“30 Rock” went live twice for Thursday’s show, delivering one performance for East Coast viewers and a second show for the West Coast, with a slight casting change in guest stars that made for big laughs.
In the setup, conservative NBC boss Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) broke the bad news to Liz (Tina Fey) that to reduce costs they’d have to stop filming her show “TGS” live every week and tape it instead.
“From now on,” he instructed, “you write and shoot the season in two weeks, like ‘Wheel of Fortune’ and Fox News.”
Jack quickly won practical Liz over, but idealistic NBC page Kenneth (Jack McBraye) was another matter entirely. His nostalgia for the glory days of live TV led to several funny flashbacks, including a spoof of “The Honeymooners” with Baldwin in the Ralph Kramden role and Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) in a parody of “Amos ‘n’ Andy” with Jon Hamm as his sidekick.
Near the end of the show, Tracy recalled the 1986 telethon when his St. Ray Ray’s Blatholic Church dance crew gave a performance. Guest stars Donald Glover played the young Tracy Jordan while Amy Poehler appeared as young Liz Lemon in the skit.
The entire episode aptly proved Liz’s point, “That’s the beauty of live TV: Anything can happen!”
As for that surprise casting change, in the East Coast version, Kenneth brought Paul McCartney into Jack’s office to use the bathroom. For the West Coast show, Kim Kardashian took McCartney’s place, leading to a funny exchange with Liz.
After Liz bragged that 2.5 million viewers saw her show, “TGS,” Kim Kardashian walked by recording the moment on video for her own fans and retorted, “Now, 14 million people just saw it. You’re welcome. Oh, and also, I broke your toilet.”
You’re right, Liz Lemon. Anything can happen.