30 Rock Series Finale Review: One Last Show

30 Rock S07E12 & S07E13: "Hogcock!" and Last Lunch

30 Rock is important to me.

It is not series that helped me through a difficult time, though I did gorge on it while I was in the hospital in December; it didn’t help me come to some particular epiphany about my life or offer me guidance in a career path, even if I think I would totally rock an NBC page jacket; and I didn’t meet the love of my life over a shared admiration of the show.

There have been, and continue to be, plenty of shows about television shows or that have television shows as a setting, but starting on Oct. 11, 2006, there was 30 Rock, and it was about television: its past and its present, its shows and its business, all things that I love, and that the series' writers and producers clearly loved, too.

But 30 Rock wasn’t slavish in its admiration, and instead opted for satire, parody, and winking homage, whether it was needling NBC’s corporate ownership through GE by way of the Sheinhardt Wig Company or demystifying TV “golden age” with a character like Tim Conway’s racist and homophobic Bucky Bright or creating a delightful fictional history of broadcast television in “Live from Studio 6H” or driving the never-ending train of horrible made-up NBC programs like MILF Island, Homonym, and the Will Ferrell-starring Bitch Hunter.

30 Rock thought and felt about TV the same way that I, and many people I knew and still know, think and feel about TV: with love and irreverence, respect, and an arched, knowing eyebrow.

And so the finale of this series has filled me with both dread and happiness. Dread, well, for the obvious reasons, because it’s a show that I’ve watched, loved, quoted (“blerg” is a permanent part of my vocabulary, among many, many, many, other words from the series), and discussed with others for seven years. But the happiness comes from the fact that the show, despite its ratings, stayed on the air (likely due to media ownership, Emmys, and fear of Lorne Michaels) and ended on its own terms.


Those terms were pretty good. “Hogcock!” and “Last Lunch” weren’t 30 Rock’s funniest episodes, but as has always been the case with the series, there were plenty of stellar little bits, including Liz seeing the on-screen ad for Grizz and Herz, Tanned Penis Island (mostly destroyed due to Sting’s housefire), Kenneth’s list of of TV no-no words*, and the very spot-on recreation of the mom forums, reflective of the web in general more than anything.

* Conflict, Urban, Woman, Divorce, Shows About Shows, Writer, Justin Bartha, Dramedy, New York, Politics, High Concept, Complex, Niche, Quality, Edgy, Blog, Immortal Character, Foreign


If there was one new bit that somehow slayed me (and we’ll get to the old bits in a moment), it was Lutz’s insistence on ordering Blimpie. Yes, it gave Lutz his final victory over a room of people who have abused him and maligned him for years (except for that one day they thought he had a car), but it also put a bow on the gift of 30 Rock’s consistent needling of product placement. Subway, given its presence on other NBC shows like Chuck and Community, would’ve been the obvious choice, but instead we got a sort of anti-product integration plot where no one but the show’s most hated in-universe character wanted it.


But the finale also paid off on and called back to lots of running gags, including Pete’s unhappiness with his life (and he still couldn’t even fake his death properly!), the return of The Rural Juror (I’m convinced that the Mean Girls musical is just a feint and that Tina Fey is really going to do a Rural Juror musical), and Kenneth’s seeming agelessness with that St. Elsewhere-in-the-future gag as a descendant of Liz Lemon pitched 30 Rock to NBC. It was one last little meta joke for a show that thrived on meta jokes.


What I liked most about the finale, though, was the question of whether or not Liz and Jack could really have it all. That drive to have both a job and a family has been at the core of both their lives for all seven seasons. Both have faced ups and downs professionally and personally, and now, faced with getting what they thought they wanted all along—complete business and political domination in Jack’s case and a family in Liz’s case—they realized that the other components are just as important, and that they needed all of it to be happy.


But of course they could have it all, and I love that in this regard—together with the fact that Kenneth was still in charge of NBC who knows how many years later (and that NBC still existed!)—30 Rock’s jokey cynical shell broke apart and exposed its gooey center one last time.

Lemon out.


What'd you think of the finale, and what has 30 Rock meant to you?


