30 Rock Review: "The Beginning of the End" (Episode 7.01)

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<i>30 Rock</i> Review: "The Beginning of the End" (Episode 7.01)

Of all the strong Thursday night sitcoms that NBC may or may not be laying to rest at the end of this season, 30 Rock is the only one whose exit seems just right. The Office hung on too long, while if the suits decide to axe Community after its fourth season, it’ll be an unjust cancellation of Arrested Development proportions. 30 Rock, however, is leaving us at the perfect moment: Liz Lemon and friends have been around the block long enough to show us all they’re capable of, but they’re bowing out while still on top of their game, as evidenced by this season’s premiere.

30 Rock has always been at its finest when it’s self-aware and biting the hand that feeds it, and from the opening fake-out (Liz holding a baby and gushing, “I finally have it all!” before she tosses it aside and the camera pans out to reveal she’s coaching someone on how to deliver a line), it’s obvious that’s where things are headed this season. Liz and Jack exchange stories about how they spent their hiatus: Jack divorced Avery, and Liz bemoans “the usual Liz Lemon work-life balancing act” (we feel you winking at us through that line, Tina Fey, and we like it) before offering up that she and Chris are trying to have a baby.

Kenneth and Hazel are apparently dating and living together (!), Hazel makes a pass at Tracy in an attempt to further her acting career and Jonathan makes his triumphant return as Jack’s long-suffering assistant. But the big news is what’s happening at NBC: convinced that Hank will never retire and promote him, Jack decides to “tank” the network and therefore force Hank to sell it to someone who will. What does that mean for us? Hilarious fake NBC shows like Hunchbacks, Homonym and God Cop (tagline: “Crime just got a new worst friend”), the latter of which Jack casts himself in as God. At first he plays coy, but when Liz calls him out on it, he reveals his plan to her.

Meanwhile, Liz reluctantly agrees to be Jenna’s maid of honor before, inspired by Jack, she decides to tank it and throws Jenna a woefully bad surprise bachelorette party. When Jenna flips out—by shrieking, flying into the air like a witch and then trashing Liz’s apartment, NAT-tur-ally—Liz convinces her that she should be her own maid of honor so she can get twice the attention. Mission accomplished.

The episode concludes with Jack offering Liz a glass of wine in the middle of the day and asking her to join him in tanking NBC. It’s an exciting arc for the series’ final season, as the network is obviously ripe for parody, and this feels like 30 Rock’s way of going out with a bang. Liz hesitates before accepting the wine and declaring, “Let’s burn this mother down.”

Looks like Liz Lemon’s going out in a blaze of glory. Blerg…we miss her already.

Stray observations:
-”Tracy, I need some advice.” “I recommend you get it from Liz Lemon or an owl with glasses.”
-”When was the last time you bought a non-Paas Easter egg dye kit?”
-Tracy on why Liz doesn’t want to be Jenna’s maid of honor: “Because you’re terrified of her the way most white ladies are with their best friends?”
-”Then on Jay Leno, a full hour of Gary Sinese’s band!”
-”I can’t go to another business school reunion and sit at the non-CEO table with the women and nice men.”
-”Shall we conversation?” “Yes, we’re having weather.” “Much weather.”