Warning: The third season of 30 Rock
may cause fits of "lizzing" (an elevated state of hilarity that involves laughter plus whizzing) with its brilliantly loopy word play, "what the what" situations, and deft turns by a stellar roster of A-list guest stars. Liz Lemon (Emmy-winning geek goddess Tina Fey) trying to avoid jury duty by dressing as Princess Leia? Jenna (Jane Krakowski) starring in a biopic about Janis Joplin (or Jackie Jomp-Jomp due to rights complications that forbid use of Joplin's name and music)? Steve Martin as a fabulously wealthy agoraphobe? I want to go to there! This season, Liz increasingly yearns for a normal life outside of the demands of her sanity-testing job as head writer of TGS
, a Saturday Night Live
-esque comedy show. Happiness will find Liz, but not before two hilariously doomed relationships, one with a little person (guest star Peter Dinklage), whom she initially mistakes for a child, and the other with a neighbor (Mad Men
's Jon Hamm) who doesn't realize people have allowed him to skate through life because of his impossibly good looks. She also has a rude awakening when she joins a group of Ladies who Lunch while on forced administrative leave. Her friendship with Master of the Universe mentor Jack Donaghy (indispensable Emmy-winner Alec Baldwin) is the series' endearing sweet spot.
30 Rock is unlike any other workplace comedy on television. Dancing to its own comic rhythms, the series takes great delight in tweaking sitcom clichés and conventions. In "The Bubble," the scene is set for a montage of Id-driven Tracy Jordan's (Tracy Morgan) wackiest moments on the show. Instead, Liz dreamily reflects, "I'm thinking of some of them right now." Family Guy's got nothing on 30 Rock when it comes to the surreal arbitrary gag, as when naive NBC page Kenneth (Jack McBreyer) realizes he is being sexually harassed by a Miss Vierra (Meredith from The Today Show), or when sociopathic, narcissistic Jenna is taught a lesson by the writers who have banded together as the feathered Fedora-clad Pranksmen. 30 Rock makes truly inspired use of the actors, TV icons, and musicians who appear this season. In "Believe in the Stars," Oprah Winfrey, smelling of "rose water and warm laundry," hilariously appears as herself, kind of. In "The One with the Cast of Night Court," Jennifer Aniston is upstaged by Harry Anderson, Markie Post, and Charles "Mac" Robinson. Salma Hayek makes for an exotic love interest for Jack in a multi-episode arc. The season finale features Sheryl Crow, Clay Aiken, Elvis Costello (a.k.a. Declan McManus, international art thief), Adam Levine, and others brought together for a benefit to find a kidney for Jack's long-lost father (Alan Alda). But the joy of 30 Rock is not the stars, but such brain-tickling lines as, "I watched Boston Legal nine times before I realized it wasn't a new Star Trek," and the charming character grace notes, like seeing the world as Kenneth does, populated by Muppets. In the season finale, Liz remarks that she figures TGS (30 Rock?) has two years left. Say it ain't so! --Donald Liebenson
Stills from 30 Rock - Season Three (Click for larger image)
Re-enjoy the complete third season of the Primetime Emmy® and Golden Globe® Award-winning comedy 30 Rock, hailed by The New York Times as “its third season” and by The Sun as a “comedy… shown on NBC… [which is a] network.” Primetime Emmy®, Golden Globe® and SAG® Award winner (and show creator) Tina Fey and Primetime Emmy®, Golden Globe® and SAG® Award winner Alec Baldwin star as corporate executive Jack Donaghy and TV writer Liz Lemon (reverse respectively). Together, Jack and Liz manage the workplace chaos with no help from Liz’s loose-cannon stars Tracy Jordan and Jenna Maroney (Tracy Morgan and Jane Krakowski) and hapless NBC page Kenneth Parcell (Jack McBrayer). The end result is topless break-dancing, professional tetherball, geriatric kidnapping, bird murder, sexual espionage, Appalachian witchcraft, patricide, gay lion tattoos and important life lessons learned from sasquatches. Join in the behind-the-scenes fun with lots of exclusive content and all 22 episodes of the acclaimed third season of 30 Rock from executive producer Lorne Michaels (Hot Rod).