lot to learn and proceeded to devour fistfuls of cake, bash through walls and gleefully paw that thing between their legs. Here we had an appearance by musical guest Ariana Grande as She-Ra, a competent cameo that so thrilled the NBC camera, it swooped in for a giddy closeup.

Pratt, fresh from his summer hit “Guardians of the Galaxy,” bit the hand by starring in a fake commercial playing off Marvel’s ability to make a hit movie out of anything. One superhero epic starred the first four people off a bus, another a flustered lady named Pam (Bryant), another the unabashedly ripped-off characters from “Star Wars.” Each slo-mo hallway stroll was accompanied by “Guardians” fixture “Hooked on a Feeling.” Even “Pam 2: The Winter Pam.”

The woes of the NFL fueled not one but two sketches: a fairly routine torn-from-the-headlines opener goofing on Roger Goodell, Ray Lewis and the like, and a funnier scene where player introductions were accompanied by a confession of their crimes. One punched a mailman, another was a Somali pirate. The setup was right out of “Key & Peele,” but that’s a good place to go for inspiration.

Other observations:

• Remember last season’s veterinary nurses (Kate McKinnon and Strong) who kept telling pet owners their animals were dead? They returned, this time telling pet owners their animals were dead.

• Now that they’ve survived freshman year, Kyle Mooney and Beck Bennett are making their weird little shorts even weirder. This one had Pratt falling under the influence of bad kids who seemed about 10, plus bogus establishing shots, a framed picture taped to the wall and what looked to be Joey and Chandler’s apartment from “Friends.” A baffler.

• Next week’s host is Sarah Silverman, likely to have some things to say about her brief, unhappy run as an “SNL” player at the beginning of her career in 1993.

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