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Will Sarah Palin make 30 Rock a success ... finally?

by Jason Hughes, posted Oct 30th 2008 11:05AM
Tina Fey & Alec Baldwin30 Rock has been the little show that could for two years. Like Arrested Develoment a few years back, it has a rabid fan following and the critics just adore it. Unfortunately, it also has the same problem that plagued AD: low ratings. While those numbers did tick up during last year's strike-shortened season, the show still only averaged 6.4 million viewers, good enough for 94th place among all shows. It's also proven it does well with alternate viewing methods like online streaming and DVR recording but the networks are still struggling with how to account for that.

If ever there was a time for Tina Fey's little show to find that bigger audience, this would be it. Sure winning the Emmy for Best Comedy for the second year in a row is great. Hell, Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin took home awards for Best Actor and Actress as well this time. But even that doesn't mean anything when the ratings numbers come in. What does matter right now is Sarah Palin. Thanks to John McCain picking the one woman on the planet who looks exactly like Tina Fey, suddenly she's the most famous comedian on the planet, and that could just save her show.

It helps that she does a spot-on and hilarious impression of Palin to boot. And considering her connection to Saturday Night Live already (Hell, Lorne Michaels is behind her new show as well), she had the perfect place to do it. Then NBC put those SNL Weekend Update Thursday specials on and suddenly there's Tina Fey on TV being funny right where her own show is going to be, and getting nine to eleven million viewers each week. What they should have done was held back Kath & Kim completely and have both the SNL specials and 30 Rock in the Thursday night lineup at the same time. But I guess that would have made too much sense. These are still network executives we're talking about.

In fact, I'm not even sure that the move to put the premiere of 30 Rock online at NBC.com a week before tonight's premiere was a smart move if they want to bolster ratings. Sure, it probably helped the online viewing of the show, but I think it was doing well there already. The problem is there aren't enough on-air viewers. 30 Rock and shows like it (high praise, low ratings) can only hang in there on accolades and awards for so long, as proven by Arrested Development.

In fact, Arrested Development averaged 6 million viewers in its second season before a disastrously-scheduled third season drove it firmly and finally into the ground. At least NBC seems to have more faith in the show, airing it on their strong Thursday night lineup instead of opposite every other major strong show on television like FOX did.

But the big question remains: will a damned funny impression of the Republican vice presidential candidate by Tina Fey mean improved ratings for the show she stars in? I guess we'll find out tonight. I have to think that enough of her fans from SNL and even people who've never heard of her until her impression went viral and global, will at least tune in out of curiosity. They might even think another SNL special is going to be on in that slot. The election is still almost a week away.

Luckily, 30 Rock is just as frantic and over-the-top as SNL when it's good, and in fact is a far cry better than your average episode of the Saturday night staple. Plus, former cast member Tracy Morgan is there too, so there's another familiar face. And to complete the connection to both shows, Will Arnett (Arrested Development), who's married to Amy Poehler (Saturday Night Live), and the proud papa of a new baby boy (Congratulations!), guest stars tonight in his deliciously evil role as Alec Baldwin's arch rival, Devin Banks.

What kind of 30 Rock viewer are you?
I'll watch it regardless259 (74.9%)
I'm going to watch because of her Sarah Palin impression14 (4.0%)
-delete-14 (4.0%)
I don't watch it on television28 (8.1%)
I'm not going to watch at all31 (9.0%)

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13 Comments

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Matt Gio

30 Rock can't even come close to the smart humor that Arrested Development endured. 30 Rock will continue to survive cause the world has a hard-on for Tina Fey. I just wish a few years ago the world had a hard-on for the Bluths. http://www.arresteddevelopmentblog.com

December 09 2008 at 9:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
leah

The real problem is that the neilson rating system is becoming obsolete with dvrs and online viewing. To get a true view of what people are watching, both of these need to be included and considered by the networks when deciding how a show is doing. The whole system needs a major overhaul.

