NEW YORK (CBS) Live, from New York, it's "30 Rock"!
The much-hyped live episode of the NBC sitcom (done again later that night for the West Coast) kicked off Thursday night with Jack Donaghey and Liz Lemon in Jack's office. "Does it look weird in here to you?" he asked her. The studio audience laughed, and the show was off and running.
The show adapted to the live production (filmed in Studio 8H in the real 30 Rock, where "Saturday Night Live" calls home) by streamlining the plots, all of which took place inside the TGS studio - Jack tries to quit drinking in solidarity with a pregnant Avery, Liz is upset that no one remembers her 40th birthday, Tracy is inspired to intentionally "break" (as in mess up) during his TGS sketches after watching the "non-porn version" of "The Carol Burnett Show" and Jenna threatens to have an intentional wardrobe malfunction if he goes through with it.
Jack tries to distract himself from booze with magic tricks and knitting, but it doesn't work - though he does make himself a pretty ridiculous-looking red poncho. He tells Liz, "Men need alcohol. It's the first thing every civilization makes, along with weapons and shelters to enjoy prostitutes." He resorts to sniffing paint and smelling Jenna's alcohol-soaked breath to get by, before breaking down and having a drink at the end of the episode.
Tracy declares he's going to laugh during TGS "harder than I did at Dotcom's play" ("It was 'Angels in America!'" Dotcom laments), and goes on to ruin each of his sketches by breaking character. That includes throwing off his wig and lifting up his shirt while playing Oprah.
No one remembers Liz's birthday - even her pilot boyfriend Carol (Matt Damon returns!), who called her to say he was flying through turbulence and asks her to clean out the porn in his Raleigh apartment if he crashes...and to DVR "Bones" in case he doesn't. Ultimately, everyone remembers and surprises her with a Fonzie cake at the end of the show...that originally belonged to the "Happy Days"-loving cleaning lady Edwiga ("SNL" alum Rachel Dratch). Liz is happy with how her birthday turned out, because she got to eat cake off the floor.
But the highlights were Julia Louis-Dreyfus playing Liz in flashbacks, the hilarious commercial for Dr. Spaceman's musical cure for erectile dysfunction ("it's not just a dog problem anymore") and a PSA from Jon Hamm's recurring character, the hook-handed Drew Baird, for hand transplants.
The West Coast's version featured a number of differences - some intentionally written into the script, others just line flubs. New York magazine's Vulture blog compiled a list of the variations, including Jane Krakowski singing a live version of the "30 Rock" theme song (with lyrics!) for the East Coast, and Cheyenne Jackson doing it for the West Coast.
Did you watch the live episode? What did you think?