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30 Rock: Season 4 - First two episodes reviewed

30 Rock: Season 4

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4.5 out of 5

THE fourth season of US comedy phenomenon 30 Rock made a welcome first bow on Comedy Central on Monday night (April 19, 2010) with a memorable double episode.

Season 4 and Into The Crevasse highlighted everything that’s great about watching this series… featuring slick jokes, sharp pot-shots at American big business and politics, excellent absurdist humour and even more classic Alec Baldwin moments.

Both episodes mirrored the current economic climate, yet mined laughs from such hardship that didn’t seem insulting for even a second.

The opener, for instance, found Jack (Baldwin) demanding changes to make TGS more relatable to average Americans, and therefore sending Liz (Tina Fey) and Pete (Scott Adsit) out to search for a new cast member, while Jenna (Jane Krakowski) makes over her image (to become a country singer!) and Tracy (Tracy Morgan) tries to prove he’s not lost touch with his roots.

This latter plot device proved particularly hilarious, as Tracy Jordan hit the streets of NY to attempt to re-connect with the average American, asking whether a hotdog seller had his wife’s favourite dish “to stay”, and a passer-by had change of a $10,000 bill.

Jordan has really come into his own as a character over the past two seasons and now contributes some of each episode’s funniest moments.

Jack, meanwhile, found a surprising nemesis in the form of page boy Kenneth (Jack McBrayer), who organized a strike by his colleagues in protest over NBC cuts to overtime… and attempted to force his boss to sign a paper proclaiming himself to be a big fat liar.

Needless to say, Jack won the overall battle by virtue of Kenneth’s simple values, but for once you didn’t mind big business dishing it out to the little guy, such is Baldwin’s mastery of his role.

If the opening half an hour was a romp, then so too was its follow-up, Into The Crevasse, which found Jack once again facing competition from returning nemesis Devin Banks (brilliantly played, as ever, by Will Arnett).

The scenes between Jack and Devin at a board-room were hilarious, as was the “gay-toned” face/off that drew the episode to a close.

Fey’s Liz Lemmon also came into her own in this episode, as the fallout from her Dealbreaker book miffed just about every male in her vicinity, from disgruntled shop workers to every one of her colleagues. The numerous forms of revenge dished out to her were inspired and hilarious (especially Morgan’s decision to become her new flat-mate).

Jenna, meanwhile, took out her frustrations with Liz over the impending arrival of a new actor by jetting off to Iceland to appear in a new werewolf movie that had previously been turned down by Victoria Beckham… the only problem being the lack of nighttime, which meant the crew had roughly one minute to shoot their scenes each day!

It was a brilliant gag and just one more example of why 30 Rock continues to provide such inspired viewing. Roll on the rest of this triumphant series!

30 Rock is on Comedy Central on Monday nights, from 10pm. This review relates to the Season 4 openers that aired on Monday, April 19.