[Contains tearful goodbyes and SPOILERS!!!]
Finally got around to picking up the seventh (and final) season of 30 Rock (2012), and even though I’m sad that it’s over now, I was glad to see that they went out in a blaze of glory, with a shortened but super-strong run of episodes crammed with ridiculousness and piled with laughs-on-laughs, like a crazy game of joke-Jenga. Their efforts were rewarded with rave reviews and 13 Primetime Emmy Award nominations… including a win for Tina Fey and Tracey Wigfield‘s script for the series finale, “Last Lunch” (and another for Outstanding Casting). So, yay for that.
I can’t say I was ever particularly invested in Liz’s epic quest to “have it all”, but it paid off nicely here with a fun wedding episode, and a cute adoption storyline. If you were a cynical sort, you could read the fact that her two new kids looked and sounded so much like Tracey and Jenna as the universe saddling her with the “same old shit”, just as she was about to break free of the adult versions… but I prefer to think of it as the universe blessing her with the kind of “problem children” she’d already had years of experience handling. Better the devil you know, right?
Would you think any less of me if I admitted to getting a little damp around the eyes when Jack gifted NBC to Kenneth? Well, I did… and my reaction really surprised me, because Kenneth is such a broad cartoon of a character… but, darn it, he loves that peacock so much! They were meant to be together! [sniffle] I thought Jenna’s “surprise” wedding was a bit of a damp squib by comparison, but she got some killer lines throughout the season… calling the writing staff a pack of “factory-reject dildos”, being one of my faves… and the way Jane Krakowski belted out her “Seeecret Plan!” song, of course. That final scene at the Tony awards was pretty epic too. Meep-meep!
As for the supporting cast: Kristen Schaal returned as ‘Hazel Wassername’ the fame-seeking Page, for three episodes this season (#7.1/6/10)… and while I joked that the role wasn’t much of a stretch for her in my previous post, it was fun to see her playing a sexier character for once… even if she was using her sexiness for evil! Catherine O’Hara appeared in ep #7.2 as Kenneth’s “hillbilly” mother ‘Pearline’, along with Bryan Cranston as her oft-mentioned (and despised) “friend” ‘Ron’. Amy Sedaris appeared in ep # 7.4 as an unnamed ‘Visor Lady’, who was chilling in the plaza outside the NBC offices, along with the rest of Jenna’s new “crab-catcher” fans. Jessica Leccia appeared in ep # 7.5 as ‘Maria’, a security guard Pete hoped to rekindle an office-romance with, via inspiring election results… and Jacqueline Baum appeared as ‘Shauna’, an innocent aspiring entrepreneur who inadvertently guilted Jack out of using Jenna’s newfound popularity in Florida to influence the electorate. Adrienne C. Moore appeared in ep # 7.7 as ‘Shanice’, the clerk at City Hall who sexually-harassed Liz’s fiancé Criss, and then experienced a rather touching moment of self-realisation. Bless her.
Elaine Stritch bowed out as Jack’s mother ‘Colleen Donaghy’ in ep # 7.8, cunningly ensuring that her final words would sting/motivate Jack for evermore. Meanwhile, Rebecca Mader appeared as a ‘Super Hot Lady’ who introduced herself to Jack as “a nymphomaniac virgin widow” (!)… Andrea Martin appeared as ‘Bonnie’ the host of an awards ceremony honouring women who couldn’t stop talking about her ex-husband… and Shannon Tyo had a brief cameo as the “Recast Hazel” that Tracey hired to cheer Kenneth up. Chloë Grace Moretz returned in ep #7.9 as Jack’s devious teen-nemesis, ‘Kaylie Hooper’, who finally got her comeuppance and blew the chance to become the next CEO of Kabletown. Oopsie! Meanwhile, Octavia Spencer appeared as a diva-ish version of “herself” playing Harriet Tubman in a biopic Tracey was trying to direct… Megan Mullally returned as ‘Bev’ the snarky adoption referee… and Kellie Overbey appeared as a ‘Doctor’ who started to treat Liz before being usurped by ‘Dr. Leo Spaceman’ (Chris Parnell)… whose final sign-off line was one of my fave moments of the season!
Nina Pedrad appeared in ep #7.11 as the ‘Persian Contestant’ on a foreign language version of Jack’s surprise hit gameshow Homonym… which was a great running gag, if only for the host’s maniacal mocking laughter. Pedrad also wrote the episode, and is now a writer/story editor/co-producer on New Girl! Salma Hayek and Julianne Moore returned as Jack’s former love-interests, ‘Elisa Padriera’ and ‘Nancy Donovan’, for a (sadly off-screen) threesome, in ep #7.12. Fun fact: According to Fey’s commentary track, Hayek recorded her side of the video-chat conversations in Paris, France! Ooh la la! Meanwhile, Maggie Geha appeared as ‘Inga’, Kenneth’s regressively giggly secretary/spank-bunny… while Bonnie Swencionis fulfilled much the same role for Jack, as the ambiguously-named ‘Sam’, in ep #7.13. Oh, and Paula Pell made a brief cameo as ‘Paula Hornberger’, wearily tracking down her husband a year after he faked his own death (in one of the weirdest/darkest subplots of the jam-packed finale!). Apparently Pell is also a veteran writer for Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock… and this year will see the release of her first feature film, Sisters, starring long-time besties Fey and Amy Poehler as two estranged siblings throwing a good-bye party at the house they grew up in, before their parents sell it.