Live from New York, it's '30 Rock'!
October 15th, 2010
11:15 AM ET

Live from New York, it's '30 Rock'!

After one of the best episodes in recent memory last week, "30 Rock" took a big chance on Thursday night with a live episode that didn't miss a beat (at least on the east coast).

The episode was on the "Saturday Night Live" stage at the actual 30 Rock, and some of it, especially the fake advertisements, came across like another episode of "SNL."

For the most part, though, it kept up the show's fast pace pretty admirably, even with a live studio audience cheering and applauding when stars like Matt "I also need you to Tivo 'Bones' for me in case I survive" Damon or Jon Hamm showed up.

The explanation for the different vibe of the show was that Jack had decided to quit drinking in support of his pregnant girlfriend Avery. The first big surprise came early on, with Julia Louis-Dreyfus playing Liz Lemon in flashbacks (and once in the final scene). That was a brilliant nod to Tina Fey thanking Louis-Dreyfus during her Emmy acceptance speech a few years ago, leading Louis-Dreyfus to "steal" her Emmy on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien."

It was also Liz's 40th birthday, which no one remembered. This sort of plot has been done time and time again on sitcoms, but "30 Rock" made it fresh.

And in a meta twist, Tracy became obsessed with breaking character, causing "exciting mishaps" on purpose during the live "TGS" show-within-a-show. Jenna responded by threatening a "nip slip" of her own - even a mention of that might have kept NBC censors on their toes.

Aside from Hamm, Damon and Louis-Dreyfus, it was nice to see "SNL" alums Chris Parnell (as one of the show's greatest characters, Dr. Spaceman) and Rachel Dratch join in the fun.

And just in case you weren't sure it was live, Jack McBrayer's Kenneth threw in some references to Brett Favre and the Chilean miners.

Even though Jane Krakowski asked "Are we still on the air?" during the east coast goodnights, it was the best live episode I can remember, having sat through "The Drew Carey Show," "ER" and "The West Wing" in years past.

So should they should make this an annual thing? What did you think, especially those of you on the west coast? Did it work for you or do you think the show works much better pre-taped? Are you looking forward to Tracy's lizard's album in December? Share your view on iReport video, or in the comments below.


soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Lyn

    I love 30 Rock and thought this was a great episode! It was awsome to have Rachel back!

    October 28, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Lucy

    Alec Baldwin looks like he is ready to pop. Get a trainer and shed the fat.

    October 15, 2010 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Milf Biggenson

    The show was ambitious and at the very least, self-referential, given that it's based on a live show (SNL) and we've never really seen skits of TGS, so it made sense to do it this way. I didn't like the live studio audience laughter, although it must have been nice for the actors to hear instant reactions. I appreciated the cuts and scene changes which must have been fairly difficult to pull off given that it was indeed live. All in all, I think it was a success, not the best, but certainly interesting and I think many of us appreciate the effort that went into it. In the end, comedy is just funnier on film, with one camera and no audience.

    October 15, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Joe

    Hey, I loved it. It was a fun and creative thing for them to do... and for us to watch. Was it the best 30 Rock or even a great 30 Rock? Well, No... in a way the whole concept of a live show with audience reactions "breaks" the character of the show itself. The pacing of a normal 30 Rock episode I think requires no audience reaction and probably more editing then we realize. But I still found it funny and enjoyable. Do it again? Yes... but do it from a completly different angle that just a Live version of the tapped show. Maybe pretend we're watching an episode of TGS.

    October 15, 2010 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  5. chet

    I didnt really like it. I felt they did a pretty good job but it just wasn't the usual funny. I waould say nice try but stick with the taped shows

    October 15, 2010 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mark Evans

    The 'live' show was the most enjoyable to date. Knowing mistakes may occur keeps viewers glued to their seats. Good work to the cast that made it work so well!!!

    October 15, 2010 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. KDS

    I always find reactions of live studio audiences distracting and this was no exception. If they do this again, I suggest they take the laughter and clapping out.

    October 15, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  8. JR.

    The more I watched it and saw how much it was like an extended SNL skit and the fact that most of the actors were either SNL alums or hosts, the more I realized that this type of thing could happen more often. I mean it happens every Saturday night at 11:30.

    October 15, 2010 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  9. kd

    I laughed out loud a number of times. That's pretty rare for me watching tv these days. Very much enjoyed it.

    A regular thing? That might steal some of its edge. Would love to see more but do it when you get the urge and feel the need, not for a gimmick, to meet a scheduled plan, or to be 'different'. Do it because it's fun to do.

