‘30 Rock’: Ending a 7-season marathon of mirth
You’re gonna get it. Sort of. At least, the sort befitting “30 Rock,” with its loopy storytelling mixed with joy in spoofing the culture of TV.
Closure, if that’s what it is, comes in a two-minute postscript on this hour episode (airing today at 8 p.m. on NBC).
But maybe you should just stop reading right now, you “30 Rock” purists who don’t want to know what happens or might seem to happen, however wacked-out and ironic it may be.
Which, among other things, includes this sly touch: a reference to the snowglobe revelation with which the medical drama “St. Elsewhere” famously concluded a quarter-century ago.
But there’s more. Just before the final fade-out, NBC President Kenneth the former Page (Jack McBrayer) is pitched a new comedy series taking place right there at network headquarters, 30 Rock.
Hmmm. This is no ending. It’s a Mobius strip.
The comic coda suggests where many of the characters might be a year from now. But that’s not the point of the finale, which mostly wants to have fun. And does.
This last yahoo of “30 Rock” after seven brilliant seasons takes delight in tracking the unraveling of its characters as the show-within-the-show, “TGS,” comes to an end with its own final broadcast.
After that, of course, its producer, Liz Lemon (Tina Fey), its stars, Jenna Moroney and Tracy Jordan (Jane Krakowski and Tracy Morgan) and other members of the “TGS” staff will have to leave the cozy, kooky nest of 30 Rockefeller Plaza. The prospect of doing that terrifies them all.
Meanwhile, Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin), the newly minted CEO of NBC parent Kabletown, is battling his own existential crisis.
He has gotten the top job he wanted all his life. And as the ultimate Republican capitalist, he has even scored a lash-out from a treasured enemy, House Republican Leader Nancy Pelosi.
“Jack Donaghy is an economic war criminal,” Pelosi is seen declaring on a cable news network. “If the Democratic Party controls Congress, I will see to it that he is punished in the worst way possible: by having to come down here and listen to us.”
Even with total victory under his belt, Jack still feels unfulfilled. What else can he do? He resigns from the company and begins a journey to discover what might truly make him happy.
Jack’s despair includes the fear that he’s lost Liz as a friend.
“I don’t have that many people in my life,” he sobs to Jenna. “I spend Christmas alone in the Hamptons drinking Scotch and throwing firecrackers at Billy Joel’s dog.”
Out of a job, Liz is miserable as a stay-at-home mom of adopted twins. Conversely, her husband, Criss (played by guest star James Marsden), hates steady employment.
“It’s OK to want to work,” he consoles Liz. “One of us has to. We just got it backwards: You’re the dad.”
“I do like ignoring your questions while I try to watch TV,” Liz agrees.
(Interestingly, a year hence Liz is seen back at work producing a dumb sitcom with her children in tow. Where is hubby Criss?)
During the finale, “30 Rock” doesn’t hesitate to snack on its own past.
Liz and Tracy have an awkward heart-to-heart at the strip club where Tracy lured her on their first encounter on the series’ premiere.
And a high point of the episode comes when Jenna revisits the project she starred in years ago, a film with the lips-scrunching title “Rural Juror” (which inevitably comes out sounding something like “ruhr juhr”).
On the farewell “TGS,” Jenna performs the theme from her new musical adaptation of “Rural Juror,” with, inevitably, almost nothing she sings recognizable as English.
It serves as a reminder: “30 Rock” wasn’t just a brilliant comedy series. It also forged a comic language of its own.