30 Rock: Hogcock/Last Lunch Series Finale Review

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Well, this is it folks.  30 Rock is officially on its way to TV heaven.  Luckily, the hour-long finale episode ended up being the perfect sendoff for one of TV’s smartest sitcoms.

The episode begins with Liz reluctantly trying to adjust to domestic life.  After sending her kids off to school and Criss off to work, she realizes that she has a lot of free time on her hands with no show to run.  When she gets into some hilarious online arguments on a New York mommy forum, Liz goes to confront one of her cyber-attackers in person.  Instead she finds Criss, who confesses that he hates work and just wants to be at home with the kids.  They realize that their roles should be reversed, but unfortunately Liz has no job to go back to.

Meanwhile, things at Rockefeller Plaza are starting to change. Jack increases Kabletown’s profits and becomes hated by 99%-ers and Democrats alike.  Normally this have thrilled him, but Jack realizes that, per his mother’s dying words, he still hasn’t found true happiness.  Thus begins a very amusing montage in which Jack tries to succeed in all aspects of his life.  There’s some funny moments involving a martial arts class, church singing, and the return of Julianne Moore and Salma Hayek as his ex lovers.

Jenna has some great moments as well as she attempts to move on to bigger and better things.  After an ill-fated guest spot on Law & Order: SVU and an even worse trip to Los Angeles, it seems like there might not be much out there for her.  Still, it was a treat to hear some truly classic Jenna Maroney one-liners each time she stormed out on the writing staff.

While the first half of the episode is fun, things don’t really start to feel like a series finale until part two.  As it turns out, Tracy is contractually obligated to film 150 episodes of TGS or NBC has to pay him $30 million.  In their run, Liz and her crew only shot 149.  So, the gang is called back once more to film what will be TGS’ final outing.

There are some excellent jokes throughout the episode involving Lutz picking the final lunch place for the writing staff, Pete planning to fake his own death, and Jenna’s Rural Juror song during the TGS taping.  Additionally, some series-long gags such as Jenna’s relationship with Micky Rourke are cleared up.  Still, the finest moments occur when the characters began their goodbyes.  30 Rock has always been a show that has favored bizarro, irreverent humor over heartfelt moments often seen at the climax of other sitcoms.  That being said, the show’s final half hour was able to pack in the jokes while having a bittersweet sense of finality that tugged at the heartstrings.

Tracy escapes to a strip club to avoid filming TGS’ final episode and Liz chases after him.  In a scene that echoed 30 Rock‘s pilot, Liz sits down with him to have a serious talk as strippers dance around them.  These two have come a long way from their first meeting in season 1, so Liz is able to give him a wonderfully honest goodbye speech, and the two decide to get back to work.  But not before watching the strippers do the grind-train.

The greatest goodbye moment, of course, is between Liz and Jack.  Jack ends up quitting his CEO job after feeling unfulfilled, and Liz is angry about it.  After seven years of pushing her to advance herself in her career, he’s now quit while he’s on top.  Jack appears hurt by Liz’s lashing out and becomes depressed.  So depressed, in fact, that it appears he might commit suicide.  Of course, it turns out that he really is just heading out on his new boat in search of what makes him happy.  Liz and Jack have an emotional goodbye, and Jack finally tells Liz he loves her.  Not in a romantic way, but in the way that two co-workers who have been through seven years of ups and downs would experience.

When Liz cuts him off mid-sentence to say, “I love you too Jack,” it really hit me that this show is on its way out.  After seven seasons of madcap schemes, hilarious guest stars, and whipsmart humor, 30 Rock is off the air.  A quick ending sequence shows that everyone is doing well a year after the final TGS episode. In the ending shot we see Kenneth living in the future, being pitched a show about Liz Lemon’s life by what is presumably her granddaughter.  It turns out he really is immortal, and the entire series was this woman’s pitch idea.  With a final nod at the camera, Kenneth signs off.  It’s this sort of wacky humor that fans of 30 Rock have come to love, and will now come to dearly miss.  Grade: A

By Mike Papirmeister

 

One Response to 30 Rock: Hogcock/Last Lunch Series Finale Review

  1. Sherry Dauerman says:

    I am truly impress at the way you captured the essence of 30 Rock’s finale. What a triumph farewell to this irreverent group of close friends that have become part of our extended family.

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