30 Rock went with a live episode last night, and it kinda proved why the words “Filmed in front of a live studio audience” are hardly ever uttered anymore.
Don’t get me wrong, it was fun to watch the old familiar characters in a live setting. Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin were slightly more exaggerated than normal and even a little wooden at times in their performances. The gaga were there, but perhaps not all of them were as sharp as we’re used to from 30 Rock.
But…I think they realised this going into the episode. And so Julia Louis Dreyfus was drafted in to play Liz Lemon in flashback sequences, causing the real Liz Lemon to quip “My imagination has Seinfeld money.”
Guest stars were the backbone of the show. Matt Damon reprised his role as Lemon’s boyfriend, earning huge cheers (but not on the West Coast episode!) John Hamm from Mad Men performed a ‘commercial’ as a hand-transplant survivor, and there were other appearances that – sorry – non-Saturday Night Live viewers may have had trouble with.
But the switch to a live format was mostly effectively dealt with by referencing things that go wrong on live shows. Therefore, Tracy decided to ‘force’ a break, but making it look like mishaps were occurring on the show. He did it so badly, you could only laugh along at how obvious he was being. And shrewd MTV awards watchers will have realised where the inspiration for Jenna’s revenge-driven nip-slip came from!
I thought all these elements were clever and fun and made for a decent novelty episode. But I really do prefer the scripted, pre-recorded version of the show. For quality if nothing else.
P.S. The Fonzie-obsessed cleaner? Really? Didn’t friends do that joke almost a decade ago?
- Jack: “Does it seem weird in here to you? Everything looks like a Mexican soap opera.”
- Tracy: “I promise. I swear on my mother’s grape.”
- Jenna (to the audience): “You’re the real stars. Not really.”