Saturday Night Live (Season 31)

"Saturday Night Live" aired its thirty-first season in the 2005-2006 television season on NBC. This season contained minor changes that would garner major results for the show. Finesse Mitchell's promotion to repertory player and Rob Riggle's departure led to the hiring of new feature players, Bill Hader (who became popular for his celebrity impersonations) and Andy Samberg (who became popular for his pretaped sketches called "Digital Shorts", particularly his "Lazy Sunday" rap with Chris Parnell, which became an Internet phenomenon). A new female castmember, Kristen Wiig did not appear on the show until the Jason Lee/Foo Fighters episode, won over audiences with her wacky recurring characters and dead-on celebrity impersonations (much like Bill Hader).

Missing for most of the season were female castmembers Maya Rudolph and Tina Fey (who were both pregnant and on maternity leave). Tina Fey's place on Weekend Update was briefly taken over by Horatio Sanz until her return on the Catherine Zeta-Jones/Franz Ferdinand episode, making Sanz the first (and so far only) Hispanic Weekend Update anchor. Maya Rudolph, however, appeared on the first episode of the new season, then went on maternity leave and came back on the sole February episode hosted by Steve Martin with musical guest Prince (who returned to perform on the show after his 1981 appearance on the infamous season six episode hosted by Charlene Tilton).

This season is also known for having Julia Louis-Dreyfus, an SNL castmember from 1982 to 1985 under Dick Ebersol, become the first former female castmember to come back and host the show (and the third castmember from "Seinfeld" to host as well). This season is also known for the return of such frequent hosts as Alec Baldwin (who last hosted in season 29 with musical guest Missy Elliot in 2003), Tom Hanks (who last hosted the first episode of season 22 with musical guest Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in 1996), and Steve Martin (who last hosted the first episode of the 20th season with musical guest, Eric Clapton in 1994).

This season also saw the tragic death of yet another SNL castmember for the first time in seven years. Charles Rocket, a castmember/Weekend Update anchor for Jean Doumanian's lackluster (and largely forgotten) sixth season was found dead near his home in Connecticut with a slashed throat in October of 2005. The police ruled his death a suicide, making him SNL's oldest dead castmember at the age of 56 (beating Michael O'Donoghue, who was 54 at the time of his death). A still-picture memorial for Rocket was shown on the first airing of the Catherine Zeta-Jones/Franz Ferdinand episode, but was cut on every rerun.

This season also became the first to broadcast the show in high-definition, after thirty years of broadcasting in analogue. This would also be the last season for castmembers Tina Fey, Rachel Dratch, Chris Parnell, Horatio Sanz, and Finesse Mitchell, as well as the last season for longtime director, Beth McCarthy-Miller.

The season began on October 1, 2005, and ended on May 20, 2006 with 19 episodes in all. The season was cut one episode short due to the 2006 Winter Olympic Games.


Repertory players

*Fred Armisen
*Rachel Dratch
*Tina Fey
*Will Forte
*Darrell Hammond
*Seth Meyers
*Finesse Mitchell
*Chris Parnell
*Amy Poehler
*Maya Rudolph
*Horatio Sanz
*Kenan Thompson

Featured players

*Bill Hader
*Andy Samberg
*Jason Sudeikis
*Kristen Wiig (First episode: November 12, 2005)


October 1, 2005: "Steve Carell/Kanye West" (31.1, live)
October 8, 2005: "Jon Heder/Ashlee Simpson" (31.2, live)
October 15, 2005: "The Best of David Spade" (special, new)
October 22, 2005: "Catherine Zeta-Jones/Franz Ferdinand" (31.3, live)
October 29, 2005: "Lance Armstrong/Sheryl Crow" (31.4, live)
November 5, 2005: "The Best of SNL Commercial Parodies" (special, new)
November 12, 2005: "Jason Lee/Foo Fighters" (31.5, live)
November 19, 2005: "Eva Longoria/Korn" (31.6, live)
November 26, 2005: "Steve Carell/Kanye West" (31.1, repeat)
December 3, 2005: "Dane Cook/James Blunt" (31.7, live)
December 10, 2005: "Alec Baldwin/Shakira" (31.8, live)
December 17, 2005: "Jack Black/Neil Young" (31.9, live)
December 24, 2005: "pre-empted"
December 31, 2005: "Jon Heder/Ashlee Simpson" (31.2, repeat)
January 7, 2006: "Eva Longoria/Korn" (31.6, repeat)
January 14, 2006: "Scarlett Johansson/Death Cab For Cutie" (31.10, live)
January 21, 2006: "Peter Sarsgaard/The Strokes" (31.11, live)
January 28, 2006: "Dane Cook/James Blunt" (31.7, repeat)
February 4, 2006: "Steve Martin/Prince" (31.12, live)
February 11, 2006: "pre-empted for Winter Olympics"
February 18, 2006: "pre-empted for Winter Olympics"
February 25, 2006: "pre-empted for Winter Olympics"
March 4, 2006: "Natalie Portman/Fall Out Boy" (31.13, live)
March 11, 2006: "Matt Dillon/Arctic Monkeys" (31.14, live)
March 18, 2006: "Alec Baldwin/Shakira" (31.8, repeat)
March 25, 2006: "Steve Martin/Prince" (31.12, repeat)
April 1, 2006: "Scarlett Johansson/Death Cab For Cutie" (31.10, repeat)
April 8, 2006: "Antonio Banderas/Mary J. Blige" (31.15, live)
April 15, 2006: "Lindsay Lohan/Pearl Jam" (31.16, live)
April 22, 2006: "Natalie Portman/Fall Out Boy" (31.13, repeat)
April 29, 2006: "The Best of Saturday TV Funhouse" (special, new)
May 6, 2006: "Tom Hanks/Red Hot Chili Peppers" (31.17, live)
May 13, 2006: "Julia Louis-Dreyfus/Paul Simon" (31.18, live)
May 20, 2006: "Kevin Spacey/Nelly Furtado" (31.19, live)
May 27, 2006: "Catherine Zeta-Jones/Franz Ferdinand" (31.3, repeat)
June 3, 2006: "Lindsay Lohan/Pearl Jam" (31.16, repeat)
June 10, 2006: "Jack Black/Neil Young" (31.9, repeat)
June 17, 2006: "Dane Cook/James Blunt" (31.7, repeat)
June 24, 2006: "Kevin Spacey/Nelly Furtado" (31.19, repeat)
July 1, 2006: "Lance Armstrong/Sheryl Crow" (31.4, repeat)
July 8, 2006: "Best of Saturday TV Funhouse" (special, repeat)
July 15, 2006: "Matt Dillon/Arctic Monkeys" (31.14, repeat)
July 22, 2006: "Jason Lee/Foo Fighters" (31.5, repeat)
July 29, 2006: "Steve Carell/Kanye West" (31.1, repeat)
August 5, 2006: "Natalie Portman/Fall Out Boy" (31.13, repeat)
August 12, 2006: "Peter Sarsgaard/The Strokes" (31.11, repeat)
August 19, 2006: "Alec Baldwin/Shakira" (31.8, repeat)
August 26, 2006: "Antonio Banderas/Mary J. Blige" (31.15, repeat)
September 2, 2006: "Jack Black/Neil Young" (31.9, repeat)
September 9, 2006: "Julia Louis-Dreyfus/Paul Simon" (31.18, repeat)
September 16, 2006: "Tom Hanks/Red Hot Chili Peppers" (31.17, repeat)
September 23, 2006: "Steve Martin/Prince" (31.12, repeat)


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