There are some books that you can't put down. And then there are some DVD sets that you can't stop watching. NBC's 30 Rock is too hilarious and too lovable to merely casually watch one episode at a time. The half-hour comedy, set in the world of late-night TV, is a riotous laugher that tempts first time viewers with seven and a half hours of marathon-worthy episodes.
Starring Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock follows Liz Lemon (Fey), head writer and producer of The Girlie Show. Lemon's show is a safe, secure hit until GE exec Jack Donaghy (Baldwin) takes over as Vice President of Television and Microwave Oven Programming. Donaghy, the author of Jack Attack: The Art of Aggression, sees a hit that can do boffo business outside of the show's mostly female audience. Before Lemon can say no, Donaghy adds the unstable comedian Tracy Jordon (Tracy Morgan) to the cast and changes the name to TGS with Tracy Jordon. Hilarity ensues.
It's not hard to nail down that hilarity. 30 Rock may be the smartest, cutest, funniest, most charming comedy on network TV, a package as rare as it is great. From the downright crazy, off-the-wall Tracy Jordon moments (as seen in such classics episodes “Tracy Does Conan” and the season finale featuring The Black Crusaders) to Tina Fey's adorably neurotic, tragically lovelorn power female antics (see the episode titled “The 'C' Word”), 30 Rock has non-stop dialogue we expected from Sorkin's canceled Studio 60 with ten times the laughs.
While the show's best comedic moments are the random, unexpected laughs that audience off guard, the consistently funny Alec Baldwin playing Jack Donaghy is an unfaltering reminder of how good network TV can be. Baldwin's acting chops bring a sense of legitimacy to his character, while his surprising ability to out-funny the show's best comedians makes his stints on Saturday Night Live look like batting practice for the All-Star Game.
Baldwin's Donaghy even bests Steve Carrell's Michael Scott from The Office, making him the funniest boss on NBC. Baldwin leads an ensemble cast that complements The Office and allows NBC's Thursday night line-up (featuring both shows) to regain the luster it lost when Seinfeld ended.
If there is one disappointment on the 30 Rock DVD set, it's the extras. The deleted scenes should have been deleted. The 10-second Internet sitcom isn't funny out of context. The country bumpkin NBC page who, out of love for television, works the desk at TGS has uninspired moment after uninspired moment on his fake late-night talk show. He's funnier than the extras let on. For longtime fans of the show, it's better to simply indulge in rewatching the season than sitting through unfunny extras from one of the funniest shows on TV.