30 Rock Season 7 Review: The Perfect Sendoff for a Sitcom Staple

Photo Credit: http://www.amazon.com/Stride-Of-Pride/dp/B009T1MQ4Y

I’m still reeling from the fact that I will no longer be having weekly visits with Liz Lemon, Jack Donaghy, and the rest of the gang at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. It’s always sad when a classic comedy ends, but 30 Rock successfully took the “Go Big or Go Home” mantra to heart and went out in the best way possible.

I’m not gonna lie, after the uneven and underwhelming sixth season, I was nervous.  How was 30 Rock going to tie everything together with a mere 13 episodes?  Well, not only was everything tied together, but this season managed to churn out some top quality humor that was reminiscent of the show’s early years.  The premiere episode wasn’t anything amazing, but it was funny enough and set up some crucial plot points for the rest of the season.  Jenna’s wedding was set into play, and Liz and Jack decided to tank NBC.  It was great to see the gang back in action.

After that things picked up rather quickly, and 30 Rock delivered a slew of episodes that were jam-packed with some excellent humor.  Covering everything from the presidential campaign to women in comedy, the show definitely got in its fair share of topical jokes.  As far as guest stars go, season seven was chock full of them.  Everyone from Oscar Winner Octavia Spencer to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi wanted to get in on the fun, and it was a pleasure to watch these public figures play altered versions of themselves.

James Marsden had the longest recurring spot this season playing Liz’s new boyfriend.  At first their relationship seemed like it would just be a short fling, but Criss quickly proved himself to be a worthy companion to our favorite workaholic.  Not only did the two tie the knot, but they got the extra pleasure of becoming parents when they adopted mini versions of Tracy and Jenna.  The award for best guest star, however, goes to Elaine Stritch for appearing one last time as Jack’s wonderfully insufferable mother Colleen.  Her death was sad but necessary, as it motivated Jack to find ultimate happiness in the finale.  Also we got a fantastic episode in Florida, which used Colleen’s passing as a way to show how far Jack and Liz have come as co-workers and friends over seven years.

This season was full of big milestones.  Even with a shortened season, these moments never felt overwhelming because they were spaced out in between equally strong episodes like Stride of Pride, and There’s No I in America.  This way each major character development felt exciting without feeling overcrowded.  Liz gets married in a way only 30 Rock could pull off, complete with a Princess Leia wedding dress.  Then Jenna outdoes her, and gets married to Paul in the middle of Colleen’s funeral.  Then there’s the matter of Liz finally becoming a mom.  With so much of this show being about how Liz can juggle it all, it was great to see how easily she transitioned into her new role.  A Goon’s Deed in a Weary World wasn’t the funniest episode of the season, but it was touching to see her work family rally around her as she begins to build her real family.

As far as things that didn’t work this season, there wasn’t too much.  Kristen Schaal returned as Hazel Wassername, and her presence at TGS felt extremely unnecessary.  Did I laugh when Hazel shouted an outrageous aside, or creepily tried to flirt with Liz?  Sure.  But her lines could have easily been said by Jenna, Tracy, or even Kenneth in some instances.  This is nothing against Schaal’s performance, just more of a feeling that there were too many crazies in one building.  Additionally, the episode Aunt Phatso vs. Jack Donaghy was easily the weakest of the season.  The jokes just weren’t as consistent.  Still, a bad episode of 30 Rock is a decent half-hour of television.

Though 30 Rock is definitely an ensemble effort, I have to give a shout out to Jane Krakowski for truly making Jenna shine this season.  I’ve always found her character to be funny, but this season featured some of her best one-liners of all time and gave her a hysterical plotline involving choosing who the next president will be.

Overall, I was very pleased with the way the show decided to end things.  As I mentioned in my review of the finale, the show was able to be both heartwarming and hilarious and left the characters in places that I feel good about.  In her memoir Bossypants, Tina Fey stated that, as much as she loves the cult status 30 Rock has achieved, her initial goal was to create a Seinfeld or Friends-esque mainstream hit.  Well Tina, you may not have gotten the same ratings as those shows, but you certainly packed the same punch.  I have no doubt that 30 Rock will go down as one of the classic sitcoms of our time.  Blerg! I’m going to miss these nerds.  Grade: A-

By: Michael Papirmeister

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