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30 Rock is an American satirical television sitcom created by Tina Fey that ran on NBC from October 11, 2006 to January 31, 2013. The series, loosely based on Fey's experiences as head writer for Saturday Night Live, takes place behind the scenes of a fictional live sketch comedy show depicted as airing on NBC. The series' name refers to 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, the address of the GE Building, in which the NBC Studios are located. This series is produced by Broadway Video and Little Stranger, Inc., in association with NBCUniversal.
30 Rock episodes were produced in a single-camera setup (with the exception of the two live episodes that were taped in the multi-camera format), and were filmed in New York. The pilot episode premiered on October 11, 2006, and seven seasons followed. The series stars Fey with a supporting cast that includes Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan, Jane Krakowski, Jack McBrayer, Scott Adsit, Judah Friedlander, Katrina Bowden, Keith Powell, Lonny Ross, John Lutz, Kevin Brown, Grizz Chapman, Maulik Pancholy and Rachel Dratch.
Tonally, 30 Rock uses absurdist humor to parody the complex corporate structure of NBC and its then parent company General Electric. Television critic Todd VanDerWerff The A.V. Club once remarked that it 'usually adopts the manic pacing of a live-action cartoon.' The show was influential in its extensive use of smash cuts: sudden, short cuts to unrelated scenes showing something the characters are briefly discussing. 30 Rock also became known for its dedication to making these extremely elaborate, once showing a set that took three days to build for only six seconds of video.
30 Rock was a runaway critical success, winning several major awards (including Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Comedy Series in 2007, 2008, and 2009 and nominations for every other year it ran), and achieving the esteemed top ranking on a myriad critics' year-end best of 2006-2013 lists. On July 14, 2009, the series was nominated for 22 Primetime Emmy Awards, the most in a single year for a comedy series. Over the course of the series, it was nominated for 112 Emmy awards and won 16, in addition to numerous other nominations and wins from other awards shows. Despite the acclaim, the series struggled in the ratings throughout its run, something which Fey herself has made light of.
In 2009, Comedy Central and WGN America bought the syndication rights to the show, which began airing on both networks on September 19, 2011; the series also entered into local broadcast syndication on the same day. Today, 30 Rock is regarded as a landmark series. Its series finale in particular has been named as one of the greatest in television history by several publications. In 2013, the Writers Guild of America named 30 Rock the 21st best-written television series of all time.
- 1 Development and production
- 2 Cast and characters
- 3 Episodes
- 4 Reception
- 5 Syndication
- 6 Internet and DVD
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Development and production
In 2002, Fey was the head writer and a performer on the television show Saturday Night Live (SNL). She pitched the show that became 30 Rock to NBC, originally as a sitcom about cable news. NBC Entertainment president Kevin Reilly felt that "Fey was using the news setting as a fig leaf for her own experience and [he] encouraged her to write what she knew." The show was subsequently reworked to revolve around an SNL-style sketch show. After being presented to Reilly once more, the show was set to air during the 2005–2006 television season. Just before the deal went through, however, the show was nearly brushed aside by Anthony Lewis and Jack Melcher, two NBC executives who fought the idea, fearing that Fey's removal from SNL would result in a severe cut to the show's ratings. Eventually, Lewis gave in just a month before his retirement, and Melcher backed down. In May 2003, Fey signed a contract with NBC to remain in her SNL head writer position until at least the 2004–2005 television season and to develop a prime-time project to be produced by Broadway Video and NBC Universal. Filming was postponed due to Tina Fey's first pregnancy.
During the 2004–2005 pilot season, a pilot was announced named Untitled Tina Fey Project. The 30 Rock pilot focused on the boss of a variety show who has to manage her relationships with the show's volatile star and its charismatic executive producer. The storyline evolved into one that dealt with a head writer of a variety show who dealt with both the stars as well as the show's new network executive. 30 Rock was officially given the green light to air May 15, 2006, along with a 13-episode order.
The series underwent further changes during the months leading up to and following its debut. A May 2006 press release mentioned that sketches from The Girlie Show would be made available in their entirety on NBC's broadband website, DotComedy.com. The idea was to air the fictitious TGS with Tracy Jordan online. This aspect of the series was abandoned prior to its debut.
Inside scenes for 30 Rock were mostly filmed at Silvercup Studios in Long Island City, Queens, NYC (Studio 8H in 30 Rock in Manhattan for two live episodes). In the episodes "Cleveland" and "Hiatus," Battery Park City, Manhattan and Douglaston, Queens doubled for Cleveland, Ohio and Needmore, Pennsylvania, respectively. In the episode "Gavin Volure," stock footage of the Arkansas Governor's Mansion was used for exterior shots of the home of Steve Martin's character.
The title sequence is made up of photos and video of 30 Rockefeller Plaza and features the series regulars. The sequence ends with a time lapse of the building and then a title card reading "30 Rock". The sequence has remained mostly the same throughout the series, although there have been changes to the images of most of the actors.
