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Will "30 Rock" Ride Tina Fey Fever to Become Must-See TV?
October 30, 2008  | By David Bianculli
Is NBC's 30 Rock the Cheers of the 21st century -- or The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd? We'll find out tonight...

daysmollydavid142736_marydo.jpgMolly Dodd, starring current Fringe supporting player Blair Brown, was one of my favorite sitcoms of the 1980s. It began as part of NBC's Thursday night lineup, and was a comedic bridge between the independent TV women of The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Ally McBeal.

But that brilliant Jay Tarses show, which co-starred Victor Garber, David Strathairn and others, never quite caught on. Some critics accused it of being too smart, too subtle, too different to thrive. But I loved it, and still wonder why it wasn't a bigger hit.


That same decade, there was another Thursday night comedy I adored, and couldn't understand, at first, why no one was watching it. That show was a freshman sitcom called Cheers, and it was absolutely brilliant from the beginning. Yet that first year, so few people were watching that it ended one week as the least-viewed show of all.

But NBC was patient (as it has been with 30 Rock), and The Cosby Show showed up the next year to become an instant Thursday-night phenomenon. Cheers very quickly rose to the top.

So what's it going to be for 30 Rock? After two years of squeaking by in the ratings, not even making the overall Top 100 last season, will it finally vault to the top ranks? Will enough people who adored Tina Fey's impression of Sarah Palin come to watch, and adore, her portrayal of TV producer Liz Lemon on 30 Rock?


If there's justice in TV Land (and I don't mean the cable network), yes. When 30 Rock premiered, I pegged it instantly as the best show to emerge from the upfronts, and the best new show of that season. The following year, I did the same for Pushing Daisies -- which has lost about half its audience after the writers' strike.

If shows as good as 30 Rock and Pushing Daisies can't thrive on network TV, then let us eat cable.

For the record, I've already raved about the third-season opener of 30 Rock, and played a clip, on yesterday's Fresh Air with Terry Gross, which also featured Terry's informative interview with Saturday Night Live head writer Seth Meyers. You can hear my review by clicking HERE, and the entire show by clicking HERE.

I also reviewed tonight's 30 Rock in a blog for Broadcasting & Cable, which you can read HERE.

So I feel I've done my part in helping 30 Rock survive.

Tonight at 9:30 p.m. ET, it's your turn to do yours.





keidalgrim said:

You appear to be on a personal mission to launch 30 Rock into the televised stratosphere. I commend you for that; you've certainly done your part.

Here's why, however, in spite of your best efforts to save this show, I believe 30 Rock is going to either remain in the toilet or succumb to its (the toilet's) propensity to suck things downward into the bowels of the earth: the players in this show are simply too fraught with political baggage.

I'm sure this show is every bit the diamond in the rough you claim it is. But I, for one, am not going anywhere near it until Alec Baldwin FINALLY makes good on his promise to leave the country if W is elected president. Until that happens, I pretty much can't stomach the guy.

And then there's Tina. God love her. She does make a fantastic Sarah Palin, and her fortunes do indeed deserve to rise if for no other reason than she happens to be as hot (if not hotter) than the Wasilla mayor herself. That aside, she's still Tina Fey of SNL, and therefore she still reeks of liberal proclivities.

In the end, if watching 30 Rock didn't make me feel as though I needed to be hosed down in a way that makes Silkwood seem like a summer afternoon romp in the backyard sprinkler, I might be tempted to give it a chance.

But that's just not going to happen. And on Thursday evenings at 9:30pm, you'll find me straddling that porcelain God, middle finger pointed downward atop the shiny silver trigger. (And so, we agree to disagree... but how do you REALLY feel? -- David B.)

Comment posted on October 30, 2008 1:43 PM
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