October 31 2008 at 9:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
C C

I think 30 Rock will see a slight uptick in the ratings, not a major spike. The time slot is just too tough. And 30 Rock's brand of humor is understandably not everyone's cup of tea. Personally, I find 30 Rock annoyingly inconsistent. When it's good, it's GOOD (like Rosemary's Baby or Cougars). But with some of the other episodes, I'm bored to death. It's weird.

October 30 2008 at 7:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Steve

I sure hope that this will help increase ratings, I love this show and would hate to see it canceled. I don't recall if they did this or not but NBC should have had 30 Rock promos during SNL and the SNL Thursdays.

October 30 2008 at 7:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
waterfall

I find Tina Fey not to be an attractive presence on either the big or small screen. SNL heyday is past and Tina seems like a part of the new lower quality performers.

I find Tina has a stilted self0conscious quality on her visage when she is performing a straight role, not a parody.

I think her Palin performance was mean because SNL did not poke fun at Obama. Apparently, he's SNL's messiah.

Maybe a backlash against Tina:
http://www.thespoof.com/news/spoof.cfm?headline=s2i42647

October 30 2008 at 2:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
keidalgrim

You appear to be on a personal mission to launch 30 Rock into the televised stratosphere. I commend you for that; you've certainly done your part.

Here's why, however, in spite of your best efforts to save this show, I believe 30 Rock is going to either remain in the toilet or succumb to its (the toilet's) propensity to suck things downward into the bowels of the earth: the players in this show are simply too fraught with political baggage.

I'm sure this show is every bit the diamond in the rough you claim it is. But I, for one, am not going anywhere near it until Alec Baldwin FINALLY makes good on his promise to leave the country if W is elected president. Until that happens, I pretty much can't stomach the guy.

And then there's Tina. God love her. She does make a fantastic Sarah Palin, and her fortunes do indeed deserve to rise if for no other reason than she happens to be as hot (if not hotter) than the Wasilla mayor herself. That aside, she's still Tina Fey of SNL, and therefore she still reeks of liberal proclivities.

In the end, if watching 30 Rock didn't make me feel as though I needed to be hosed down in a way that makes Silkwood seem like a summer afternoon romp in the backyard sprinkler, I might be tempted to give it a chance.

But that's just not going to happen. And on Thursday evenings at 9:30pm, you'll find me straddling that porcelain God, middle finger pointed downward atop the shiny silver trigger.

October 30 2008 at 1:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jim

I love 30 Rock and would like to see it succeed more than it has already, but anyone tuning in expecting to see SNL/Sarah Palin-type humor will find themselves in way over their heads. 30 Rock, like Arrested Development, is smart comedy, and there's not much of a market for that on TV.

October 30 2008 at 1:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jeff N.

I think the show is very funny. It should have higher ratings but it's against Grey's & CSI. That's a tough time slot.

October 30 2008 at 1:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dave

With all due respect to 30R fans, I don't think the show is very good. I've watched a handfull of episodes, and i don't find it funny. It might be because Tracy Morgan is one of the most annoying people on the planet. I wish I liked 30R, but I just don't.
FWIW, Arrested Development didn't do anything for me either.

October 30 2008 at 11:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Dave's comment
Joey Geraci

It might be more helpful to know what shows you do like.

Let me guess, you also hated the West Wing, BSG, The Shield, Terminator, etc. And puppies, sunshine, and Apple pie, of course. Along with happiness, goodness, and wholesomeness.

October 30 2008 at 12:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dave

My favorite comedies are HIMYM and Scrubs.
I absolutely hated The West Wing (Sorkin's liberal politics), never seen BSG (don't get SciFi) or The Shield (don't get FX). What's Terminator? The movie, loved it. Sarah Connor Chronicles, haven't bothered to try.
As for the rest of your snark, I wasn't trying to be offensive, I was simply mentioning that I don't get the love of 30R. So you can kiss my ass.

October 30 2008 at 3:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Basketcase456

30 Rock should be in the 8:30 slot and Kath & Kim in the 9:30 slot. The issue is that every major network has one of their top shows on at 9:00. It has to compete against CSI and Grey's Anatomy, of course it will get DVRed. I know that is how I watch it.

October 30 2008 at 11:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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