Like the title says, last night's season premiere was the beginning of the end of 30 Rock, which will leave the airwaves for good after this 13-episode season. And, to be honest, we're not all that sorry to see it leave, even if last season almost brought the show back to the glory days of Seasons 1, 2 and 3. As the adage goes, better to go out somewhat close to the top rather than in the cellar.
30 Rock hasn't had the tightest continuity of NBC's comedies, but "The Beginning of the End" seemed designed to establish storylines that will play out over the next twelve episodes. All that set-up may have been why the episode itself felt both jam-packed and strangely plotless at the same time. Plenty of story points were introduced, but the payoff (both comic and otherwise) won't be felt for some time, possibly not until the series finale. Some of these storylines we're looking forward to watching play out, while others we kind of wish would just go away. Here's our yays and nays to the character arcs that were introduced in the premiere.
Yay: Tanking It in Style
In what looks to be the season's big plot arc, Jack has decided to tank NBC (or, as he describes it, "I'm steering the Titanic into the iceberg.") in order get Kabletown to sell the network to another company that will give him more leeway to run it the way he sees fit. His plan involves greenlighting some of the worst shows to ever air on NBC (yes, even worse than Suddenly Susan and Whitney), among them a made-for-TV movie starring Joe Rogan as Nelson Mandela, Tank It, in which grandpas stand around in tank tops while everyone laughs at them and, best of all, God Cop, where a New York City cop partners up with the Almighty... played by Jack himself. (Based on the clips, this is a show we'd watch all the time.) After resisting, Liz eventually gives in and joins Jack in his quest to tank the Peacock, which means there'll be plenty more NBC bashing to come. And that's one thing that 30 Rock always does exceptionally well.
Nay: Baby Mama
Liz has been talking about becoming a mother for years now, but Fey thankfully keeps putting the introduction of Lemon Jr. off. But with Liz now telling Jack that she and Chris are officially "trying" for a baby (in only one position, of course) it sounds like we may be seeing a baby bump -- or possibly even an actual baby (and not the fake doll Fey is holding the opening fake-out shot) -- by the finale. Didn't Fey learn anything from the Baby Mama debacle? She's just not as funny with a tyke around.
Yay: Tracy Being Tracy
The only character who doesn't seem to have an ongoing arc for this season is Tracy Jordan and that's just fine by us, considering that past seasons have shown that it's always better when he doesn't have to follow a pre-set plot and just gets to act as the wild card in other people's stories. Morgan was in fine form last night, nailing lines like, "I recommend you get it in from Liz Lemon or an owl who wears glasses," "I'm going to have to try? Worst night ever!" and "Oh my god, I'm the most stable adult here!" And, so far at least, the funniest.
Nay: Somebody's Getting Married
Well, we can't say they didn't warn us. Jenna announced in her first scene that her impending wedding to her soulmate and partner-in-crazy Paul will occupy the bulk of her material this season. "I'm going to be a nightmare," she proudly tell poor Liz, who she also drafts to serve as her maid of honor. "How is your wedding going to make your any worse?" Liz asks incredulously. "I don't know... but it's a fun little journey we're all going to go on together," comes the reply. Actually, having already grown sick and tired of the Jenna/Paul relationship last season, we're not expecting it to be any fun at all. Can't they just elope offscreen and spare us all the misery?
Yay: Kenneth and Hazel, Sitting in a Tree
The 30 Rock writing staff has frequently struggled to figure out what to do with Kenneth the
Page Standards and Practices Guy Janitor, but hooking him up with Kristen Schaal's equally insane Hazel has given both characters new life. The dinner party they threw for Tracy at their home (actually the condemned site of the Candyman murders) was one of the highlights of the premiere, especially when Hazel incompetently tried to put the moves on their guest. We're looking forward to seeing how Hazel continues to manipulate the lovestruck Kenneth to do her bidding... and what mistake ultimately brings her down.
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