April 27th, 2012
12:35 PM ET
“Live television? Who cares?”
“30 Rock” does! In their second attempt at a live show, Tina Fey and Co. turned out an exuberant half hour of TV for those of us on East coast time, and then did it again for the West coast.
To start, Jack told Liz TGS would no longer be live. She objected, until he said she’d have to write and shoot the entire season in two weeks.
Flashback to teenage Liz (Amy Poehler!) watching a telethon and eating cheese steaks on her prom night. (“I’m gonna lose my virginity in nine years!”) And then Kenneth entered - with Sir Paul McCartney! - revealing the “beauty of live TV: anything can happen.”
Jenna had big plans for the last live show. Paul was set to propose on air, and he even had the ring: “Liza Minnelli’s baby tooth surrounded by rubies that passed through a terrified Michael Kors.”
However, Paul was hoping for a more traditional engagement. After all, he “may have a dress and a wig and a gynecologist, but I am the man," he explained.
Kenneth locked most of the cast in Tracy’s dressing room to teach them the value of live TV with a history lesson. He began with the classic 1950s sitcom “The Lovebirds,” in which Alec Baldwin and Fey played an unhappily married couple. She confessed, “My marriage is a sham. My makeup lady is my lover.”
Next was Baldwin in “The Joey Montero Show,” featuring Jane Krakowski as Dusty Springfield. Girl’s got pipes!
Kenneth then explained that NBC had the first show featuring two African Americans. Sort of.
Cut to Jon Hamm doing his best Tracy Morgan impression, in blackface, alongside the man himself. It’s official, world - Hamm can do anything.
There was also a recurring Chatterton pregnancy cigarette commercial with the Nazi Dr. Leo Spaceman. (“If your mother smoked Chattertons, your sexual organs are covered in bone.”)
Next, Scott Adsit and Morgan hosted a Nixon-era comedy show that was interrupted by the news. Anchors Hamm and Baldwin were confused by Fey’s new female reporter: “Honey you have a dynamite shape, but you're gonna have to shut up and let a man tell us what's happening.”
After all of that, Jack still remained unconvinced, so Tracy told his own live TV story. In the ‘80s, Tracy (former “30 Rock” writer Donald Glover, looking like he was having the time of his life) performed with his St. Ray Ray’s Blatholic Church dance crew on a telethon. He fell, and the audience laughed. “That’s when I realized I was a ridiculous man.”
Liz and Jack recognized that telethon! Young Jack (Jimmy Fallon), with the piercing blue eyes of an ice dragon, answered a prank call from teen Liz. (Fred Armisen in drag behind Jimmy stole the scene.) Finally, Jack was convinced he had to support live TV!
As TGS began, Paul descended from the rafters in a spangled angel costume singing “Zou Bisou Bisou” (Megan Draper, eat your heart out!), and Jenna made Paul the happiest shman alive.
Just then, Hazel jumped on stage and tore a photograph of Sinead O’Connor in half, recalling perhaps the most shocking moment in “Saturday Night Live” history.
The West coast edition of "30 Rock" live changed few jokes, because great jokes don’t need changing. The biggest differences were Kim Kardashian subbing in for McCartney. Playing a Cabletown co-worker she strolled into character Jack Donaghy’s office looking to use the loo. When Kenneth opened the door she whispered "thank you," shook Jack's hand and exited.
Later, when Paul proposed to Jenna, he said, "Wow, 2.5 million people just saw that." On cue, Kardashian appeared toting a digital video recorder and replied, "Now 14 million people just saw that. You're welcome."
It’s obvious the actress had a great time doing the show, tweeting later "Anyone see 30 Rock tonight??? I had a blast!!!! Love this show!”
Brian Williams was also on board, taking over for Hamm at the anchor desk.
Though an MVP argument could be made for basically every person who appeared onstage, the ensemble shone brightest of all. Everyone was clearly having a blast, which made the show tons of fun to watch.
Nothing summed up the exuberance of the ensemble like Jack and Pete making out at the end. It’s live! Anything could happen.
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