The TV Weekly #213: Top 10 30 Rock Episodes

30 Rock was a very solid show for most of its’ seven season run, the only point in the series’ entire history where it felt really lackluster was the beginning of its’ sixth season but about 6 or so episodes in, the series actually gets back to being good again, maybe not to the point to where the first five season were at but still pretty damn good compare to some of the newer shows that tried to rip off 30 Rock.

This was also somewhat of a groundbreaking show, it’s because of shows like this that had 30 Rock never made it to the air, we wouldn’t have Community, we wouldn’t have New Girl, heck, we wouldn’t have Girls. 30 Rock was one of those shows that led to some of the best comedies that have aired on TV. It was a series that dared to be different and made it work all the way to the end.

What made the series work so well was its’ likeable and hilarious ensemble cast, there’s not one cast member in this series that doesn’t make me laugh during the entire series run. Usually, you get at least one or two characters who you don’t like but on 30 Rock, all of them at least manage to get a laugh out of me. The series also managed to pull off some hilarious over-the-top moments, mostly at the expense of NBC. I’m amazed that NBC let them do whatever the heck they want and make fun of them among other things.

To see where 30 Rock truly hit those high marks as a great show, allow me to present my top 10 favorite 30 Rock episodes of all time:

10. Gavin Volure 

Liz meets one of Jack’s friends, the eccentric businessman Gavin Volure (Steve Martin), when the pair attend a dinner party with guests including John McEnroe. Gavin, after offering Jack a secret business opportunity, becomes enamored with Liz. Jack encourages the relationship until he discovers Gavin is not as successful as he claimed. Also, Kenneth invests his money in Gavin’s business. Meanwhile, after learning about Lyle and Erik Menendez murdering their parents, Tracy fears that his children, Tracy Jr. and George Foreman Jordan, are trying to kill him.

You put Steve Martin in anything and you already up the quality of anything and this episode proves that point, adding Steve Martin to an already intriguing and hilarious episode just adds a whole new element to the episode that makes it stands out as one of the best from season three.

9. Succession

Don Geiss names Jack the new GE chairman over Jack’s rival, Devon Banks. Jack then names Liz as his successor, as “Vice President of East Coast Television and Microwave Oven Programming,” because she “always has his back.” While Liz attempts to adjust to corporate life, Geiss’ health puts Jack’s promotion in jeopardy. Meanwhile, Tracy, upset that his son did not invite him to Bring Your Dad to School Day, decides to leave his kids a legacy by creating a pornographic video game.

When Will Arnett showed up as Devon Banks, he was always hilarious and this episode is one of the best ones, the one-liners that come out of this one are excellent, I love how the whole episode had this strange soap opera parody vibe to it especially towards the end and the subplot with Tracy trying to create a pornographic video game definitely leads to more than a few laughs throughout this one.

8. Live From Studio 6H  

Kabletown chooses to stop funding live shows for TGS. While Liz and Jack embrace the change, Kenneth argues that live format should be kept intact. This is the show’s second live episode, in which an East Coast and West Coast version were broadcast with slight adjustments such as guest appearances; Kim Kardashian in the West Coast version and Paul McCartney in the East.

This was the second time 30 Rock did a live episode and seeing as how the inspiration for this was Saturday Night Live, it makes sense that 30 Rock uses its’ second live turnaround to rely solely on sketches and amusing cameos. Not only do you have Kim Kardashian and Paul McCartney show up at some points but you also have Fred Armisen, Jimmy Fallon, Donald Glover, Jon Hamm, Amy Poehler and just so many more showing up just having a good time and that’s why the episode works for me, it’s just the cast having a good time with the opportunity of a live show. Of course, this isn’t the first time 30 Rock would go live…

7. Hogcock & Last Laugh

Liz has trouble adjusting to being a stay-at-home mother, Jack takes stock of his life and Tracy struggles to get on without Kenneth and The gang reunites for one final episode of TGS.

This is an episode that I was not too impressed with the first time I watched it. When I watched it at first, it felt more like a season finale than a final episode, had the last minute not aired, I would never had gotten the impression that this was the final episode.

I was hoping that 30 Rock would go out on a better note but at the same time, there was a lot to like in the last episode. The conclusions they came to for the major characters were very well done, the last bit of banter between Liz & Jack was great, and the celebrity cameos were nicely done. And I really did love that last minute that riffs on the St. Elsewhere finale and shows where everybody has been one year after the series ended.