The series features a "jaunty" jazz score. Most of the incidental music melody is played by either clarinet, bass clarinet, saxophone, or strings, often as wildly varying renditions of the usual central theme. The music is composed by Fey's husband Jeff Richmond, who is also a producer for 30 Rock. Richmond wrote the theme music, which was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Main Title Theme Music. Seven short, original songs have been featured in episodes, five of which were performed by Jane Krakowski, another performed by Tina Fey and Jason Sudeikis, and another performed by Tracy Morgan. The show has also covered three existing songs, including the song "Midnight Train to Georgia" by Gladys Knight and the Pips. The song had its lyrics altered to accommodate the character Kenneth being "misinformed about the time [of the 11:45 train]". The song "Oh My" performed by The Gray Kid is heard throughout the episode "The Source Awards", which was mixed with a piano arrangement composed by Richmond. "Kidney Now!", a rendition of the popular song, "We Are the World", is performed by various artists in the Season 3 finale. Other popular songs have been featured (with blessings by the singers), like "I Will Remember You" or "Bitch".
On April 2, 2008, NBC announced 30 Rock 360, an online extension of the 30 Rock series. The extension featured Jack Donaghy's Online Business Courses (or Jack U). Users were also able to read Jack's blogs and upload their own business advice in video form. Users were able to submit sketches for TGS with Tracy Jordan and act out skits from TGS. The feature reopened Ask Tina, an interactive question and answer platform in which users could ask Fey questions. Fey answered the questions in video form. Ask Tina was a fixture on NBC.com's 30 Rock section throughout the first season.
Cast and characters
The plot of 30 Rock revolves around the cast and crew of the fictional sketch comedy series TGS with Tracy Jordan (originally called The Girlie Show), which is filmed in Studio 6H inside 30 Rockefeller Plaza. The series features an ensemble cast. The series features seven roles that receive star billing during the opening credits:
- Tina Fey as Liz Lemon, the protagonist of the series and head writer of TGS with Tracy Jordan.
- Tracy Morgan as Tracy Jordan, the loose-cannon, crazy, unpredictable, star of TGS.
- Jane Krakowski as Jenna Maroney, original star of "The Girlie Show", co-star of TGS and Liz's constantly attention-seeking and clueless best friend.
- Jack McBrayer as Kenneth Parcell, a cheerful, obedient Southern-born NBC page, who "lives for television", and whose age is never verified but is hinted to be immortal.
- Scott Adsit as Pete Hornberger, the "sane", quick-witted producer of TGS, who serves as Liz's most trusted friend.
- Judah Friedlander as Frank Rossitano, a trucker hat-wearing, manchildish, sarcastic writer at TGS. His hat bears a different phrase in every episode.
- Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy, the decisive, controlling, suave and occasionally senseless network executive who constantly interferes with the goings-on at TGS.
Beginning with season two, three characters, who were credited as guest stars during season one, received star billing after the opening credits in addition to the principal cast:
- Katrina Bowden as Cerie, Liz's attractive, laid-back assistant, who usually wears revealing outfits to work, much to the delight of the writers' room.
- Keith Powell as James "Toofer" Spurlock, the proud black Harvard University alumnus writer, who often butts heads with Tracy and Frank.
- Lonny Ross as Josh Girard, a young and immature TGS writer and co-star, known for his impressions. Ross was written out in season four.
Beginning with season three, three characters who were credited as guest stars in the first two seasons, received star billing after the opening credits in addition to Bowden, Powell, Ross, and the principal cast. They are credited only in the episodes in which they appear:
- Kevin Brown as Dot Com, an erudite member of Tracy's entourage who is also a Wesleyan University-trained stage actor. The character's real name is Walter Slattery.
- Grizz Chapman as Grizz, a member of Tracy's entourage.
- Maulik Pancholy as Jonathan, Jack's loyal and overprotective personal assistant, who at times appears to be possibly in love with Jack. Pancholy left the show after season five and returned for season seven.
Beginning with season four, one character who was credited as a guest star in the first three seasons, received star billing after the opening credits in addition to Bowden, Powell, Brown, Chapman, and Pancholy.
- John Lutz as J. D. Lutz, a lazy, overweight TGS writer who is often insulted or made fun of by the rest of the staff.
Tina Fey worked with Jen McNamara and Adam Bernstein for the casting of the series. Fey's first act as casting director was to cast herself as the lead character, Liz Lemon, who is said to be much like Fey herself when she first became head writer on SNL. The next actor to be cast was Tracy Morgan as Tracy Jordan, who was then a former castmate of Fey's in SNL. Morgan was asked by Fey to play the role, and he believed it was "right up [his] alley and it was tailor made for [him]". Fey said that the character of Kenneth Parcell was written with Jack McBrayer in mind. McBrayer is an old friend of Fey (they worked together at Second City in Chicago), and she "really wanted him for that part and was very happy when no one objected".
Rachel Dratch, Fey's longtime comedy partner and fellow SNL alumna, was originally cast to portray Jenna. Dratch played the role in the show's original pilot, but in August 2006, Jane Krakowski was announced as Dratch's replacement, with Dratch remaining involved in the show playing various characters. Fey explained the change by noting that Dratch was "better-suited to playing a variety of eccentric side characters", and that the role of Jenna was more of a straight-ahead acting part.
Although Fey went on to say that "Rachel and I were both very excited about this new direction", Dratch said that she was not happy with the media's depiction of the change as a demotion; however, she was also skeptical about the reasons she was given for the change, and was not happy with the reduction in the number of episodes in which she would appear. Following the first season, Dratch only appeared in a handful of episodes.
