Monday, 15 October 2007

30 ROCK 1.1 - "Pilot"

Monday, 15 October 2007
Writer: Tina Fey
Director: Adam Bernstein

Cast: Tina Fey (Liz Lemon), Judah Friedlander (Frank), Tracy Morgan (Tracy Jordan), Scott Adsit (Pete Hornberger), Jane Krakowski (Jenna Maroney), Jack McBrayer (Kenneth Parcell), Alec Baldwin (Jack Donaghy), Lonny Ross (Josh), Keith Powell (Toofer), Rachel Dratch (Greta Johansen), Katrina Bowden (Cerie), Maulik Pancholy (Jonathan), Teddy Coluca (Stage Manager), Tom Broecker (Lee), Tabbie Conrad (Chicken and Waffles Employee), Alison White (Tourist), Anita Durst (Businesswoman), Kevin Dorff (Guy Buying Hot Dogs), Gary Cowling (Tourist), Ciaran Tyrell (Waiter) & Emana Rochelle (Stripper)

Liz Lemon, head writer of The Girlie Show, is told by her new boss that a difficult movie star must join the cast...

The Emmy-award winning US comedy arrives in the UK, having survived the axe thanks to critical acclaim. Its premise has similarities to Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip, but whereas Aaron Sorkin's drama asked us to take sketch comedy production extremely seriously, 30 Rock goes in the opposite direction, with a blissfully self-aware and zanier attitude...

Tina Fey (Saturday Night Live) plays Liz Lemon, head writer of The Girlie Show, a sketch comedy series based at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York (the titular 30 Rock). The Pilot finds a new V.P of Development arrive in the building, Jack Donaghy (played by Alec Baldwin), who immediately insists on a new performer for The Girlie Show -- wild movie star Tracy Jordan (a pastiche of Martin Lawrence, even down to a Big Momma's House parody.)

Along the way, we meet some of The Girlie Show's stars; from Liz's neurotic best friend Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski), naive NBC page Kenneth Parcell (Jack McBrayer), producer/confidant Pete Homberger (Scott Adsit), sarcastic writer Frank Rossitano (Judah Friedlander), uptight James "Toofer" Spurlock (Keith Powell) and sexy receptionist Cerie (Katrina Bowden).

However, the emphasis is really on Liz, Jack, Jenna and Tracy. Tina Fey makes for a likeable, geeky lead as Liz; Alec Baldwin is a revelation as the mildly-crazed boss ("five inches, but it's thick"); Jane Krakowski is always a pleasure to watch, although her role as Jenna is minor here; while Tracy Jordan is fun as possibly-insane comedian Tracy Morgan (in a flashback, we see him running through traffic in his underwear with a lightsabre!)

30 Rock plays very much like an extended sketch, with a hectic pace, bright colours, overblown characters (cat wrangler?), silly situations and amusing dialogue. It's a shame we get no real sense of the Girlie Show's on-screen quality here, but the behind-the-scenes glimpses are fun and everyone seems well-cast -- particularly oily Alec Baldwin, who steals the show.

Produced by Lorne Michaels (the real life writer-producer of Saturday Night Live), 30 Rock avoids the pretencious vibe of Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip, by just having fun with its oddball characters and breezy premise. This isn't a serious attempt at an insightful parody of SNL-style shows, it just uses its TV studio setting to have some fun.

11 October 2007
Five, 10.45 pm