If we look at this week’s episode as a chapter of a weekly television series with continuing storylines, the live episode is pretty lightweight, even for this season’s relatively lax standards. But as a twenty-one minute piece of blatant yet absolutely enjoyable fan service? ‘Live from Studio 6H’ passes with flying colors – while wearing angel wings and singing “Zou Bisou Bisou.”
Here are this week’s 30 Rock-Does-Things… Indulgently Awards…
Best Excuse for Some Great Parodies of Classic Television: After Jack (Alec Baldwin) announces that TGS will no longer be taped live, plucky Kenneth (Jack McBrayer) locks the entire crew (sans Jenna and Hazel) in Tracy’s office in order to change Jack’s mind. Kenneth takes his fellow co-workers and his audience on a journey through a violent, disturbing history of live television, via parodies of shows like The Honeymooners and Laugh-In. The plot of the A-story may be rather simplistic, but it lends itself well to SNL style parodies, and they are what make this episode work. While most of the parodies are laugh-out-loud funny, the one that is most fun to watch is probably Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin pairing up to take on Ralph and Alice Kramden of The Honeymooners. Fey and Baldwin are always at their best on this show when they are squaring off, and to watch them tackle this notoriously prickly couple just reinforces that. Not to mention that the sketch gives Baldwin the lines of the night: “One of these days, Doris, I’m gonna take a shotgun and blam! Blow your face off.”
The ‘Wait. Hazel Wassername Can Still be a Human Being? Awesome!’ Award: Overeager page Hazel Wassername (Kristen Schaal)returns, determined to make her main stage debut during the rumored last live episode of TGS. Instinctually I rolled my eyes when I first saw her back on my screen, but as she started to speak, and only made one passing reference to being a psychopath, I actually started enjoying her appearance. Suddenly, she’s back to being the Hollywood obsessed weirdo of the first episode, and gets some pretty great moments – the best being when she uses her bug eyes to her advantage, channeling Sinead O’Connor as she jumps up on stage during the live TGS shoot to tear up a photo… of Sinead O’Connor.
Most Romantic Proposal Rejection: Jenna (Jane Krakowski) too sees the last live episode of TGS as another great opportunity to direct the public’s attention and love towards herself. She decides that the best way to use this chance is for Paul (Will Forte) to propose to her with all the cameras filming. Yet she quickly remembers that it’s Paul she wants to make happy, she rejects his on screen proposal in favor of a less public event. Building off last week’s episode, this is another great setpiece for Jenna. Even as the other main characters act as puppets for this week’s 30 Rock Variety Half-Hour, Jenna gets to take a stand. She gets to show that even her irrationally vain, status-obsessed starlet can make sacrifices for a loved one. Of course, lest Jenna’s self-realization become too sweet, the moment plays out in front of an exasperated TGS crew while Jenna is dressed as Prince William and Paul flies onto the stage dressed as an angel and doing his best Megan Draper impression as he sings “Zou Bisou Bisou.”
Best Cameo: Like the first live episode, ‘Live From Studio 6H’ is used primarily as an excuse for the series to trot out as many stars as it possibly can, regardless of whether or not said stars have any purpose whatsoever for being there. Sir Paul McCartney? He’s just there because his presence makes everything awesome. But other appearances are more sensible and actually enhance the comedy of the episode (what a novel idea!). Of course, Leo Spaceman (Chris Parnell) returns, and we actually learn in this episode what it is that makes him such a special doctor (full title: Nazi Dr. Leo Spaceman). Jon Hamm is also back, this time not playing Dr. Drew Baird but diving head first into the role of the Caucasian actor who played Tracy Morgan’s brother in one of the parodies. But the most fun appearance? Community’s Donald Glover, a once 30 Rock scribe and bit-part actor, playing Tracy Jordan during his breakdancing years. Glover’s impression of Morgan is pitch perfect, from the exaggerated speech, to pulling Morgan’s classic move of lifting his shirt and rubbing his… charming beer gut. Kudos!
So what did you think? Did you have a preference to one airing over the other? Was Hamm’s makeup too much? Was the whole episode too much? Sound off below!
30 Rock airs Thursdays at 8:30 EST on NBC