October 16th, 2009
09:46 AM ET

'30 Rock' still brings the laughs

Having won the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series every season that it has been on, you would think "30 Rock" could afford to coast on its reputation. But from the very first scene, where Jack appears to welcome the viewing audience to "Season Four," the show continued to deliver rapid-fire laughs in its traditional style.

tina fey

The comedic pairing of Jack and Kenneth has always been a winner (even more so than Tracy and Kenneth), and the season premiere was no exception. When Kenneth got a glimpse of Jack's big bonus after being told that NBC was out of money ("Bonus means extra. I know that. From game shows."), the network page became a most unlikely strike leader.

Being highly visible during the writer's strike of two years ago, Tina Fey seemed uniquely qualified to poke fun at them, as both Jenna and Tracy eventually joined the picketers: Tracy, after a hilarious search for his roots, which mostly consisted of him trying clumsily to connect with random passersby ("Hello, fellow human being. Would you like to ask me what time it is?"), and Jenna, after hearing of Liz and Pete's plan to hire a new cast member.

Speaking of Liz and Pete's storyline, that one seemed the weakest of the episode, as their attempts to hide what they were doing seemed more cliched than what this show usually does. I did like the line about picking up her nutritionist and elderly son, though. Jenna's plan to appeal more to middle America by going country while promoting NBC's tennis coverage, on the other hand, was one of the show's highlights.

I wasn't a fan of Steve Buscemi's first guest appearance as Len, but the character has grown on me since. His plan to infiltrate the striking pages led to some of the episode's funnier moments.

All in all, it was a solid return for the show, though it probably won't be remembered as one of the best episodes ever. I'm happy to hear that there will be less reliance on big-name guest stars this season, too, as the show is usually best when it's just the main cast doing what they do best (with the exceptions of Jon Hamm and Salma Hayek).

What did you think? Did the season premiere make you optimistic that this show's still got it? Or are its best days behind it?

soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. CTComedyFan

    Not a huge fan of 30 Rock, but defnitely a huge fan of The Office. I love every character on the office but not 30 Rock. To me it's just a better written show. No disrespect to Tina and Alec though.

    Bring back Arrested Development FOX!!! Now that is a great show....

    October 20, 2009 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Lee

    I had a friend tell me during season 1 that Tina Fey had a classic comedy in her, but 30 Rock wasn't it. How wrong he was. I always get at least two full involuntary belly laughs per show. Mark Twain would approve.

    October 19, 2009 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ryanrit

    I wonder how Leno took the not so subtle dig at his show, if it even registered...

    October 16, 2009 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Joe

    |t was not funny. I barely laughed and I very much like the show. I have read comments on facebook, here, etc but not sure if it is Hanks' own words or he has just posted it, the review was weak and not real. The opener easily lost me and that in just less than half an hour! It used to keep me glued to the screen, figure of speech, but last night, it reminded me how SNL been going down in the past couple of seasons except of course during the presidential time and they got saved by it, for the moment.

    October 16, 2009 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Just a dude

    don't get me wrong, I like 30 Rock. But to say that it's "Best Comedy On TV" is downright silly. Always Sunny in Philadelphia is hands down... the funniest show.

    October 16, 2009 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
  6. bairn

    Loved it, as always. Loved appealing to middle America with the hotdog pizza and Jenna's country singing – a joke about how middle america really is not the demographic watching her show in reality. And the throw away line about "comrade Obama". Great, as always, even under the pressure of a season premiere.

    October 16, 2009 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Shaw Girl

    Tina Fey is my hero! I love her undercover, witty, smarter than everyone in the room humor! No one today does it better! Anyone who ACTUALLY gets Tracy Morgan's humor and then makes sure everyone in America gets him is brilliant! Love this show!

    October 16, 2009 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mary

    Just the best show. "It's tennis night in America!" Classic.

    October 16, 2009 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Gina B.

    Funniest show on TV. Tina Fey is brilliant. All the characters are fantastic. This show has not gone anywhere but up since Season One. It is still clever and hilarious.

    October 16, 2009 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  10. Drew

    30 Rock is the best show on tv, handsdown. Tia Fey and the rest of the pitch perfect cast are awsome. I came in late to thw whole 30 Rock thing , but quickly caught up on DVD and im so glad i did, This is my generations "Seinfeld", but better, no offence Jerry! = )

    October 16, 2009 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  11. Riley Garrard

    The commercials were funnier than this show, and they were not all that good either. I know I am old and cranky, but please, with no offense to the obviously talented crew, what in the world is all the fuss about?

    October 16, 2009 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  12. Andrew

    At it's weakest (and those moments are rare), 30 Rock is miles ahead of most other shows on TV. Real writers. Real actors. No "reality TV". I hope the show is around for years!

    October 16, 2009 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  13. Deborah Carr

    Tina Fey has spoiled us with her brilliance to the extent that mediocre for her is still the best that television comedy has to offer. And the opening show was strictly mediocre for 30 Rock. I have faith in her writing and in her cast, and will shine it on until the show shines once more. After four seasons, Jane Krakowski is the one star who is always shining and her opening night glow saved the evening. An Emmy for Jane, please!!

