TV: Keep on Rockin’

Entering its fifth season, 30 Rock is still hitting all the right notes, writes Ethan Troy-Barnes

If you’ve been keeping up with your stateside TV courtesy of our lovely friend, the internet, you’ll know that the new series of 30 Rock started about a month ago.

Now in its fifth season, the show is based loosely around the events behind the scenes of fictional comedy sketch show: “TGS: Staring Tracey Jordan’’ (a show loosely based on Saturday Night Live), and follows the mishaps and misadventures of all those involved.

The show has gradually attracted a huge following over the years, and has maintained a brilliant standard of wit and humour.  Now with 85 episodes under its belt and entering its fifth year, 30 Rock has certainly set the bar high for itself, and many would wonder if it can really continue to be as entertaining as it has been so far.

Well, the pessimists need not worry. Now seven episodes (including one live special) in, the new series of 30 Rock is as good as ever. Both the writers and cast are on top form for what looks to be a promising year for the show.

So far, the comedy has featured familiar gags à la the suave alpha male and NBC chief Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) and lovably quirky head writer Liz Lemon (the fantastic Tina Fey). They are joined, as always, by a host of typically high-maintenance and completely mental showbiz types to add to the fun.

This season sees the inclusion of Matt Damon as Liz’s oft-absent boyfriend (he’s a pilot) Carol as a more regular character on the show after his cameo appearance in last series’ finale. While this is a nice novelty, it is one that could wear thin as this series develops, as his character is often not all that funny.

Speaking of cameos, 30 Rock have an SNL-style reputation for persuading celebrities to guest star on the show (Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Aniston and Will Ferrell to name but a few). So far, this series has been no different. Already, we’ve had the likes of Queen Latifah, Kelsey Grammer and ex-Seinfeld star Julia Louis-Dreyfus, with many more certain to appear before the year is out.

In addition, season five also featured a live show set around Liz’s 40th birthday, to celebrate Fey’s 40th which happened a few months previous, while paying homage to her SNL days. The episode had a different pace than a normal episode of 30 Rock, with actors having to pause while the audience laughed, while the quality of the lighting and film were cut back considerably.

Ultimately, the people behind 30 Rock don’t seem to be running out of ideas and the future looks bright. If you haven’t checked it out already, do so. Post-haste.