Bizarrely, NBC debuted two new series in 2006-2007 that were behind-the-scenes looks at fictional TV shows that bore astonishing resemblences to SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE. Aaron Sorkin's STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP, the more highly touted of the two, did set its fictional SNL on the West Coast, but never really caught on with critics or with many fans and was eventually cancelled. On the other hand, 30 ROCK was an immediate hit with critics and gradually built more and more of a fan base. Though the ratings were never especially strong, NBC has perhaps the best track record of any current network for sticking with quality shows and attempting to nurture a fan base (on any other network both 30 ROCK and FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS would have been cancelled well before the end of the season). Hopefully more fans will discover this superb show and its long term future will be assured.
While the Sorkin series had very tenuous SNL credentials, 30 ROCK's are iron clad. It was created and produced by SNL veteran Tina Fey, who along with Gilda Radner is possibly the most gifted female performer the show has produced. Lorne Michaels serves as a producer, Tracy Morgan is one of the major stars on the show, and a long line of SNL performers appear as guest stars on the show. Rachel Dratch has appeared in so many episodes (albeit as a number of different characters, from Liz Taylor to a Cat Wrangler) that she could almost be considered a regular. It wouldn't be quite correct to call this a SNL spin off, but it comes as close as possible to being that without actually being one.
The show started off as very funny from the very beginning, but it evidenced one of the marks of a good show: it got better and better as it went along. While the writing and the jokes are sharp from the very beginning, the use of the characters got really good in the second half. One of the marks of a good show is that the second half of the debut season is better than the first half. And this one certainly did.
The ensemble cast is absolutely first rate, but three people really stand out. Tina Fey is not only the driving force behind the show, she is delightful as Liz Lemon, the head writer for THE GIRLIE SHOW, the fictional series they all work on. Alec Baldwin is shockingly good as Jack Donaghy, the NBC executive who oversees. He will be certain to get an Emmy nomination, something he will definitely deserve. But for me the funniest thing on the show is Tracy Morgan as an insane (literally) movie actor who joins the show. The overall atmosphere is one of surreal chaos.
I hope the show really takes off with fans this coming season. NBC's Thursday night line up of shows is perhaps the best group of really intelligent comic series ever. Back when they promoted "Must See TV" (which I never watched), they relied mainly on sit coms filmed in front of live audiences. But the current line up features filmed comedies that are smart, funny, and a hoot to watch. And for me they are really are, in contrast to the FRIENDS era, shows that I really feel I must watch.
I think TV stinks. A good friend of mine kept trying to get me to watch this show and I just wasn't interested. For some reason I picked up this set and in a matter of a few days blasted through the whole season. This is ridiculously funny AND intelligent stuff. I am absolutely stunned that the lead actress , Tina Fey, is also the creator AND the writer!! If you don't know just how insane that is....all I can say is its humbling to witness such an incredible talent. If your IQ reaches triple digits you will LOVE this show. Like all great sitcoms and this IS great...it operates on several levels and has multiple story lines working that all integrate perfectly. The acting is wonderful as the cast was assembled well and I must add that Alec Baldwin is just so funny its shocking.
on September 18, 2008
"30 Rock" is an example of the rare brilliant comedy that is not going to appeal to the masses. It's too frenetic, filled with lightning quick wit balanced with unabashed slapstick. And it makes it probably the best comedy on TV today, much more likely to induce a belly laugh than the entertaining, but more restrained, "Office." Like under-appreciated 00's comedies that preceded it ("Scrubs," "Arrested Development"), "30 Rock" and its pitch-perfect ensemble, led by Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan and Alec Baldwin, will probably shine best among a small group of devotees who don't like their comedy served in cookie-cutter fashion.
on May 19, 2010
When this show appeared on TV 5 years ago, I didn't like it because Tracy Morgan annoyed me, so I never gave it a chance. Also, I hate TV because of all the interruptions and commercials. So if I watch a TV series, it's generally on DVD.
One day I was watching pay per view on my cable provider and a few free episodes of 30 Rock were available. I figured why not, I'll watch it again. INSTANT LIFELONG FAN!!!!