Again, the biggest problem with the episode was that it really didn’t feel like it was really the end. Maybe it’s because I haven’t seen all of this season that I really didn’t see this as the final episode.

When I watched the final season on its’ on own, I slowly came back around to really liking it a lot. Even if didn’t overall feel like a final episode, it was still a really solid, very well made episode overall. Maybe not the right way to end the series but certainly more than enough to enjoy it as one of 30 Rock’s best episodes.

6. Live Show

Jack is on edge after promising to remain sober during Avery’s pregnancy. Liz is upset that no one seems to remember it is her 40th birthday. Tracy is convinced that breaking character during a TGS taping will be hilarious while Jenna balks at the idea.

Definitely the far superior of the two live episodes with a more concrete storyline, hilarious references and parodies to live television, and the great satirical comedic edge and cameos that work to 30 Rock’s advantages in this case.

5. Rosemary’s Baby

Liz meets her childhood idol, comedy writer Rosemary Howard (Carrie Fisher), only to discover that Rosemary is a lonely woman still clinging onto a 1970s mindset. Jack helps Tracy with some unresolved issues in a therapy session and Kenneth is forced to compete in a “page-off” to keep his job.

Having the late Carrie Fisher in this episode is more than enough to qualify this as one of the best 30 Rock episodes, I mean she was excellent in this episode but the therapy scenes with Jack & Tracy are more than enough to push this episode into the top five best episodes of the show.

4. Kidney Now!

Jack gets to know his newly discovered father, but soon discovers Milton (Alan Alda) has a serious medical condition to contend with. Liz gains notoriety as a relationship expert for a sketch she wrote. Meanwhile, Tracy is invited to speak at his former high school’s graduation and Kenneth tries to help him overcome troubling memories from his high school experience. Guest stars included Elvis Costello, Mary J. Blige, Sheryl Crow, Clay Aiken, Adam Levine, Adrock and Mike D of Beastie Boys, Michael McDonald, Rhett Miller, Wyclef Jean, Steve Earle, Moby, Cyndi Lauper, Sara Bareilles, Robert Randolph, Rachael Yamagata, Talib Kweli, Donald Glover and Norah Jones.

Much like how 30 Rock used its’ live episodes to satirize the concept of live television, this episode takes the satirical edge to season finales where you go all out in the end and this episode does all that and more packing on a ton of guest stars and cameos and still manage to pull off a really funny and very entertaining episode.

3. Pilot

Liz Lemon is head writer for The Girlie Show, a live comedy show filmed in New York City’s 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Things start to get complicated when her new boss, Jack Donaghy, insists that wild movie star Tracy Jordan join the cast.

Right from the start, 30 Rock came out strong with this very funny episode that worked solely on the ensemble cast and the brilliantly written jokes.

2. Seinfeld Vision

Jack invents “SeinfeldVision”, which digitally inserts Jerry Seinfeld into every NBC show and Jenna returns from hiatus overweight due to her role in Mystic Pizza: The Musical. Tracy’s wife Angie Jordan (Sherri Shepherd) kicks him out of the house, prompting Kenneth to become his “office wife”.

Essentially what this is was NBC trying to give Jerry Seinfeld a promo push for his then upcoming Bee Movie, so much so that in the episode itself even has a point where Seinfeld breaks the fourth wall to say ‘Bee Movie, opening November 2nd’ and going back to what he was saying. But you know what, it’s really funny stuff, watching Seinfeld being placed inside these various NBC shows and them not even trying to hide the fact that it looked fake was hilarious on its’ own merits:

and the #1 best 30 Rock episode of all time is…

Tracy Does Conan

Jack bumps Jenna’s scheduled appearance on Late Night with Conan O’Brien and puts Tracy on in her place. To make matters worse, Tracy has gone off his medication and he is consequently acting more erratic than ever. Jack encourages bald producer Pete Hornberger to wear a wig.

This was just a great fast paced episode where all this crazy stuff happens and there’s hardly a minute where any of the characters can take a break. It’s fast-paced, it’s compelling, and it’s friggin’ hilarious all the way to the end. It’s just a fun, smart, hilarious episode that has some of my favorite moments in the series, the blue man, the whole storyline with Conan O’Brien, the cold ending, some of my favorite moments from the series are in this episode.

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Posted in The TV Weekly

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