October 15th, 2010
11:15 AM ET
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.
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