Shortly following the casting of McBrayer and Dratch, Alec Baldwin was cast as Jack Donaghy, the "totally uncensored" Vice President of East Coast Television and Microwave Oven Programming. Fey said that the character of Jack Donaghy was written with Baldwin in mind, and she was "very pleasantly surprised when he agreed to do it". Judah Friedlander was cast as Frank Rossitano, a staff writer of The Girlie Show. Friedlander had never met Fey before auditioning for a role in 30 Rock. His character was based on at least two writers that Fey used to work with at SNL, but he has said that he "certainly brought some of [his] own things to it as well". Finally, Scott Adsit was cast as Pete Hornberger, a longtime friend of Liz's and producer of The Girlie Show. Adsit, an old friend of Fey, also had his character written based on him.
Following SNL’s ongoing tradition, 30 Rock had several real-life politician cameos, examples being Al Gore (twice), Nancy Pelosi (series finale) and Condoleezza Rice (as Jack Donaghy's former love interest).
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||21||October 11, 2006||April 26, 2007|
|2||15||October 4, 2007||May 8, 2008|
|3||22||October 30, 2008||May 14, 2009|
|4||22||October 15, 2009||May 20, 2010|
|5||23||September 23, 2010||May 5, 2011|
|6||22||January 12, 2012||May 17, 2012|
|7||13||October 4, 2012||January 31, 2013|
Season one began airing in the United States on October 11, 2006, and featured 21 episodes. The season finale aired on April 26, 2007. Jack Donaghy, the "Head of East Coast Television and Microwave Oven Programming" at General Electric (GE), is transferred to work at the NBC headquarters, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, and retool the late night sketch comedy series The Girlie Show. The show's cast and crew are outraged by this, especially head writer Liz Lemon and main actress Jenna Maroney. Jack proceeds to wreak havoc on The Girlie Show, forcing Liz to hire off-the-wall movie star Tracy Jordan. He again irritates the cast and crew of The Girlie Show when he changes the name to TGS with Tracy Jordan (or just TGS).
As the season progresses, the episodes become less about TGS and more about how the characters deal with juggling their lives and their jobs —specifically the protagonist, Liz Lemon, but other characters are also explored. Episodes also become less self-contained and various story arcs develop in the second half of the season. For example, the first major story arc centers on Liz's relationship with Dennis Duffy (Dean Winters), "The Beeper King." Other story arcs include: Jenna promoting her movie The Rural Juror; Tracy going on the run from the Black Crusaders; Jack's engagement, which was eventually called off, to a Christie's auctioneer named Phoebe (Emily Mortimer); and another relationship of Liz's with Floyd (Jason Sudeikis).
Season two began airing in the United States on October 4, 2007, and featured 15 episodes. The second season was originally intended to consist of 22 episodes but the order was cut to 15 due to the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike. The season finale aired on May 8, 2008. After Liz broke up with Floyd in the summer, she is looking for ways to rebound. When Jerry Seinfeld confronts Jack about a new marketing campaign which featured clips of Seinfeld's sitcom, Seinfeld, in all NBC shows, he has a chance encounter with Liz that gives her some much needed advice. During the TGS summer hiatus, Jenna becomes overweight due to performing in the Broadway show Mystic Pizza: The Musical (based on the real 1988 film Mystic Pizza). Tracy has encountered some marital problems with his wife Angie Jordan (Sherri Shepherd) and they become separated, but later reunite.
During the season, Jack develops a relationship with a Democratic congresswoman named Celeste "C. C." Cunningham (Edie Falco). They later break up. An arc that was established in the first season but becomes more apparent in the second regards Jack running for the GE chairmanship against his nemesis Devon Banks (Will Arnett). The season ends with Liz planning to adopt a child after believing she was pregnant with Dennis' baby. Kenneth also travels to Beijing to be a page at the 2008 Summer Olympics and Tracy invents a pornographic video game. Jack ends the season working at a new government job in Washington, D.C., but plans to get fired by proposing a "gay bomb".
30 Rock returned with a third season as part of NBC's 2008 fall schedule, airing immediately after The Office. The show experienced a large ratings and popularity spike this season after Tina Fey's highly praised performance as Sarah Palin on SNL. This is also the season where the show made Emmy history, being nominated for 22 Emmy awards. The season consisted of 22 episodes. Oprah Winfrey guest starred in the second episode, playing herself (actually a drug-induced hallucination of Liz's), as well as Jennifer Aniston playing Liz's ex roommate. Salma Hayek also appeared for a multi-episode arc, portraying Jack's new girlfriend, Elisa. Other guest stars this season included John Lithgow, Kerry Butler, Megan Mullally, Peter Dinklage, and Steve Martin. Jon Hamm played Liz's love interest and neighbor for several episodes. Alan Alda appeared in the season's final two episodes as Milton Greene, Jack's biological father. The season finale featured multiple musical guests, including Talib Kweli, Michael McDonald, Norah Jones, Steve Earle, Moby, Clay Aiken, the Beastie Boys, Adam Levine, Mary J. Blige, Elvis Costello, Sheryl Crow, Rhett Miller, Cyndi Lauper, Sara Bareilles, Wyclef Jean, and Rachael Yamagata, performing "Kidney Now!", an organ donation drive spoof of We Are The World and "Just Stand Up!".
