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30 Rock - Season 2 (Review)

30 Rock

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4.5 out of 5

THE second season of 30 Rock was arguably when the show came into its own.

Having impressed during its first run, this multiple Emmy award winner (which currently holds the world record for the most nominations for a comedy series) really let loose with its engaging mix of social and media satire, dark comedy and smart guest appearances.

As with season 1, the show chronicles the life of Liz Lemon (Tina Fey), head writer on sketch comedy show TGS with Tracy Jordan, and the trials and tribulations that this entails, from dealing with the mildly insane, low-brow movie star/comedian Jordan to the self-obsessed Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski), the deposed star of the show.

It also chronicles her relationship with new boss Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin), a power-hungry but kind business exec who is driven by an all-consuming need to impress his mother.

One of 30 Rock‘s many strengths lies in the quality of its eclectic ensemble cast, which includes the notable likes of Jack McBrayer’s over-eager NBC intern Kenneth and Judah Friedlander’s childish, sarcastic slacker Frank Rossitano.

But it’s Fey and Baldwin who really stand-out. The former’s Liz Lemon is effortlessly engaging in her attempts to hold down a high-pressured business career with her own desires to find happiness, while Baldwin’s Jack Donaghy is nothing short of comedy genius.

Baldwin revels in the role and continually surprises with his adept comic timing, whether it’s moments of complete baffoonery, inspired physical comedy, or just wry sarcasm.

Fey’s writing is exceptional, too, taking potshots at just about everything that gets in her way and frequently tip-toeing the line between good and bad taste – but never in a bad way.

It’s a measure of how well the show is considered in the US that it’s able to consistently attract such high-profile guest appearances who, like past hit comedies Friends and Scrubs, augment each episode without ever coming close to stealing them.

Notable guest players for season 2 included Jerry Seinfeld, who shone in the season opener, Steve Buscemi (as a private investigator), David Schwimmer (as a head-strong environmental mascot), and Matthew Broderick (as a political lobbyist).

While recurring guests such as Edie Falco, Rip Torn and Will Arnett all shone, with Arnett in particular providing a memorable nemesis for Donaghy, and Falco an endearing love interest.

The humour was consistently smart, often obscure and more often than not laugh-out-loud funny, while the outrageous situations – such as attempts to create a pornographic video game, or the fiasco caused by sandwich day – displayed genuine ingenuity in their design.

30 Rock has yet to really gain a foothold on UK TV in the same way that landmark shows such as Friends did. But for those who have sought out its delights – or for anyone who has yet to – this is top-notch comedy that deserves its place among the US comedic greats.

Make sure you catch up with it soon.

Certificate: 12
Episodes: 15
UK DVD Release: May 25, 2009