This time last year, two TV shows on NBC’s fall lineup were the cause of endless chattering among people who chatter about such things — both were about the behind-the-scenes shenanigans at a Saturday Night Live–esque program. Conventional wisdom said that 30 Rock, written by and starring Tina Fey (and produced by Lorne Michaels), would be no match for Aaron Sorkin’s hour-long, West Wing–like Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. But here we are a year later and Studio 60 is deservedly no more, while 30 Rock — a comedy about a comedy show (duh) — has become a critical success and must-see TV.
The first season of 30 Rock (out on DVD September 4) was smart, witty, and absurd; each episode was funnier and zanier than the one before it. The show’s not-so-secret weapon? Alec Baldwin, who’s at his scene-stealing best, playing a silken-voiced network suit (“I like you,” he says upon meeting head writer Liz Lemon [Fey] in the pilot. “You have the boldness of a much younger woman”). Maybe this shouldn’t come as a surprise — for years he’s been SNL’s most reliably excellent guest host.
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