'30 Rock' Live Episode: Did It Work?

More
30rock4_post.jpg

NBC


The story of this week's episode of 30 Rock was simple—Jack has given up alcohol while Avery is pregnant with their child, and everyone has forgotten Liz's birthday.

But let's face it, the real focus of the show was the fact that it was broadcast live from Studio 8H at 30 Rockefeller Plaza instead of pre-taped on the 30 Rock soundstage in Long Island City.

The move to SNL's space definitely changed the visual experience of the show. There were a couple of awkward camera angles, such as the camera on top of the flat when Liz comes in to talk to Jonathan, and due to the proscenium-like set up of the studio, we saw the set pieces in a different way. I barely recognized Jack's office, since we saw the fireplace, usually lost to the left of the camera, head-on instead of Jack's familiar desk and the windows behind it. There were some new noises added to the soundtrack with the addition of the live studio audience—who most enthusiastically greeted Jon Hamm's appearance—and a live band (the SNL band?) played the opening title song and background music during some scenes.

Besides the look of the show, Saturday Night Live's influence was obvious in its content, featuring:

1. SNL-style commercials parading as actual TGS commercials



2. Lots of guest stars, including three current or former SNL folks Julia Louis-Dreyfuss hilariously featured as Liz's body double for refined sugar flashbacks and quick scene changes, Rachel Dratch as a 30 Rock cleaning lady, Chris Parnell as Dr. Leo Spaceman, Matt Damon as Carol, Bill Hader as his creepy co-pilot, and Jon Hamm as handless Drew.

3. A chance to watch TGS skits for the first time in a long time, including a Fox News sketch somewhat reminiscent of Weekend Update.

4. And, of course, the familiar sign off and closing credits with everyone piled on the Studio 8H stage

But the best part of this episode, hands down, was that they used the whole experience, with its visual differences and quirks, as a conceit for a big, 21-minute-long joke. Jack starts out the episode asking Liz, "Does it seem weird in here to you?" And nothing is quite right until he takes a quick swig of alcohol in celebration of Liz's birthday, returning everything about the show to normal for just a brief moment.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Caitlan Smith is a senior recruiter for Atlantic Media Company, having previously worked for The Atlantic as an editorial assistant and researcher. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

The Time JFK Called the Air Force to Complain About a 'Silly Bastard'

51 years ago, President John F. Kennedy made a very angry phone call.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Entertainment

Just In