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Will "SNL" Fever Transmit to "30 Rock"? It Deserves To...
October 23, 2008  | By David Bianculli
snl-weekend-update-thursday.jpgTonight at 9:30 ET on NBC is the third and final Thursday prime-time special edition of Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update." Next week, Tina Fey's 30 Rock returns to the schedule, reclaiming its old time slot with its third-season premiere.snl-weekend-update-tin.jpg

Will 30 Rock continue to be unjustly ignored by the vast majority of viewers? Or will the Emmys earned by the show recently, Fey's dead-on Palin impression, and the current epidemic of SNL fever combine to finally make the show a hit?

Let's hope for the latter.

The fact that Fey and co-star Alec Baldwin both won Emmys for performing, and 30 Rock for best comedy, is no surprise. All you have to do is watch that sitcom to see how good it is, and how good they are.

But most people AREN'T watching 30 Rock -- so as it begins this third season, the "perfect storm" of Fey-Palin-SNL is its best chance.

30-rock-tina-alec.jpgLast weekend, when SNL had both the real Sarah Palin and Tina Fey's doppelganger as guest stars, the show drew an estimated 14 million viewers. That was good enough not only to be the biggest SNL audience since 1994, but also good enough, competitively, to have put SNL in that week's overall Top 10.

In prime time, though, the Weekend Update specials are a different matter. The premiere outing drew 10.9 million viewers, but last week's edition slipped to 8.83 million -- a drop of almost 20 percent. But that's still substantially above the usual draw for 30 Rock, which last season averaged only 6.4 million viewers.

For the month of November, 30 Rock is loading its roster with guest stars, including Oprah Winfrey one week and Steve Martin the next. But last year it had Jerry Seinfeld, who didn't help much. So maybe it'll take a combination of SNL fever and Tina Fey's sudden ubiquitousness to entice viewers, finally, to sample 30 Rock.

I hope so. Because 30 Rock has built it -- so if they won't come now, especially after the past month of free Fey publicity, they most likely never will.




Eileen said:

I don't understand why "30 Rock" doesn't have an enormous following. I've watched it from the start, and it's the funniest, smartest show on tv. Alec Baldwin is perfection, as are Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan and the entire cast. It never fails to make me laugh out loud. Their last episode in January, 2008 when Kenneth the Intern was leaving for Georgia was beyond clever. The writing and performances just keep on getting better. But, as we all know, quality (programming) doesn't assure quantity (viewers). Unfortunately, people rather waste their time on brainless reality shows than appreciate truly exceptional writing and acting. Hopefully this season "30 Rock" will get the viewership they so rightfully deserve.

Comment posted on October 23, 2008 10:34 AM

Neil said:

In my opinion, there is a modest-sized core of intelligent viewers in this country that appreciates shows like 30 Rock or Arrested Development, smart shows which pitch their subtle humor high and inside.

That audience could be larger, but I suspect the rest of the "intelligent" viewers have largely abandoned the medium as an entertainment vehicle, restricting what little viewing they do to news, public affairs and shows like Frontline.

The rest of the viewing universe just doesn't have the sophistication to appreciate such shows. They want shows that don't challenge them, don't make them think very hard, don't keep throwing fastballs so quickly that they can't keep up with the jokes. This great unwashed mass audience wants shows about Jim and Raymond and Christine, not 30 Rock.

Comment posted on October 23, 2008 12:12 PM
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