I’m still plodding my way through the 35th season of Saturday Night Live, but this week I had to jump forward to the current (41st!) incarnation, to enjoy a partial 30 Rock reunion prompted by Tracy Morgan’s return to the stage, following his successful recovery from a ghastly traffic accident in June of last year. As a near-total SNL neophyte, I was unfamiliar with Morgan’s previous stint on the show, so it was quite a revelation to see him in action here (I especially enjoyed his character ‘Brian Fellow’s animal-obsessed oddness)… and it’s given me a whole new appreciation for his fictional alter-ego ‘Tracy Jordan’, because now I can imagine the sort of sketch-comedy magic he was bringing to TGS, which in turn explains why everyone was so in awe of him. Of course, it was very sweet of Morgan’s fellow 30-Rockers (including Jane Krakowski and Jack McBrayer) to rally around him… even if it’s a little bitter to see them back in character/costume for such brief cameos, rather than another full season (or spin-off movie).
Later in the episode, former-head-writer Tina Fey also appeared as a special guest-presenter on the show’s “Weekend Update” segment, snarkily mourning the announcement that Playboy magazine would no longer be featuring photographs of naked women in future issues. She took the opportunity to spoof some typical Playmate poses, and even clambered up on the desk for an “all-fours” shot with the boldness and agility of a much younger woman! (Note: That’s a 30 Rock reference… not a dig!) Now I’m itching to delve further back into the SNL archives to watch her original run on the series… but I should really finish Jenny Slate’s season-of-shame first.
As for the current regular cast, I really loved Kate McKinnon’s performance as ‘Hillary Clinton’ in the Democratic debate skit that opened the episode… it takes some serious moxie to share a stage with both Alec Baldwin (as ‘Sen. Jim Webb’) and Larry David (hilarious as ‘Sen. Bernie Sanders’), but I thought she really held her own here. Then again, I’ve always been partial to a little “crazy face” and nonchalant cigarette flicking!