30 Rock: Pilot (series premiere)
(S01E01) Hel-lo! I think we have a hit! Out of all the new shows on television this fall, I'd say 30 Rock is the best new comedy. There's no mugging for the camera and no canned laughter or sitcom audience. The comedy is quick and witty... and Tina Fey's self deprecating character makes a terrific central figure in the show. (NBC Message board reviews are mixed)
Before I go any further, I'd like to call for an all-out moratorium on comparing 30 Rock to Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. It should be obvious that they are not the same show. Yes, there's a similar premise of people coming in to stir up production of a show, but that's where the similarities end.
There is a handful of great characters here, all with immense comedic potential. Obviously, the best character on the show is Alec Baldwin's character. He's so clueless yet confident. The man really understands comedy and he has terrific chemistry with Fey. Even the writers and the NBC page had some great moments in the show. Plus, the crazy stuff that comes out of Tracy Morgan's mouth is confoundingly funny (i.e. "I'm from the government and I'm here to inspect the chicken nuggets.") Morgan is going to have some great lines, but they're going to be the kind that have to sink in for a second before you have to pause your TiVo and laugh your ass off.
I had the privilege of seeing the original pilot for 30 Rock and I think making the change from Rachel Dratch to Jane Krakowski was a very smart move. I know it sucks for Dratch, but Jane humanizes the 'Jenna' character while Rachel just makes it a character instead of a person. According to an interview with Tina Fey in TV Guide, Dratch will be on the show virtually every week as a different character so at least she remains employed.
This show had some great one-liners that weren't at all set up as one-liners. They were just woven in with the dialogue. Very smooth:
"Are there other black nerds or is it just you and Urkel?" - writer with 'Ninja' hat on
"Do you have apple juice?" - Tracy Jordan
"No" - waiter
"Then I'll take a vodka and tonic." - Tracy Jordan
"It's not HBO. It's TV." - Fey
"I cast that cat myself." - Baldwin
Maybe this will be the break-out hit of the fall that, so far, has been elusive. What did you think?