    October 15, 2010 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Tim

    Honestly, I thought this was the worst episode of 30 Rock I have seen and I've been watching from the beginning. Just didn't work at all. It's usually a great show and this just flopped IMHO.

    October 15, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Anne

    It was just average. The Dr. Spaceman skit and John Hamm, Matt Damon & Julia Louis-Dreyfus were all great, but the rest just wasn't smooth...the regular gang all LOOKED like they were acting...even Tina, which is surprising as she's usually so natural. The "breaking character" skit might have worked...had they played it the way Harvey Korman and Tim Conway actually DID it on the Carol Burnett Show. As it was, watching Tracy Jordan was embarrassing and totally not funny. Honestly, I just don't see what everyone sees in him... please make him stop yelling his lines, Tina...please. Also, Jack McB's shtick is getting tiresome too. And Alec, you're tops, but don't dye your hair anymore...the salt and pepper is perfect.

    October 15, 2010 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Holly Golightly

    Jon Hamm is RIDICULOUSLY HOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 15, 2010 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  13. trig

    Love it! Loved it! Loved it! LIttle bits of surprises through out the show made for a fun episode.

    October 15, 2010 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Andre

    This episode had me on the floor! It was really fun seeing this smartly written show, performed in front of a live audience. It definitely had the SNL feel, but seeing these familiar characters in this context, was special. The guest appearances were brilliant too. Jon Hamm is a revelation and Matt Damon rocks his character. Kudos to 30 Rock...TV at its very finest.

    October 15, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Dana

    LOVED IT! Like a best of SNL. 'call yourself a cab' LMAO! Just don't ever do it again... its wasn't 30 Rock gold.. but it was great TV.

    October 15, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  16. EmSeeDubayou

    It was a'ight – like a good SNL skit (barely remembering what one of those is like) but I like the feel of the regular taped episodes better.

    October 15, 2010 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Suzanne

    I thought they knocked it out of the ballpark. It was the best episode of 30 Rock I've seen. I wish they'd do it often.

    October 15, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Ellen

    Why can't Alec Baldwin relax in front of an audience? He was distractingly terrible, like he always is on SNL, and I love him on 30 Rock.

    October 15, 2010 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Dave

    Didnt see anything specail about a sitcom being live. that how most TV was back in the 50,s

    October 15, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  20. michael

    the idea was mildy innovative but hought it would have been much funnier taped...i agree with bob...almost unwatchable.

    October 15, 2010 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  21. reallyredhead

    The show was great! Not necessarily all the time, but once a year would be a really fresh idea. The east coast taping was just about error free! I almost wish there were a few slip ups! :)

    October 15, 2010 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Ben

    The first five minutes of the East Coast show were a bit rough (nerves I guess), but overall it was very good. However, the West coast show was smoother and accordingly a bit funnier. Unfortunatley, for some reason the "ethnic" flavoured jokes seemed to disappear in the West Coast version. That is what really had me laughing, say what you will, but I enjoy a little harmless non-PC comedy.

    October 15, 2010 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Mario

    I enjoyed the show. Was it on par with other "live" comedy shows like Sid Caesar or Milton Berle or countless other great shows done live in the fifties and early sixties? No way, the generation of actors working today while talented and creative do not have the venues these great performers had such as Vaudeville, Radio, etc. The best example of "breaking character" occurred during a live broadcast of a medical drama (GE Theater?). The scene was a life-or-death operation and the Dr. asked for a "Hyperdeemic Nerdle". The gaff was so funny that the patient could be seen convulsing with laughter as he laid on the operating table. Now, that's live TV!

    October 15, 2010 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  24. Stephen

    I really liked this episode. It turned into a snl like sitcom and they killed it. If they do a change like this again I hope they do like the office and have mock-u-mentary style to it.

    October 15, 2010 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  25. Tom Martin

    It was a fantastic half hour that went by in a blur; seemed like 10 minutes. Every cast member showed his/her chops from live performance, theater or both. I loved the way Tracy Morgan was "neutralized," like Richard Pryor on the the original SNL!

    October 15, 2010 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  26. Bob

    While applauding the spirit of risk and creativity, that was a bad show. It wasn't funny at all. The "break" storyline would have been a lot better if done taped. Too bad because it was a very interesting and clever thought. Overall the show was practically unwatchable.

    October 15, 2010 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  27. RX100

    The episode was a big win!

    October 15, 2010 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  28. cheefsfury

    LIZ LEMON YOU ARE BLOWING UP LIKE A BALLOON WITH A GRENADE IN IT

    October 15, 2010 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |

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