Last Thursday, 30 Rock featured not one but TWO live performances, one for the East coast and one for the West. The shows were pretty much the same, with a few different lines here and there (read here if you’re interested in a list of diffs: http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2010/10/the_17_differences_between_30.html).
Plot-wise, this 30 Rock was nothing spectacular, and in fact added very little to what was happening in the story overall. However, the episode did score major points in the guest star category. Jon Hamm, Matt Damon, Chris Parnell and Rachel Dratch all reprised their roles on the show, with some amazing gags. For example, Matt Damon’s pilot character calls Liz from major turbulence – not to wish her a happy birthday, but to ask her to hide his porn in case he dies. Hamm’s Dr. Drew Baird is in a commercial about hand transplants, and proves once again he’s not just handsome and talented at drama, but has incredible comedic timing and even physical gags aren’t out of his acting range!
My personal favorite cameo was Julia-Louis Dreyfus as Liz in flashbacks. In the west coast feed she dropped the hysterical but very un-PC line “Hurry up, Aladdin, before Jasmine is forced to marry Jafar! Similarities … Lemon out” to Jonathan. It’s not a surprise she’s able to nail such great timing, as she was a Saturday Night Live alum, but it was still one of the most amazing parts of the show.
The live show is nothing new or groundbreaking in sitcoms – Will and Grace did it years ago, as did ER. NBC must have a special fondness for the gag. But there was something a little magical about it on 30 Rock last night! Maybe it’s because so much of the cast/crew/producers have had extensive experience on Saturday Night Live or in theater performance. Maybe it was because of the live laughter, something that is absent from other 30 Rock episodes (they don’t used canned laughter either). Whatever the reason, I agree with the New York Times review of the episode that said “it had a certain frantic energy, like, say, the first half-hour of a decent Saturday Night Live.” I’m bias, being such a hardcore 30 Rock fan anyway, but I have to say this episode made me chuckle quite a bit. Champion out.