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October 31, 2014

30 Rock -- an early look

by Jonathan Toomey, posted Sep 30th 2006 5:29PM

Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin star in 30 Rock.

The Premise: Tina Fey stars as Liz Lemon, the head writer and producer for a female themed sketch comedy show called The Girlie Show. Everything was going great until Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) was promoted from GE's Microwave Research Unit to head NBC's east-coast programming. He sees it as his mission to fix The Girlie Show, despite Liz's insistence that nothing is broken.

My Thoughts: First things first. 30 Rock is not Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Everybody heard it all in the off-season. NBC was pushing out two shows based on the behind-the-scenes action of a sketch comedy show. Here's the difference. Studio 60 is a brilliantly written, wonderfully acted, hour-long drama that's arguably the best new show of the fall season. 30 Rock, on the other hand, is a bland, flat, unimaginative half-hour comedy that seems forced and under-uses it's very talented cast.

I've screened the pilot episode twice now and it pains me to know that Tina Fey is behind it. The show is very much in Fey's voice, and because of that, the episode contains numerous laugh-out-loud moments. But don't let that fool you.

The show is ripe with clichés and stereotypes including Tracy Morgan's Eddie Murphy-esqe portrayal as black comedian Tracy Jordan. That sentence would have sounded better if the writer's had taken eight seconds to give Morgan's character a name different than his own. I like Joe.

But the clichés, stereotypes, and inside jokes don't end there. I feel as though the title of the show will be lost on a large majority of people, and unless you've actually toured NBC in New York or Los Angeles, most folks aren't going to know what an NBC Page is either.

The two shining points are Jane Krakowski and Baldwin. Both deliver great performances. The role of Jenna DeCarlo (the show's star) was originally written for Rachael Dratch and was then re-cast for Krakowski. Smart move. The romantic tension that undoubtedly will manifest between Jenna and Jack would just not be as believable if Dratch was still in place. However, Baldwin made his mark too. We've all seen his numerous SNL hosting gigs and the way he delivers lines is hilarious. Look for plenty of that here.

Overall, I'm unimpressed and don't expect this show to last beyond the fall. 30 Rock premieres Wednesday, October 11 at 8PM on NBC.

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rolando

why don't we all say what we are thinking...30 rock will be great with scrubs this spring.

October 05 2006 at 3:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
scott mclendon

Jonathan is lashing out at "30" in his ongoing attempt to refloat the Studio 60 Titanic.I wasn't planning on watching Tina's show,but I think that I will now.

October 02 2006 at 10:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David

I was looking forward to this show, I hope it improves. If it doesn't five people left SNL and don't have a job. Oh well SNL is still complete shit and will probably beg them to come back.

October 01 2006 at 11:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
miche(1l)e

I agree with Keith. It seems like Jonathan planned to dislike this show before he watched it and then penned the review. Even though he found many reasons to like 30R (Baldwin, Krakowski, laughing out loud, etc.) he still panned it....

1l

October 01 2006 at 11:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ooda

Even though I liked the song at the end of the latest episode of Studio 60, it would have been a move of genius is Sorkin had brought Tina Fey onto the Studio 60 writing staff. That said, I want as much Sorkin as I can get, so I can't say I have anything to complain about, Studio 60 wise.

30 Rock: I will watch the pilot, and if it's at least somewhat okay, then the second episode, which is what should be used as a yardstick to judging a show (that's what I'm doing with Heroes - hopefully it improves as it goes on. Jericho seemed to). That said, I had high hopes for Fey, especially coming off Mean Girls, but just judging by the impression I get, it still seems like 30 Rock was made as a consolation for Fey from NBC.

September 30 2006 at 9:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Keith

This reviewer is kind of contradicting himself. He says there are many cliche moments, but doesn't provide any examples (just modeling a character after Eddie Murphy does not a cliche make, while I'm sure the reivewer is aware that there are other comedians on television who have used their own names as the characters). He also says it's bland and unfunny but goes on to report that there are "numerous laugh-out-loud moments." And last I heard, a page is a page anywhere in the country... I'm sure an audience will make the leap into what an "NBC page" is. Um... perhaps a page for NBC? See, I got it and I never took a tour. He also says that Jane Krakowski and Alec Baldwin are fantastic and to expect more of them.... this sounds like a good review to me.

September 30 2006 at 8:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joel

Tracy's character is modeled after Martin Lawrence. But considering the fact that Lawrence considers Murphy to be a hero of his, I guess Tracy's modeled after Eddie by the "transitive comedy equation."

September 30 2006 at 7:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bob Jones

I have seen it and it is a very funny show, I am sure its not Arrested Development or other fluff up to your elitist standards, but I think it will find a big enough market of regular people.

September 30 2006 at 7:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
royce

I figured as much. I would bet it lasts one or maybe two seasons, and alec baldwin gets an emmy out of it.

September 30 2006 at 5:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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