Saturday, January 19, 2008

What Am I? A Farmer?
Excuse me while I drop a truth bomb. Tina Fey's 30 Rock
was the only network TV show to win any Golden Globes this year. There were 11 TV awards at the 2008 ceremony (such as it was) and 10 of them went to cable shows.

Presumably, this whole thing is a case of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (whatever that may be) showing support for the writer’s strike, while helping network TV's best-written show to stay on the air, in spite of its pitiful ratings.

The actual award – Fey, Best Actress in a Comedy – was fairly arbitrary. Alec Baldwin had already won the Best Actor gong and one assumes that the HFPA wanted to share the love around a bit.

Shame they didn’t acknowledge loose-cannon comedian Tracy Morgan’s portrayal of loose-cannon comedian Tracy Jordan. Admittedly, this performance may be a simple case of Tracy being Tracy - compare TV Tracy's "I am a stabbing robot" incident to real-world Tracy's antics. Still, as a portrayal of mental illness, Morgan playing Jordan has the unique distinction of being both hilarious and scarily believable.

You can stream lots of 30 Rock content from this part of the NBC site but you really ought to fork out for the season one box set. I was previously of the opinion that 30 Rock was a patchy sitcom with brilliant moments. Watching the DVD (a thoughtful birthday present from Kris) was enough to convince me that the show is pretty much 100% gold.

Viewed as a satire of the effect capitalism has on creativity, 30 Rock is pretty heavy-handed. It's interesting, though, that Fey's explicit satire seems to freak out studio execs far less than the more subtle critiques encoded in certain other low-rated shows of recent years. Maybe it's because Jack (Baldwin) - the embodiment of Capital - is portrayed as basically a good person, who usually has Liz (Fey)'s best interests at heart.

Anyway, the real appeal of 30 Rock is that it's honest-to-God consummate TV comedy: great writing plus virtuoso performances.
Seeing all the episodes in sequence is much more satisfying than getting dribs and drabs from the Internet or reruns. There are whole characters and running jokes that I totally missed the first time around. Who knew that the relationship between Frank and Toofer was so nuanced?

I wanted to make a long list of my favourite season one moments but it started to get out of hand, so I decided to slim it down to a top three faves of the moment. And here they are:
  1. Jack's corporate video gag real ("Didn't seem like a week, did it?")
  2. Tracy at lunch with Liz in the pilot ("It's meant to distract us while white dudes inject AIDS into our chicken nuggets. That's a metaphor!")
  3. "Muffin Top". Ghostface! To Bad Catholics must cover this song!

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