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30 Rock

30 Rock is a comedy about "TGS with Tracy Jordan" a sketch show (based on Saturday Night Live) run out of 30 Rockefeller Centre in New York. Head writer Liz Lemon has to deal with temperamental stars Tracy Jordan and Jenna Maroney while also appeasing her boss Jack Donaghy. NBC 2006-???

Seasons

Season Overview #Episodes Score Viewer
score
Season 1 2006-07 21 52 -
Season 2 2007-08 15 41 70
Season 3 2008-09 22 45 60
Season 4 2009-10 22 50 -
Season 5 2010-11 22 49 -

Top episodes

Season
» Episode
Episode Overview Score Viewer score
Season 3
» Episode 12
Larry King Tracy is a guest on Larry King Live...
Tracy is a guest on Larry King Live as the Asian financial markets go into a heavy sell-off. Tracy’s mad advice creates panic at GE and on the streets of New York. Liz leaves her phone in a cab and the driver wants money to return it. Kenneth is the only one from NBC who will help her. Finally Jack tells Elisa that he loves her and asks her to stay with him instead of going home to Puerto Rico. The crisis forces him to rethink his priorities and he proposes to her but she ends up going home feeling that the crisis had forced him into a rash decision.
75 -
Season 1
» Episode 12
Black Tie Jack invites Liz to the social events of...
Jack invites Liz to the social events of the season, the birthday of Gerhardt Hapsburg. When Jack’s ex-wife Bianca appears he pretends he is with Liz. This enrages Bianca who wasn’t worried by Jack’s parade of models but is jealous that Liz could make him happy. Meanwhile Jenna sneaks into the party and reluctantly wins the favour of the inbred Gerhardt. Back at 30 Rock Tracy tries to show Pete the life he could be living by bringing his party entourage to the office. Kenneth is on hand though to remind Pete to be loyal to his wife and children.
68 -
Season 4
» Episode 9
Klaus and Greta Jack got wasted on New Years and called...
Jack got wasted on New Years and called Nancy. He and Kenneth break into her house to erase the message but then discover that Nancy’s marriage has broken down. On her holiday Liz outed her cousin Randy and he now comes to stay with her. Tracy has got Angie pregnant and his attitude toward women has begun to change. Finally Jenna met James Franco’s agent and enters into a fake relationship with him.
68 -
Season 1
» Episode 5
Jack-Tor Jack stars in a corporate video encouraging NBC...
Jack stars in a corporate video encouraging NBC TV writers to promote GE products in their shows. Liz writes a sketch about GE making them do it and asks Jack to play the executive. But Jack finds it difficult to act and asks Liz to help him through it. Frank and Toopher decide to play on Jenna's insecurity and tell her that her job is at risk. So she sleeps with Jack's boss, except that he isn't, he is Ron, an extra. Liz wonders if Tracy might be illiterate. Initially offended he soon uses it as an excuse to get out of work.
64 -
Season 5
» Episode 6
Gentleman's Intermission Liz' father Dick comes to visit but he...
Liz' father Dick comes to visit but he tries to have a break from being married. Liz is outraged and turns to Jack but Avery has suggested that he spend less time with her. So Jack begins a search for a new mentee and Liz tries to handle things herself. Meanwhile Tracy is unhappy with his pre-prepared NBC obituary footage and decides to change his image. Jenna is of course jealous and tries to create her own.
64 -

Credit NBC

NOW SHOWING

USA TV: NBC
UK TV: Comedy Central

ORIGINS

While she was head writer on Saturday Night Live Tina Fey pitched the idea of a sit com to NBC. After various changes to her idea she produced the idea of a sit com based around her own stewardship of SNL.

CONTENT

30 Rock premiered in October 2006 to positive critical reviews and acceptable ratings. The show has generally pleased TV critics and been praised for its whacky satire and topical references. The ratings have usually been in the four to six million region, often depending on the show's proximity to The Office.

The first season began as you might imagine. Liz seemed to be the sympathetic main character put upon by her boss and her crew alike. She has boyfriend troubles and was trying to keep her stressed life from falling apart. Slowly however the show's tone changed and morphed into something else. The people in Liz' life became ever more like cartoon characters. Jenna's self-obsession and Tracy's insanity became increasingly ridiculous and her team of writers were slowly reduced in prominence and plausibility.

Liz herself also changed from heroin to the butt of the jokes. The least appealing aspects of her personality were constantly mocked and exaggerated. She was constantly portrayed as either pathetic or incompetent. Time and again she would be proven wrong in her quests or moral stands.

The only character to establish a vaguely plausible sit com existence was Jack. On a show which heavily satirizes right wing attitudes it was a bizarre choice but Jack turned into the island of sanity on the show. He was the only character to be proven right on most occasions and usually found success in his endeavors. The growing friendship between Jack and Liz turned out to be the one genuinely pleasant part of 30 Rock.

THETVCRITIC

When I launched thetvcritic.org in 2009 I wanted to cover the shows which seemed relevant to other TV critics. 30 Rock was constantly lauded as one of the smartest shows on television and even though I didn't like what I saw I had no problem covering it. Twenty two minutes is not a commitment I have a problem making each week, even to something I don't like.

And I really don't like 30 Rock. I firmly believe that two of the keys to a successful sit com are characters you care about and logical context for humour. 30 Rock has neither and constantly tramples over logic to make bizarrely simple or silly gags.

In a way I understand and sympathise with Tina Fey. 30 Rock has often felt like a sketch show rather than a sit com. As her background is in sketch comedy and the show is based around a sketch show it's understandable that 30 Rock would turn out as it has. I also think Fey is a good sport and decided to mock herself and her bad habits through the character of Liz Lemon. However by reducing Liz to such mockery the show has no sympathetic central protagonist. By the end of season one it became impossible to care about any of Liz' desires or ambitions.

If you read any of my reviews you will quickly learn the contempt I hold much of 30 Rock's attempts at humour. Some of my resentment I admit stems from the praise of other critics. I firmly believe that 30 Rock constantly undermined its own attempts to be funny by removing the sense that anything happening was real or consequential. However that didn't seem to bother other critics who continually praised the show as being witty or even cutting edge. The latter claim really bothered me because a topical reference doesn't guarantee a good joke.

After five seasons of kicking 30 Rock around I decided that it was best if I stopped writing reviews of each episode. When I launched the site I wanted it to be a complete episode guide for every show that I cover. I have learnt that that simply isn't practical. I doubt many people will come to the site to enjoy just how much I dislike a show. With five seasons of review available I think I have made my arguments as best I can. I am a completist though and will probably continue to watch the show. I may even pop by to make a comment on future seasons when they end.

December 2011