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Michael’s Last Dundies

April 22, 2011 Leave a comment

I haven’t written about NBC’s Thursday night line-up this year, but only out of laziness. I think it goes without saying that 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, and, of course, The Office have been a consistent string of shows for the past few months, even the past year. Last night’s episodes of 30 Rock and The Office stood out to me in that they both tried to do the same thing – use a behind-the-scenes, real life event as a plot device – but only one show succeeded.

30 Rock‘s big milestone was their 100th episode, a day I’m sure many executives at NBC never saw coming. They celebrated with a one-hour special written by Tina Fey. Rather than choose between airing a clip show or writing new material, Fey did both, and the result was a disappointment. Ryan McGee at The A.V. Club admits he “was fairly burned out on meta-nostalgia by the end of 30 Rock’s hour-long episode,” and I have to agree. Flashbacks are one thing, but you can’t expect your audience to tag along for an hour’s worth of fairly lengthly clip sequences for every major character.

The episode centres on the 100th episode of TGS, which would have made for an eventful enough episode, and would have provided more than enough “meta-nostalgia” without all the tiresome clips. An awkward plot involving a gas leak does reach a reasonable conclusion, but it just feels like too much work. It’s kind of like watching kids put on a play: I’m sure they had a lot of fun making it, but don’t they realize how tedious it is for the adults? (Ed. note: I am not an adult. Just to be clear.) Read more…

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30 Rock Live

October 18, 2010 1 comment

The live episode of 30 Rock on Thursday night was far from the most riveting half hour of television I have ever seen. However, I strongly believe live episodes are a venture that more sitcoms and dramas alike should attempt in coming seasons. After all, some of the best shows in history were filmed live. There is something about the risk of it all going wrong that makes it more exciting to watch. I’d take live episodes of television shows over reality television any day.

In 1997, ER’s season premiere was a live episode that broadcasted two versions of the same episode– once for the East coast audience and again three hours later for the West coast viewers. While the 30 Rock episode was just alright, the ER one was far superior because it was more of a risk. More than half the cast of 30 Rock are Saturday Night Live veterans who are accustomed to acting on their toes. But whether it was a risk or not for them, I think the show’s actors, writers, and crew, must be applauded for their dedication to entertaining their audiences in both time zones. Read more…