by pat howard

DVD | ’30 Rock’ is a comedy gift that keeps giving

In 30 Rock, DVD, NBC, Saturday Night Live on September 30, 2007 at 10:48 am

It’s a crazy time of year, and with the fall season starting, the deluge of TV-on-DVD releases has hit critical mass. I’ve managed to make a little time to examine the freshman outings of two acclaimed series that return with new episodes this week.

30 Rock, which won this year’s Emmy for outstanding comedy, is certainly deserving of the honor. Tina Fey mined the years she spent in the SNL writers’ room and turned them into comedy gold.

Fey is at her best here as a modern-day Mary Tyler Moore, a single career woman in television just trying to keep it all together. Jane Krakowski is great as Jenna, the ditsy blonde. Tracy Morgan is hilarious as embattled, unpredictable actor Tracy Jordan. And Alec Baldwin is hilarious and surprisingly likable in the role he was born to play.

But 30 Rock is not content to merely scratch the surface. It’s the minor details, supporting characters, and long-running jokes that really seal the deal. Jack McBrayer steals the show with his portrayal of Kenneth, the eager NBC page who genuinely loves his job as a servant to the people who make TV. And various SNL alumni, including Rachel Dratch in a variety of bizarre bit parts, are familiar faces who seem so organic to this world. Plus, there’s Tracy’s entourage, not to be trifled with.

I cannot remember when I laughed out loud this hard and this long at a television sitcom, for the reasons it was intended to be laughed at. And you have to appreciate the fourth-place network letting its own successful shows take shots at it constantly.

The first season is out now; the second premieres this Thursday at 8:30p/7:30c on NBC. And there’s a mini-marathon starting on Bravo at 1p/12c today…that’s just minutes from now.

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