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By Felix Vasquez Jr. | October 26, 2006

While “Saturday Night Live” crawls on like the injured Chihuahua you’re about to run over the second time with your jeep, it’s spawned two new shows simultaneously spoofing and surpassing its original source in laughs.

Now, I enjoyed “Saturday Night Live” as a child, but when the new cast came on, we were given Horatio Sanz, Jimmy Fallon, and Fred Armisen. And now you know the rest of horrifying story.

Anyway, if you read Mr. Aronsky’s entry, he’s pretty much had it with Sorkin, and “Studio 60” after giving it a fair shot. I on the other hand have viewed its sister “30 Rock” with optimism, patience, and my work is paying off to what is gradually becoming a funny show that will likely be cancelled, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

Usually, when a show fails to keep me watching for four episodes, I drop it, and I hold no remorse, but like “Saturday Night Live,” I keep going back to it, hoping it gets better, and slowly the people at “30 Rock” are paying me off. SNL hasn’t.

After “The Girly Show” is past its prime, NBC hires a new executive to re-tool the show into a vehicle for a famous black comedian named Tracy Jordan played by the always unfunny Tracy Morgan. Morgan who denies it, is pretty much a Martin Lawrence spoof, and he’s never as funny as a talented comedian could be in his shoes.

I’ve found much of the interesting characters are with Fey, Baldwin, and Friedlander. Fey’s brainy but sexy vibe is palpable, and Fey’s talent for charm and comedy make her a new age Mary Tyler Moore. However I am also enjoying “Conan” castaway Jack McBrayer as the cheery tour guide Kenneth who ends up becoming much more of a threat at poker than everyone else realizes in the latest episode.

Featured also is an often uneven performance by the always scrumptious Jane Krakowski as the bubbly blond lead actress Jenna DeCarlo for “The Girly Show” who is pushed aside after Jordan comes on to claim the show.

Through its caveats, and failed gags, though, “30 Rock” can manage to hit when it wants to. Take for example the most recent episode, where the group engages in poker with Baldwin’s character Jack who insinuates himself in their weekly ritual, and Fey’s character Liz is set up with another woman by Jack who is convinced she’s a lesbian.

Though the episode did go on too long with Liz’s choking scenario (Just like SNLer’s to milk a funny joke until you’re begging for it to end), the entire episode had its share of sharp one-liners, and top notch acting.

In one scene, the always funny Judah Freidlander remarks:
“Are you sure you’re not gay? Because that chick is hot.”

To which Fey remarks:
“We’re just friends like Oprah and Gale.”

Granted, the show is very much a hit and miss affair. When the dialogue falls flat, it’s rather mediocre to painful to watch, because you can feel the writers trying to pull themselves out of water, but when the dialogue hits, it’s hysterical.

And Alec Baldwin, God bless you. If I believed in a god I’d pray for you to stick with “30 Rock,” and continue saving it from drowning in a muck of sub-par gags. Your husky wit, and shameless humor as a sort of Blake from “Glenngary Glenn Ross” who seemed to have lost his mind, is memorable.

As many people know, Baldwin, a constant guest on SNL, has graced audiences with his presence as a foil to the group of 30 Rock as this constant zany menace. He’s cold and calculating, is always one step ahead of Liz, and is so utterly eccentric and funny. The rivalry between Fey and Baldwin is engrossing.

You save this show, you steal scenes, and you chew the scenery with your deadpan delivery:
Mr. Donaghy: She said you looked like Jennifer Jason Leigh.
Liz: Really?
Mr. Donaghy: Yes, I asked her to repeat it because I thought she meant Jason Lee.

If not for your casting, mark my words, I’d have dropped this show at the pilot. Someone give Baldwin an Emmy, now and get it over with.

“30 Rock” is paying off slowly, but we’ll see if NBC gives it the axe soon. What with the pull Michaels has, I doubt this show will be off any time soon. I mean, if they can keep SNL on for such a long time, why not a funny show like “30 Rock”?

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  1. Ethan Marten says:

    Error-nski! Studio 60 is a keeper. Don’t be meshuga Rory. 60’s a show worthy of having a lineup built around it.

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