Much has been made of the fact that NBC has two new shows that take place behind-the-scenes of a late night sketch-comedy show. But it shouldn't be a big deal at all. The two shows have little, if anything, in common outside of the basic premise. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
is an hour-long drama from "West Wing" creator Aaron Sorkin. 30 Rock
is something entirely different.
Created by Tina Fey, 30 Rock
takes us backstage on "Friday Night Bitsï¿½?, a show uncannily similar to "Saturday Night Live". Of course, there's a good reason for that. Tina Fey worked as the Head Writer at "Saturday Night Live" from 1999-2006, but left after last season to focus on creating 30 Rock.
On 30 Rock
, Fey plays Liz Lemon, the Head Writer of "Friday Night Bits." It is safe to say that Tina Fey is the most qualified person on the planet to play the role of Liz Lemon.
There's a distinct possibility that the pilot of 30 Rock
will end up being one of the worst episodes of the show they will ever air. I'm not saying the pilot is bad. Far from it. I just think that, from what I saw, 30 Rock
has humongous potential. Pilots for half-hour comedies are notoriously difficult to pull off because you have so little time for all the necessary exposition. In future episodes, we won't have to go through the trouble of meeting Alec Baldwin, who plays Jack, the newly promoted Vice President of Programming who's now in charge of "Friday Night Bits." We won't have to endure the saga of Liz getting Tracy Morgan's character, Tracy Jordan, to the stage for the first time.
Alec Baldwin and Tracy Morgan bring a mixture of comedic talent and acting prowess rarely seen in the sitcom ranks. Tracy's character, an insane Hollywood actor, is especially great. Morgan has always made me laugh and his comedic sensibilities skew far off-center, which means that Tina Fey might be playing the funniest straight man on TV. Baldwin has always been an underrated comedic actor; just look at any one of his various appearances as the host on Saturday Night Live.
There are laughs in the first episode, but there were also some stretches that played poorly, though that can be chalked up to the excess of exposition. Usually, when Tina Fey and company tried to be funny, they succeeded. That's why I think once we get these characters settled and into a groove, 30 Rock
might end up being one of the funniest shows on TV.
Don't let the pilot of 30 Rock
influence your decision on whether or not to keep watching. It will get better.
-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer