Tuesday, 30 October 2007

30 ROCK 1.3 – "Blind Date"

Tuesday, 30 October 2007
Writer: John Riggi
Director: Adam Bernstein

Cast: Tina Fey (Liz Lemon), Judah Friedlander (Frank), Tracy Morgan (Tracy Jordan), Scott Adsit (Pete Hornberger), Jack McBrayer (Kenneth), Alec Baldwin (Jack Donaghy), Katrina Bowden (Cerie), Keith Powell (Toofer), Lonny Ross (Josh), Maulik Pancholy (Jonathan), Teddy Coluca (Stage Manager), Grizz Chapman (Grizz), John Lutz (Lutz), Stephanie March (Gretchen Thomas), Kevin Brown IV (Dot Com), Brett Baer (Guy at Bar), Rich Brevard (Big Rich), Elisabeth Furtado (Gym Teacher), Sondra James (Woman), Mark Konrad (Dentist) & David Rankin (Young Dave)

Jack sets Liz up on a blind date with his friend, Thomas. With Liz busy preparing for her date, Jack infiltrates the writers' weekly poker game...

Liz: I can't believe you bet your wedding ring.
Pete: I know. Weird thing is... I had money left.

It's difficult to review shows like 30 Rock, as their success solely rests on whether or not they make you laugh. Sure, character development and great plots are needed, but most sitcoms are easier to judge over the course of a season. Taken as single installments, all that's really required is an entertaining story, good performances and funny jokes...

Fortunately, that's what we seem to be getting from this show. Blind Date again showcases Alec Baldwin's scene-stealing character Jack Donaghy, this time as a card shark who can't seem to outwit Kenneth (Jack McBrayer), the simpleton page who apparently has no poker "tells".

Elsewhere, Liz (Tina Fey) goes on a blind date with Thomas, one of Jack's friends, only to discover Thomas is a lesbian, played by Stephanie March. However, in some great scenes, Liz is still keen to try and build a relationship with Gretchen, who similarly lives alone and is concerned about choking to death with no hope of rescue...

At this early stage, I'm still slightly worried that we never see much of the sketch show the characters work on, perhaps because the material would never work if it's too similar to 30 Rock's reality! So we just get some glimpses of a costumed robot being attacked by costumed bears.

But not to worry, because 30 Rock is so breathlessly paced, it's a case of sitting back and letting it wash over you. I'd appreciate more development for the supporting cast, but it's too early to really complain about anything. Tina Fey is fun to watch, Alec Baldwin is astonishingly good in every scene, and this episode makes Jack McBrayer's grinning Kenneth a minor cult hero.

30 Rock won't rewrite the comedy landscape, and it probably won't deliver too many insightful moments, because everything's so hyperactive and stylized. Malcolm In The Middle was similarly hectic and bizarre at times, but its family unit always provided a normal, relatable heart to the show. There's nothing like that in 30 Rock, as it's a working environment, so far populated by two-dimensional caricatures... but that's okay, because it's funny.

And if you laugh more than 5 times in 30-minutes and enjoy what you're watching, you can't really criticize a sitcom too much, can you?

25 October 2007
Five, 10.45 pm