Like anyone else, we here at Vulture deal with impending loss by reliving old times. This week, in preparation for the series finale of 30 Rock, we looked at the 10 best episodes ever, built a Jack Donaghy insult generator, illustrated the sexual history of Jenna and Mickey Rourke, compiled the complicated backstory of Kenneth the page, put together a show glossary, cut together a video of all of Liz Lemon’s most blerg-filled moments of exasperation, put some of the show’s classic jokes into infographic form, called out the show’s best obscure characters, and made a list of all the TGS sketches and pitches. There is nothing left for us to do but watch the last episode and accept that it’s all over. Yet, with Jack as our model, we felt a final need to pay tribute one last time to a simply great sitcom. Several of our writers and editors weigh in below:
Matt Zoller Seitz
The hardest I ever laughed at anything on 30 Rock was at those close ups of the little blue man in my favorite episode, “Tracy Does Conan.” Then this season a moment finally came along that displaced it: from “My Name is Thunder,” Jenna being exposed to bright light, hissing like a True Blood vampire, then turning around and suddenly being replaced by a woman at least twenty years older than Jane Krakowski. That horrible limping walk as she escapes the awards banquet, like Igor on a hot plate…Priceless.
- Unresolved! What was Jacob’s real plan for Kenneth?
- The last time Rachel Dratch was on 30 Rock, it was last season, to do a voice-over. Poor Rachel Dratch.
- Mental note: Find Leap Day William costume for Halloween.
- The only singing competition I’d ever watch for non-work purposes: America’s Kidz Got Singing.
- Other fake shows I will miss: Homonym! Bitch Hunter. MILF Island.
- Criss is all well and good… but is it wrong to miss Floyd?
- For all the NBC jokes on the show, Liz Lemon did her part for Smash. I still remember when the Liz closest to Alex on the right screamed “Smash! Mondays at 10” at me.
Jesse David Fox
- When Jack said, “There was nothing Churchillian about that performance,” to Tracy’s little league team, I officially decided 30 Rock was my favorite TV show since the early Simpsons.
- If you were shown a picture of the actor Wesley Snipes and a picture of the 30 Rock character Wesley Snipes, and were asked “who should be named Wesley Snipes”, you’d pick the pale Englishman every time! Every time!
- Are all the writers who never talk going to have to move to Los Angeles just to get new staff writing jobs?
- “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah” should be played every Halloween and at every Bar Mitzvah. The one time I ever DJed anything, it was at Halloween party and I played “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah” three times.
- Jack’s prediction about Kenneth was close but off by a year: “In five years we’ll all either be working for him… or be dead by his hand.”
- That 30 Rock continued to make Lost references after the show was long over was wonderful.
- “Are you spinning a basketball?”
- Josh usually can be seen in commercials during 30 Rock, so it’s good he was able to find work after leaving TGS.
- The first time I interviewed Tina Fey was after the show’s first season, and they had scaled back how often Liz wore her glasses. I asked why, and Fey told me that it was a costuming choice, because in both dangly earrings and glasses, she “looked like Tootsie.” This is why you have pretty much never seen me in dangly earrings.
- TGS Hates Women introduced the shorthand “Sexy Baby,” and for that I will be forever grateful.
- Any time someone finishes a glass of wine, I feel compelled to say, “You drank all your throwing wine.”
- So help me, I secretly always wanted Liz and Jack to get together. I know! It’s blasphemous! But they love each other so much.
- The way Stacey Keach spits into the camera at the end of this Kouchtown promo.
- In “The Source Awards,” the way Tracy pronounces the final word in the show title Ray Ray’s Mystery Garage. (And the line, in the subsequent flashback, “I’m gonna eat your family.”)
- How Tracey Morgan’s compulsion to expose his belly carried over into the show.
- For five years I worked half a block from Rockefeller Center and I never saw them filming 30 Rock. But you see them outside all the time!
- Jack: “Lemon, Avery’s missed the past 12 months of popular culture. Could you put together a presentation for tomorrow? An hour, tops.” Liz: “An hour? For the year? Am I just supposed to scratch the surface of Channing Tatum’s meteoric rise?”
- And oh dear God, please Tina Fey, if you’re reading this, I know you filmed the full hour version of that year-end wrapup. Let us see it!
- Criss Points
- “I reject Chris Brown’s comeback. Lemon out!”
- Favorite quote: “This is one of the three things I like: Ina Garten, sweater weather, and… [Carol:] when Muppets present at Awards Shows.” Related: my favorite cameo was obviously Ina.
- Most believable NBC ref: “Fun news fact: the Today show was originally designed to entertain prison inmates whose IQs were too low for them to be executed.” —Kenneth
- Favorite Fake Website: Joan of Snark (the Jezebel parody)
- The Avery Jessup Phenomenon, or how we react to real news with fake (but funny) concern.
- We’re a culture obsessed not just with pop culture but with dissecting and deconstructing pop culture, which is why it’s sort of ironic that 30 Rock isn’t signing off as one of TV’s biggest shows. Nothing on TV matches its brilliant skewering of the smallest, most insider-y details of the television business. It tosses out references to the head of CBS (We love you, Moonvest) as casually as other shows mention the president. It’s offered up beat-by-beat beatdowns of “reality” TV by both Bravo (Queen of Jordan) and Fox (MILF Island). Aaron Sorkin’s Studio 60 was supposed to be the critically acclaimed 2006 series which mined drama from the weird ways of show business, but it was Tina Fey’s 30 Rock, debuting the very same fall, which has become the place where The Industry’s foibles and faults were spun into gold.
- Maybe Tina Fey will hear my prayers: How amazing would it be if, every year around the holidays, she rounded the TGS gang up for an hour-long episode sending up the past twelve months of pop culture madness? I know, it’s probably as likely as my other recurring dream, the one in which Lorne Michaels announces Tina Fey will be his eventual successor as producer of Saturday Night Live.