30 Rock: Season 5, Episode 4
Live Show
Every once in a while, a sitcom that's getting on in years decides to spice things up by doing a live episode. When 30 Rock announced theirs, I was not too surprised. For one thing, the announcement came in the summer, when it seemed like the show was well past its prime and in need of a stunt like this. For another, it is written by and stars former Saturday Night Live head writer Tina Fey, and also former cast member Tracy Morgan and frequent host Alec Baldwin, so its safe to say the show could pull it off without making a fool of themselves. And they did. "Live Show" is a very solid episode of 30 Rock, and it plays with the idea of a live episode in a meta way that only this show could really pull off.

Its Liz Lemon's 40th birthday, and no one remembers it. Jack is distracted trying to distract himself from drinking at Avery's request. Pete is distracted trying to keep the show on track. Carol is distracted by his nearly crashing plane. And everyone else is distracted being as self centered as ever. This is a pretty simple plotline for the episode, which the show has displayed of late is all the better to allow its cast to shine. This is 30 Rock though, and so of course they anticipated many of the concerns people would have, and played with them in kind. Tonight Tracy decides to try "breaking," the industry term for when actors break character and laugh during a scene, which clearly comments on the concern that "loose cannon" Tracy Morgan would do something unpredictable when the show was live (which was a little silly seeing as he spent years as a castmember of SNL doing a live show weekly). And Jenna's continued threats to pull a nip slip--well, that was just funny.

In addition to very solid work from the entire cast, the episode was rife with awesome cameos. the aforementioned Matt Damon returned as Carol, Chris Parnell stopped by as Leo Spaceman, Jon Hamm returned as Drew, Rachel Dratch showed up for the first time in years as a Persian janitor, and Julia Louis Dreyfuss played Liz as she thinks of herself (in a hilarious commentary on the character that doubled as a smooth excuse for not being able to get Tina Fey onto another set quickly enough for the jumo cuts). All of them were fall down funny, and did so in the live format very well (though this isn't all that impressive...they are actors after all). I think people tend to give live episodes a bit too much credit, but there is something to be said for pulling off an episode this funny without a hitch in real time, and the show should be commended for doing it so well. I had hoped to wait and review this after seeing the west coast feed as well, but NBC is not running it here (opting to let Jay Leno be on tv instead) and I am not going to hold off until tomorrow when it will be posted on the internet. So the whole thing could really go off the tracks during the west coast feed, but somehow I doubt that it will. these people are, after all, professionals.

Grade: A


-After pointing out that people tend to give live episodes too much credit, I fully admit that I am giving "Live Show" too much credit. This is probably an "A-" episode, but come on people. They did it live!

-"it was destroying lab rats'...oh, what's that word...brains."

-"My memory has Seinfeld money."

-I have to say, Jane Krakowski singing the theme song was really terrible, and fit into my theory that Jenna's constant insistence on showing off her excellent voice is derived from Krakowski's obsession with same (see her character on Ally McBeal for further evidence of this).

-"Yes. Bullet in brain move. Much hospital."

-"A Mr. brett Fav-ray stopped by. he left a picture of a hotdog." "Finally." See, the show was live!

-"I promise. I swear in my mother's grape." "Did you say grape or grave?" "Thank you. Goodbye."

-"Tonight I'm laughing harder than I did at Dot Com's play!" "It was Angels in America, Tray!"

-"You say its your birthday, time to party hard, choke a cop with your panties..."

-"Welcome back to Fox news. I'm blonde."

-"Erectile Dysfunction is not just a problem for dogs anymore."

-Dr. Leo Spaceman's Love Storm. Awesome.

-"Why does anyone do anything? They're rich or they have attention defecit dis...Look at Lutz' shirt!"

"You know I've always loved you." "Not now Kevin." Bill Hader! I forgot to mention him above, but it was a nice cameo.

-"Wow. You were very fit back then.' "yes. But my penis was smaller."

-"Why are you speaking like a Persian immigrant?"

-"This is an exciting mishap! This is live!"

-"I warned you Liz. And now I'm slipping a nip. The big one!"

-"Hands from executed criminals are now making their way to people all over the world." Hilarious cameo by Jon Hamm. That man can do anything.

-"Nevermind what happened. That's water under the bridge." "I'm sorry. We don;t have that expression in Canada. Does that mean that what we did can be used to power a lumbermill?"

-"This one time a bunch of us pilots got together and went to a haunted house in Germany. That was messed up!"

-"To Liz Lemon. You're halfway to death!"
Tags: 30 Rock
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