Alec Baldwin is comic genius, Tina Fey is total babe and hysterical, in fact, every single character on this show is genius. It's just fabulous. It's like a five pound bag of M&Ms that you don't get fat from eating.
You'll love it!
I stumbled on "30 Rock" quite by accident one Thursday night when there was nothing much to watch. I don't know why I wasn't attracted to it when it first came out ... but I can only guess some sort of other distraction.
"30 Rock" has grown to become my FAVORITE comedy series of all time. I don't say that lightly either. I love Tina Fey and with her Sarah Palin imitations she gained new notoriety and I think more and more people began to give "30 Rock" a try.
One try (the 3rd season) and I was ABSOLUTELY hooked. I received seasons 1 and 2 for Christmas and have just eaten them up over and over. Any time I need to pull myself out of the dumps, I put on some "30 Rock" and enjoy several episodes at a time. I love Kenneth and Tracey ... aww heck, I love them all.
I am a late bloomer for this show but a definite junkie., I, too, am startled to discover how many people really don't know the show or have not watched it?? Like me I guess. One or two episodes and you are hooked.
It's the best. :)
on September 8, 2007
30 Rock is a seductive comedy with humor that feels clunky in the beginning - almost like (classic) SNL's red-headed stepchild, but eventually grows into its own.
The show centers around Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) as she deals with her new boss (Alec Baldwin) and a new showcase castmember (Tracy Morgan) forced on her by her boss. Tina Fey's Liz Lemon and her supporting cast of "writers" portray a hilarious back-and-forth while her interaction with her boss show a different humorous dynamic. Alec Baldwin shines as the boss who doesn't quite "get" Liz's comedy. He plays the typical network executive to a T, but you can see Liz's influence throughout the first season as he grows to trust her in matters beyond the show. Tracy Morgan does a great job at humanizing his character even though it's obvious that he is clinically insane.
The supporting cast has a strong showing, but as with all sitcoms the supporting characters tend to become half-baked and less developed. Though worth positively noting are Rachel Dratch's multiple random characters on the show - which show that her loss as a starring character was a real shame - and Chris Parnell as recurring character, Dr. Spaceman.
The season comes to a close a bit abruptly (almost anti-climacticly), but ends on a solid positive note. "30 Rock" shows its strength by not ending with a crazy cliffhanger and still leaving you enthusiastically waiting for the second season.
30 Rock is one of the best comedies to come around in a while. It has the kind of zany feel of Arrested Development, and a lot of great throwaway one-liners. Terrific writing and acting all-around. It also has the improvisational feel of shows like AD, the Office, and Larry Saunders.
The show it reminds me of most though is NewsRadio (also heavily improvised), with Jack Donaghy as the Jimmy James wife-seeking magnate, and Liz Lemon as a hybrid of Lisa and Dave (Foley), his handler/buffer to the workplace crazies: Kenneth/Andy Dick; Jenna/Beth; Tracy/Bill McNeil (the beloved Phil Hartman); Twofer/Catherine; writers/Joe the electrician.
The show is shot in widescreen, which I like, and is beautifully directed. It has some great guest appearances, esp towards the end of the season when everyone related to Jack comes out of Crazytown -- Elaine Stritch, Isabella Rosselini (ex-wife Bianca, rhymes w/"Willy Wonka"), Nathan Lane, Molly Shannon, among others.
I would give the season itself 4.5 stars.
The DVD set is a must for all fans, but as a DVD set, it's pretty weak on the extras, hence the 4-stars. The episode commentaries are done individually, not in groups (with the exception of Lorne Michaels and his son? nephew? it's all very confusing), which isn't a great way to do them, as a rule, because it's just one person commenting and provides no exchange of group opinions or Q&A.
Also, I found a few of them rather useless (long stretches of silence, repeated info from other or even the same commentary track). Tina Fey's was pretty good, but the rest were so-so. I'm sorry, but the sense that Alec Baldwin is "watching along" with me during a long stretch of silence cut only by appreciative chuckling does not a commentary make.
But I didn't buy the DVDs for the extras, and I'm guessing you won't either (at least I hope not)! I just set the episodes on "play all" and skip the extras.
on March 29, 2008
This is probably the hardest review I have written on Amazon because how do you give a show a good rating without really liking it? Well here's my attempt at answering this question.
