Somewhere around the time of The Rural Juror and a foray into accidental incest, 30 Rock, NBC’s underdog series about the shenanigans at a sketch-comedy show, transformed from a decent sitcom to a very good one. Its ensemble crackles, its writing is tight and sly, and right now no show better captures New York City — even the theme song sounds as if it belongs in a Woody Allen movie.
Credit creator Tina Fey for her decision to go Seinfeld (the actor, not the series — Fey’s Liz Lemon lets the crazy unfold around her). Credit Tracy Morgan (Tracy) for dialing down his alter ego a notch. Credit Jane Krakowski, who uses Jenna to mine the depths of a vain Actress of a Certain Age. Her techno dance spoof ”Muffin Top” — it’s No. 1 in Israel, naturally — was a season high point. (Sample lyric: ”My muffin top is all that/Whole grain, low-fat/I know you want a piece of that/But I just want to dance.”) And credit Alec Baldwin. Seriously credit Alec Baldwin. His GE executive Jack Donaghy embodies Rock‘s strength. It offers humor for both the absurdist (Jack: ” You must know Arsenio.” Tracy: ”Hall or Billingham?”) and the traditionalist (Jack to Kenneth the NBC page — played by scene-stealer Jack McBrayer — on the corporate job-switch day called ”Bottoms Up”: ”I’m going to be your bottom, Kenneth. I want you to ride me as hard as you can”).
NBC should be riding this terrific comedy as hard as it can, so why is it about to pull it off the air for five weeks? A