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the take

‘30 Rock’ Switches Time Slots; Is It in Trouble, or a Hit?

Courtesy of NBC


So, is 30 Rock struggling in the ratings or what? In celebrating the return of 30 Rock and The Office two weeks ago (our two favorite comedies! Though, seriously, if How I Met Your Mother keeps sneaking in Canadian content like last night's Crash Test Dummies joke, it's going to crack the top two), we mentioned that "one show — The Office — has grown into a hit (now with a forthcoming spinoff) while the other — 30 Rock — remains that kind of fragile suckling that critics coddle but that America never quite warms up to."

One commenter took exception to this characterization of 30 Rock as a "fragile suckling," especially in comparison to The Office. And some new ratings numbers on 30 Rock's return provide a more complete diagnosis of the show's health, just in time for the news that the show is moving to a new, later time slot. (More on this below!) For 30 Rock fans, it turns out to be a fortunately/unfortunately scenario.

Fortunately, the ratings for the show's most recent airing, last Thursday, April 17, were up 24 percent from this time last year. America's catching on!

Unfortunately, even with the increase, 30 Rock only drew 6.4 million total viewers, which are Arrested Development–teetering–on–the–lip–of–the–grave numbers. By contrast, The Office drew 9.9 million viewers. America's not catching on fast enough!

Fortunately, 30 Rock is now improving on the lead-in ratings from My Name Is Earl. And 30 Rock is the No. 1 show in its time slot among men from 18 to 34!

Unfortunately, that mostly means that not a lot of people are watching Earl, either. And that not a lot of dudes watch Ugly Betty, Survivor, or Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?.

Fortunately, NBC announced today that 30 Rock would be shifting from 8:30 to 9:30, following The Office (and, presumably, benefiting from its stronger lead-in, not to mention a much more simpatico comedic pairing).

Unfortunately — well, actually, there's nothing unfortunate about this, since it will not only clump Earl and Scrubs in a convenient Easy-to-Avoid TV block from eight to nine, but it will also free the new, later-airing 30 Rock from getting grilled about doing MILF Island jokes during NBC's "family hour."

Oh, wait — there is one unfortunate thing. 30 Rock will very likely move back to 8:30 in the fall, as the coveted post–The Office slot is being held for the new The Office Spinoff. Clearly, the only thing separating the wildly successful The Office and the not-yet-as-successful-as-it-should-be 30 Rock is a forthcoming spinoff! Coming this fall from NBC: Rachel Dratch stars in Imaginary Blue Dude. Men from 18 to 34 would love it. —Adam Sternbergh