The fourth season of 30 Rock premiered on October 15, 2009. Like the previous season 3, it also consisted of 22 episodes. A recurring story arc early in the season revolved around Jack's request that Liz cast a new actor for TGS, and Liz's subsequent search for the perfect comedian, much to the dismay of Jenna and Tracy, who fear losing their spotlight. The later half of the season focused on two complementary story arcs: Jack's inability to choose between his two girlfriends, and Liz's inability to find a boyfriend to live up to her expectations and Jenna's relationship with a Jenna Maroney impersonator. The season has also featured such guest stars as Julianne Moore, Jon Bon Jovi, Cheyenne Jackson, Sherri Shepherd, Will Forte, Elizabeth Banks, Michael Sheen, Matt Damon, and James Franco.
30 Rock premiered its fifth season on September 23, 2010 in the Thursday 8:30 p.m. time slot.
An episode of 30 Rock's fifth season was filmed and broadcast live, twice, on the evening of October 14, 2010. The two separate recordings resulted in a live telecast of the episode to American viewers in both the West and East Coast, to ensure both would view a live performance. Filmed in front of a live audience, the episode aired at 8:30 pm EDT and PDT on NBC. A ratings success, the episode was also met with positive reviews.
30 Rock moved to the 10/9c from January 20, 2011.
Season 5 focuses on Liz Lemon's continuing relationship with Carol Burnett (Matt Damon), Jack's start into fatherhood with fiancée Avery (Elizabeth Banks), struggling with the merger of NBCUniversal with Kabletown, Tracy's foray into getting an EGOT, and Kenneth's attempt to get back to NBC. Aside from featuring the return of Rachel Dratch in the Live Show, other guest stars include Matt Damon, Elizabeth Banks, Susan Sarandon (as Frank's former teacher- who was in prison due to their relationship while he was a student- and present girlfriend), Paul Giamatti, Sherri Shepherd, Queen Latifah, Rob Reiner, John Amos, Jon Hamm, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Bill Hader, Chris Parnell, Kelsey Grammer, Buck Henry, David Gregory, John Slattery, Daniel Sunjata, Will Forte, Kelly Coffield Park, Elaine Stritch, Dr. Condoleezza Rice, Alan Alda, Cheyenne Jackson, Robert De Niro, Dean Winters, Ken Howard, Vanessa Minnillo, Brian Williams, Richard Belzer, Ice-T, John Cho, Chloë Grace Moretz, Terrance Mann (as oceanographer Robert Ballard), Cristin Milioti (as Abby Flynn in "TGS Hates Women"), Eion Bailey, Adriane Lenox, Michael Keaton, Margaret Cho (as Avery's kidnapper, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il), and Tom Hanks.
On November 15, 2011, NBC announced 30 Rock had been renewed for a sixth season, set to air at the beginning of 2012, due to Tina Fey's pregnancy. The season began airing January 12, 2012, in its new 8 pm timeslot leading into Parks and Recreation, The Office and Up All Night.
Season six finds Liz emotionally maturing while in a new relationship; Jack continues to attempt to recover his wife from North Korea and find his identity at Kabletown; Kenneth moves up (and later down,) the corporate ladder; and Jenna reaches a new level of fame thanks to being a judge on a reality show, and considers settling down with boyfriend Paul.
Many LGBT groups called for Tracy Morgan's resignation or dismissal from the show due to anti-gay comments he made between the end of season 5 and the filming for season 6. Morgan issued an apology and continued with his starring role. 30 Rock had previously received an award from GLAAD, commending the show on its portrayal of LGBT themes and characters. The scandal inspired the second episode of the season, in which Tracy Jordan goes on an offensive rant during a standup set, forcing the show to apologize on his behalf after he mistakenly apologizes to Glad, the plastic bag company, instead of GLAAD.
30 Rock returned for a final, abbreviated season consisting of 13 episodes, which began airing on October 4, 2012. Alec Baldwin reportedly approached NBC and offered to cut his pay in order for 30 Rock to be renewed for a full seventh and eighth season, stating on Twitter: "I offered NBC to cut my pay 20% in order to have a full 7th and 8th seasons of 30 Rock. I realize times have changed."
Season 7 continues to develop the relationship between Liz and Criss (James Marsden), as the pair try for children and consider getting married. Meanwhile, Jack attempts to improve his future prospects at the company, first by trying to "tank" NBC and convince Kabletown CEO Hank Hooper (Ken Howard) to sell it, and later by plotting to discredit his granddaughter and future CEO, Kaylee Hooper (Chloë Grace Moretz). Ultimately, however, he begins to wonder if he is truly happy. Elsewhere, Tracy has found success with his new movie studio, which produces comedy films mostly starring African American actors, in similar fashion to Tyler Perry; Jenna prepares to marry her longterm boyfriend Paul (Will Forte), and Kenneth has started a relationship with Hazel (Kristen Schaal), unaware that she is using him to get her moment on TGS.
