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The Happiest Ending Of All

February 1st, 2013 No comments

It’s always nice when a long-running TV series sticks the landing for its final episode. So many shows are cancelled without the chance for a proper resolution, while even those that have had time to prepare for the end sometimes blow it. I wasn’t all that bothered by the finales of Battlestar Galactica or Lost, but I understand why they were divisive among fans. Then there was Seinfeld, which was almost universally reviled for the apparent contempt it displayed both for itself and its audience in its final hour.

This brings me to 30 Rock. They had an opportunity for a victory lap before departing for the syndicated afterlife, and swung for the fences. The result was one of the best final seasons I’ve seen, capped by a silly and sentimental finale that gave most every character the ending they wanted.

I don’t have time to go into the details, but I do want to comment on the post-credits montage that put the coda on seven years of shenanigans.

(SPOILERS AHEAD. SUCK IT, NERDS!)

Initially I was left confused. I thought that they tried to fit too much into a short sequence. Set “one year later,” it bounced from the unraveling of Pete’s scheme to fake his death, to Jenna flashing her boobs at the Tonys after a semi-successful Broadway career, to Liz balancing work and children as the head writer for Grizz’ sitcom, to Tracy’s dad finally coming home with those cigarettes, to Jack again becoming head of General Electric. It was happy endings all around, except for Pete, but even he got a year off from his awful home life.

And then it got weird.

A laugh track began to intrude on Jack’s scene, and the image of the 30 Rockefeller building itself began to warp until it was revealed to be inside a snowglobe. This was, of course, a reference to the infamous finale of St. Elsewhere, which pissed off its fans by revealing that the entire series had taken place within the mind of an autistic boy staring at a snowglobe.

Except that this globe was in the hands of Kenneth, the former NBC page who had been promoted to the head of the network in the previous episode. I was so thrown by the sudden laugh track and the snowglobe fake-out that I totally missed the point of the final scene. In it, the ageless (and, as often hinted on the show, possible immortal and almost certainly connected to the island from Lost) Kenneth took a pitch from the great granddaughter of Liz Lemon, while Jetsons-like vehicles–and at least one Star Wars Cloud Car–zipped past his window. The post-racial descendant of one of Liz’ adopted children told him that the new series would be based on the stories her great grandmother used to tell. Kenneth smiled and said, “I know…and I love it.”

Now that I’ve had time to reflect, I really love this moment, and not just because it suggests long, happy lives for Liz and her family.

As someone who grew up with television, always wanted to work in it, and somehow made a career of it, for years I’ve had the unhappy perspective of watching it all spiraling down the drain. So what I like most about the 30 Rock finale is the hope it offers me and those (like Kenneth) who love the medium that 50 or 60 years down the line–when everyone will be flying Cloud Cars–television still might be very much a thing, presided over by a benign benefactor.

It may be fantasy, but it’s a comforting thought.

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Redacted

October 3rd, 2010 No comments
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And You Can Bank On That

August 3rd, 2010 No comments

A lot of folks are suggesting that this recently unearthed 1995 bank commercial shows Tina Fey in a less-than-flattering light.

Mutual Savings Bank – “Hi!” – Featuring Tina Fey from Purple Onion Films on Vimeo.

They are wrong. It proves that she was adorable back then, even when wearing an ill-chosen vest.

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With Reservations

April 12th, 2010 No comments

I’d been looking forward to Date Night from the moment I heard of it. Steve Carell and Tina Fey trying to survive a romantic action comedy? Bring it!

Really, the only thing puzzling about the teaming of Fey and Carell is that it took this long. As other reviews have noted, they’re completely convincing as long-married couple Phil and Claire*. They seem so at ease with each other as performers that one might think that they had worked together for many years rather than merely sharing adjacent timeslots on NBC.

Date Night itself is sort of a duo, but its two sides aren’t quite as compatible. One is the mistaken-identity, crooks-and-chases, screwball comedy promised by the trailers. The other movie roiling beneath that surface is one about the quiet desperation of two people married for so many years that they risk becoming “awesome roommates.”

Thankfully, the filmmakers mostly stuck to the screwball. Because that other movie trying to get out would’ve been kinda depressing. As it was, there were moments–particularly a pulled-over-to-the-side-of-the-road discussion that showed Fey’s acting chops–that hit a little too close to home.