    October 16, 2009 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  14. Me me

    It was very, very funny and it made me laugh so much.

    October 16, 2009 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  15. JJ ocker

    yeh i am so smelly.

    October 16, 2009 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  16. Lisa

    Since 30 ROCK has won so many awards, I felt compelled to watch it this week. I've never watched it before - mind you, until recently I hadn't had a tv in 5 years . After winning so many awards, I felt I would be entertained with intelligent humor, segued humor, some humor. Sad to say, that was not the case. I am more impressed with the writers of "2 and 1/2 men" ~~~

    October 16, 2009 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  17. John

    30 Rock still brings the laughs. I laughed myself off the couch last night. Though I was never a fan of Tracy Jordan on SNL, on 30 Rock, for me ,Tracy is the funniest cast member , "Are you a large child or a small adult?" I'm still laughing!

    October 16, 2009 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  18. Buster

    Meh. It was average, in my opinion, for a 30 Rock episode. Now, average for 30 Rock means orders of magnitude better than just about any other show on the tube. So it was very funny, and astutely observational.

    I am surprised to see it still on, really. Since it has won so many awards, is smartly written, and has created the biggest buzz for a network show, it stands to reason it should be cancelled and replaced with something stupid and brainless like "Ultra-American-Model-Lost-Idol-Swap-3000".

    October 16, 2009 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  19. Ian

    It was very funny, and the the best comedy on right now.

    October 16, 2009 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  20. Chad

    I agree whole heartedly with Geoff in that it's better than 95% of what's on television currently but I'll qualify that by saying I don't think it is all that funny to begin with. It is better than reality T.V., though.

    October 16, 2009 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
  21. Jared

    I think it was a great start for the fourth season. Tracy was just uncontrollably funny "Are you a large child or a small adult?". I think that the show has been so incredible in the past that if it isn't PERFECT people start getting nervous that it's going to spiral down into some horrible show. Every season premiere is rough, but I know it will get right back on track.

    "Pete and I are intercoursing each other?". The best writers on television.

    October 16, 2009 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
  22. Dave R.

    It's one of the finest shows on TV. Alec Baldwin, to me, absolutely makes the show.

    It's rather sad what NBC has done with their Thursday lineup. Just a few short years ago, there was no better 2-hour block of TV than My Name Is Earl, Scrubs, The Office, and 30 Rock. All of the shows were absolutely brilliant. Thankfully we still have The Office and 30 Rock.

    As long as they can keep 30 Rock and The Office together, I'll still get my fill of brilliant writing, excellent casting, and an aching stomach from laughing.

    October 16, 2009 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
  23. couchgrouch

    30 Rock's season openers are generally a little shaky but it was still snappy fun. I caught more of the gags on a second viewing. I noticed Jack Burditt's name in the credits of New Christine this season. a guy by that name was a top writer for 30 Rock. Christine was great this week which I think he wrote. it'd be a shame if 30 Rock lost him but at least he didn't end up on NCIS:Tuscaloosa.

    October 16, 2009 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
  24. Mike from Boston

    Alec Baldwin's hand-off to Jay Leno was great. A nice dig on Leno, and the audience.

    October 16, 2009 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
  25. Robert

    The best line of the night was when Pete's wife said to Liz that she can join them in their lovemaking, that was awesome!

    October 16, 2009 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
  26. Angelo Crespo

    This is an incredible show. As an aspiring screenwriter, I have always admired Tina Fey and her abilities as a comedy writer. With 30 Rock, she seems to have transcended SNL and has aqcuired a comedy-goddesslike status among women in a business dominated by testoserone and bad suits. Kudos to Tina and the cast of 30 Rock! May they single-handedly bring back "Must See Thursday!"

    October 16, 2009 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  27. PHAmanNYC

    Of all that ISN'T worth watching anymore on prime-time network television these days (i.e. ANY kind of "reality" television), there shines forth a beacon of smart writing and smart comedy for smart people: 30 Rockl. Thankfully, America seems to actually LIKE 30 Rock unlike shows that must clearly have been too intelligent (or maybe just too worthy) for the viewing public like Arrested Development. In a country where our standards for entertainment seem to float around in the toilet at the lowest-common-denomonator level, I am so thankful that creators like Fey and hilarious star power like Baldwin (and the rest of the cast to be sure) have given us some real comedy for a change. The first three seasons were most definitely funny in all the right ways (in my own opinion especially about the Right) and last night promises that Season Four will deliver without a doubt... Kudos to 30 Rock and, Tina, thank you forever for your gift of laughter to the American people who REALLY need it now more than ever (especially those who need to learn to laugh at themselves again)!!!

    October 16, 2009 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
  28. Done with 30 Rock

    30 Rock's best season was season 1 – it has been in a downhill slide since then. It isn't funny. Arrested Development beats 30 Rock anyday.

    October 16, 2009 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
  29. Geoff

    It was a good show, but not the laugh-out-loud of prior years. Everything starts showing its age sooner or later and 30 Rock is no exception, but it's still better than 95% of the crap on TV. I mean, what is Nip/Tuck still doing on?? Seriously?

    October 16, 2009 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |

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