This is it, folks! The last episodes! Your last chance to turn pajamas into daywear and work on your night cheese! In honour of our last lunch with the cast and crew of TGS, let’s hand out a few 30 Rock-Does-Things Awards like we did last season.
And the winners are…
Surprisingly Sanest NBC Head since Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) Tried to Tank it: Kenneth Parcell (Jack McBrayer), who 1) adapts a Japanese game show in which winners get cash prizes instead of penis punches and 2) green-lights a sitcom starring Grizz (Grizz Chapman) called Grizz and Hers. I admit that I was hoping for show ideas that were a little bit funnier and more ridiculous from Kenneth, but it shows that the writers actually do respect Kenneth by making him a NBC president who might actually develop hit shows rather than a complete idiot. The best part about Kenneth’s reign, however, is the list of Kenneth’s TV no-no words, which probably mirror’s Bob Greenblatt’s (the real president of NBC) list of no-no words which rule out 30 Rock in every respect. Included on the list are topics like “blog,” “immortal characters,” and “foreign.”
Best Verbal Take-Down of the TGS Writing Staff, Who Frankly Have It Coming: Jenna’s (Jane Krakowski) string of beautifully-crafted insults. In the first half hour of the finale, Jenna gets some of the best lines of the whole series, calling Frank (Judah Friedlander), Toofer (Keith Powell), Sue (Sue Galloway) and Lutz (John Lutz) a “soup line at a gay homeless shelter” and the “Eastern European Knockoff Mr. Potato Heads.” The ultimate winner? Jenna’s heartfelt farewell to them all: “Good-bye forever you factory reject dildos.” Although Jack Donaghy gets an honorable mention for calling Kenneth a “string cheese with a tooth stuck in it.”
Most Positive Fate for the “Actress” who Attended the Royal Tampa Academy of Dramatic Tricks: Jenna Maroney. Speaking of Jenna, her series finale fate is surprisingly satisfying. Jenna finally realizes just how lucky she’s had it all these years, landing a steady acting job when there is no other place on earth that would put up with her dizzyingly high vanity and her psychotic tendencies. So when she hugs Tracy (Tracy Morgan) right before their last sketch together, she actually exits with a modicum of class. Of course this is all relative, because she’s dressed as Hitler, and the epilogue shows her accepting someone else’s Tony award and giving the audience quite the peep show.
Least Annoying Accent out of Nancy Donovan’s Mouth: Nancy’s (Julianne Moore) British accent. This is proof that Jack can work miracles, since he literally screwed that shutter-inducing Boston accent right out of her.
Most Exciting GE Product Ever Invented on a Boat: The see-through dishwasher, invented by Jack on his five-second long soul-searching boat trip. Not only is this idea genius (who doesn’t want to be able to see what’s going on inside when the dishwasher is running?), but it gives Jack’s character a much better ending. It would be a betrayal to the character to send him off on a boat to think about his happiness, which is a fate more befitting of one of the unwashed Occupy Wall Street street urchins Jack despises. And the revelation that pushed him onto the boat – that he isn’t happy with his life of constant work – is one that the series has done many times over the years, and isn’t really that interesting at this point. So Jack’s stroke of genius is much more satisfying – he lands a job back with GE, the company he’s always worshiped, instead of settling for running Kabletown.
Greatest Revenge on the Writing Staff: Lutz’s choice for last lunch, Blimpies. The finale takes a much appreciated breather with this C-story, forgoing the goodbyes and celebrity appearances to visit the writers room and give them an ordinary but funny tale of trying to stop Lutz from ordering lunch from Blimpies. As much as I’ve loved the ridiculata and zany characters passing through the halls of 30 Rock, many of my favorite moments are the interactions between the writers (ex: when they convince Kenneth they all celebrate Merlinpeen). So I appreciate that the finale provides Frank, Toofer, Lutz, and Sue their own moment in the spotlight.
Scariest Invention made by Kathy Geiss (Marceline Hugot): The machine that hugs old people. That machine looked like it could’ve been awesome for people of all ages, until it actually crushed the poor woman testing it. In the words of Jenna Maroney, arriving in a LAX filled with incredibly blonde young women: “Shut it down.”
Sweetest Excuse to Drag Liz Lemon to a Strip Club: Tracy forces Liz to come find him, since he’s avoiding work in order to resist saying goodbye to his friends. Beneath Tracy’s weird diva façade is a fairly innocent man-child, so it makes sense that two of the finale’s most moving moments involve Tracy’s struggle with change and his friends moving on without him. It’s sweet to see Tracy finally free Kenneth from his slavery (even if he doesn’t understand what that actually means and sends him out to fill up his car’s gas tank). And while Liz’s speech that she and Tracy probably won’t be as close as they are now in the future is a little too honest, it is sincerely touching when she tells him she will miss him. The only problem with Tracy’s story is that his dad comes back from buying cigarettes after all these years in the epilogue. It’s the only story in the epilogue that feels forced.
Special Appreciation Award to the Writers of 30 Rock: For giving Pete (Scott Adsit) something to do in the finale. I was afraid that Pete’s tiny moment to shine in last week’s episode, when he helps Liz balance the budget, was the last time we would see him. Instead the finale provides him with his own storyline as he finally acts on his dream to fake his death and run away. Kudos to Scott Adsit for showing poor Pete crack-up without suggesting that Pete is too far gone. It’s disappointing then that we only get to see Paula (Paula Pell) and Pete together for a few seconds in the epilogue. They’re both funny individually, but they’re even funnier together, especially when they’re having secret sex in Liz’s bed.
The “I Want to Go to There” Award for Ending Excellence: Goes to Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) for getting a happy ending, even if it isn’t the one she wanted or expected. It’s hard to believe anyone believed that Liz would stick with her stay-at-home life for too long, especially since the last time that happened, Liz joined a fight club. So it isn’t all that surprising that Liz jumps at the chance to put on one last episode of TGS. It is nice to see that she’s not doing it just for herself, though – she’s actually taken to the role of being a provider, and after all these years of dating around and trying and failing to become a parent, she can actually step-up and put the needs of her family first. Despite her desire to put out a more “niche” show about a “woman” “writer” living in “New York” (a show that sounds a lot like 30 Rock that is filled with Kenneth’s no-no words), she ends up as the showrunner on Grizz and Hers in the end. She may not be running on her ideal show, but she’s working with her friends and taking care of her family, and that’s really all she needs.
There we have it, nerds. What do you all think of the finale? Any particularly fond memories you want to share? What are your favorite 30 Rock episodes? Is there a last lunch worse than Blimpies? Sound off in the comments below!
30 Rock… is over. Done. Finito. But feel free to replay it in your hearts. Or in syndication, or on Hulu or Netflix.
Thanks for watching along everyone! It’s been a great ride!