Saturday, October 16, 2010
On the other hand, the 30 ROCK live show was a ratings stunt. I can’t imagine Tina Fey feeling the urge to completely re-imagine her successful Emmy-winning show just cause she was creatively curious. A likelier scenario was NBC coming to her begging if she’d do this because they really needed help launching OUTSOURCED.
So it was more of a Mission Impossible assignment. And as such I thought Tina & everyone did an amazing job. Not only did they manage to pull it off live without any real hitch (at least on the West Coast) but the episode they staged was very ambitious. Yes, it was a little uneven, but Jesus, that’s like criticizing Evil Knievel for not landing smoothly when he jumped the Grand Canyon on a motorcycle.
When I saw the first scene with Liz and Jack just talking in an office, not even moving, I thought – what a cheat this is going to be. But then the show really took off.
There were ingenious touches like flashbacks with Julia Louise-Dryefus playing Liz, topical references (I hope Brett Favre was watching), and the Tracy subplot dealing with “breaking” in a live show. Normally I hate when characters know they’re in a comedy but in this case it really worked. Tina took full advantage of the conceit. And had there been a major screw up and everybody broke up it would have made no difference. We still would have loved it at home. It was brilliant insurance.
I actually found myself laughing more at this 30 ROCK episode than in most lately. So do it again next week, Tina! (What I’d really like to see is HAWAII 5-0 done live.)
I’ve seen a number of articles marvel at how Tina made changes and tweaked some jokes for the West Coast live version. Uh… that’s what we DO. On any multi-camera show we have a dress rehearsal in the afternoon, change some things, shoot the show in front of the audience, pause and generally re-shoot scenes with some new jokes, and even after the audience leaves we go back and revise some more jokes or moments.
Also remember, Tina comes from SNL. She’s hardly a stranger to live shows and the format.
Anyway, kudos to Tina Fey and everyone associated with 30 ROCK for an impossible mission well done. If you want tips on doing the POV episode just give me a call. February Sweeps are coming up.
By Ken Levine at 6:53 AM