As the third season of 30 Rock begins, Quinton O’Reilly questions if it was worth the wait.
HOW DO YOU follow up on two critically acclaimed seasons? Simple, you just make the third season better in every conceivable way. While there are obvious problems to this answer (mainly by saying ‘easier said than done’), that hasn’t stopped 30 Rock from striking it third time lucky.
30 Rock focuses on the work and personal lives of the crew of a primetime sketch show. Tina Fey has produced another season that hits innumerable comedic bulls-eyes and lives up to its reputation.
The show’s greatest strength is the quality of its writing. Almost every joke is interlinked with the many plot threads that occur in each episode and carry a purpose instead of being comedic filler. This is displayed when a seemingly irrelevant clip of the film Harry and the Hendersons is shown, but later lends itself to an inspired cameo by its lead actor, John Lithgow.
“30 Rock’s greatest strength is the quality of its writing”
The one-liners are sharp and very rarely fail to hit the target, such as when Donaghy gives Lemon dating advice, telling her, “you’re going to work this thing like a Chinese gymnast, wear something tight, force a smile and lie about your age.”
However, the storylines do threaten to veer towards the absurd and potentially cringeworthy, but these scenes are few and far between and don’t last long enough to break its comedic stride.
The acting is accomplished with the main focus on Fey and Alec Baldwin’s professional relationship, as the lead writer and network executive of the show. However, Tracy Morgan and Jack McBrayer, who play Tracy Jordan and Kenneth Parcell often outshine their more established co-stars.
Jordan is an actor/rapper who is a childish prima donna who is constantly followed by his entourage. He bullies this coterie into performing certain tasks such as making them laugh at his jokes or defending him when he confuses diabetes with diet.
McBrayer’s simplistic, black and white view of the world causes him to possess a consistently optimistic view on life, adding a direct contrast to his NBC co-workers. Both characters share a common naivety of the world and it’s their chemistry this is one of the highlights of the show.
Overall, 30 Rock is an impressive, intelligent show, whose expertly pieced narrative and acting leads to it being greater than the sum of its parts. It respects its audiences’ intelligent and steers clear from bombarding the viewer with a barrage of disposable jokes used in shows like Family Guy.
A fourth season has already been commissioned for 2009/2010. While there’s a worry that the bubble is going to burst eventually, the evidence from this season suggests that it won’t be anytime soon.
30 Rock is shown on Five US, Fridays at 9pm