30 Rock received acclaim from critics but struggled to attract viewers. Robert Abele of LA Weekly declared that the show was a "weirdly appropriate and hilarious symbol of our times". The Wall Street Journal's Dorothy Rabinowitz wrote that the "standard caution is relevant—debut episodes tend to be highly polished. All the more reason to enjoy the hilarious scenes and fine ensemble cast here". Some less favorable reviews were received from Brian Lowry of Variety. Lowry said that "Despite her success with Mean Girls, [Tina] Fey mostly hits too-familiar notes in the pilot. Moreover, she's a limited protagonist, which is problematic." Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune criticized "30 Rock for being less than the sum of its parts, and, as an entry in the single-camera comedy sweepstakes, it fails to show either the inspired inventiveness of Arrested Development or provide the surprisingly perceptive character studies of The Office". Metacritic gave the pilot episode a Metascore—a weighted average based on the impressions of a select thirty-one critical reviews—of 67 out of 100.
At the end of 2006, LA Weekly listed 30 Rock as one of the best "Series of the Year". The show also appeared on similar year end "best of" 2006 lists published by the New York Times, The A.V. Club, The Boston Globe, The Chicago Sun-Times, Entertainment Weekly, The Los Angeles Times, The Miami Herald, People Weekly, and TV Guide. The Associated Press wrote that NBC's "Thursday night comedy block—made up of My Name Is Earl, The Office, Scrubs, and 30 Rock—is consistently the best night of prime time viewing for any network." In 2007, it appeared on The Boston Globe's "best of" list as well as the "best of" lists of The Chicago Sun-Times, The Chicago Tribune, Entertainment Weekly, The Los Angeles Times, Newark Star-Ledger, The New York Times, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The San Francisco Chronicle, The San Jose Mercury News, TV Guide and USA Today. 30 Rock was named the best series of 2007 by Entertainment Weekly.
At the end of 2009, Newsweek magazine ranked 30 Rock as the best comedy on TV in the past decade, and at the end of 2010, Metacritic reported that the show ranked 12th place in their list of collected Television Critic Top Ten Lists. At the end of 2012, a poll undertaken by 60 Minutes and Vanity Fair named 30 Rock the seventh greatest sitcom of all time. In 2013, the Writers Guild of America named 30 Rock as one of the best-written television series of all time, ranking it at 21st place.
Awards and nominations
Capping its critically successful first season, 30 Rock won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series and Elaine Stritch was awarded an Emmy in September 2007 for her work as a guest actress in "Hiatus". Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin were nominated in the Outstanding Lead Actress and Outstanding Lead Actor in a comedy series categories respectively. "Jack-Tor" and "Tracy Does Conan" were both nominated in the category of Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series. 30 Rock received four Creative Arts Emmy Awards. Alec Baldwin received the Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Comedy or Musical in 2007. Baldwin also received the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series in 2007. The show also received various other guild award nominations during its first season and a Peabody Award.
In 2008, Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin both won Screen Actors Guild Awards. The series took home the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Comedy Series in 2008. It also received the Danny Thomas Producer of the Year Award in Episodic Series – Comedy from the Producers Guild of America in 2008. 30 Rock received 17 Emmy nominations for its second season, meaning it was the second most nominated series of the year. These 17 nominations broke the record for the most nominations for a comedy series, meaning that 30 Rock was the most-nominated comedy series for any individual Emmy year. The previous holder of this record was The Larry Sanders Show in 1996 with 16 nominations. 30 Rock also won the Television Critics Association Award for "Outstanding Achievement in Comedy."
Also in 2008, 30 Rock completed a sweep of the major awards for best comedy series at that year's Primetime Emmy Awards. The show won Outstanding Comedy Series, Alec Baldwin was recognized as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, and Tina Fey was given the award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. This marks the eighth time in the history of the Emmy awards that a show won best series plus best lead actor and actress. Tina Fey also won the award for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series for the episode "Cooter".
At the 2008 Golden Globe awards, 30 Rock won the award for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy, Alec Baldwin won Best Actor in a Television Musical or Comedy, and Tina Fey won Best Actress in a Television Musical or Comedy.
|“||True or false, accurate or exaggerated, recalled from experience or just plain made up, 30 Rock is as funny, or funnier, than the show it pretends to be producing.||”|
—The Peabody Board.
For the show's 2007 episodes, 30 Rock received a Peabody Award at the 67th Annual Peabody Awards. Upon announcing the award, the Peabody Board commended the show for being "not only a great workplace comedy in the tradition of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, complete with fresh, indelible secondary characters, but also a sly, gleeful satire of corporate media, especially the network that airs it".
In 2009, 30 Rock received a record-breaking 22 Primetime Emmy Award nominations and won five Emmy Awards, including Best Comedy Series and Best Actor in a Comedy Series (Alec Baldwin).
In 2010, 30 Rock received 15 Emmy Award nominations, including the series' fourth consecutive nominations for Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (Baldwin), and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (Fey).
In 2011, 30 Rock received nine nominations at the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards.
On July 18, 2013, 30 Rock's seventh season received 13 Emmy Award nominations (the most of any comedy series), including Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for Fey, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for Baldwin, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for Krakowski, Directing, two nominations for Writing, and its seventh consecutive nomination for Outstanding Comedy Series, bringing the series' total number of Emmy nominations to 112. The series' casting directors won Outstanding Casting For A Comedy Series while Tina Fey and Tracey Wigfield won for their writing for the series finale, "Last Lunch".