30 Rock is a well-written, well-acted, funny show. I can see the comparisons to Arrested Development in that they are both quirky. However, I think 30 Rock has an even bigger plus because the main character (Tina Fey)is much more likable and easy to identify with, than the main character in Arrested Development.
That said, to me the sign of a great show is how badly I want to see the next episode. And in this respect 30 Rock failed miserably. To be honest, I just stopped watching it halfway through the season.
I don't know if this was the show's fault or the fact that I had just finished watching "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip", a Sorkin vehicle that treated the same subject matter (a late-night comedy show) from a dramatic perspective rather than from a comedic one. Studio 60 just blew me away, and perhaps this made me judge 30 Rock more unfairly.
Would I have changed my mind if I had stuck it out? Probably not. I watched all 3 seasons of Arrested Development, and stayed with my original feeling of overall acceptance but not total adoration; which leads me to believe that this genre (quirky comedy) may not be for me after all.
But I can honestly say that for those who love this type of show, 30 Rock is definitely a winner. Enjoy it. As for me, I will continue to wait for the next Sorkin hit.
on January 5, 2014
Kenneth the Page, Tracey Morgan, Jenna, Alec Baldwin, and the sickness that is masquerading as "family friendly" Tina Fey (she'll murder you all one day, you'll see- when you least expect it, that chick will snap) are so entertaining on this show.
If you miss a second, you miss a joke. Kenneth & Tracey are my faves. "Fifty is the rich person's thirty, Lemmon." "Never go with a hippie to a second location." -These are the Jack-isms I enjoy.
Now if they could just make the wig division more profitable.
on October 30, 2009
There are a lot of "hooks" in the first season of 30 Rock that made me hesitant to invest in the entire season and in the series. They have the insane movie star (Tracy), the dimwitted junior (Kenneth the page), the slovenly writer(s), the A-type boss, the ditsy blonde. I was bracing for a very funny few shows that tapered off into repetativeness as the characters with one-word descriptions wore out their welcomes. I now have much more faith in Tina Fey's instincts and writing. This season is funny all the way through, and does become funnier as the show moves along. The keys are the writing and the characters of Fey and Alec Baldwin, both of whom embody their roles, but never in quite the way you might expect.
Baldwin as Jack Donaghy is easily described - think the Pointy-Haired Boss from Dilbert, if he was competent and had some good ideas. It's one of the enduring qualities of the show that the conventions (boss as foil) is turned on its head. More often than not, Jack is right. There are also some really fun skeletons in his closet - a brother played by Nathan Lane who is a grifter, an ex-wife played by Isabella Rossalini, etc. But it's the subtle things that make his character (and all the characters) so much fun. For example, when Liz is too familiar with him in front of his bosses from GE head office, he scolds her "How dare you address me by my Christian name?"
Such little details are the joy of the series. Liz finds a soul mate because he recognises "Tootsie" as being, not a good movie but a "well-written" movie. She scolds someone for getting Star Trek and Star Wars mixed up. Her "white liberal guilt" forces her to stay with an African American boyfriend because she's worried she'll be perceived as racist if she breaks up with him, even though they have absolutely nothing in common. Jack finds a most formidable poker opponent in Kenneth the Page because he's too guileless to have any tells. Tracy is targetted by the "Black Mafia" (i.e. Oprah and Bill Cosby) because he's too stereotypical in his inner city/hip hop-style comedy. When the sexy intern announces she's getting married, one of the writers wonders "This isn't going to change the way you dress or lick lollipops, is it?"
Another surprise - Tina goes to the Saturday Night Live well constantly for her guest stars, and they are all good. Okay, Chris Parnell might be too far over the top with his Dr. Spaceman (properly pronounced "Spa-CHE-men"), and Rachel Dratch's lesbian animal wrangler wears out her welcome, but Jason Sudeikis shows real acting talent, Will Forte is good, and Dratch is hilarious in other parts, such as Barbara Walters. Rossalini steals the shows she's in, and even the much maligned Paul Rubens is excellent in his appearance as an inbred Hungarian prince.
I'm definitely looking forward to the next few seasons!