Thursday, October 4, 2012

Thursday Television 10/04/12: The Beginning of 30 Rock's End

After a critically acclaimed and improbable long run (considering its low ratings), this is officially the last season of Tina Fey's show. So this season will see the last episode of both '30 Rock' and 'The Office' (and probably 'How I Met Your Mother'), something that will surely feel like the end of a television era. 'The Beginning of the End' was the title of the premiere, which in a way displayed both the strengths and the weaknesses of the show.

'30 Rock' is a show that seems to put good jokes above everything else. Most (if not all) of the supporting characters on the show are ridiculous, because the writers will do anything to make the audience laugh. Usually, '30 Rock' is very smart about its jokes, which not only makes this approach work, but also gives the show a huge advantage: even in bad episodes, you'll get a few very well earned laughs. However, every now and then there will be a subplot so ridiculous that it just doesn't work. Tonight was one of those nights. 

The story of Kenneth and Hazel inviting Tracey for dinner didn't work because it put the characters' broader, more cartoonish characteristics in the foreground. Those trades can be hilarious when in a supporting role, but when they have to carry a story they usually fall flat. Especially when the characters are denied a more nuanced side.

But even if that part of the episode didn't work, the story with Liz and Jack did work very good with me. Among its all-for-a-joke way of comedy, the writers of '30 Rock' have developed Liz Lemon and Jack Donaghy into some of the most compelling characters on television. Tonight's plot also brought in '30 Rock's favorite punching bag: NBC. The show has mocked the failure of the very channel they are many times in the past, but this time felt especially funny and satisfying because it tied in to the character of Jack Donaghy's motivations and hinted at a bigger ark for the season. 

I'm glad to have '30 Rock' back. Like I said, it's a show that will always have something to make me laugh and that will turn out some great episodes in the process. It will also be interesting to see if the show pursues the NBC storyline, considering the network (thanks to the success of 'The Voice', 'Revolution' and, to a lesser extent, 'Go On') is doing relatively well now. 

What Else Did I Watch?

The Office: "Andy's Ancestry"
There were some mayor developments in the Jim and Pam storyline, which is by far the best part of the season so far. But the rest of the episode didn't work as well, although it had a few laughs. Like I said in previous weeks, the problem remains the same: the characters have devolved to a cartoonishly dumb state they didn't belong in back when the show started.  

Parks and Recreation: "How a Bill Becomes a Law"
'Parks and Rec' was, as usual, pretty great. The show is continuing Leslie's ark of starting to get disappointed by how politics work and is doing it in a surprisingly funny fashion. It might not be as realistic about it as show like 'Veep', but I am having a better time watching it. 
Also, The Ron storyline was pretty neat. Pairing Ron and Andy, because of their completely opposite personalities always works very well. 

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