‘30 Rock’ begins final season
TV Review | 4 out of 5 stars
Published: Monday, October 22, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 22, 2012 07:10
With witty jokes, slapstick comedy and a whole lot of self-reference, “30 Rock” is back for its seventh and final season. As always, the Emmy Award-winning NBC comedy series, created by and starring Tina Fey, continues to entertain audiences with face-palming humor. This season, the show tosses all comedic conventions out the window to make even more room for the ridiculous.
For those unfamiliar with the series, “30 Rock” follows the behind-the-scenes goings-on of a fictional live sketch comedy show called “The Girlie Show with Tracy Jordan,” which airs on NBC. If this rings a bell, it’s because the show’s concept is based off of Fey’s experience as head writer of “Saturday Night Live,” NBC’s live sketch comedy show.
The aptly titled season premiere, “The Beginning of the End,” sets the season up for a sequence of events that will surely be able to carry it through its 13-episode final season. The final premise is revealed when writer Liz Lemon (Fey) discovers that Jack Donaghy, the network executive played by the quirky, quick-witted Alec Baldwin, has been trying to tank the network. In her comically ruthless fashion, Lemons asks, “How long has this been going on? Seven years?” This quotation suggests that NBC has been subpar for as many years — and she’s right.
Though not quite as tight and fast-paced as it has been in previous seasons, “30 Rock’s” comedy still employs several key principles of comedy: parody, irony and slapstick. Fey’s script exemplifies her mastery of the genre with inlaid comedic timing, self-reflexive jokes and situations whose laugh-factors don’t peter out in the middle.
The beauty of the series is that it never lingers too long on one plotline, which allows the show to shuffle from scene to scene with direction and humorous clarity. At the same time, each comedic moment is given its due air- and reaction-time. The expert level of timing comes not only from the script’s attention to detail, but also from the high-level performances from each actor in the ensemble.
Fey and Baldwin are joined once again by actors Tracy Morgan, Jane Krakowski and Jack McBrayer, along with their recurring characters that breathe life into Fey’s writing on the small screen. The chemistry that exists between the cast members can only be described as serendipitous because of how naturally every scene glides to the next. The cast lands each self-aware line and witty snipe at product placement without missing a beat.
Though it is hard to be disappointed with “30 Rock’s” storyline when it’s written by Tina Fey, the season premiere’s plotline between Kenneth (McBrayer), Tracy (Morgan), and Hazel (Kristen Schaal) left much to be desired. As per usual, Morgan delivered his lines in his typical one-note fashion that’s bound to crack a smile on any viewer’s face. As for the other two, the comedy sagged a bit during their lines. Thankfully, a Jenna/Liz bride “dramedy” scene compensated for the dearth of laughs by being over the top, making light of the ‘bridezillas’ trend and giving Jenna (Krakowski) some levity in acknowledging her own vanity.
“30 Rock” is a smart, driven comedy targeted toward the young to middle-aged and educated sector of the United States. However, Fey made a smart call by choosing to close the curtains on the beloved comedy before it grows stale and people wonder why it’s still on the air. Though audiences will be sad to see it go, especially given the scarcity of good programs on NBC, it’s time for “The Girlie Show with Tracy Jordan” to close shop and make way for more 10-star shows to debut. Oh, heck, they’re all going to be fives, anyway. It’s going to be hard to beat “30 Rock.”