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That was a very touching and funny finale. Great way to cap off the show.
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I finally got around to watching this finale. I was a bit surprised when I found my eyes a little watery near the end. Like JT_Kirk below, I've watched every episode of the show since it started airing, but I never found myself loving it. It had many funny or clever moments, but rarely did I watch an episode and think it was great. However, there are only a handful of sitcoms during this past decade that I'd say I definitely liked more, and 30 Rock was always good for a laugh or two, so I'll certainly miss it. As for the finale itself, I liked almost all of it -- even the slightly unfitting sincerity and sappiness -- but the Lutz-Blimpies story didn't do anything for me.
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It wasn't a perfect finale but I liked it. A great way to send off the characters.
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gonna miss the show. tina fey is awesome. hope she comes up with something new, and I'm sure great as well, soon.
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The last show ever really surprised me. My eyes got somewhat misty during the last minutes. Bravo, 30 Rock. It was the right time to end, but I am truly going to miss you.
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Liz answering her phone: "You got Lemon. Make some lemonaide." Classic.

And Jack's accent ending three-way was hysterical.

Perhaps the best thing about it was they way even the most incidental of the cast got at least one last character moment.
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Loved the 30 Rock finale. My 2 favorite bits wereKenneth's immortality and Liz revealing Mad Men's finale (which it wouldn't be that farfetched IMO) LOL! I'll really miss this show! I'll definitely follow the cast on all of their future endeavors! And on a sweeter note the end of 30 Rock means the return of Community next Thursday so there's that!.
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Glad to hear you enjoyed it, Noel. I've always wanted to love 30 Rock as much as you do, I've watched it faithfully through its entire run but it's always let me down a little, and this finale put a pin on that. The issue for me with the show is that it has kernels of good ideas, stuff like that mom's forum, but those kernels are surrounded by soft, lazy comedy that feels like someone writing the show is afraid to say "no" to their staff, like children who are told everything they do is brilliant so they just expect that everything they attempt will be a success without any honing or real work.

My one real complaint is the changes that Jack went through, they didn't feel authentic, they felt like gimmick meant to drive a series finale, which obviously it was, but that's such a tired thing and it ends up leaving a beloved character without an honest finishing story arc. They did a silly montage of "Jack awesomeness" but even that felt phoned in.

I also suppose having this be 2 parts made it very disjointed, Liz really didn't feel like her story of having a family didn't feel connected in the second episode, but that's how it goes I guess, it was a drag on the show but it wasn't nosedive, much like this whole finale.
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You seemed to have the same challenges that ben45tpy had below, so I'll refer to my reply there.

I do agree about the disjointed nature of the episodes. It's not nearly as unified as it should have been, and I hated that Criss just up and disappeared in the second half.

Unless it was just absolutely horrible, which it wasn't -- it was just fine, I wanted more to celebrate the show than anything, hence the very positive vibe. BUT I also did want a more critical engagement about it in the comments (knowing there'd be a few!), so I was glad you, and others, stopped by to leave a comment. (That being said, anyone who hated the episode is a Double Hitler. (Not really.))
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I actually don't think this was the weakest episode(s) of the season, I'd place it on par for the latter half of the series really: some stuff worked and some stuff didn't, not a lot of punch either way. It's just that for a series finale, the stuff that didn't work was a little bigger, a little more foundational which undermined the Jack character considerably and he could have been so much more.

For me, there's a large gulf between good and horrible where middling and mediocrity exist; it sounds like with 30 Rock, for you there's merely a thin line between good and horrible, and that is something I don't really understand. This episode tried to straddle between regular episode writing and finale-style deconstruction, but when I look back at earlier season stuff it definitely doesn't have the teeth in deconstruction that it should.

DOUBLE HITLER?!? I LOST FAMILY IN THE HOLOCAUST!!! YOUR INSENSITIVITY MAKES YOU A MISTER AND MRS. HITLERSON. ... oh. ;-)
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My apologies for almost every paragraph in that post being run-on sentences.
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S'all good. Most of my reviews are just Joycean impressions until Jen gets them and gives them structure. (This may only be half true.)
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I loved the finale, the Tv no-no words were great, and I loved the return of the Rural Juror(Rurrerrr Jerrurrr). I will certainly mis Liz lemon and the gang, but at least Community returns next week.
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This episode was not like the show at all. 30 rock was like Seinfeld in that there was never any true emotion in it and thats why it was good. This finale changed that all of a sudden, even Tracy had a serious moment. They completely changed Jack, who should have gone out on top like a boss the way he was in every season till this one. Yes people grew to like the characters over time but still the show never had a storyline anyone really cared about it was all for jokes, they should have went out in a ridiculous bang the way a normal episode is.
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Great review Noel. I haven't watched the episode yet, but this put me in a wonderful head-space to get to it.
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Thanks, Cory. Be sure to let me know what you think about it.
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As much as I love 30 Rock, and love TIna Fey even more, this was not my favorite finale.
I think last weeks episode was better and didn't feel as rushed to include everything. I really like how Hogcock focused on what was next for everyone and "last sandwich" kind of took away from that. Hmmm...
Saying that there was still a LOT i liked. The last scene of Jack and Liz, was wonderful as was "The Rural Juror" song.

