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"Make Me a Smoothie and Let's Go Clubbing!" It's Hiatus Time on the Season Finale of "30 Rock"

With all of the hoopla lately surrounding a certain voicemail heard 'round the world and Alec Baldwin's current issues, I was concerned that the Baldwin overload will overshadow this week's season finale of the brilliant and smartly comic 30 Rock.

However, I'm happy to report that I easily pushed the entirety of Baldwin's "parental alienation" issues right out of my mind and was able to focus on the fact that we now have several months of 30 Rock-less television ahead of us. Damn you, NBC, for getting me hooked on this series only to stop producing new episodes during some lame hiatus. Why can't Tina Fey and the rest of 30 Rock's talented cast and crew work year-round for our amusement?

Last night's season finale of 30 Rock ("Hiatus") neatly wrapped up several dangling storylines from the last few weeks, including Tracy's disappearance (the Black Crusaders are after him), Liz and Floyd's relationship, and Jack's impending nuptials to the gold-digging Phoebe (Emily Mortimer). It was so neatly tied with a bow that I actually felt really sad at the end of the episode, given that it finally hit me that this little show that could actually made it to the end of its first season. No mean feat for a comedy that few thought would outlast its original 13-episode order.

Guest stars. I said it about Arrested Development and I'll say it here: this show has the best freaking guest stars in the business. Between Isabella Rossellini, Rip Torn, Paul Reubens, Will Arnett, and last night's double-punch of Elaine Stritch and Sean Hayes, 30 Rock has proven itself adept at writing for guest stars each week without hitting us over the head with them (hello, Will & Grace!) Comedy legend Elaine Stritch was pitch perfect as Jack's tough broad mother Colleen, who takes an instant liking to one Liz Lemon (assuming that she's Jack's fiancee) and an immediate dislike to the hollow-boned Phoebe. Can you believe Stritch is 82 years old? I'm hoping she'll pop up again next season as the earthy Colleen; I completely believed that this was the woman from whose loins Jack Donaghy sprung.

Sean Hayes was also hysterical as Kenneth's redneck cousin Jesse, who took in the fugitive Tracy Jordan and hid him in Needmore, Pennsylvania, where he started a new life as nerdy, bespectacled Gordon Tremeshko. Sure, there were a few speed bumps ("Make me a smoothie, and let's go clubbing.") but Tracy soon manages to subvert his celebrity status, even when confronted by a pack of hot women desperate to do anything with famous people. The Needmore sequences were hysterical, recalling both Groundhog's Day and Misery, and allowed Kenneth the Page to come to the rescue. Though I jumped in the air when Jesse came after Kenneth, Tracy, Dot Com, and Grizz with a shotgun. And I loved when Kenneth offered up my favorite new expression, "By the hammer of Thor!" in terms of reaction.

Is there any new sitcom character more naive and beloved than Kenneth the Page? What other character on TV today would take a bullet (or, at least, a fall down a steep set of stairs) in order to ensure that, thanks to a quick ambulance ride, his charge, spacey Girly Show actor Tracy Morgan, arrive to the set in time for taping? Sniffle. I'm gonna miss his serial-killer-in-training smile and aw shucks mannerisms until the fall.

Jack, meanwhile, ended up in the hospital under the care of Dr. Spaceman. I loved that Colleen realized Jack's heart monitor could be used as an impromptu polygraph and learned that he really did love her... and Phoebe learned that he really didn't love her. (The fact that she refused to have sex with him at all anymore was also probably not a good sign.)

But it was Jack's scene with emergency contact Liz Lemon (assigned the role because she wouldn't hesitate from pulling the plug) that really summed up everything I love about the show. Liz admits that she's not going to Cleveland to visit long-distance boyfriend Floyd (Jason Sudeikis, who will be missed), after they realized that all Liz talks about is work. Jack admits that his whole life flashed before him (Hands Across America, "Me, personally coining the phrase 'What's the upside?'") and realizes that he does wish that he spent more time at work. These two workaholics are clearly meant for each other... at least in a platonic way, anyway.

Jack and Liz finally do have a heart-to-heart, Tracy does show up in time for the last show of the season ("Take this Black Crusaders! It's Cowboy Hey-hey!"), and The Girly Show--and 30 Rock--sails off into the sunset of the summer hiatus.

As for me, I'm gonna miss what was hands-down the best new comedy of the season. As one of 30 Rock's earliest fans, I've grown to love this surreal comedy series as much as some of my other favorites over the years and I cannot wait to see what Season Two brings us this fall. Hopefully, it's with Jack Donaghy (and Alec Baldwin) firmly in tact. But, if this season of 30 Rock has shown us anything, it's that the series can keep us laughing as much as it can keeping us guessing as to what's going to happen next.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: The Ghost Whisperer (CBS); Identity (NBC); WWE Friday Night SmackDown (CW; 8-10 pm); Grey's Anatomy (ABC); House (FOX)

9 pm: Close to Home (CBS); Raines (NBC); Wife Swap (ABC); Bones (FOX)

10 pm: NUMB3RS (CBS); Law & Order (NBC); 20/20 (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

8 pm: Absolutely Fabulous on BBC America.

What better way than to begin your weekend of debauchery than by starting it with two people even more pickled than you'll be? On tonight's "vintage" episode of AbFab ("The End"), Patsy moves to New York for a job and Edina joins a commune.

8:40 pm: Coupling on BBC America.

Revisit the Coupling gang way back when. On the first of two episodes tonight ("Flushed"), Steve tries to break up with Jane, while Susan and Patrick split. Ah, beginnings. Then it's "Size Matters," wherein Steve has some problems with his, er, image and Patrick invites Sally to a motor show.


Anonymous said…
Oh no! No more "30 Rock" until fall! Say it isn't so!

Excellent season finale for one heck of a show. Kenneth the page is my new hero. And Tina Fey is every bit as clever, fun, and snarky as Mary Tyler Moore.

Although this show got off to a rocky start, I had faith that it would pull through and it is so satisfying to see a good show actually make it. (For now, anyway.) I truly hope that the Alec Baldwin controversy doesn't mess up anything for next season. They need him. And, personally, I can forgive him for calling his daughter a "little pig" if it means more adventures with Jack, Lemon, Tracy and Toto (I mean, Kenneth) too.
Vance said…
Elaine Stritch is 82 YEARS OLD???!!! No wonder she's a pro at delivery those spitting lines! Loved everything, and yes, even Sean Hayes didn't annoy me like he potentially could have, but yes, I will miss Jason Sudeikis as Floyd. I wonder if NBC can order up more eps for next season to make up for the early wrap up of this first season? That would be AWESOME!
Unknown said…
There has been very little of Jenna, Josh, and Cirie lately. Do we expect all of the characters to be back next year? In particular, someone that was supposed to be a "main character" like Jenna has been basically banished to obscurity. For obvious reasons they need to keep Cirie!!
Jace Lacob said…
Paul, if I remember correctly Jane Krakowski was only contractually signed to do a certain number of episodes this season. I also imagine that they keep production costs down (v. important on a single-cam half-hour) by rotating the cast. I'm sure all three will return next season.
Anonymous said…
While I didn't think this episode was their best effort, I am still so thrilled this show made it an entire season and I am really going to miss it. It definitely became my favorite of the Thursday night comedies.

Elaine Stritch was perfect, as always. And I even liked Sean Hayes. The scene w/Liz and Jack was pitch perfect.

I am glad they brought Jenna in for a second, because I had been missing her.

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