“30 Rock” has finally come to an end. We’ll no longer have a chance to check in on Liz, Jack, Tracy, Jenna and poor, hapless Lutz. But that doesn’t mean we can’t keep our amazing memories of the “TGS” gang going through endless requoting and YouTube clip-watching.
There will be no shortage of debate as to the greatest moments of “30 Rock’s” run, but here is our humble attempt to point out five moments that captured just what made “30 Rock” one of the funniest shows on TV.
Tracy Jordan as unstoppable stabbing robot
Times critic Robert Lloyd described Tracy Morgan’s character, Tracy Jordan, as the show’s id. And while there are examples of that uncontrolled impulse in nearly every episode of the series, nothing sums it up more succinctly than the first season episode “Tracy Does Conan.” As Liz (Tina Fey) and Pete (Scott Adsit) worry about what Tracy will do on his upcoming appearance on “Late Night With Conan O’Brien,” they think back to the previous time Tracy made an appearance. In nine seconds, the Tracy Jordan ethos is encapsulated.
Jack Donaghy as Tracy Jordan’s entire family
Alec Baldwin has called Jack Donaghy the role of his career, and that’s coming from a guy who’s starred in major film blockbusters. But playing the ambitious NBC exec Donaghy for seven seasons allowed Baldwin to explore the stranger aspects of his acting chops (the stuff Scorsese and Mamet never ask you to do). Witness Baldwin in this scene with Morgan, as Tracy Jordan attempts to undergo therapy and Jack assists by becoming Jordan’s entire family. Throughout the series, Baldwin has played Jack of the past and future and even a Latin American soap star known as the Generalissimo. But this is perhaps his strangest moment.
Will Ferrell in ‘Bitch Hunter’
“30 Rock” has always had a consistently low opinion of the other kind of programming sharing its airwaves, especially the stuff put on by NBC. Perhaps the best example of the kinds of fake shows that could almost be real on “30 Rock” is the ill-fated NBC series “Bitch Hunter,” which raised the ire of women’s groups and led to “30 Rock’s” show-within-a-show “TGS” getting picked up. The two clips of the “action-drama” shown (with star Will Ferrell) could actually be something put on the air at one point in the near future. The same goes for the fake NBC reality show “MILF Island.”
Leap Day William
Long after “30 Rock” had established that it was not above any goofy, absurd or surreal flight of fancy in order to get a laugh, it managed to surprise us again in its sixth season. The episode “Leap Day” seemed like a typical “30 Rock” episode. It had a bizarre premise (establishing a Leap Day as a holiday, complete with a Santa-like figure known as Leap Day William), big-name guest stars (Jim Carrey and Andie MacDowell) and all the typical “TGS” wackiness. But its real surprise came in the last moments as the real Leap Day William, a lovable old gent from the Mariana Trench, appears on camera to reveal his true nature. Courtesy of director Steve Buscemi, it showed that “30 Rock” wasn’t above scaring its audience for a laugh. (Sadly, this scene, which came during the episode’s ending credits, is not available online; pictured below: John Cullum as a man dressed as Leap Day William -- or is it really him?)
The quotable Tina Fey
While it would be cheating to put every moment Tina Fey was on screen in “30 Rock” as a best moment, it wouldn’t be far from the truth. This was Fey’s series through and through, and she embodied Liz Lemon as only she could. But if the best of Fey’s presence could be distilled to one thing, it would be how quotable she is. And if all of her quotes could be reduced to just one, it would be this: “I want to go to there.” First uttered in the third season episode “Reunion,” it’s one of the best known quotes (and is also the title of “30 Rock’s” official Pinterest page). Fey has said the quote was actually coined by her daughter, Alice.