Is 30 Rock in ratings trouble again? Viewership for last night's fourth-season premiere was off 27 percent from 2008's Sarah Palin–boosted first episode, drawing only 6.3 million viewers, a quarter fewer than its lead-in, The Office. So once again, it may be the scrappy ratings underdog that TV Academy voters throw Emmys at in hopes of staving off cancellation, instead of simply because it happens to be television's best comedy.
Since it's also TV's most meta show, it's shouldn't be too much of a surprise that last night's episode totally saw this coming, with Jack Donaghy demanding the staff of TGS reconnect with Middle American values and hire a new cast member to boost its own sagging numbers ("We'll trick those race-car-loving wide-loads into watching your lefty homoerotic propaganda hour yet!"). At show's end, though, just before 10 p.m., he told Liz Lemon and viewers, "Step into the light ... There's nothing wrong with being fun, popular, and just giving people what they want. Ladies and gentleman ... Jay Leno." (When Tina Fey wrote that joke, she probably thought Jay's ratings would be better. She can't really see the future, we guess.) Anyway, if you're among the countless hundreds of millions who forgot to tune in last night, the episode's embedded after the jump.
'30 Rock' premiere falls sharply; 'Vampire' rises [Live Feed/HR]