Between a ‘ Rock’ – and no place

A Liz Lemon party was mandatory: Goodbye, Tina Fey at al.

Between a ‘ Rock’ – and no place (photo credit: Courtesy)
Between a ‘ Rock’ – and no place
(photo credit: Courtesy)
All together now: BLURG! That moan you’re hearing is the sound of millions of fans entering the post-30 Rock era.
The last episode of the show aired on Thursday, January 31 on NBC in the US. We in Israel can prolong the inevitable for a few more weeks, until February 16, when the last episode will be shown on YES Comedy here.
For some of us, the smartest, funniest and (more often than you’d think) most moving show that has ever been seen on mainstream television has become a great pleasure and a magnificent obsession. No matter how dire things get, a world that produced 30 Rock can never be all bad.
It started out with little fanfare, a comedy by one of the Saturday Night Live gang – Tina Fey – about the cast and crew of a late-night live television show. But it was going up against a show with an almost identical plot by Aaron Sorkin, the king of witty network TV, called Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Fey was David to Sorkin’s Goliath, and after a single season, Studio 60 sank without a trace. But Tina Fey’s Liz Lemon, a kind of everywoman for the 21st century who said more with an eye roll that most pundits can with dozens of op-ed columns, became a cultural icon, as did her many catchphrases, including “Blurg!” “Nerds!” “What-the-what” and “I want to go to there.”
Fey’s ability to make fun of herself with great affection toward all of nerd-kind is what gives this show heart and separates it from so many comedies that are all snark and no substance.
She and her team of writers created a wonderful cast of characters for Liz to bounce off of. The most memorable was Jack Donaghy, the gruff, unabashedly Republican network boss, played by Alec Baldwin. Jack came up with as many memorable quotes as Liz. Here are just a few of them: “We all have ways of coping. I use sex and awesomeness.” “Rich 50 is middle-class 38.” “Never go with a hippie to a second a location.” “Making it through a full 24 hours without a single misstep is called ‘Reaganing.’ The only other people who’ve ever done it: Lee Iacocca, Jack Welch, and – no judgment – Saddam Hussein.”
Fans who desperately hoped that Jack and Liz would end up together were disappointed a few weeks ago when Liz married her perky boyfriend, Criss (James Marsden), to increase their chances of adopting a child, in a rushed City Hall ceremony (the episode was called “Mazel Tov, Dummies”). At the last minute, Liz admitted she did want the day to be special and wore a white gown – albeit her Princess Leia gown. And Jack did his part to show that there were no hard feelings by getting Tony Bennett to cancel an appearance at the White House and serenade Liz and Criss.
We’ll also miss the crazy spoiled movie star Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan), who delivered dozens of ridiculously silly, often politically incorrect, lines every week, crazy riffs like “I’m a Jedi knight!” and “Live every week like it’s Shark Week.”
Jane Krakowski as the hysterically self-absorbed but gutsy actress Jenna Maroney was also one of the series’ gems. She was totally credible and hilarious in a role that easily could have been insufferable, as she constantly celebrated herself. Most recently, when Liz fretted that she may have stolen the thunder from Jenna’s upcoming nuptials with her City Hall ceremony, Jenna deadpanned, “My whole life is thunder.”
And then there’s Kenneth Parcell (Jack McBrayer) who, at press time (Spoiler alert: Oh, it’s been all over Facebook for days), had just become head of the network. He’s a hillbilly whose insane dedication to his job as an NBC page is a contrast to the cynical city slickers who surround him.
We’ll all have our favorite moments and guest stars from the seven seasons of pure genius. One of the most popular episodes was “The Bubble,” in which Liz dates a dim-witted but unspeakably gorgeous doctor (Mad Men’s Jon Hamm) who doesn’t even know the Heimlich maneuver.
There were other amazing guest stars, too, including Paul McCartney, Oprah Winfrey, Julianne Moore, Matt Damon, Carrie Fisher, Condaleezza Rice, Salma Hayek, Elaine Stritch and so many others.
For seven years, there truly was no party like a Liz Lemon party, and missing 30 Rock, for so many of us, will be mandatory.