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Posts Tagged ‘30 Rock’

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 fromĀ 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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Paging Dr. Spaceman

September 14th, 2009 No comments

NBC’s 30 Rock website posted this terrific montage of Dr. Leo Spaceman, as played by Chris Parnell. Remember, “Science is whatever we want it to be!”

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.

Categories: Tina Fey Tags: , ,

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!

30 Rock On!

April 11th, 2008 No comments

30 Rock returned last night with its first post-strike episode, and it was a winner. Paying off a joke set-up earlier in the season, the story was built around the finale of Jack’s show-within-a-show, the reality hit “MILF Island.” As the announcer intones, “Twenty MILFs, fifty eighth-grade boys, no rules!” A pitch-perfect parodic mash-up of Survivor and pretty much every dating show airing on Fox or VH1, the only wonder about “MILF Island” is that no one has gotten around to producing the series for real. (However, you can buy the t-shirt.)

While everyone sits around waiting to see if Debra will win out over Deborah to conquer “MILF Island,” Liz attempts to elicit a confession from one of her staffers, anonymously quoted in the New York Post as saying that Jack is a “grade-A moron” who can “eat my poo.”

Enough yap. Here it is.

While never the ratings hit it deserves to be, 30 Rock was picked up for a third season last week by NBC. Possibly because they’ve got so little else going on that they’d have to do “MILF Island” instead.

Categories: Tina Fey Tags: , ,

The Eternal Question

February 4th, 2008 No comments

If Gilligan’s Island left us with anything to ponder, it was this seemingly simple question: “Ginger or Mary Ann?” Ginger Grant was the cooing, Hollywood bombshell who used her sexuality as a weapon, whereas Mary Ann Summers was the sweet, corn-fed farm girl who forever stood in her shadow. In the decades since the S.S. Minnow washed up on that uncharted, desert isle, “Ginger or Mary Ann?” has fueled many a late-night, dorm-room discussion.

Yet I can’t say that I’ve ever met anyone who admitted to preferring Ginger. Working to Mary Ann’s advantage was that despite being the “good girl” of the two, she frequently displayed a good bit more skin. She rocked a pair of short shorts when Daisy Duke was still in 1st grade.

More important, I think, was that a guy could feel like he might actually have a shot with Mary Ann. Ginger was all promise, no delivery, and once she’d talked you out of the key to the supply hut you might as well go off to the other side of the island, if you know what I mean. On the other hand, while you’d probably never get past first base with Mary Ann, she’d probably let you hang around and lick the leftover coconut cream from her latest batch of pies.

Needless to say, I’ve always been a Mary Ann kind of guy. Most of my real-life crushes were Mary Anns. Yet, to my surprise, when I consider other TV Land “Ginger or Mary Ann?” duos out there, I find that I’ve occasionally preferred a Ginger.

WKRP in Cincinnati: Jennifer Marlowe (Ginger) vs. Bailey Quarters (Mary Ann)

One of Sitcom Land’s most blatant examples of a Ginger/Mary Ann pair was Loni Anderson as buxom, blonde radio station receptionist Jennifer and Jan Smithers as mousy, brunette traffic manager Bailey. Jennifer got all the attention, both within the show and in the real world: a Google image search will draw up all manner of vintage Loni Anderson cheesecake, whereas you can scarcely find a decent photo of Jan Smithers.

Jennifer was very much a Ginger. Big hair, big…you know. She wasn’t a “dumb blonde,” she knew what she had and how to work it. She pulled down a receptionist’s salary without performing any actual duties, and collected expensive gifts while hobnobbing with the rich and powerful.

Bailey, especially in the show’s first season, was “TV plain”: glasses, loose sweater vests and toned-down makeup coded her as the less attractive of the duo. With time her character became more confident, and out came the form-fitting jeans and the “sexy librarian” look.

Oh, did I mention that I married a traffic manager?

My pick: Mary Ann

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Cordelia Chase (Ginger) vs. Willow Rosenberg (Mary Ann)

Willow started out as not only a Mary Ann, but a Bailey. In fact, all of producer Joss Whedon’s shows have included one or more Baileys, characters meant to be “nerds” played by actors far too attractive to comfortably fit the role. (See: Kaylee the mechanic on Firefly, Angel‘s science geek Winifred, and fellow Buffy alum Xander, who pulled off a Speedo for cryin’ out loud.)

At first, Willow’s dress sense was said to have come from “the softer side of Sears.” She had to be coaxed into wearing a mildly revealing outfit for Halloween midway into the second season of the series. (Not so actress Alyson Hannigan, who posed for FHM.) But by season four, Willow had transformed into both a powerful witch and, less convincingly, a lesbian. (Yes, yes, I know that they previously hinted at the possibility when Willow’s evil, alternate-universe, vampire twin turned out to be bicurious. But come on, the gal spent three and a half years depicted as sincerely and exclusively boy-crazy. So it was a bit hard to accept when she abruptly went all girl-on-girl.)

