Episodes: 138 (half-hour)
TV show dates: October 11, 2006 — January 31, 2013
Series status: Ended
Performers include: Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan, Jane Krakowski, Jack McBrayer, Scott Adsit, Judah Friedlander, Alec Baldwin, Keith Powell, Katrina Bowden, Maulik Pancholy, Lonny Ross, Kevin Brown, Grizz Chapman, John Lutz, Rachel Dratch, Jason Sudeikis, Chris Parnell, Teddy Coluca, Rip Torn, Marceline Hugot, and Dean Winters.
TV show description:
This sitcom focuses around single comedy writer Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) as she heads a Saturday Night Live-like comedy variety show.
The show stars her sweet, but self-absorbed friend Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski). Liz’s life is turned upside down when a brash new network executive named Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) interferes with her show and bullies Liz into convincing unpredictable movie star Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) to join the cast.
The sitcom also features producer Pete Hornberger (Scott Adsit), NBC page Kenneth Parcell (Jack McBrayer), and numerous crazy characters (some played by Rachel Dratch).
Episodes #137 & 138 — “Hogcock!” & “Last Lunch”
Liz sends Criss and the two kids off for the morning. The first milestone of the day reached, we see her pecking away at her computer soliciting advice from an online mommy forum about buying a girl’s bike. The GothamMoms.com members are brutal, taking her to task for gender imprinting, not caring about her child’s helmet, etc. Being a stay at home mom in Manhattan is tough.
Jack proudly shows his colleagues his innovative Wheel of Domination, a Six Sigma-inspired diagram that portends his vision of Kabletown as a perfect company. Liz stops by for a friendly visit and a little post-career advice; Jack sizes her up as bored. Liz bristles at the suggestion and tells Jack she’s only come by to check on him. Jack rhapsodizes about being a god of New York. Liz presses him on whether that makes him happy. It should, he tells Lemon.
Kenneth, now president of NBC, shows some Japanese show producers around. Tracy interrupts him to ask for help, but Kenneth ignores him. Dotcom tells Tracy that Kenneth is too busy to attend to him now. Tracy loses his temper, screaming at Dotcom that he’s a lousy assistant. Tracy simply can’t handle being ignored, especially by Kenneth.
Liz stops in to see Kenneth in his new office. She explains that she’s interested in perhaps creating a show for NBC, something that reflects her real life as a TV writer. Kenneth quickly stops her, explaining that quality shows about New York, women and television are all on his list of forbidden ideas. He’s only interested in shows that make audiences want to laugh and forget about life.
Jenna’s having her own career crisis. Despite throwing a tantrum in her dressing room and in the writers’ room, no one seems to be paying attention to her. She storms off to pursue her next life, guest starring on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. Her part calls for her to simply play a corpse, but when the cameras start rolling she begins moaning and exclaiming that her injuries have given her crime-solving powers. It’s a naked bid to work herself into the show. Ice-T and Richard Belzer walk off in disgust. She comes back to the office to declare she’s heading next for a movie career in LA. Again, she’s ignored.
Jack wonders why, even though he’s got his dream job, he doesn’t feel more fulfilled; he decides to pay a visit to Kenneth. Kenneth tells Jack that if he has to ask himself if he’s happy, then clearly he’s not. Jack decides he’ll employ more of his Six Sigma training. He reminds Kenneth of the acronym A.S.S.: analyze, strategize and succeed. “I’m going to crush this (happiness) problem,” he tells Kenneth, “with my A.S.S.”
Liz is back home, engaging in a flame war online with other moms about whether working mothers are really leading a worthwhile life. The war of words intensifies until Liz has had enough. She challenges an online nemesis to a fight in nearby Riverside park. She paces the park, steaming, then notices an agitated Criss showing up.
She realizes her online co-combatant is in fact her husband. Liz wonders why he was trolling online message boards instead of working at his new gig at a dentist’s office. He explains he hates working. He tells Liz he’s the real mom – she should be the dad and go back to work. He even has a sitcom suggestion for her, based on life in a real dentist’s office. Liz will pitch it; she high fives Criss and heads off.
