Monday, May 07, 2007

The Kid

It's been a while, so, here's another picture of the kid:

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Best Show on TV, Part 7

The Best Show On TV

"The Office" (NBC) -- 2/9/2006 - 4/2/2006
"Huff" (Showtime) -- 4/2/06 - 8/26/2006
"Big Brother" (CBS) -- 8/26/06 - 10/4/2006
"South Park" (Comedy Central) -- 10/4/2006 - 11/30/2006
"The Office" (NBC) -- 11/30/2006 - 1/14/2007
"24" (FOX) -- 1/14/2007 - 4/5/2007
"30 Rock" (NBC) -- 4/5/2007 - present

[note: this was written weeks ago; I'm just now getting around to putting it up. Sorry. Since I wrote it, rumors have surfaced that Alec Baldwin wants off the show. This would be bad. Keep your fingers crossed]

I can't say enough about "30 Rock," so I won't say any more except to say that "24" had best watch its back.

-- Me, 1/19/2007

And so it comes to be that "30 Rock" -- much like John Cena at WrestleMania 21 -- wins a rather decisive victory over a very worthy champion. "24" hasn't really gotten any worse, but, last Thursday, as I was starting my second viewing of the "Fireworks" episode of "30 Rock" three seconds after I watched it the first time (while Monday's "24" still sat on the TiVo, anticipated but as-yet-unwatched), I thought to myself, "Ladies and gentlemen, we've got ourselves a new The Best Show On TV."

(and that's how this whole thing works, by the way. There's no plan, no rules; you just know when you know)

"30 Rock" is, as you are no doubt aware, set behind the scenes at NBC's "The Girlie Show," a fictionalized version of "Saturday Night Live." If one had to name the show's principals, they would be Liz Lemon (Tina Fey), "The Girlie Show"'s head writer; Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin), the NBC executive who oversees the show (among other things), and Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan), the erratic, floundering movie star foisted upon the show by Donaghy.

Most reviews of "30 Rock" focus mainly on Alec Baldwin, and rightly so; he's finally showing the rest of the world (or, to be more accurate, the criminally small portion of the rest of the world that tunes in to "30 Rock" every week) what those of us who have enjoyed his work as SNL host already knew: he's an unbelievable comedic genius. For years I was convinced that television would never (and could never!) produce a supporting actor on a comedy who could even hope to be in the same league as "Frasier"'s David Hyde Pierce; I was wrong.

If there was no other reason to watch "30 Rock," Alec Baldwin would be reason enough. Watching him perform comedy is like watching Johan Santana pitch, or Yo-Yo Ma play the cello, or Rosie O'Donnell be sanctimonious; you know you're watching the world's best at the top of his game. And what's more, Fey and the rest of the "30 Rock" writing staff have seen to it that Donaghy's character, which could easily have been nothing more than a preening stuffed-shirt corporate wet blanket to Liz Lemon's creative aspirations, in fact brings a great deal to the table. Most notably, he's competent, and actually good at his job. Not always, but usually. He's like the football coach who frustrates you occasionally, calls the wrong play once in a great while, but genuinely cares about the success of his team and the lives of his players as much, if not more, than he cares about advancing his own career and taking all the credit for himself. More Bill Cowher than Bill Parcells, to complete the analogy.

But there are other reasons to watch "30 Rock." There really are! Fey's Liz Lemon -- a successful, smart, pretty, nerdy, career-oriented, unhappily single, one-woman opt-out revolution waiting to happen -- is every thinking man's fantasy, if only she'd realize it. Lately the character has started dating Jason Sudeikis's Floyd, but only after orchestrating a breakup between him and his girlfriend and following him into an AA meeting and pretending to be an alcoholic in order to get closer to him [note: in the season finale, they broke up. Pity]

And Tracy Morgan's Tracy Jordan character is often very, very funny, which is more than I ever expected from a character that looked like he would be extremely one-dimensional. "I want to hold a mirror up to society," he once said, "and then win world's record for biggest mirror."

I case I'm not selling it quite enough, I can tell you this in all sincerity: "30 Rock" has become, in a few short months, the most quotable TV show since "The Simpsons." Past "Buffy," past "Arrested Development," past "Family Guy;" there will be five or six lines -- at least -- in every episode of "30 Rock" that you can't stop saying to yourself in your head, that will get stuck in there like a good Beatles song (a Paul song, more than likely). Plus -- and I don't know if this is an actual goal for the people at "30 Rock," or just an amazingly fun coincidence -- almost every episode contains the word "poop," used to absolutely perfect comedic effect (as much as it pains me to say it, the great Sarah Silverman could learn a lot from "30 Rock" in this regard). How do we know, right away, that Floyd is the guy for Liz? Well, he comes into her office (to apologize for sending her Valentine's Day flowers that were intended for his girlfriend), and the first thing he says is, "Cool, is that a French 'Planet of the Apes' poster? You know, I heard that in Greece they have to write Charlton Heston's name as 'Charlton Easton,' because in Greek the word 'Heston' means 'poop yourself.'"

"The Shield" is back and it's great, and "24" could finish strong. Also, I just watched the first two seasons of "Battlestar Galactica" on DVD and I'm about to start catching up with Season 3 as it re-runs on the Sci-Fi Channel. What I'm saying is that "30 Rock" -- which NBC had the sense to renew for a second season -- will have to fight to keep its status as The Best Show On TV, but, if they keep delivering episodes like Thursday's "Fireworks," the outlook is good.

[note: they kept delivering the goods, up through the season finale; don't expect "30 Rock" to give up this title without a fight]

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