Maybe it wasn't my favorite finale because I'm sad I won't get to watch new episodes... so to end I'm not suggesting any romantic senetement, but heck I'll say it I loved 30 Rock. Thank you Tina Fey.
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I loved the finale. Loved seeing all the gags come back again. It covered everything I wanted it to, and even if it didn't hit all of the recurring gags that I would have liked, it covered enough of them and I loved it. Like you, I can't say that this show has meant anything great and grand to me, but it has meant a ton of laughs, and those I shall miss (except for when I rewatch this show).
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I loved this episode! Everyone had their moment to shine, but my favorite was that after 40 minutes, all Jack was looking for was a clear dishwasher. Simple answer to a complicated problem. I love, and will miss you, 30 Rock!
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It would have been nice to see Rachel Dratch and Brian Williams again. Though Williams was mentioned. And what about the super bad green screen effect during the Conan scene? Was that on purpose?
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Dratch: Yes, absolutely. And I appreciate the dual-identity Williams has on the show as a raging news anchor diva and a weird guy who desperately wants to be in show business, and since the show started with him as the latter, I liked that return to form.

And, yes, the green screen was probably super unavoidable for the gag. His show tapes in L.A. now, it was likely cheaper to have him film it front of a green screen with him recording his lines, and then popped Fey in after they got the footage.
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I understand that they probably had to film it that way, but I wonder if it was purposely bad, perhaps indicating that Conan wouldn't be welcome in an NBC building? I may be overthinking. That's new.
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I think you may be overthinking just a tad, and I say this after writing a short spiel about genetically modified foods in a review about a cartoon last week.

All I'm saying: I may not be the best person to say if you're overthinking. ;)
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Rather, the show started with him as the former (raging news anchor diva). (I haven't had my tea yet.)
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Great wrap-up, though there weren't as many jokes as usual. I loved seeing so many call backs to old story lines. Loved seeing Fin & Munch from SVU, too. I need to watch the "One year later" tag again. I don't think I caught everything.
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The first installment was excellent and felt like a season one through four episode; the second was a good finale, but not as funny.
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Eh...it's gone and that's fine by me.

Two things: the clear dishwasher was a Mythbusters epiphany. And Conan on NBC again?! He should have been given the chance to smear the Peacock.
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They've made clear dishwashers for decades, but they're only used for in-store displays. Probably because they don't hold up to repeated use.
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I liked the part when Jenna looked into the camera and told us that she had never really met Mickey Rourke. Gonna miss this show!
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Those Mickey Rourke jokes have been a delight.

"Nice try, Hazel, but you made the same mistake Mickey Rourke made on that catamaran. You didn't kill me when you had the chance."
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Look someone has to say it. The finale was off form and was probably the weakest episode of the final season. That's not to say it was bad or even flat, that's a testament to the quality of the show, but much of the finale seemed to adopt an unfamiliar tone that was unconducive to comedy. Particularly jarring was the Liz and Jack fight that brought out a bitter side that was nothing like anything we've ever seen from Liz before, and when you think about it was the fight really substantial enough to get to that sort of level? Plus the ensuing material with Jack acting so breezily was strange and also not funny, and I wonder if there wasn't a way for Jack to teach Liz a lesson while still remaining funny and true to the spirit of the show. Another issue was the use of rural juror. There was very little potential left in this material and I think that singing the words actually enunciates them better which detracts from the joke. Even the internet mums thing felt off to me because although it was very funny it was jarring to the tone of the show - more internal monologuey than the madcap conversations we're used to. But I feel like I'm being harsh because the episode was still filled with good moments and great jokes and managed to provide closure in a quite satisfying and unique way. I just wish that the whole episode was truer to the tone of the show instead of the irritated, bitter Liz moments. And I'm not sure the Ludz story was best used in the finale, perhaps it should have been used one or two episodes ago.