Jack reworks his GE Wheel of Domination into a personal Wheel of Happiness Domination, carving out slices for Sex and Relationships, Hair, Work, Faith, Family, Hobbies, Philanthropy and Relationships. He embarks on a whirlwind of achievement, bringing KableTown’s stock to an all-time high, beating his karate sensei, being a super-dad, rescuing a homeless man and installing him as a host on TODAY, singing in a church choir, renewing a three-way relationship with Nancy and Elisa (even though she’s currently in jail). He’s filled in every section of the Wheel of Happiness.
Jack summons Kenneth to his office again to tell him how happy he is. His colleagues arrive to tell Jack his salary’s been leaked online and that there’s a crowd of protesters who have already burned him in effigy. Even Nancy Pelosi is outraged. It’s great! But somehow Jack is still unfulfilled. With a knowing look to Kenneth, Jack erases part of his Wheel of Happiness: the section labeled Work.
Liz returns to Kenneth’s office for her pitch about the dentist’s office sitcom. Kenneth passes on the show idea but tells Liz he does have an assignment for her. It turns out that Tracy’s TGS contract had a stipulation that if there weren’t at least 150 episodes produced, he’d be owed a penalty of $30 million. As it turns out, only 149 episodes have been made. Kenneth needs Liz to resurrect the show one last time to avoid the penalty. Liz resists, saying she needs a job, not just a single episode to produce.
Jenna arrives at the LA airport only to discover that dazzling beauties are literally everywhere. An attractive airline assistant approaches her and asks if she needs a wheelchair to get to baggage claim. Jenna’s done before she’s even started. She returns to New York and announces to the writers that she’s returning to Broadway.
Infuriated that he’s been ignored, Tracy barges into Kenneth’s office. But instead of berating Kenneth, Tracy has come to tell Kenneth that he remembers what it was like to become important overnight. He wants to release him from any prior obligations Kenneth made to always be there for him. They hug. Proving that old habits are tough to break for both of them, Tracy then tells him that his car ran out of gas on the Long Island Expressway. He hands Kenneth the keys and the former page happily goes off to retrieve Tracy’s car.
Liz walks into Jack’s office and tells him she needs a job. But Jack can’t help her: he’s resigned as CEO of Kabletown. He explains that even though he seemingly accomplished everything, he felt nothing. Liz is appalled. For seven years Jack’s been mentoring her to want more, to push herself. Did Jack really know nothing of which he spoke for all these years? Jack turns defensive, telling Liz she insinuated herself into his life. Saddened and upset, Liz sums theirs up as a simple employee and employer relationship after all; Jack has to agree. Jonathan, Jack’s assistant, celebrates as Liz walks off.
Liz accepts the challenge to produce one final episode. She and Pete begin planning, realizing that Tracy may try to undermine the show to collect the penalty money. They meet Tracy in the hall. He seems to have something up his sleeve, but he’s not revealing it. Liz heads to the writers’ room to get them cracking on the script. Their first order of business is to order lunch. Following long-established protocol, the next person on the lunch picker’s list is, to everyone horror, Lutz. He makes his choice quickly: Blimpies. The room groans collectively.
Jack surprises Liz in her office. He hated the awkward encounter earlier and has come to make amends before he goes away. But Liz wants none of Jack’s soul-searching; she’s got a show to produce. Jack’s heartbroken. He seeks Jenna’s counsel. She explains that Liz really can hold a grudge. Jack spirals emotionally. Through tears, he sobs to Jenna that he has so few people in his life; losing Liz is devastating. He doesn’t know what to do.
Liz steps into the hallway to find the staff in chaos. On a nearby monitor, Al Roker is sounding the alarm: apparently a “snowicane” is descending on mid-town Manhattan. Liz smells a rat. She confronts Tracy about coercing Al Roker into making a false report. He admits it. The staff gets back to work; score that one for Liz. But Liz has another problem. A weepy Jack has entered the studio and is telling everyone goodbye. She consults with Pete, who notes that Jack’s been giving his personal effects away. Perhaps he’s suicidal. Pete says Jack’s capable of it. Pete goes on to explain that a real man fakes his own death.
Back in the writers’ room, the staff continues to try to thwart Lutz as the lunch picker. They try several procedural angles and tricks, but Lutz is ahead of them at every step. Finally, at 5:00 p.m., Liz returns to check on tonight’s script, but the writing staff is crazed; they simply cannot crack Lutz.
