Desert Island Top Five 30 Rock Episodes

I have a working theory that people can only ever be experimental across a few different types of culture. For the sake of balance, or time, there will be some area where they are utterly conventional. TV is that place for me: I'd subsist happily on a diet of Cheers, Friends, and 30 Rock without much complaint. The auteur-driven work that's more critically acclaimed sets itself up to be immune from criticism: if it's a drama that is occasionally funny, it gets credit for changing up the tone; if it's a comedy that spends as much time in drama, it's 'grounded'; if it's experimental, it doesn't matter whether the experiment succeeds or fails. None of this is particularly inspiring to me--watch as the loner genius man solves a gristly murder with the help of his only friend, bourbon. Just have a lot of jokes, and let most of them be funny.

"A Goon's Deed in a Weary World": Season 7 is an exercise in wish fulfillment, of which this episode--Kenneth becomes president of NBC, Liz meets her kids--is the highlight. Sad and happy at the same time.

"Rosemary's Baby": for a brief period, it seemed like Alec Baldwin would be able to do whatever he wanted. If his five-accents-in-two-minutes scene isn't right up there with his cameo in Glengarry, Glen Ross, someone isn't keeping score correctly.

"Leap Day": Ah, the made-up-holiday episode. Inspired.

"Cleveland": The song in this episode is the peak of 30 Rock music, which is saying something for a show that gave us "Muffin Top" and "Werewolf Bar Mitzvah," among others. It's also impressive that the season finale plot begins five or six episodes before this one--30 Rock never did a lot of plotting, but this is intricate and well-played.

"The Head and the Hair": the low-key early-episode fake-out and build: "we all have uncles who are cops" indeed.

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