I'll miss this show. It was a great constant for so long in the increasingly transient world of tv comedy.
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Agreed, Ben. I enjoyed last week's episode, but frankly several of the recent shows have been painful to watch. One thing for sure is that it has made it easier for me to say goodbye to 30Rock, and perhaps that was TF's plan all along. Don't get me wrong--I'm a fan who will continue to watch all the episodes over and over, but I can see it is time for everyone to move on. Thanks of for letting me down gently, LL--I'd miss you so much more if I were still laughing like I was in season 2!
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I don't know if I can agree with weakest as I'm more likely to remember this episode over, say, "Stride of Pride" which I had completely forgotten even happened. But I'd have to acknowledge that finale goggles are likely playing a part in that mentality as well.

I get jarring, but coasted on it as a result of both of them at a breaking point (as much as either of them are allowed to get, and perhaps that were the real disconnect happened?), and I liked the inversion of their roles here, with Jack freaking out and become emotional and Liz throwing herself into her work. .

And I feel like the Lutz story was exactly the right send-off for the writers: Completely inconsequential but still pretty funny. And it also sort of worked with the model of the finale being a finale but also still feeling a bit like a regular episode.
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I actually quite enjoyed Stride of Pride. It wasn't the funniest but the three plots were all pretty strong: I liked Liz's sort of failed attempt to prove women could be funny, Jack's Pokemoning and Jenna wanting to channel Helen Mirren was the best of all. Taste is such a personal thing.
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Loved finale. This is how you end show! Not like recently Fringe,Merlin,etc.
GothamMoms was the funniest and best thing. While I loved other jokes and all,nothing topped that GothamMoms chat. Like with most shows,it is bittersweet to see it end,but at the same time, I get it. We all live and die at some point,right?
LOVE YA 30Rock and THANK YOU for many things....mostly for not giving us crappy ending and I will sure watch,re-watch and re-re-watch all episodes again,when I will have chance to do so.
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Haha, loved Jack's success in convincing two Catholic girls to have a conjugal visit threesome with him. He really would make a great boat model. ;) Oh, and Pete attempting to fake his own death. . . and failing.

And I'm glad that Liz got the family she wanted and it looks like everyone will stay in touch. :)

Lots of funny bits, lots of cameos, lots of warm fuzzies. (What can I say? I like series finales with warm fuzzies.)

As you said, I'm so pleased it got this long run and got to finish on its own terms. I've always thought it was great, and I'll miss it.

Goodbye, 30 Rock!!
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Poor Conan. ;)
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The Blimpie thing was my least favorite part, actually. "We only have so much time left and you're wasting it on sandwich drama??" I kept thinking.

Nonetheless, that was an amazing ending....the latter half-hour was surprisingly deep. I never expected 30 Rock to go for what's known in 2013 as "feels" and hit it.

And "blurg" entered my permanent vocabulary years ago.
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Another one of my shows comes to an end. With 30 Rock, it was a finale that was as perfect as I ever seen a series finale. It's not like any other show out there, for the reasons explained above. The show was written for love of television, the acting was for the love of acting and the writing was for the love of writing. Was each episode a masterpiece? No. But no show ever is. But did they make the show they wanted each and every episode? I would think so. I'm sure some things they didn't do that the wish they got to, but I don't think they never did anything they didn't want to do. And that's what matters. I'll miss the pokes and jabs they took on certain topics and television itself. I'll miss the insanity of Tracy, the paranoia of Jenna, the innocence of Kennith, the strength of Jack.... And the love of Liz. I will miss 30 Rock for everything it was.
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30 Rock is one of a handful of shows that can make me literally laugh out loud when I am by myself. I'm going to miss it and all of the wonderful Florida jokes, but I'm glad it got to go out on its own terms.
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Blergh!
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loved it. Jenna in law and order was hilarious. The episode is touching and is a nice way to say goodbye to fans, I think. I will also miss it.
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It may have not been the best episode ever, but it was a satisfying conclusion to the show that has absorbed a large amount of my life....i will miss it.
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