30 Rock: Season 1 - Review
Review by Jack Foley
IT TOOK a little while to properly get into, but 30 Rock eventually proved itself to be another winning US comedy import when it was screened on Channel 5 recently.
The brainchild of its star Tina Fey (who also writes and executive produces), 30 Rock follows the [mis]fortunes of Liz Lemon (Fey), the head writer on a variety series called The Girlie Show as she attempts to contend with the constant interference of the new Vice President of East Coast Television, Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin), and the arrival of eccentric new actor Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan).
A critical hit in the US, 30 Rock garnered a Golden Globe win for Fey in its first series for its offbeat brand of comedy – but it’s been an acquired taste for UK audiences and it’s easy to see why.
A lot of the humour is very American and occasionally requires a strong appreciation for Saturday Night Live, while some of the jokes were just plain silly and/or didn’t work (especially during very early episodes as the series was still finding its stride).
However, thanks to a strong cast – particularly Alec Baldwin – it eventually proved a consistently entertaining import that contained some savvy shots at global pop culture and some supremely silly slapstick moments.
Baldwin, especially, appeared to be revelling in his role as the ruthless, but ultimately dim-witted Jack Donaghy, who consistently managed to brighten up every episode whenever he came on screen. Having previously displayed some nice comic chops in a two-story arc in Friends, he underlined his comic credentials and proved the show’s main attraction (especially when it fired on all cylinders).
Fey, too, ensured that her Liz Lemmon was cooky but endearing (particularly during repeated attempts to sort out her disastrous love life), while Jane Krakowski was brilliant as the former Girlie Show show lead whose nose was put spectacularly out of joint by Tracy Jordan’s arrival.
And let’s not forget another of the show’s secret weapons, Kenneth (played by Jack McBrayer of Arrested Development fame), whose painful naivete offered a hilarious contrast to the rest of the characters.
Less successful early on was Tracy Morgan, whose utterly insane actor Tracy Jorgan hit more duff notes than funny ones, even though his character improved as the series went on.
Episode highlights included Blind Date, during which Jack infiltrates the weekly poker show after setting Liz Lemmon up on a blind date; Jack-Tor, a particularly hilarious 30 minutes in which Jack must try and hone his acting skills; The Baby Show, in which Jack deals with mommy issues; The Rural Juror, in which the team attempts to get their heads around Jenna’s new independent movie title; The Source Awards, when Jack forces Tracy to host the awards ceremony of the title; and Fireworks, in which Jack is forced to work hard to keep his job from an ambitious young executive.
Trust us, 30 Rock is well worth getting into. It’s fun, effortless viewing that provides an arresting 30 minutes – and rumour has it that season two just gets better!
UK DVD Release: March 17, 2008