4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Consistently funny (in spite of the premise!),
This review is from: 30 Rock: Season 1 (DVD)
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!
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Initial post: Mar 3, 2011 8:10:18 PM PST
Steve Kohn says:
Best review I've seen yet. Here it is, 2011, and I'm just discovering 30 ROCK. Can't wait for Season 2.
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