30 Rock's Season 7 Premiere: The Road to Paas

30 Rock S07E01: "The Beginning of the End"

The last season of 30 Rock! It's like senior year of high school, only you don't have to worry about getting into college.

Last night's season premiere made it clear that the show is taking full advantage of its situation. Most of the plotlines revolved around setting up possibilities for the season, while the show made us one subtle promise—not to tank.

I'll explain. Jack's storyline was that he's trying to "tank" NBC. Liz noticed that the new shows he put together for the fall lineup were absolutely terrible, from a game show called Homonym—where contestants guessed which meaning of the word the host was using (and were never right)—to a drama called God Cop, about a cop whose partner is God (played by Jack). I love how close 30 Rock gets to what's actually on television. Both Homonym and God Cop are just a hair more ridiculous than what really gets produced.

Anyway, Liz figured out that Jack was trying to make NBC horrible on purpose. Jack admitted he wanted Kabletown, NBC's current owner, to think NBC was worthless and sell it to Paas, which Jack saw as a far superior company. I gotta say, he's right that they have a surprising hold on the Easter egg business. Do any other companies even make egg-dying kits?

While neither Jack nor Liz gave up on tanking, there was a strong feeling that the writers were signaling that tanking isn't what 30 Rock itself will do. So many shows start spiraling by Season 3 (or earlier), and it really says something about 30 Rock that even in its last season, Tina Fey and company refuse to produce something sub-par.

And they've given themselves plenty of material to work with. The episode opened with Liz holding a baby, but nope, she was holding a fake baby to show her crew how she wanted a skit to play out. Sneaky, Lemon, sneaky. Liz isn't pregnant yet, and from the sound of it, she and Criss aren't doing that great. We don't know for sure, though, since Criss wasn't in this episode.

For the first time in a while, anything could happen with Liz. There's still time for her to get pregnant and have a baby by the end of the season, though she'd have to find out fairly soon. But if Mad Men can do "Surprise, you're having a baby!" so can 30 Rock (that would actually be a pretty sweet parody, especially if Jon Hamm guest-starred again).

Meanwhile, Jenna's engaged and in full-on wedding mode. For Jenna, that means killing doves and picking out leotards for bridesmaid dresses. So, you know, typical bride stuff. She claimed this would be her wedding year, which would set things up perfectly to be the season finale. However, she wants a surprise wedding, so it could just as easily happen next week. And after having Liz "tank" at being her maid of honor by throwing a truly horrendous bachelorette party (which involved a clown and a cop who was not a stripper, but had a lot to say about identity theft), Jenna decided she would be her own bridesmaid.

Then there was the awkward plot about Hazel using Kenneth to get close to Tracy so he would cast her in a movie. I really like all three of those characters, and a lot of their jokes were amazing (like how Kenneth's second base is sharing a yogurt), but I still felt theirs was the weakest storyline of the episode. Tracy and Kenneth are such different characters that when they play off each other, it's hilarious. Add in Hazel, who's also very different from both of them, and they all start to feel mismatched. Like one of those three-legged stools that always wobbles.

So here we are, with a promise not to stop trying, and a full universe of ways things could go. The stakes are that much higher, because anything could happen. Jack could become CEO of Paas. Liz could have a baby (or a plant). Tracy could go to the moon. Who knows!

What'd you think of the episode?

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