Thursday, November 02, 2006

30 Rock
It looks like NBC is going to give new shows Studio 60, 30 Rock, and Friday Night Lights the sweeps shot to succeed - each will run (as of now, at least) throughout sweeps. I haven't seen FNL, and have already opined on S60, but haven't said boo about 30 Rock.

I've actually only seen the pilot and one more episode, although last night's fourth episode is Ti-fauxed and awaiting. So far I'm liking, if not in love with, the show. Alec Baldwin's slightly off, pompous readings are as good as advertised - in the little I saw of last night's episodes he killed merely by reciting a few ready-made catchphrases he thought should be reverse-engineered into sketches. Tracy Morgan works, I think, in small doses, but that seems to be how they're employing him here. His delivery last night of the line "make every week Shark Week" was inspired. As for the third leg in this three-legged-stool of comedy? Tina Fey is likable and natural playing herself, but falls apart when actual acting is called for. (She reminds me greatly of Jerry Seinfeld in this way). Last week's episode had a recurring bit with her single and alone Liz Lemon character choking and having to self-administer the Heimlich maneuver. The bit called for some deft physical comedy, and it was almost embarrassing how badly she executed it. It brought to mind nothing more than first-year acting classes having to improvise a silent, natural moment in front of the class. Contrast that moment with a moment from last night's ep in which Lemon's colleague kicks a chair on wheels in anger and falls. Expertly executed slapstick.

Still - it's not as if they are pushing the physical comedy, and, like I said, when she's simply plying herself (which is most of the time) Fey is fine. And overall the show has a nicely honed mildly surrealist vibe going - the jokes tend to be smaller and more "sketch-comedy" like than sitcom-like, and that works well. I, for one, am hoping that the show finds an audience.

Until Whenever

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