30 Rock: Season 1
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Emmy Award winner Tina Fey writes, executive produces, and stars as Liz Lemon, the head writer of a live variety program in New York City. Liz's life is turned upside down when brash new network executive Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin in his Golden Globe winning role) interferes with her show, bringing the wildly unpredictable Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) into the cast. Now it's up to Liz to manage the mayhem and still try and have a life. Join in the behind-the-scenes hilarity with the complete first season (21 episodes) on DVD.
Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it. Remember Arrested Development? Smartest, funniest show on television. A critics' darling. An Emmy-winner for Best Comedy Series. But no one watched, and it was cancelled. Will history repeat itself with 30 Rock? It's the smartest, funniest show on television. A critics' darling. An Emmy-winner for Best Comedy Series. And it finished its inaugural season in 137th place! Hopefully, people will discover all that they missed with this Season 1 set and 30 Rock will, better late than never, find the audience it so richly deserves. A behind-the-scenes workplace comedy in the grand tradition of The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Dick Van Dyke Show, 30 Rock stars comedy geek goddess Tina Fey as Liz Lemmon, who juggles her hapless personal life with her chaotic career as the producer and head writer of an SNL-ish sketch comedy show. She has a new boss, cunning and ruthless GE executive Jack Donaghy (Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award-winner Alec Baldwin), who insists on being her mentor, and a new star, medicated, loose-cannon comedian Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan), who steals the spotlight from the show's flighty star, Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski).
Briskly paced and perfectly cast, 30 Rock rewards viewers with brilliant dialogue (when Liz asks Jack why he is dressed in a tuxedo with no formal event to attend, he coolly responds, "It's after six; what am I, a farmer?") and fresh characters you haven't seen on a hundred other sitcoms. Jack McBrayer is the series' scene-stealing breakout star as NBC page Kenneth, a sweet and innocent "rube." The ensemble's seemingly spontaneous byplay invites repeat viewings to catch jokes and sly bits of business you might have missed (in "Tracy Does Conan," listen for the initial confusion over how to pronounce Tracy's less-than-ethical physician, Dr. Spaceman, or, in "The Hair and the Head," watch for the Katie Couric slur on the wall of what is purported to be NBC anchor Brian Williams' trashed office). In a season full of gems (including "Black Tie," featuring Paul Reubens as severely inbred royalty), there are only a couple of comparative clunkers, but the pleasure of this ensemble's company more than compensates. 30 Rock is highly recommended for people like Kenneth who just love television so much. And by the hammer of Thor, watch season 2! --Donald Liebenson
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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.
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!
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.