At the 19th Screen Actors Guild Awards both Fey and Baldwin won for their performances in the Female and Male Comedy categories respectively, while the cast received a nomination for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series.
Below, "Rank" refers to how well 30 Rock rated compared to other television series which aired during primetime hours of the corresponding television season; for example, in its first year, there were 101 television series that were rated higher. The television season tends to begin in September, of any given year, and end during the May of the following year. "Viewers" refers to the average number of viewers for all original episodes (broadcast in the series' "Regular Timeslot") of 30 Rock aired during the television season. Although the viewer average may be higher for some seasons than others, the rank will not necessarily be higher. This is due to the number of programs aired during primetime. In some seasons there may be more regular programs aired during primetime than in others. The "season premiere" is the date that the first episode of the season aired. Similarly, the "Season finale" is the date that the final episode of the season aired.
|Season||Timeslot (ET)||Premiered||Ended||TV Season||Rank|| Viewers|
|1|| Wednesday 8:00 pm (October 11 – November 1, 2006)
Thursday 9:30 pm (November 16, 2006 – March 8, 2007)
Thursday 9:00 pm (April 5–26, 2007)
|October 11, 2006||8.1||April 26, 2007||4.7||2006–2007||#102||5.8|
|2|| Thursday 8:30 pm (October 4, 2007 – April 17, 2008)
Thursday 9:00 pm (December 15, 2007)
Thursday 8:30 pm (April 24 – May 8, 2008)
|October 4, 2007||7.3||May 8, 2008||5.6||2007–2008||#111||6.5|
|3||Thursday 9:30 pm (October 30, 2008 – May 14, 2009)||October 30, 2008||8.7||May 14, 2009||5.7||2008–2009||#69||7.5|
|4|| Thursday 9:30 pm (October 15, 2009 – May 20, 2010)
Thursday 9:00 pm (January 14, 2010)
Thursday 8:30 pm (April 22, 2010)
|October 15, 2009||6.4||May 20, 2010||5.5||2009–2010||#86||5.9|
|5|| Thursday 8:30 pm (September 23 – December 9, 2010)
Thursday 10:00 pm (January 20 – May 5, 2011)
Thursday 10:30 pm (April 28, 2010)
|September 23, 2010||5.9||May 5, 2011||4.2||2010–2011||#106||5.3|
|6|| Thursday 8:00 pm (January 12 – March 8, 2012)
Thursday 9:00 pm (January 26, 2012)
Thursday 8:30 pm (March 15 – May 17, 2012)
|January 12, 2012||4.5||May 17, 2012||2.8||2011–2012||#130||4.6|
|7|| Thursday 8:00 pm (October 4, 2012 – January 31, 2013)
Wednesday 8:00 pm (October 31, 2012)
|October 4, 2012||3.5||January 31, 2013||4.9||2012–2013||#99||4.6|
The pilot episode generated 8.13 million viewers, the series' highest ratings until that of its third season premiere which garnered 8.5 million viewers. In its original timeslot of Wednesday at 8:00 pm EST, the show averaged 6.23 million viewers. 30 Rock aired on Wednesdays for its first four episodes. The season's lowest ratings were achieved by "Jack the Writer" and "Hard Ball" which both achieved 4.61 million viewers. The season two premiere, "SeinfeldVision," was viewed by 7.33 million viewers, the highest rating since the pilot. 30 Rock entered a hiatus due to the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike on January 10, 2008. The episode that aired on that date was viewed by 5.98 million viewers. The second season finale, "Cooter", which aired on May 8, 2008, was viewed by 5.6 million viewers.
On December 29, 2006, Nielsen Media Research (NMR) reported the results of having, for the first time, monitored viewers who use a digital video recorder to record shows for later viewing. NMR reported that 30 Rock adds nearly 7.5% to its total audience every week as a result of viewers who use a DVR to record the show and then watch it within a week of its initial airing. A March 2007 report from MAGNA Global, based on NMR data about viewership ranked by among adults 25–54, shows that as of the time of the report 30 Rock's viewers have a median income of $65,000, high enough to place the show tied at 11th in affluence with several other shows. This is during a period where for the season 30 Rock is tied at No. 85 in the 18–49 demographic. During its second season, 30 Rock ranked in fourth place, against all primetime programming, for television series' which are watched by viewers with income above $100,000. Following Fey's popular impressions of Alaskan governor Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live, the third season premiere was seen by 8.5 million viewers, making it the highest viewed episode in the series. The premiere earned a 4.1 preliminary adults 18–49 rating, an increase of 21% from the second season premiere.
In other countries
30 Rock also airs in other countries; ratings and rankings for some of these markets include:
- 23x15px Australia: Seven Network broadcast the first season Mondays and Wednesdays at 22:30 from December 4, 2007. The second season began showing on June 9, 2008, on Mondays at 23:30, and the third from February 2, 2009 in the same timeslot. From December 2009, the third season was rebroadcast at the earlier time of 22:30 Mondays and Tuesdays, where it grew significantly in popularity, but the fourth was nonetheless broadcast Mondays at 23:30 once more, beginning February 1, 2010. 7mate later aired the show in the earlier timeslot of 21:30 on Mondays. Season five was broadcast at 22:30, Thursdays from October 21, 2010.
