Starring Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan, Jane Krakowski, Jack McBrayer
Universal Home Entertainment
Release date: October 7, 2008
This is what the kids these days call â€œThe Hard Sell.â€ I can open up with floweriness about some other crap like I usually do, but Iâ€™m just going to be blunt and to the point:
30 Rock is the best show on television. Hands down. Bar none. You buy now.
So funny is 30 Rock that this review was delayed significantly because I had to watch each episode three times. Once to watch. Twice to pick up on all the jokes I missed from laughing the first time. And a third to listen to the audio commentaries (Sorry, Eve). In all my experience, I have NEVER listened to an audio commentary for a movie or a show all the way through. Iâ€™m not the biggest fan of â€œthe official viewâ€ or telling schmoozy stories, but everyone involved with this show is so inherently funny that there are gems in the commentaries that are worth watching.
The Emmy-winning, ratings-challenged show stars Tina Fey as Liz Lemon, the creator and head-writer of a sketch comedy show on NBC. It chronicles her life as she deals with the antics and adventures of her boss Jack Donaghy (Emmy winner Alec Baldwin) and the temperaments of her two lead stars, Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) and Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski), as well as keeping her own personal life in check.
Many have compared 30 Rock to The Mary Tyler Moore Show, but thatâ€™s like comparing Sarah Palin to Hillary Clinton. Just because they both have female leads doesnâ€™t mean theyâ€™re practically identical. Iâ€™d compare 30 Rock more to the much beloved Arrested Development, what with the high quality of dialogue and crazy non-sequiturs. And at the risk of committing blasphemy in the face of public opinion? I like 30 Rock more.
A lot of that has to do with the performance of Fey herself as the lead. Fey is a gifted comedic technician, made even more outrageous by the fact that she apparently has no fear. Most actresses, even comedic actresses, have this kind of phobia about looking ridiculous. It has become kind of vogue not to lower yourself to the situation. But Fey plows on through with seemingly no inhibition whatsoever. The most memorable instance of this being one episode where she devours an entire sandwich in ten seconds in order to get through a security checkpoint at an airport. It is supremely unflattering, but by God is it funny.
And there is absolutely no weak-link in the cast whatsoever. None. I looked. From the eternally straight-face Baldwin (whose highpoint comes in a therapy session with Morganâ€™s character) all the way on down to the slew of guest stars that include Emmy winner Tim Conway, Nobel Prize winner Al Gore , and Academy Award nominee Buck â€œThe Comedic Man-Godâ€ Henry. Everyone put in front of the camera and given more than two lines at one point or another scores a huge laugh.
It is a testament to the genius of the writing that there are less â€œquotable linesâ€ and more vast quotable episodes. So, in order to sell you on this show, Iâ€™m going to let it speak for itself. Here are some real winnersâ€¦
â€œI love Foxy Boxing! It contains my two favorite things: Boxingâ€¦ And referees!â€
â€œI canâ€™t support that. â€˜Damâ€™ is a swear-word. Iâ€™d support it if instead of â€˜dam,â€™ we called it a â€˜God-finger.â€™â€
â€œFive million dollars EACH? Thatâ€™s NBA sexual assault money!â€
â€œBack in my day, if you wanted to do something with another man it wasnâ€™t called â€˜Gay.â€™ It was just two menâ€¦ Celebrating each othersâ€™ strength.â€
â€œBoundaries are made to be tested. Thatâ€™s why my wife and I no longer use a â€˜safe-word.â€™â€
â€œI just wondered around the halls all night. I didnâ€™t talk to anybody. Except for one gigantic lesbianâ€¦ Who is Conan Oâ€™Brien, and why is she so sad?â€
And on and on and on. I wouldnâ€™t embarrass myself at the altar of this show if I didnâ€™t believe in it and think you would serve yourself well by watching it. Itâ€™s ratings-challenged in spite of the near-universal acclaim and mountains of Emmy awards. And believe you me; if this show goes on for fewer seasons than that piece-of-shit Two and a Half Men? You will feel an awe-inspiring sense of shame.
The third season starts on October 30. For your own good, check your local listings.
FEATURES â€˜Nâ€™ SHIT
The features include audio commentary, a table-read of the season finale, a live performance the cast put on during the writerâ€™s strike, a behind the scenes look at Fey hosting Saturday Night Live and a sit-down interview with Brian Williams at the Museum of Television and Radio. Theyâ€™re all winners. So I repeat: YOU BUY NOW!