begins its sophomore season in full force, guest starring comedy legend Jerry Seinfeld in its season premiere. The NBC sitcom is careful, however, to not depend entirely on Seinfeld's cameo to carry the weight of the entire show and makes sure to give its regulars the screen time fans of last season have sorely missed over the past few months.
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We are reintroduced to the cast and crew of the fictional sketch comedy show, TGS, after the staff returns to work from their summer break. Liz Lemon, despite her recent breakup with Floyd, is feeling optimistic for her upcoming year having spent her time off learning new hobbies, exercising and trying new things - namely knitting, yoga and wearing flip flops in public. Jack Donaghy is equally optimistic about the upcoming year having thought of a new way to promote his upcoming fall lineup. Jack explains to Liz about how NBC owns hours of stock footage from his old hit sitcom and by digitally incorporating Jerry Seinfeld into countless other NBC programs he can continue to use Seinfeld's image to promote his other shows. Jack calls his idea "Seinfeldvision" and shows Liz several examples as Liz expresses her concern with the concept in general.
After leaving Jack's office, Liz comes across TGS star Tracy Jordan who is moving into his dressing room with the help of NBC page, Kenneth, and his associate, Dot Com. Apparently while harmlessly helping a transgendered prostitute, a paparazzi not only photographed Tracy with the late-night professional, but also mistook the prostitute for Tracy's actual wife. This unfortunate picture led to Tracy being kicked out of his house and losing custody of his other entourage member, Griz. In an effort to help her star, Liz offers Kenneth to help Tracy with all "non-sexual duties" that would normally be taken care of by Tracy's wife.
With Tracy momentarily dealt with, Liz then goes to check on her old friend Jenna who has spent her summer performing in a musical. Liz is soon stunned to learn that Jenna has put on a great deal of weight since the production she starred in required her to eat four slices of pizza every night. The writing staff immediately starts poking fun at her and Jack soon expresses his displeasure in her appearance.
Back in Liz's office, Liz's assistant, Cerie, asks Jenna and Liz to be her bridesmaids at her upcoming wedding. Though initially resistant, they eventually agree and make plans to go wedding dress shopping the following day.
The following morning Kenneth, upset by Tracy's lack of support in their new relationship, storms off to the elevator where he encounters a perturbed Jerry Seinfeld. Jerry asks Kenneth where Jack's office is only to be met by gushing giggles and an improvisation of the Seinfeld theme song by the young page.
At the dress shop, Cerie has Liz try on a dress for her so she can see how it hangs. After the young assistant decides against purchasing the dress since it is on sale, Liz considers purchasing the dress for herself. Her pondering is put on hold, however, when she receives an urgent phone call from her boss. Liz hurries back to the building in order to give Jerry a tour of the studio, allowing Jack enough time to escape from the building. When waiting for the elevator, though, Liz inadvertently turns him in to Jerry and the two head up to his office to talk about the new "Seinfeldvision".
After briefly talking to Jerry about her ex-boyfriend, Floyd, Liz heads to her office to give him a call, but is shocked when a woman answers the phone. Upset, she storms off to finish up her errands as bridesmaid and ends up purchasing the wedding dress she tried on earlier.
Back at 30 Rockefeller, Jerry expresses his displeasure about the promos he's been seeing featuring his likeliness. When Jack refuses to take the promos off the air claiming NBC owns the rights to the footage, Jerry threatens to buy NBC just to ruin it. Jack quickly breaks down and begs Jerry for more time.
The next day he storms into Liz's office listing off ideas to solve his Seinfeld problem. Liz, however, is busy trying on her new wedding dress in her office. Although Jack restrains himself from commenting on her actions, her writing staff is not as forgiving and immediately pokes fun at her. In an attempt to save her dignity, Liz insists that the dress is practical and can be used for all sorts of occasions and announces that she intends to wear the dress for the rest of the day. At this moment, Jack again beckons for Liz's assistance in distracting Seinfeld on the way to his office.
In her wedding dress, Liz meets Jerry in the hallway but immediately begins to break down about her failings in relationships. Unfortunately for Jerry, her sobbing lament unintentionally sounds like a bad Seinfeld impression and Jerry becomes offended, thinking Liz is making fun of him. Jerry then goes to Jack's office to hear his business proposal but instead runs into a crying Jack, begging Jerry for help since he could not think of any ideas on his own. Eventually the two negotiate an agreement, with Jack airing a limited amount of "Seinfeldvision" promos and agreeing to pay Jerry a large sum of money along with airing several advertisements for Jerry's new animated feature, Bee Movie.
We eventually leave with an again broken Liz, sitting on the floor in her wedding dress while stuffing her face. Jack soon comes by to console her and assures her that despite everything the upcoming year will be a success.
The season premier shows promise for the upcoming year and proves that the characters still have plenty of room for development. The show's boldness in using its Jerry Seinfeld cameo in the season opener shows its confidence in its upcoming episodes. Hopefully this, along with its planned string of guest performances throughout the year, will give 30 Rock
the solid fan base its been struggling to find. If its episodes continue to be as strong and original as its premiere, grabbing on to new viewers should be easy.
-George Freitag, Buddy TV Staff Columnist
(Image courtesy of NBC)