- 23x15px Canada: The series premiered on the CTV network on October 10, 2006, a day before its premiere in the United States. The network aired the first four episodes of the series, but dropped the show effective November 30, 2006 after a brief run during which it never entered the Bureau of Broadcast Measurement Nielsen top 30. CTV later re-added the show to its lineup on Sundays at 8:30 pm, but moved the show to its secondary A-Channel system for the series' second season. From the third season onward, it has aired on City.
- 23x15px Croatia: Nova TV started airing seasons 1-4 on March 29, 2009. Doma TV started airing seasons 5 and 6 on April 2, 2012.
- 23x15px Denmark: Public service channel DR3 and Kanal 5 air 30 Rock.
- 23x15px France: Canal +, Direct Star and Comédie+ aired 30 Rock.
- 23x15px Germany: ZDFneo, a new digital channel from ZDF, was launched on November 1, 2009, with the German-dubbed version of 30 Rock as its flagship program. The series' free television debut that night on that channel registered a 0.0 rating, with fewer than 5000 viewers tuning in. TNT Serie, a German version of the TNT channel, broadcast the series to cable and pay satellite viewers since February 2009.
- 23x15px Greece: 30 Rock originally airs on Universal Channel Greece. The first season of the series finished airing on Alter Channel in July 2010.
- Template:Country data Hong Kong: ATV World has aired Seasons 1–3 from July 2010 to Oct 2010 (Mon-Tue, Thu-Fri 8:30 pm)
- Template:Country data India: Star World aired the first four seasons, with the 4th airing in 2010. FX started airing reruns on October 1, 2010. It is also available on Comedy Central India.
- 23x15px Ireland: Seasons 1, 2, 4 have shown on 3e & Season Three began airing on Comedy Central (UK) (also broadcast in Ireland) on Monday October 5, 2009; and Season Four from April 19, 2010. The fifth season began broadcasting from February 10, 2011.
- Template:Country data Israel: It airs on Yes Comedy, currently broadcasting Season 7.
- 23x15px Italy: The first two seasons aired on Lei, Sky's television channel oriented to female audience. Starting from season 3, it airs on Sky Uno. On April 11, 2011 national channel Rai 4 started airing all seasons free to air.
- Template:Country data Jamaica: Available only via cable or other pay-for television (satellite or DirecTV) with new episodes shown on NBC and CityTV.
- 23x15px Mexico: Seasons 1, 2, 3, 4 and currently 5 are aired on Sony Entertainment Television, a cable network in the Mexican market which shows a number of U.S. prime time programs from NBC, CBS, ABC and the Lifetime network, as well as syndicated U.S. series.
- 23x15px Macedonia: Only the first season aired on Sitel TV, Monday to Friday at 21:00 but due to low ratings it was transferred to 23:30.
- 23x15px Netherlands: 30 Rock airs on Comedy Central Netherlands.
- 23x15px New Zealand: seasons 1–5 aired free-to-air in C4's (now Four) weeknight comedy line-ups, typically several weeks after the episode's original U.S. broadcast.
- 23x15px Norway: The show is aired on NRK3 and Canal9.
- 23x15px Portugal: The first two seasons aired on FOX:Next and RTP2. The show is currently being aired on FX.
- 23x15px Poland: It airs on channel TVN7 and Canal+.
- 23x15px Romania: It airs on channel TVR2 with Romanian subtitles.
- 23x15px Slovenia: Season 1 came to POP TV on April 12, 2010 (airing from Monday to Thursday). It concluded on May 17, 2010. Season 2 began airing on January 4, 2011 (Monday to Thursday) and finished on January 26. Season 3 started the next day, on January 27 (same timeslot).
- 23x15px South Africa: All four seasons have been aired on M-Net and MNET Series. The final season is currently airing.
- 23x15px Spain: Known as "Rockefeller Plaza", seasons 1, 2 and 3 have aired on laSexta and other channels. The fourth season hasn't been aired yet.
- 23x15px Trinidad and Tobago: Available only via cable or other pay-for television (satellite or DirecTV) with new episodes shown on NBC and CityTV with repeats on SONYTV.
- 23x15px United Kingdom: The first season premiered on October 11, 2007 on Five. The premiere was watched by 790,000 viewers, which was 6% of all people watching television in the country at the time it was broadcast. 30 Rock originally aired at 10:45 pm, but was moved to 11:05 pm, airing back-to-back episodes. Season two was broadcast from February 20, 2009 at 9 pm on 5USA. For season three, the series moved to Comedy Central and began airing from October 5, 2009. Season four followed from April 19, 2010, season five from February 10, 2011, and season six from March 30, 2012. As of May 2015, season seven has yet to be screened in the U.K.
