30 Rock - Season Four
30 Rock’s collection of Emmys and other Award nominations speaks for itself, if you interpret winning an Emmy as an achievement that is. If not, this is one case in which it would be safe to trust the powers that be. Three seasons of 30 Rock have shown it to be a comedy well worth watching for its astute sense of humor, along with its lively and brilliant cast. Season Four’s premier promises that the jokes will continue to be right on the money.
Playing (inevitably) off of the current economic situation, the episode immediately sets up the premise that NBC’s parent company, General Electric, is losing money because it has “lost touch with…the Real America.” As a consequence, TGS (the fictional NBC show that 30 Rock revolves around) needs to become more accessible through the hiring of a new cast member. While Tracy (Tracy Morgan) attempts to reconnect with his roots and Jenna (Jane Krakowski) “goes country” as a marketing gimmick, Liz (Tina Fey) and Pete (Scott Adsit) try to keep the imminent new arrival a secret from the rest of the cast members so as not to make them jealous.
Meanwhile, Kenneth (Jack McBrayer) accidentally receives Jack’s paycheck and realizes that GE executive Jack (Alec Baldwin) is still getting a hefty salary bonus even though he stated that the company has “no extra money.” Kenneth and the rest of the pages, on the other hand, are losing their significant overtime pay, leading Kenneth to stages a page strike in protest.
Notable moments include Steve Buscemi’s appearance as Len, a private investigator who returns from several earlier episodes, and politically relevant jokes like “Thanks to Comrade Obama’s recession…” 30 Rock has always impressed for its deft meshing of such casual satirical mischief with more slapstick humor, and this episode is no exception: not only do we see Jenna dancing suggestively in a cowboy hat and boots, we also giggle appreciatively when Jack refers to the “Cheesy Blaster” (a hot dog stuffed with cheese and folded in a pizza) as “the number-one-selling food in the rest of America.” Later, Jack passes over a framed picture of Jesus in favor of a framed picture of Nixon when looking for guidance.
The show maintains its absurdity and unpredictability, and its large cast continues to deliver their lines with impeccable timing. If there is a criticism it’s that it is difficult to find a 30 Rock episode that stands out for any particular reason, other than the occasional big-name guest star—this season premier is no more or less silly and spot-on than anything that came before it. If 30 Rock ever deals with heavier issues, they are neatly buried within ridiculous plotlines. One can infer, for instance, that the writers are probably supporters of Comrade Obama—Alec Baldwin’s character is often reminiscent of the staunchly “conservative” Stephen Colbert. For anyone who hasn’t been following 30 Rock, it isn’t difficult to pick up right here at the start of Season Four. As Jack says, “We’ll trick those racecar-loving wideloads into watching your lefty homo-erotic propaganda hour yet!”
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