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30 Rock Deserves its Victory Lap

Posted: 03/10/2012 16:58

After six series, 125 episodes, countless impressive guest appearances, even more awards, and an uncanny portrayal of Kim Jong-Il, 30 Rock is about to begin its last hurrah. The seventh and final series comprising of 13 episodes begins on Thursday.

The programme centres on Liz Lemon, a thirty-something TV writer trying to have it all. The character is based on Fey's experience as head writer of Saturday Night Live, and details the daily struggles she faces in her professional and personal life. Lemon's mentor, GE executive Jack Donaghy, is superbly played by Alec Baldwin. They say the part was written with him in mind, and it is easy to see why.

Considering the show's critical acclaim, its ratings have not been as high as you'd imagine. Perhaps that's why the final season on NBC will only be 13 episodes long. Even so, the programme deserves to finish on its own terms. It will be interesting to see if the end will be a happy one, based on Fey's personal life, or whether it will leave viewers (once again) desperately feeling sorry for Lemon.

Ask many people in the UK about the programme, and the response would probably go alone the lines of, 'I've heard of that. It won a load of awards. But I've never actually seen it.' Which is fair enough. The show started life in Britain on Channel 5, before moving over to Comedy Central for its third season. To be fair, it doesn't enjoy huge viewing figures on either side of the Atlantic. It's just that those who do watch it appreciate its worth.

Given her success in television acting and writing, films, improvisation, book writing, impressions, and attempts at rap with Childish Gambino and Lindsay Lohan, you had to wonder what Tina Fey's next step would be. An improv tour with fellow performers would have been time-consuming but lucrative. There's probably more movie work in the pipeline. But perhaps it's no great surprise that a new deal with NBC Universal has been signed.

You could say it's time NBC had some good news, given the summer they had. The disappointing lack of live Olympic coverage, their non-coverage of the Paralympics, and the fact that criticism of the company resulted in British journalist Guy Adams' suspension from Twitter, all shamed an internationally-renowned broadcaster.

During the dispute between Conan O'Brien and NBC over The Tonight Show, Jack McBrayer, in character as 30 Rock's breakout character Kenneth 'the page' Parcell, performed his duties as a tour guide while O'Brien's show was in progress. The Tonight Show debacle, which led to Jay Leno returning to late night, looked like it could have been taken from one of Fey's plots. (And it served as inspiration for a future episode.)

This is also an interesting time for the programme which inspires so much of 30 Rock, Saturday Night Live. The show inevitably becomes more relevant as a presidential election draws near, as signified by the return of Weekend Update Thursday - an extended edition of SNL's news round-up. This will surely see Fey return to the programme portraying Sarah Palin, as well as Will Ferrell playing George W Bush. Current cast member Jay Pharoah's impression of Barack Obama is also worth a look.

Aside from the upcoming finale of 30 Rock and SNL's added election season significance, the US version of The Office is ending, and it's possible that How I Met Your Mother may also be coming to its conclusion. It will be interesting to see what takes their places on the networks and beyond. Kay Cannon, a writer on 30 Rock and New Girl, is already working on something. It's a show set in the offices of an NFL TV programme, centred on a strong female lead. At first glance, it sounds like a cross between the work of Tina Fey and Aaron Sorkin, so it surely has the potential to be something special. It would be nice if it's shown in the UK at a sensible time on a mainstream channel.

As for 30 Rock, it was important that the show didn't go on and on. Scrubs and Only Fools and Horses immediately spring to mind as programmes which should have stopped after fitting finales, but went on a little too long. Although a full-length final-series would have been nice, I'm sure that the final, hour-long episode will be a fitting one.

 

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