Comedy Central emailed last week to offer me a free DVD of 30 Rock series four, which is apparently starting tonight1. They sent over the first four episodes, though only the first three worked – hopefully they were enough for me to form an accurate impression of the series as a whole.
I saw the first series 18 months ago, but the subsequent series weren’t on DVD at the time. Skipping straight to season four wasn’t a problem, though, as it hasn’t changed much – why alter something that works? It’s still the same cast of characters working on a Saturday Night Live style TV show, although the show itself is of little importance. It’s quirkily put together, with weirdly swervy storylines that are broadly predictable but surreal in the detail, and it somehow always ends unexpectedly. It’s also quite self-aware, with characters referring to upcoming advert breaks or the current season number etc., although not quite enough to be annoying. The dialogue is fast and witty, and it’s good fun trying to catch the throwaway jokes and references – though this can be tricky as they’re usually heavy on US culture.
As far as I can tell, it’s a pure sitcom played for comedy only. There’s no drama that I’ve noticed, and as a result it’s a fairly gentle show. It seems to lack the character engagement of, say, Scrubs, in favour of a Law and Order style familiarity. You can pick it up at any point without a problem. And you’ll probably do so because of Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey, who are hard not to like – both seem to be having enormous fun, and it’s infectious. And of course, Alec Baldwin is the single greatest actor of all time. Each episode has a cameo appearance too (I think), but catching these depends on how familiar you are with US TV. Steve Buscemi was an easy spot, but I only figured out Jimmy Fallon from hints in the script. I’m sure I’ll miss a few of the more obscure people.
For me, it’s a relaxing show to watch over lunch (when The Daily Show’s on a break, naturally). Worth a look.
- no freebies or discounts in 6.5yrs of blogging, then two in a month. Hopefully I’m on a list. Canon? [↩]