A TWIST OF LEMON
Why turn in early when the funniest show on TV is waiting for you after dark? Guy Davis recommends staying up for 30 Rock.
Their witty barbs provided a marked contrast to the stilted comments provided by most of the other presenters, making their team-up one of the highlights of the night.
Gosh, wouldn’t it be great if you could enjoy that kind of deliciously sharp and silly repartee week in, week out?
Well, here’s the thing: if you’re willing to perhaps stay up a little later than usual on a Monday night, you can. Because that’s when Channel Seven is airing 30 Rock, created by and starring the aforementioned Fey.
I have been vocal in my love and admiration of this superb sitcom in the past, and I’ll continue to strain my vocal chords to give 30 Rock its due.
Do a bit of channel-surfing and you’ll find funny shows from all over the world on your TV screen, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find one that hits the mark as consistently as this one.
Like many sitcoms, 30 Rock has transcended its original premise to focus on the foibles of its central characters.
It started off as a behind-the-scenes look at a sketch-comedy show, written and filmed at the 30 Rockefeller Plaza studios of US television network NBC ( hence the title), but in its third season the episodes are looking more at the personal misadventures of head writer Liz Lemon ( Fey), comedy star Tracy Jordan ( Tracy Morgan) and network executive Jack Donaghy ( Alec Baldwin).
Despite being renewed for a third year though, 30 Rock is still not exactly a ratings powerhouse, which is why the show has pulled out the big guns in its most recent episodes and featured an array of A-list guest stars.
Fortunately for us, however, the show is not allowing folks like Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Aniston or Fey’s Oscars co-presenter Martin to simply coast through. Its given them inspired roles ( even when they’re playing themselves, as in Oprah’s case), tangy dialogue and juicy bits of business to play with.
And even when the guest stars aren’t exactly household names, they still add terrific texture to 30 Rock’s big picture. Take short-statured Peter Dinklage as one of Liz’s latest beaus. Or the ridiculously sexy Salma Hayek as Jack’s new love interest. Or Mad Men’s charismatic Jon Hamm, showing fine, understated comic form in future episodes as Liz’s new neighbour.
But 30 Rock still revolves around its core cast, and supporting players like Jack McBrayer and Jane Krakowski provide marvellous back-up to the central trio.
Morgan is tuned into a comedic frequency all of his own. Fey is so fearless in exposing Liz’s flaws and neuroses that she becomes more adorable as she becomes more deplorable.
And Baldwin … well, in a just and fair world, they’d simply rename the Emmy “ the Baldwin” and be done with it. He’s that funny, and so is 30 Rock.
Comedy spectacular: Tina Fey, creator and star of 30 Rock, has attracted a range of A-list stars to her show including Jennifer Aniston ( inset top, with Fey and Alec Baldwin) and comedy kingpin Steve Martin ( bottom, with Fey during their 2009 Oscars appearance).