After having finished watching the entirety of season 3of 30 Rock, two things came to me. One is that 30 Rock – especially among its niche following – is the most quotable show around these days. From Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) doing her Muppet walk or saying “what the what?”to “I want to go there” to Baldwin paying homage to Malice, without having seen this season of 30 Rock at all, much of it was familiar by remembering tweets and things people said. My Review after the jump.
The second thing that sprang to mind was that the pilot of 30 Rock was obscenely terrible. Oh, there were moments, but I remember when the show debuted, and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip came out around the same time and seemed like it might be something awesome. Both shows were about taking SNL down a bit or at least tweaking it, with 30 Rock the home team, more likely to play it safe and not slaughter the sacred cow. Neither became that, and as both tried to find their voices, Fey and her writers realized that Liz Lemon could become Mary Tyler Moore by being down a watered or modernized version of that, but that they should embrace absurdity, and abandon most pretenses of adhering to morality or the standard sitcom structure of lesson-learning. There was a time when the show could have been called “That’s My Liz” but that has passed, and thank god for that. Lemon’s love problems are no longer just cute, they can be painful, and filled with a hubris that can lead to great punchlines.
If you haven’t seen the show, pick up this and Season 2 immediately, because these are keepers. Liz Lemon is a workaholic head writer looking for a child, but also a relationship that requires no work. She runs an SNL-like show that we see very, very little of, but which stars Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski) and Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan). Both are insane, but Tracy is the sort of nuts that is not just high maintenance. Their boss is Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) who runs NBC, and is a master shit. And around the studio are the page Kenneth (Jack McBrayer) – a saintly fool – and the staff of the show (Scott Adsit, Judah Friedlander, Katrina Bowden, John Lutz, Keith Powell). Oh, and Tracy’s bodyguards, Dot Com (Kevin Brown) and Grizz (Grizz Chapman), who are the show’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
So far 30 Rock has done a great job of creating a Simpsons-like universe where the supporting cast will often show up and have a storyline for an episode or so: Friedlander’s Frank has an episode where he almost becomes a lawyer, etc. But often it focuses on Liz and her relationships, with this season offering both Peter Dinklage, Steve Martin and Jon Hamm as potential boyfriends. All end tragically of course, with Fey’s Lemon shattering the bubble super-handsome man Hamm lives in to great returns. Though most episodes float away quickly, the joke writing is sharp, sharp, sharp. 30 Rock is one of the best shows on TV today, and if you haven’t been paying attention, but have heard someone say “What the what?” hey, it’s good to catch up.
The 22 episode run is spread out over three discs, with eight and eight on the first two discs. All episodes come in anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) and in 2.0 stereo, looking and sounding as good as they must have on TV. Disc one offers a commentary on “Flu Shot” with Tina Fey and producer Jeff Richmond, while disc two offers commentary on “Goodbye, My Friend” with Judah Friedlander and John Lutz, “The Bubble” with Jon Hamm and Jack McBrayer, and “Apollo Apollo” with writer Jack Burditt and executive producer Robert Carlock. Disc three offers commentary on “The Ones” with Krakowski and McBrayer, “Mamma Mia” with Alan Alda, and “Kidney Now” with Fey and Richmond. Also included are 13 deleted scenes (6 min.), a “behind the Scenes with the Muppets” (3 min.), the “!-900-Okface” commercial (1 min.) the table read for “Kidney Now” (31 min.), and a making of “He Needs a Kidney” (12 min.). There’s a photo gallery, Alec Baldwin’s SNL monologue (5 min. with a cameo by Jack McBrayer), outtake “Tracy Jordan’s Rant” (2 min.), while there’s the acceptance speeches for two Emmy’s and one Golden Globe (4 min.). I want to go there.