Friday, October 15, 2010

30 Rock goes live!

     NBC's 30 Rock did a live show for each coast last night.  Having just completed viewing the West Coast episode online (I like in the Eastern time zone), I could identify only 5 intentional differences between the two, and most involved the guest stars:  In the East version, Jenna (Jane Krakowski) sang words to 30 Rock's normal theme music about the show being live, and in the West Danny (Cheyenne Jackson, Glee) did it with completly different lyrics.  Flashback Liz Lemon (Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Seinfeld) made fun of Jonathan by referencing Slum Dog Millionaire in one version, and Aladdin in the other.  In the East, the entire cast yelled together at Kenneth (Jack McBrayer) to spit out his idea, while the West only saw Jack (Alec Baldwin) yell at him.  Dr. Spaceman (Chris Parnell, Saturday Night Live) sang different songs in his commerical.  And Drew (Jon Hamm, Mad Men) had a black hand from an executed felon in one version, and a woman's hand from a Frankenstein company in the other, though both versions ended with the new hand on his crotch.

     What that means is, joke by joke, facial expression by facial expression, the cast had this piece rehearsed down.  Everything landed almost the exact same way.  The only unintentional difference I saw was that Danny as Dr. Drew actually did break on the East coast feed during a sketch about Tracy (Tracy Jordan) fake breaking.  The show didn't feel fresh and raw, as live shows sometimes do.  It felt like they were performing something they'd done over and over again.  They filmed with the help of Saturday Night Live, and as 30 Rock is usually funnier than SNL, I wonder if it is the various takes that help that along.  This was not 30 Rock's finest episode by a long shot.  The novelty was what sold the episode, and I admit I enjoyed it.  But not because of the quality.  If the show was like this every week, it wouldn't be half as good.

     Along with the uniqueness of the live feature, a lot of guest stars also showed up to help.  Much more than normal.  I already mentioned Louis-Dreyfus (the most unexpected of the bunch, and probably the funniest), Parnell, Jackson, and Hamm.  Carol (Matt Damon) also did two scenes, and Bill Hader (SNL) played the co-pilot in love with him.  Last, but not least, after a far-too-long absence, Rachel Dratch, who was originally cast as Jenna, and did a number of characters in twelve episodes of season one, returned.

     The plot was simple, as with everything else going on, there wasn't too much time to squeeze it in.  Everyone forgot Liz's (Tina Fey) birthday, Jack gave up alcohol, and Tracy decided he wanted to break during TGS.  No one will probably remember that part of the show.

     It was an interesting experiment, and I'm glad that 30 Rock did it.  I laughed a lot.  Now please don't do it again.

     30 Rock airs Thursday nights at 8:30 on NBC.

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  1. I love Louis Dreyfus, she has to be one of the best comic actresses of all time!!

  2. She definitely is! I loved The New Adventures of Old Christine, and don't forget her turn in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation!


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