Similarities to other media
Two shows debuting on 2006–07 NBC lineup, 30 Rock and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, revolved around the off-camera happenings on a Saturday Night Live-analogue sketch comedy series. Similarities between the two led to speculation that only one of them would be picked up. Baldwin said "I'd be stunned if NBC picked up both shows. And ours has the tougher task, as a comedy, because if it's not funny, that's it." Kevin Reilly, then president of NBC Entertainment, was supportive of Fey, describing the situation as a "high-class problem":
|“||I just can't imagine the audience would look at both shows, choose one and cancel the other out. In some ways, why is it any different than when there have been three or four cop shows on any schedule, or Scrubs and ER, which are tonally very different?||”|
Evidence of the overlapping subject matter between the shows, as well as the conflict between them, arose when Aaron Sorkin, the creator of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, asked Lorne Michaels to allow him to observe Saturday Night Live for a week, a request Michaels denied. Despite this, Sorkin sent Fey flowers after NBC announced it would pick up both series, and wished her luck with 30 Rock. Fey said that "it's just bad luck for me that in my first attempt at prime time I'm going up against the most powerful writer on television. I was joking that this would be the best pilot ever aired on Trio. And then Trio got canceled." Fey wound up "beating" Sorkin when Studio 60 was canceled after one season and 30 Rock was renewed for a second. Though 30 Rock’s first-season ratings proved lackluster and were lower than those of Studio 60, Studio 60 was more expensive to produce.
One early promo for 30 Rock portrayed Alec Baldwin mistakenly thinking he would meet Sorkin, and when asked on her "Ask Tina" space what she thought of the criticism that 30 Rock received, Fey jokingly replied that people who did not like it were probably confusing it with Studio 60. However, none of 30 Rock’s producers have given Studio 60 any serious criticism, positive or negative. In a November 1, 2006 interview, Fey said she had seen the first two episodes of Studio 60. When asked what her impressions were, she jokingly replied, "I can't do impressions of Bradley Whitford and Matthew Perry."
At least five 30 Rock episodes have briefly parodied Studio 60:
- "Jack the Writer" contains a self-referring walk and talk sequence, such sequences being commonly used on Studio 60 and Aaron Sorkin's previous shows.
- "Jack-tor": Liz tries to quote global education statistics, only to mess up and realize that she does not know what she is talking about.
- "Jack Meets Dennis": Liz says the upcoming show will be "worse than that time we did that Gilbert and Sullivan parody". The second episode of Studio 60, "The Cold Open," included a parody of the "Major-General's Song" on the show-within-the-show.
- "The Fabian Strategy": In the ending sequence Kenneth watches the credits for TGS, which include Ricky and Ronnie as writers, the two ex-head writers on Studio 60’s.
- "Plan B": Aaron Sorkin appears as himself as Liz is attempting to get a new job at NBC's The Sing-Off. Sorkin explains to Liz that he, too, is having trouble finding work writing for television, despite having written such works as The West Wing, A Few Good Men, and The Social Network. Liz adds Studio 60 to that list, but Sorkin tells her to "shut up."
Some critics have compared 30 Rock to The Mary Tyler Moore Show, with parallels drawn between the relationship of Liz and Jack and that of Mary Richards and Lou Grant. It has also been compared to That Girl. Like That Girl and Mary Tyler Moore, 30 Rock is a sitcom centering on an unmarried, brunette career woman living in a big city where she works in the television industry. That Girl was parodied in the opening segment of 30 Rock’s pilot.
It was announced in 2009 that off-network syndication rights for 30 Rock had been acquired by Comedy Central and WGN America for a combined value in the range of $800,000 an episode. In Canada CityTV airs it at 7 p.m. in syndication and Omni 1 airs it at 10 p.m. in syndication.
Internet and DVD
Episode downloads and online streaming
Weekly installments of 30 Rock are available to download for a per-episode fee, to U.S. residents only, via Amazon Instant Video, Apple's iTunes Store, Google Play, and the now-defunct "NBC Direct" service. In addition to paid downloads, all seven seasons can be streamed on Netflix with a paid subscription. Both NBC.com and Hulu.com stream episodes for free, but only the five most current installments are available for viewing, and Hulu has ceased streaming previous seasons.
|Season||Region 1||Region 2||Region 4||Discs||Extras|
|One||September 4, 2007||March 17, 2008||April 30, 2008||3||Episode commentaries, Outtakes and Deleted scenes (Region 1 only).|
|Two||October 7, 2008||May 25, 2009||January 8, 2009||2||Episode commentaries, Outtakes, Deleted scenes, The table read for the episode "Cooter," 30 Rock Live at the UCB Theatre, a behind-the-scenes look at an episode of Saturday Night Live which was hosted by Tina Fey, and The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Presents: An Evening With 30 Rock.|
|Three||September 22, 2009||April 5, 2010||November 11, 2009||3||Episode commentaries, Outtakes, Deleted scenes, The table read for the episode "Kidney Now!", behind-the-scenes with the Muppets, 1-900-OKFACE, The Making of "He Needs a Kidney", Photo Gallery.|
|Four||September 21, 2010||February 14, 2011||November 3, 2010||3||Episode commentaries, Deleted scenes, Behind-the-scenes, Extended episodes, Ace of Cakes episode, "Tennis Night in America" music video, Photo Gallery.|
|Five||November 29, 2011||March 12, 2012||November 3, 2011||3||Episode commentaries, Deleted scenes, Behind-the-scenes of 30 Rock Live.|
|Six||September 11, 2012||April 15, 2013||November 7, 2012||3||Episode commentaries, Deleted scenes, Behind-the-scenes of Live from Studio 6H.|
|Seven||May 7, 2013||May 5, 2014||November 28, 2013||2||Episode commentaries, Deleted scenes, Animated webisodes, Series finale retrospective.|
|TBA||May 5, 2014||November 28, 2013||20||All features from individual release|
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