Lutz explains that for seven years he’s been the butt of their jokes and today, revenge is his. Liz and the writers finally shove Lutz into Liz’s office and lock him inside. Liz orders sushi for the staff from Nobu 57 and dessert from Make My Cake in Harlem. The writing staff cheers as Liz heads out to find Tracy, who’s now gone missing.
Jack finds Liz once again. His mood is reflective and despondent. He tells her that her light always shone the brightest. He promises to watch the final show from somewhere. Liz is concerned about Jack’s well-being but she has a million details to attend to. Foremost, she can’t find Tracy. She quizzes Grizz and Dotcom, but they profess ignorance. But when he finds out Tracy’s promised to give Grizz more of the penalty money than him, Dotcom tells Liz where Tracy’s gone: the strip club.
Liz enters the strip club, Dark Sensations, and finds Tracy on stage singing and cavorting with two dancers. She tells him to come down. They sit at a table and Tracy explains that he’s run away not because he wants the penalty money, but because he really doesn’t want to say goodbye. His own father abandoned him as a child, claiming to head out for a pack of cigarettes but never returning. Tracy’s never really known how to say goodbye.
Liz explains that they’ll stay friends and get together. Tracy doesn’t believe her. Liz gets real. She tells Tracy that they were forced to work together and that she wore him out. She loves him and will miss him, but tonight might be it. Tracy appreciates the honesty. He agrees to come back and do the show, right after the “Skank Train” act is over.
Back in the writers’ office, the magnificent food spread has arrived. The staff begins chanting and cheering. Liz, feeling bad about locking Lutz in her office, opens the door, only to find no sign of him. She looks up and realizes he’s escaped through the ceiling. Before she can warn the staff to cover the food, Lutz falls through the ceiling, right onto the spread. “Blimpies,” he mutters triumphantly. Defeated, Liz instructs Cerie to order from Blimpies.
The show is in the final stages of preparation. Pete divulges some more details of how a man intent on killing himself might act. Liz realizes that Jack may indeed be looking to kill himself. She rushes up to Jack’s office to find a note on the remote control instructing her to press play. Jack’s taped a goodbye message for her, a video suicide note. Liz rushes out of the office, intent on stopping Jack from doing himself in.
Pete sneaks out a fire door, prepared for his new post-death life. Tracy wanders the studio floor saying his final goodbyes and hugging staffers. But when he gets to Jenna, Tracy can’t bring himself to say an honest goodbye. Evoking his own traumatic childhood, he tells Jenna’s he’s going out for cigarettes and will be back in 15 minutes.
Liz finds Jack on the docks, standing on the rail. She yells at him that he has so much to live for. But he pays her no heed and jumps off toward the water. Screaming, Liz rushes forward only to see that Jack hasn’t thrown himself into the water at all – he’s simply landed on the deck of his new boat. He explains to Liz that he’s heading off to go find what makes him happy.
He tells her he’s already realized 1) he’d make a great boat model and 2) he feels love for her (though he can’t quite get himself to use the word). Liz tells Jack she loves him too. Jack motors out on his voyage of self-discovery. But within a few moments, he’s already had another epiphany: clear dishwashers! It’s his best idea ever. He announces he’s turning around.
Back in the studio, the final show comes to a close. Tracy, surrounded by the cast and crew, thanks the audience and throws to Jenna for the final number. Jenna renders “Rural Juror” with all her heart.
In an epilogue, we flash forward a year later to see a fit Pete out running in rural Carolina. His wife Paula drives up and busts him on faking his own death. We see Jenna on stage accepting someone else’s Tony award, then flashing her breasts before scooting off the stage.
In another vision we see Grizz on the set of his sitcom, an inherited bed and breakfast. Liz Lemon is his producer. Between takes, Liz gets a reminder on her phone: it’s Tracy’s birthday. She calls her former star; he’s got great news: his long-lost father has finally come back from his errand to get cigarettes.
Lastly, we see Jack, back in his CEO office, calling Liz to remind her about Tracy’s birthday. He’s got a gorgeous new second assistant working in the outer office. It’s as if he’s died and gone to heaven.
We widen out to see Kenneth watching the whole scene in his snow globe. We’re in the distant future hearing a pitch for a sitcom to take place at 30 Rock as described to him by a nervous young producer, the great granddaughter of Liz Lemon. “I love it,” Kenneth tells her.
First aired: Janaury 31, 2013
What do you think? Do you like the 30 Rock TV series? Do you think that it should have ended when it did?