TV Article

'30 Rock'

The brilliance of ''30 Rock'' -- Why Tina Fey's Emmy-winning sitcom tops our list of best tv shows in 2007

The brilliance of ''30 Rock''

This year was full of competent, B-grade TV — which just makes the fizzy bit of brilliance that is NBC's 30 Rock gleam all the more. Tina Fey's Emmy-winning sitcom isn't just clever or shocking or chock-full of pop culture witticisms, it also happens to be plain hilarious. How refreshing to giggle aloud at a comedy and not feel like a cheap-laugh sucker. 30 Rock earns every guffaw with its left-brain/right-brain zigzags. It's incisive but squirrelly, satiric but joyfully goofy. In a single episode, the comedy — ostensibly about the actors, writers, and execs behind an NBC sketch show — can skewer racism, sexism, ageism, liberalism, and conservatism, and still find room for a visiting Carrie Fisher to make loopy H.R. Haldeman jokes and slug down a thermos of wine. The whirligig writing is ambitious but never ostentatious, and the cast, from Jack McBrayer's starstruck Kenneth the Page to Jane Krakowski's fat-thin diva, is superb. But it really comes down to the show's triumvirate, doesn't it? In this second season, Fey has surpassed her flustered straight-woman role: She feels genuine, bright, and occasionally nutty, but with enough sense to remark on her own madness. Tracy Morgan continues to perfect his blank-eyed craziness as an overindulged, posse-pampered comedian with a love of inscrutable license plates. And as purry, synergy-obsessed executive Jack Donaghy (''I run a Sheinhardt Wig subsidiary called NBC''), Alec Baldwin is flawless, combining bone-deep insecurity with sky-high megalomania. Smart, playful, weird, and occasionally quite sweet, 30 Rock isn't just the best comedy on TV this year, it's simply the best TV.

Click here to read Gillian Flynn's picks for the ten best TV shows of 2007
Originally posted Dec 21, 2007 Published in issue #971-972 Dec 28, 2007 Order article reprints