30 Rock

50 of the Greatest Literary Moments on TV

It’s probably safe to say that media tends to refer to itself, in one way or another — and referring to literature, as opposed to other forms of pop culture, is one way to make just about anything a little more highbrow. Television, notoriously full of references and allusions, might be the worst/best culprit, and the most fun to hunt through for literary moments — after all, nothing’s more fun than seeing books on the boob tube. Here, you’ll find 50 of the greatest and most memorable literary allusions, shout-outs, cameos, and references on television, as well as real-life author appearances and whole episodes, or even whole seasons, based on… Read More

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Why ‘Tootsie’ is One of the Finest (and Most Important) Comedies Ever Made

In the first-season 30 Rock episode “Fireworks,” Liz Lemon and would-be beau Floyd fall asleep watching Tootsie. In their morning discomfort, Floyd awkwardly announces, “I, uh, I think Tootsie’s a very well-crafted movie.” Liz, equally uncomfortable, replies, “Yeah, they use it as an example in all the screenplay books.” As with the best of that show, it’s a moment that’s funny because it’s true — in this case, it’s literally true, Tootsie is a very well-crafted movie. But praising it solely for craft also shortchanges it a bit. The further we get from Tootsie — which is available for fresh consumption via Criterion’s recent DVD and Blu-ray special edition — the more it seems clear that it may, in fact, be the single finest comedy of all time. … Read More

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Why So Many TV Shows Peak in Season 3

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“’30 Rock’ Was a Writers’ Show”: Judah Friedlander on Frank Rossitano, ‘American Splendor,’ and the ‘Wet Hot American Summer’ Prequel

It frankly struck me as a little odd that the makers of Ping Pong Summer were sending out Judah Friedlander — the eccentric standup and co-star of 30 Rock, American Splendor, and many more fine films and television shows — to promote the movie, since one of my few real complaints about the sweet ‘80s nostalgia comedy is that there’s not enough of him in it. Then again, Friedlander has established himself as something of a comedy gunslinger; he comes in to a project like this, does a quick, funny, weird bit, and gets out. “I do enjoy that,” he told me in a recent phone interview. “I’ve probably done about 25 or so movies, and I do like just coming in and going for it and doing it, you know.” … Read More

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Why ‘The Mindy Project’ Fails at Everything It Attempts

When Danny and Mindy got together a few episodes ago on The Mindy Project, the reaction from fans rivaled that of New Girl’s Nick and Jess shippers. The difference between the two audiences, of course, was that New Girl fans had earned the Nick and Jess relationship after two seasons that did not rely solely on the “will they or won’t they?” tease to carry them through. Moreover, New Girl fans were given an opportunity to actually enjoy the relationship before — spoiler alert — Nick and Jess broke up. Mindy and Danny shippers got one perfect scene of romantic bliss (the airplane kiss) and a couple episodes rife with drama before the split. One episode later, Mindy is back to guest-star flavors of the week, like New Girl’s Schmidt in tonight’s episode, and Danny is hooking up with Peter’s sister. A show has not made me feel so much like I’m doing dating in New York wrong since Sex and the City. Hell, even Girls gets it right more often than Mindy. … Read More

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5 New-to-Netflix Streaming Movies and TV Episodes Made for St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day can be seen in one of two ways: either it’s a glorious celebration of our nation’s connection to and history with Ireland, or it’s a terrible excuse for binge alcoholics to practice while wearing green and watching a parade. If you’re looking to drown out the bagpipes and the sounds of the Dropkick Murphys, avoid all that Irish nonsense (thanks, 30 Rock) with these five Netflix choices that will bring laughter and maybe tears in equal Irish measure. Check them out after the jump, and follow the title links to watch them right now. … Read More

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10 Memorable Moments From Broadway Legend Elaine Stritch’s Career

Elaine Stritch might be Broadway’s greatest living legend. At 89 years old, the star has appeared on international stages in classic productions of Company, Bus Stop, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, and Mame, as well as a popping up in acclaimed performances in Woody Allen’s September and as Jack Donaghy’s mother on 30 Rock (a role for which she won an Emmy). Today sees the release of a documentary about her long, storied career called Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me. A loving and touching portrait of the actor as she looks back at her life’s work and prepares to retire to her hometown of Detroit, the film features interviews from frequent collaborators and friends such as Alec Baldwin, Tina Fey, John Turturro, and the late James Gandolfini. To celebrate the release, here’s a look back at some of the best moments from her versatile career on stage and screen. … Read More

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10 Deceitful TV Title Sequences

Across the interminability of their runs, TV shows are known to digress and regress into diverse forms of badness, but their credit sequences, for better or for worse, remain relatively unchanged. This means that for every five-season show, we’re watching the same “I just figured out iMovie!” stream-of-consciousness splice-fests hundreds of times. Because of this repetition, certain images stick with us — often more than other moments from the shows they belong to (whenever I see a hearse, for example, the gassy reverie of Thomas Newman’s Six Feet Under theme song plays in my head and I envision a lone tree on a hill). The morphing nature of TV shows set against the invariability of their opening credits often exposes a fissure between the tone of the credits and the tone of the show. Sometimes the credits just don’t get it right from the start. This can work to the advantage of bad shows, the disadvantage of good shows, or, you know, just be sort of confusing. … Read More

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