Well- scripted sit­com mocks the genre

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

THE ab­sence of canned laugh­ter in this Amer­i­can com­edy is the give­away: 30 Rock s au­di­ence will not need ar­ti­fi­cial en­cour­age­ment to laugh, be­cause this is ter­rific television where the script is a star.

The show — its ti­tle stands for the Rock­e­feller Plaza, New York, ad­dress where it is set — is about a sketch com­edy TV pro­gram. Net­work boss Alec Bald­win per­se­cutes neu­rotic head writer Tina Fey, who in turn tries to get some work out of the cast and crew, an idea that strikes most of them as ei­ther in­com­pre­hen­si­ble or im­pos­si­ble.

Bald­win is grimly en­ter­tain­ing as the enig­matic ex­ec­u­tive who ex­ploits the show’s staff for his amuse­ment. In this episode he is de­ter­mined to beat them all at poker and also sets Fey’s char­ac­ter up with a blind date that has an in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­gin­ning and a hu­mil­i­at­ing end­ing.

The wo­man Fey plays is also a mon­ster, just not as ef­fi­cient at it. She uses her work as an ex­cuse for her ut­ter ab­sence of in­ter­est in any­thing other than frag­ile ego.

And the rest of the char­ac­ters are cyn­ics and slack­ers de­ter­mined to sur­vive their su­pe­ri­ors with the least pos­si­ble ef­fort.

In the wrong hands, 30 Rock could have be­come any sit­com on and about TV, from The Mary Tyler Moore Show to Mur­phy Brown .

But Fey’s hands — as se­ries cre­ator as well as star — are the right ones. She is a vet­eran of the long- run­ning Satur­day Night Live com­edy mill, and is thus well placed to present TV as a cruel and ul­ti­mately point­less process in­hab­ited by peo­ple such as those in any of­fice, only with much shorter at­ten­tion spans and an in­flated sense of their own im­por­tance.

The show is as cyn­i­cal as it is amus­ing. This episode makes fun of women who live alone and the cru­el­ties of class that re­quire Amer­i­can work­ers to grovel to the up­per or­ders. Above all it laughs at the way peo­ple pur­sue power and sex with an ugly op­por­tunism as sleazy as it is su­per­fi­cial.

In tonight’s episode, two char­ac­ters’ hopes are cru­elly be­trayed, but in a way that makes their fates funny.

The show zings along thanks to a ter­rific script and a cast that recog­nises great lines. This first se­ries of 30 Rock was a crit­i­cal rather than a pop­u­lar hit in the US last year, and Fey and her col­leagues were lucky to sur­vive to make a sec­ond.

The Seven Net­work ob­vi­ously strug­gles to get the joke, screen­ing the show late at night. So en­joy 30 Rock while it lasts.

Du­elling mon­sters: Tina Fey and Alec Bald­win lock horns in 30 Rock

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.