Friday, September 26, 2014

Everyone Looks Good In A Sheinhardt

In the internet cliques that write about and consume pop culture, all the buzz this week revolved around the kick off of  fall TV. New series like Gotham, Madam Secretary, Forever, and The Mysteries Of Laura have burst on to the stage for prime-time spots on some of the biggest networks.

However, new doesn't always mean better. It seems like mostly everything is getting ho-hum reactions. Except for the uproarious reaction last night to the Viola Davis starring, How To Get Away With Murder.

More shows will still be rolling out over the next couple weeks, including the return of already established favorites (Parenthood's final season!) Even so, none of these options are going to fill the giant hole that has been vacated since we saw Liz Lemon and Criss Cross ride off into the sunset together. Or more accurately, riding off in one of those flying machines from Star Wars.

It's been a couple years now without new episodes, but when it comes to 30 Rock,  there is no greater comedy worth spending time on repeat viewings. The episodes don't get tired or boring - each one actually gets better.

I hadn't watched the series from the beginning in awhile, so even in the face of all the new television offerings, it also seemed like an opportune time to revisit old favorites.

Due to its quick wit and cleverly worded jokes coming at you in repeated succession, its impossible to catch every single hilarious tidbit thrown at the audience.

Jokes could even sail by completely unnoticed. Especially when frequently a single quip could cause uproarious laughing fits that would carry over for minutes afterward. With this in mind, I actually got in the habit of watching each new episode the night it aired and then again the following day.

At this point in my current re-watch I'm only a little way into season two and there is already endless amusing banter to discuss.

From the very beginning of season one the stories and cast put together a show that has such a high level of cleverness. There are the zany antics of self absorbed  TGS cast members, Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) and Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski, in the whacked-out role of a lifetime), mixed brilliantly with current events. 30 Rock may even be the first media to (in this case jokingly) point out how important one letter can be when it comes to "Osama" vs "Obama".

Jenna making the said extreme faux-pas (seen in the above clip) is from episode 15, "Hardball". The first season is great as a whole (including episode 10, "The Rural Juror"), but "Hardball"  feels like the ultimate moment where all of Tina Fey's dreams for a TV show perfectly converged together.

In just 22 minutes this single episode finds Jenna posing for a ridiculous photo-spread, then falling from grace after being misquoted in a magazine, and making a fool of herself in a TV interview. To top it off, Kenneth Ellen Parcell becomes part of Tracy's entourage, which results in Grizz and Dot Com being out of a job.

Turns out Kenneth's gangly, fragile frame, makes him the worst choice for a bodyguard. This is all the perfect set up to a classic comedy payoff. Tracy finds himself stuck and panicked in the middle of a raging crowd, but thankfully Grizz and Dot Com come out of nowhere to push the protestors aside, sweeping Tracy up in their arms à la The Bodyguard. Oh, and by the way, this is all set to a version of "I Will Always Love You", sung by Tracy Morgan and Jack McBrayer.

Finding ways to work in dated and current pop culture references is definitely a 30 Rock signature. Those writers were always experts at lampooning the world around them. Sometimes even taking down the insanity of Lifetime movies.

Very low ratings meant this show was never a hit. Well, other than where it matters - at awards shows.

Here's to 30 Rock finding a larger audience now in reruns. It really deserves it! Should Greenzo help rally the cause? He could even work double-time and also be the poster boy for climate change. Both equally important issues. Someone call Leo.

Maybe with more fans we'll be able to convince the gang to come back together for a straight to Yahoo! (they're making TV shows now too, right?) reunion special or a sequel to Hard To Watch: Based On The Book "Stone Cold Bummer" by Manipulate.

Every episode is currently on Netflix and probably other streaming services as well. My recommendation couldn't be any higher for checking out this show for the first time or for the hundredth. All the hijinks listed above happens in just a season and a half of this show! Imagine what the rest of the episodes hold.

Okay guys, shut it down.

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