Cordelia was initially the stereotypical prom-queen-in-training, complete with a cadre of “mean girls.” Early on, I couldn’t even figure out what made her a series regular, as she had so little interaction with the main cast of “outsiders.” Cordy was quick with the barbs, but as time went on, she softened and found herself falling for Xander the self-proclaimed “butt monkey.” By the time she exited the spin-off series Angel, she had become downright (and improbably) saintly.

My pick: Mary Ann

Friends: Rachel Green (Ginger) vs. Monica Geller (Mary Ann)

Monica wasn’t really supposed to be a Mary Ann. Her backstory was that she’d been overweight in high school (nickname: “Big Fat Goalie”) but had slimmed down into a hottie. They even went so far as to put Courteney Cox in a fat suit for the flashbacks, but that joke became less funny as Cox herself grew ever more skeletal.

Rachel wasn’t quite a Ginger either. She had the looks and the hair (and goodness knows that Jennifer Aniston got the media attention), but her persona showed an appealing vulnerability. She was the object of gawky paleontologist Ross’ fancy, so there was a big dollop of nerd wish fulfillment there as well. (At least, until Ross became so insufferably self-absorbed that I began to root for Joey to land Rachel instead.)

Oh, and did I mention that when I was a kid, I wanted to be a paleontologist?

My pick: Ginger!

Scooby-Doo: Daphne Blake (Ginger) vs. Velma Dinkley (Mary Ann)

Here’s where I may just have to admit that at times I can be just as superficial as the next guy. When it came to cartoon ghost-hunters, there was never any contest. Daphne was a leggy redhead; Velma was stumpy and frumpy with a shaggy blob of alleged hair. (Granted that she came off better in the live-action version, but there she had the benefit of being personified by “TV plain” gal Linda Cardellini.)

By the way–and I’m not suggesting that you look for yourself–a Google search for “Velma Dinkley” results in a number of pornographic fan-art images that I truly wish I could unsee. Jinkies!

My pick: Ginger

Charlie’s Angels: Jill Munroe (Ginger) vs. Sabrina Duncan (Mary Ann)

Maybe it’s the hair. Farrah Fawcett, who played Jill Munroe in the first season before breaking away for an unremarkable film career, was for a brief time the “it” girl with her long, tawny locks. Her best-selling, benippled poster image was the only T-shirt design I can recall being banned from my junior high. And I had no interest in her whatsoever.

The funny thing is that I didn’t really go for the designated “smart” gal of the Angels either. I did like Kate Jackson by the time of Scarecrow and Mrs. King, but her Angels incarnation left me cold. I really think it was the hair.

I split the difference and went for Jaclyn Smith.

My pick: Er…Mrs. Howell?

30 Rock: Jenna Maroney (Ginger) vs. Liz Lemon (Mary Ann)

Jenna, the fictional star of 30 Rock‘s show-within-a-show, was originally played by ex-Saturday Night Live performer Rachel Dratch. However, someone at the real NBC felt that Dratch wasn’t quite credible (read: blonde) enough to be the star of the fictional NBC series, and the part was recast with Jane Krakowski. Dratch got the consolation prize of appearing in a number of bizarre walk-on roles in the first season, something which I felt better played to her strengths as a sketch performer. (She’s disappeared completely as of this season.)

I do think casting Krakowski was a good call. She’s a funny actress, and provides a bigger visual contrast than Dratch would have.

Liz Lemon is played by 30 Rock‘s creator, Tina Fey. And while Tina Fey based Liz on her own experiences as head writer for SNL, she certainly resisted any urge to paint the character as an idealized version of Tina Fey. Liz (Tina Fey) Lemon is thoroughly neurotic; slovenly in both dress and domesticity; and unlucky in love. Completely unlike the real Tina Fey.

My pick: Tina Mary Ann (oh, like you didn’t see that coming)

At this point, you may be thinking that I’ve put entirely too much thought into pondering Gingers and Mary Anns, and you are most likely correct. But in my view, there are two types of people in the world: those who offer lengthy comparative analyses on Ginger and Mary Ann, and those who wish those other people would shut the hell up.

Boys Becoming Men, Men Becoming Wolves

October 31st, 2007 No comments

Bonus Halloween treat: 30 Rock (rapidly becoming my favorite sitcom, and not just because Tina Fey is the hotness) has made available a free download of the full-length version of their “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah” song.

Categories: Tina Fey Tags: ,