In 2006 there were two shows that were about the goings on behind the camera of a live sketch comedy. 30 Rock was a comedy by former SNL writer Tina Fey, while Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip was written by Aaron Sorkin (Sports Night, West Wing). Back then I was really looking to Studio 60 and had a passing interest in 30 Rock, if you had asked me which would survive, I would have confidently said Studio 60.
Alas, Studio 60 was canceled after only one season, but 30 Rock is about to enter its third season. The series deals with the behind the scenes antics of a fictional live sketch comedy series, The Girlie Show with Tracy Jordan which is modeled after Saturday Night Live on which Fey was a writer for many years and SNL creator/executive producer Lorne Michaels is also executive producer on 30 Rock.
30 Rock is a funny show about head writer Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) having to deal with the insanity of her writing staff which includes Frank Rossitano (Judah Friedlander), and her show lead Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski) who is demanding, neurotic and ego-centric and becomes more so when she’s bumped as the lead by newcomer Tracey Jordan (Tracey Morgan). To top it all off she also now has to deal with her arrogant new boss Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) who Fey has said is somewhat based on Lorne Michaels.
Season one had 21 episodes, while the second season was supposed to have 22 episodes, but ended up only having 15 because of the writers' strike. Season two built upon the stories of the first season and started to flesh out the characters, which made them more interesting. The fact that any of these episodes could be somewhat based on the SNL writers' room and its cast makes it more interesting to me.
Others agree with that opinion since 30 Rock tied the all-time record for most awards in a single season for a comedy, was nominated for a total of 17 Emmys, and took home eight this year including outstanding comedy series, outstanding lead actress in a comedy series (Tina Fey), and outstanding lead actor in a comedy series (Alec Baldwin).
The two disc set is loaded with extras. Out of the fifteen episodes, ten have audio commentary including: "Jack Gets in the Game" (Will Arnett); "The Collection" (Jane Krakowski and Jack McBrayer); "Somebody to Love" (Fred Armisen); "Cougars" (Judah Friedlander) and "Episode 210" (Tina Fey and husband/composer Jeff Richmond). "MILF Island" (Scott Adsit); "Subway Hero" (Tim Conway and Jack McBrayer); "Succession" (Robert Carlock and John Riggi); "Sandwich Day" (Tina Fey) and "Cooter" (Jane Krakowski and Jack McBrayer). The commentaries have an interesting mix of talking about what’s on the screen and behind the scenes info. I wish Alec Baldwin could have commented on the show as his character is so over the top on the show I’d love to hear what he has to say about the character and the show in general, but the commentaries are an interesting and fun listen.
The majority of the extras are on disc two. We get deleted scenes which were cut for time, but still fun and I’m glad to have the option to watch them. There’s a table read for the season finale “Cooter” which has the cast reading the script for the first time; the screen is split horizontally for this feature with the cast in the top half and the actual script appearing in the lower half so the viewer can read along if they wish.
"30 Rock Live at the UCB Theatre” was a benefit performance for the show's out-of-work production assistants presented at the New York UCB Theater during the writers' strike. Not only was this fun to watch, but it’s nice to see the actors trying to help out the staff who wouldn’t benefit once the strike was settled.
“Tina Fey Hosts SNL!”: This featurette gives us a behind-the-scenes look at Tina Fey as she prepares to host Saturday Night Live. It shows the writing process for the show, rehearsal footage, and clips from the show itself.
Finally we have "The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Presents: An Evening With 30 Rock." Here we have NBC newsman Brian Williams hosting this Q&A with the cast and Lorne Michaels who touch upon many aspects of the show with the actors discussing their experiences and Michaels' thoughts as both producer and inspiration for the show. Also discussed is the inevitable comparison to Studio 60; this is a very interesting Q&A.
30 Rock is a very funny fictional show whose inspiration is anything but fictional. Now that they have another full season I hope they use the momentum from last season to continue the success the show has achieved.Powered by Sidelines