'30 Rock' Live Episode: Better or Worse Than Last Time?
Friday, April 27, 2012
On Thursday 30 Rock once again went live, playing up the cast's Saturday Night Live
roots. The show an ode to live TV, filled with interludes where the
cast recreated old-fashioned live shows from the early days of
Intellectually, it's amusing to watch both the East and West Coast feeds to spot the differences (for instance, East Coast viewers got to see a cameo from original Beatle Sir Paul McCartney while West Coast viewers were stuck with Kim Kardashian).
In my favorite moment from the second live episode, the cast recreated a Laugh-In style '60s variety show. The brilliant part is that it was the same show written by Rosemary Howard, a character Carrie Fisher played in an early season 2 episode. That episode also featured a recurring joke about the iconic "mailbox sketch" (a reference H.R. Haldeman, Nixon's chief of staff). In a fun bit of continuity, the Haldeman mailbox is in the live episode.
But was it as successful as the first live episode? Both featured Jon Hamm and Chris Parnell in hilarious cameos, but I have to give the edge to the show's first live episode. That one seemed more polished and sure of itself, while this episode felt more scattered, like an SNL sketch written at the last minute without any real sense of plotting or structure. The new live episode was merely a mini-SNL, a series of comedy vignettes with no real purpose.
Sure, Community's Donald Glover was hilarious as young Tracy Jordan and Amy Poehler was cool as young Liz Lemon, but I felt like the Jimmy Fallon part as young Jack Donaghy was off. Fallon's inability to keep a straight face was one of his major flaws as an SNL cast member, and the completely random and pointless mugging by Fred Armisen in the background (in drag) was distracting and not funny at all.
Much like Kenneth, I love live TV and hope 30 Rock does this again in the future (if there is a future). I love that they manage to get Jon Hamm to show up every time. And I love Chris Parnell, who might be one of SNL's most under-appreciated comedians ever (at least he and Ana Gasteyer found new life on ABC's Suburgatory). But the plot and set-up was too forced. It's better when the story unfolds naturally instead of shoe-horning in a bunch of excuses to have the cast play different characters.
Watch both the East Coast and West Coast versions below. You can try playing them at the same time to spot the differences.
What did you think of 30 Rock's second attempt at a live episode?
(Image and videos courtesy of NBC)