Thursday night the world watched as one of my favorite comedy shows premiered its final episode and took its final bow. 30 Rock has run for seven seasons. Like most shows it had some weaker seasons towards the end but when it was in its prime, it was one of the most clever shows on television. Ending any television show must be difficult but I would imagine it would be even more difficult to end a comedy series. I went into the finale with high hopes and have to say that I was left very satisfied.
30 Rock is written and created by Tina Fey and is based on her experiences writing for Saturday Night Live. The show is your basic show within a show (if there is such thing as a basic show within a show). Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) is the head writer for a show called the Girlie Show on NBC. When a new head of NBC is hired, Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin), the show is fundamentally changed when they hire the notoriously difficult comedian Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan). That all happens in the first episode and the stage is set for the rest of the show. While there is no arguing that 30 Rock’s main characters are Liz, Jack, Tracy and TGS’ other star Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski), the show is also filled with an insane supporting case. This includes TGS writers, the TGS producer Pete Hornberger (Scott Adsit), Kenneth the Page (Jack McBrayer), and Tracy’s entourage Grizz and Dotcom. Throughout the seven years we have spend at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, the supporting staff has become as important as the main characters. Going into the finale I wanted every character to have their own happy ending and for the most part I wasn’t disappointed.
In a special one hour episode, we get to see Liz finally obtains her happy family, Jack obtains his life’s goal, Tracy is able to say a real goodbye and Jenna finally feels real emotions. Kenneth the page’s wildest dream is fulfilled, Pete is finally able to escape his life and Lutz gets back at the writer’s for all the crap they have given him in the past. Each character is left happy in life yet sad that TGS is ending. The finale does a great job of giving each character the ending that they need and deserve
A show that has built its humor on sarcasm and unique ploys, 30 Rock stays true to form and uses every tool in its arsenal during the finale. Pulling jokes from the first episode, the hour season finale was a 30 Rock joke greatest hits reel. From mentioning a fake, made up TV show advertisement inset to Tracy Jordan being unable to pronounce Jenna Maroney’s name (My Bologna) 30 Rock again proved the brilliance of its writers and that it can easily be the cleverest show on television.
I’m always nervous going into a finale, hoping and praying that the show leaves me satisfied and I will happily be able to say goodbye to my favorite characters without remorse or regret. 30 Rock did a perfect job wrapping up the show. A dramatic end, which puts Liz and Jack into their first real fight, leads to each character saying what they need to say to one another. We do get a one year flash forward, showing what all the characters end up doing but my favorite part of the episode occurs with just a few seconds left where, as they always do, the show throws a classic 30 Rock sarcastic element to stop the dramatic farewell. I was very happy with this final episode and can honestly say that I was able to wish a fond farewell to 30 Rock.
I understand that I am slightly behind the eight ball here but the only thing I have thought about this week has been the final shot of Fringe’s Season 5 premiere. I’m not going to hold back any information here so if you’re worried about spoilers you may want to stop reading. Season 5 of Fringe picks up where the flash forward episode (Season 4 Episode 19) left off. After the Observers attack, the Fringe Team, Astrid, Walter, Peter and Olivia fight back, forming a plan to defeat the invaders. In an attempt to keep the plan from the Observers, the Fringe team freezes themselves in amber rather than allowing themselves to be caught. The story picks up in 2036, when Olivia and Peter’s daughter Henrietta, a member of Fringe and the resistance against the Observers, revives the original Fringe team from their amber prison to begin battle against the Observers.
Though we do not know the exact circumstances that forced the Fringe team to amber themselves, we do know they have a plan. An Observer willing to help the humans named September implanted a plan in Walter Bishop’s (John Noble) head, putting it out of sequence so it can’t be read by other Observers. With the ability to read the thoughts of humans, the Observers can pull information from anybody. By putting the plan in Walter’s head out of sequence, September made it more difficult for the Observers to obtain it. All Walter has to do is use a machine to re-sequence the information. Unfortunately Walter is taken by the Observers before he can use the machine and is horrifically tortured. We are not clear if the Observers managed to get the plan from Walter’s mind, we just know that after the Fringe team saves Walter, the information is gone, probably destroyed.
During his torturing, Walter attempts to think of music, something the Observers have nearly gotten rid of in the now dystopian world. Not only is Walter attempting to use music to find solace in, he also uses it to change his perspective and let his mind grow and expand. When Walter realizes he has lost the plan he becomes distraught. Walter is absolutely lost in the new world he has been thrust into. The world has lost all sense of beauty and is just a twisted heap of rundown buildings and miserable humans. The things that kept Walter sane in his previous life like his lab or music were now gone. It was odd watching this epsidoe because in most episodes we have an instance of Walter listening to music. Usually when in the lab Walter is listening to some form of music and often sings when nervous, happy or concentrating. Not giving Walter a moment of music shows that he is in a world he does nto understand. Walter had trouble functioning in the world when he understood it. He is going to have an even harder time surviving in a world run by the Observers.
The final scene in Episode 1 was one of the most perfectly put together shots of the entire series. Wearing only a robe and boxers, Walter Bishop heads out into the street to investigate something that the sun is reflecting off of. Walter, probably one of the most wanted men in the world, makes his way down the decrepit, rundown street to find a CD hanging from a pipe by a thread. Walter takes the CD, sits down in a destroyed, rusted, wheel-less car and puts the CD in. The CD contains an old, bad eighties song and Walter sits staring forward, letting the music change his perspective. As he sits and listens he sees, and therefore the camera zooms in on, a single yellow flower that has managed to push its way through the gray and barren ground. That is what beauty has become to Walter Bishop. That is the only beauty that the dying world can give. It is a beautifully depressing shot, a shot that was constructed not only to mirror the feeling of the episode but to give us an idea of the tone the rest of the Season is going to take.