“30 Rock” Review-Still The Only Show With Buzz Aldrin Yelling At The Moon

Written by Spencer Sterritt March 15, 2012

Listen up Fives! A Ten in Talking!

30 Rock, the stalwart NBC comedy created by Tina Fey, seems to be getting a lot of flack these days. NPR published an article calling it out for flattening Tina Fey’s character and removing the heart of the program, Alec Baldwin and Tracy Morgan’s names kept on appearing in tabloids, and it’s already mediocre ratings have been steadily dwindling.

With any show that has run for six seasons, it is inevitable that some things change, and people accuse the show of being redundant, and having lost its initial spark. But 30 Rock still has spark I tell you! What started as a generally odd, but warm show has morphed into the zaniest show on television (and let me tell you, I don’t often throw the word ‘zany’ around a lot. A word like that is reserved for special occasions). Not since Arrested Development has a broadcast network show cranked out such a high volume of jokes, and been this entertaining.

On-going Trainwreck Aside, I Love This Idea

The basic setup is this: Tina Fey stars as Liz Lemon, the showrunner for an NBC show called ‘TGS with Tracy Jordan’. She is surrounded by the cast and writers of the show, namely Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan), Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski), Kenneth the Page (Jack McBrayer) and Pete Hornberger (Scott Adsit). Episodes focused on Liz dealing with her leads Tracy and Jenna, while also dealing with her new boss Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin)-though depending on which family member you ask, it’s either Donaghy, Donahe, or Dona-fee. Outside these main players, there is a whole writing room to deal with, a few other actors on the show, and various business bigwigs in rotation.

During the first few seasons, all of these characters were in a constant rotation. Now, poor Pete Hornberger is radically depressed and pops up every now and then to push a tack into his palm because it hurts so good, and almost every actor except Tracy and Jenna just sort of…ceased to exist. There was even a plot line about how they forgot one of their actors, who later showed up and no one remembered him. Most of the writers only appear for a few lines, leaving a core cast of Liz, Jack, Tracy, Jenna, and Kenneth.

After six seasons, only the loosest plot description can be used for the show. Every episode spins off into something strange and weird, whether its a Dark Knight parody four years late, or Liz being pestered by an annoying white British guy named Wesley Snipes, which is insane.

If you were shown a picture of actor Wesley Snipes and this guy, and were asked "who should be named Wesley Snipes", you'd pick the pale Englishman every time!

Early episodes used to have an overall message, usually about women being strong in the work place, or everyone just getting along, but now the ridiculousness of the action ruins any chance of a sincere message getting through. NPR has a somewhat legitimate point when they say that the heart has been removed from 30 Rock. The sweetness is certainly gone, with episodes constantly focusing on everyone’s failed relationships and their drinking problems. Where shows like Cougar Town and Community (returning tonight at 8:00, right before 30 Rock! Watch them both!) make sure to have a hefty dose of heart in each episode, no matter how predictable, 30 Rock does something like make their Valentine’s Day episode mean , bleak, and sad, with nary a laugh-though I did enjoy it for the “screw you-ness” of it all.

Liz takes the brunt of the meanness, being called out for her unattractive tendencies, like eating nearly everything, being a shrew, and being a perfectionist. All she ever does is try to keep things on track, but now she’s too often made the villain. Tina Fey, who from what I gather has a hand in most of the episodes, and is the driving force behind the Liz character, is game at playing this sad sack, but for someone as awesome as Tina Fey it gets a bit too much at times.

Nothing about this photo screams anything but perfectly fantastic and delightful

We’re On The Verge of A Class War

The character of Jack Donaghy has always been one of smugness and wealthy ruthlessness, and his pro-capitalist nature was always the butt of many jokes, but lately 30 Rock has morphed into a rather pointed critique of the wealthy and their abuse of power. It is still hidden under random jokes and references to obscure 90’s pop culture, but I believe that this new focus could replace the warm heart 30 Rock had before, and keep the show vital for many more years.

A part of me will still always miss season one Jack though. Where else am I going to get to watch therapy, Jack-style?

Since 30 Rock is in the NBC comedy block, and is now airing right before The Office, it can be seen almost as a response to The Office. No one can say that The Office has been terrific in the last three years, and any bright spots are few and far between. I even stopped watching entirely. Now it’s banal, boring, lacking in jokes, and predictable to an extreme. 30 Rock, on the other hand, has gone in the exact opposite direction as it ages. They both started at roughly the same time, and they are both showing their age, but 30 Rock, with its derangement, and quick pace, is clearly aging so much better than The Office, and acts as a palate cleanser.

While it may not be the joy that it once was, no one can say that 30 Rock is bad these days. It’s changed immensely, and there’s no going back, but it has become something new, zany and fun, and is reliably one of the strangest television shows out there. The record number of nominations (22 Emmy nominations in one year, a Peabody, and several Golden Globes for Alec Baldwin), certainly prove that it deserves to be kept on the air, and that it will always, at the very least, be cozy and charming with its insanity, like Liz dancing.

My Rating: 8/10





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About Spencer Sterritt

Spencer Sterritt

Spencer Sterritt: former Editor-In-Chief for We Eat Films, future President of the Men With Beards Club, and hopefully candidate for ruler of the world.

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