'30 Rock' Live Episode Recap (VIDEO)
by Bob Sassone, posted Oct 14th 2010 10:03PM
['30 Rock' - 'Live Show']
This special live episode of '30 Rock' proved two things. One, watching a live episode of a sitcom or drama -- especially one that is usually taped -- is an incredibly nerve-wracking experience. Will someone screw up? Will someone swear? Will some technical glitch mess things up? Will they run out of time or miss a cue? It's certainly different and fun, but it's truly tense for both viewers and the performers.
The second thing this episode showed? We really need more live sitcoms and dramas.
I was rather impressed by this episode. Sure, when you do a live episode of a show you have to play around with the format to make it more live-friendly. When 'ER' did a live episode, they used the plot of a documentary crew filming around the hospital, which would make hand-held cameras and close-up interviews with characters seem like a natural thing and would make it easier to film. When 'Will & Grace' did their live episode, almost all of the action took place in one room in Karen's mansion, so they wouldn't have to move around that much.
'30 Rock' took a different route. Because the show has a ton of characters and uses flashbacks, they had to be more creative. Sure, this is a show-within-a-show and that made it easier -- 'TGS' is filmed live with an audience so this live episode of '30 Rock' could be filmed with a live audience too -- but how the heck would they do wacky flashbacks live?
By having Julia Louis-Dreyfus dress up as Liz, of course. That was a brilliant, funny move, and it was nice to see Louis-Dreyfus, a 'Saturday Night Live' alum, come back to NBC (like Jerry Seinfeld did a couple of seasons ago). A '30 Rock' episode without flashbacks would have been weird (and this episode was weird enough, being live) so it's great that they fit them in.
This was actually a lot like an 'SNL' skit (they even filmed in in the 'SNL' studio), only a really funny, clever one. Bill Hader showed up as Carol's co-pilot, Rachel Dratch played the cleaning lady and seeing a full episode of 'TGS' felt very 'SNL'-like. The live commercials by Dr. Spaceman and Jon Hamm added to that 'SNL' feel (and the fact that Baldwin has hosted 'SNL' so many times added to that). Kudos to Tracy Morgan for not messing up or going off in some bizarre direction. I'm sure having the "Tracy is going to break up on purpose" plot was a bit of a fail-safe. Tracy's plot wasn't incredibly funny but it fit in well with the ep.
And let's talk about Tina Fey. For someone who was more of a writer than an actress, it's wild how good Fey has become. She did a fantastic job tonight. Actually, everyone did a fantastic job, but I think Fey was truly solid, and we can really call her an actress now.
The only problem with the show was probably one they couldn't avoid: not as many quotable lines (and maybe a couple of sight gags that didn't really work). Yes, there were many great lines, but because of everything else that they had to pay attention to and the time they had to pay attention to (and waiting for laughter/applause), we probably got 80 percent of the funny lines we usually get, but that's more than most shows so no big deal.
Thumbs up to the cast and crew for a great episode. I'd love to see more live comedy and drama on prime time television, something like the anthology shows from the 1950s. I don't know if an anthology show would be a hit today, but it would certainly bring something different to television, wouldn't it?
Maybe NBC can do this with 'The Event.'
• I was wondering how they were going to squeeze Jon Hamm into this episode, since they would have had to have a rather complex plot to get Drew into the mix (unlike Matt Damon's Carol, who is dating Liz and was easier to put in the show). Having Hamm do a live commercial was perfect.
• When I first saw Krakowski in that dress, my first thought was "Oh my god, her boob is going to pop out on live TV!" It was funny they thought of that too.
• Was Twofer on the show? I don't think I saw him.
• An Irene Ryan reference? I can't think of another show on TV right now that would do something like that. This show is awesome.
• The "technical difficulties" boards were a nice touch.
• They're doing another live episode for West Coast viewers, and I bet they'll change some of the jokes, so it will be great to see both versions at NBC.com tomorrow.
"Does it seem weird in here to you? Everything looks like a Mexican soap opera" - Jack, to Liz at the start of the episode
"My God I can see every line and pore in your face. It's like a YMCA climbing wall." - Jack, to Liz
"Why are you better looking in your memory?" - Jack
"My memory has 'Seinfeld' money." - Liz
"A Mr. Brett Fav-re stopped by and dropped off this picture of a hot dog." - Kenneth, to Jenna
"Thanks Obamacare!" - Jenna, about not being able to get a prescription for Ecstasy
"Last night, for the first time ever, Tracy watched the non-porn version of 'The Carol Burnett Show'." - Pete
"It was 'Angels in America, Tre." - Dotcom, to Tracy, about him laughing at his play
"Liz, I almost forgot, Happy Birthday...the song, legal says we can't use it in the sketch. But we can use 'It's Your B-Day, Bitch,' by Snooki's mom" - Pete
"According to a bunch of online questionnaire's, I'm an alcoholic." - Jack
"Welcome back to Fox News. I'm blonde." - Jenna, in a sketch
"Erectile Dysfunction. It's not just a dog problem anymore." - Dr. Spaceman
"I also need you to Tivo 'Bones' for me in case I survive." - Carol, piloting the plane
"Yes, but my penis was smaller." - Jack, to Liz, who noticed the guy in Jack's flashback was more fit
"Why are you speaking like a Persian immigrant?" - Jack, to Liz
"It was perfect. It was the best of both worlds. I got to feel martyred and indignant all day and then eat cake off the floor." - Liz
"That's more like it." - Jack, to Liz, as the live episode went back to the usual film look
'30 Rock' airs Thursdays at 8:30PM ET on NBC.
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