In addition, the initial scenes of Fey and Carell putting themselves in the hands of a pair of corrupt, gun-wielding cops struck me as a bit too intense for what is otherwise a very silly story. (The couple were mistaken for a pair of criminals with an incriminating flash drive after stealing a reservation at a packed restaurant.)

While the caper aspects of the storyline weren’t especially believable, I did buy into Claire and Phil’s approach toward extricating themselves from the situation. Early on we saw them engaging in some clever mimicry of other restaurant patrons, so it wasn’t too much of a stretch for them to begin affecting makeshift disguises and stereotypical accents. And while Date Night never got as self-referential as the Scream films, I did have the sense that these were people who had watched entirely too many police procedural TV shows and were using what they’d learned.

There are some very funny parts, including an over-the-top chase involving two cars linked at their front bumpers. (I’ve never quite been sure why, but I always find hilarious scenes in which people scream and scream and scream.) On the other hand, a tandem pole-dancing number for the benefit of the evil D.A. (played by the creepy, alien sheriff from the TV series Invasion) went on perhaps a bit too long.

While Date Night may not have been quite as good as Fey’s first feature film, Mean Girls, I hope that she tries another action comedy. Especially if Steve Carell can play as well.

*Coincidentally, Phil and Claire are also the names of one of the married couples on the ABC sitcom Modern Family.

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C’mon, Not Even A *Little* Bondage?

March 18th, 2010 No comments

Tina Fey got glammed up* for an Esquire photo shoot, and had this to say:

“The idea of the photo shoot is something like my wild night out. The irony being that I don’t do that. I got an e-mail [from Esquire] with a list of the potential setups, and my e-mail back was like, Well, I need to decline being handcuffed to a bed. I won’t straddle anyone. I won’t make out with a cop. There are certain things, I totally get them as a premise. And they’re all good fun, and if I were a young single model, they would be appropriate, but, you know, I’m a mom. And my kid’s going to find this someday. I don’t want to be handcuffed to a bed in Esquire. What are you nuts? I’m not going to make out with a cop that I’m handcuffed to. I got to get my kid into kindergarten. I guess that’s more of a Montessori way of learning, when they handcuff you to things.”

And THIS, in a nutshell, is my objection to people having babies. As my friend Dave put it:

Parenthood. It makes funny people less funny.

Also less likely to be photographed handcuffed to a bed.

*Really, Tina, after fifty or so sexed-up magazine photo spreads it’s okay to just go ahead and admit that you’re hot.

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Perception Check

April 1st, 2009 No comments

Okay, one more Hulu clip, this time from last week’s 30 Rock. This excerpt is from the gang’s attempt to make Tracy believe he’s in outer space, but that’s not why I’m highlighting it.

I could watch Liz’s Muppet walk all day.

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Blurg

December 1st, 2008 No comments

I’ve been too busy to blog lately, what with the pledge drive in full swing. So instead, please enjoy this fine Vanity Fair article about Tina Fey. (Especially the photo on page one! Thank you, Alec Baldwin, for encouraging Fey to unbutton.)

Well, Of Course

September 16th, 2008 No comments

Maybe Baby

May 9th, 2008 No comments

Here’s the season finale of 30 Rock, entitled “Cooter.” That’s Tina Fey’s favorite euphemism for the female hoo-hoo, but here it’s doubly appropriate as Liz has a pregnancy scare and Jack meets his new, unfortunately-nicknamed boss in the fading, sorely-in-denial Bush Administration. A bag of Spanish cheese curls–whose name translates to “Taste of Solitude”–figures into the plot, as does a box of pen caps, a porn video game, a secret military project and a trip to the Beijing Olympics.

And just why does Liz’ new boss keep a toy car in her mouth?

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And Yet Another Two Photos Of Tina Fey

May 5th, 2008 No comments

Two photos from last Thursday’s 30 Rock episode, “Sandwich Day.” On the left, Liz Lemon uses television magic to make her best impression on an old boyfriend. On the right, she reminisces about staying up late in college, drawing D&D maps: “And behind this trap door, more orcs. That’ll really piss off Semihr.”

Guess which one I like better?

Actually, the red dress wins. But frizzy DM Liz comes close!