TV Review: 30 Rock 7.1 - "The Beginning of the End"

rating: 4.5

(WARNING: Significant spoilers follow!) Tonight€™s episode of 30 Rock, the first episode of the last season, ends with Jack (Alec Baldwin) and Liz (Tina Fey) toasting the idea of performing their jobs so badly they bring down the network. Given that the network in question is, in real life, ending their show and giving them only a short, 13 episode final season, that is perhaps a form of just revenge. What have our characters been up to during the hiatus? Jack€™s marriage is over, Lemon is still with Criss, Jenna (Jane Krakowski) is getting married, Tracey (Tracey Morgan) has started his own production company, Kenneth (Jack McBrayer) still has Hazel (Kristen Schaal) living with him, and everyone else is€well, everyone else. There was a lot that was great in this episode. I loved the various NBC shows that Jack was producing, including Hunchback, the hotel channel, Cricket Night in America and God Cop (with a wise black man played by Karl Malone, and God played by Jack). I loved Jenna bringing in a box of dead doves to highlight the problems she plans to have leading up to her wedding. I loved Tracey saying he€™s, €œThe black Tyler Perry.€ I loved that Kenneth has an apartment that isn€™t officially an apartment. €œWelcome to our condemned site of the Candyland murders!€ I also really loved that Liz is still with Criss, though I was somewhat disappointed that we didn€™t see him in the episode, plus Liz€™s €œLemon party€ was great. That€™s all the things I loved. What didn€™t I love? Just one word: Hazel. I€™ve never liked the character. I never quite €œgot€ her purpose on the show (and part of this may be that I€™ve never really €œgotten€ Schaal€™s comedic style). Nothing about her has ever worked for me, up to and including her weird psychopathy. She got way too much screentime last season and, sadly, it looks like she€™s being set up for more this season. She€™s also the only real complaint I have here. I suspect that much of this season will be about Lemon and Jack trying to tank the network, and that promises to be a comedy goldmine. I suspect we€™re also going to get the various loose ends tied up, and that€™s good, too. If this episode is anything to go by, season seven promises to be just as good as the previous six, with a dark pall cast over it only by the fact that it€™s the last.
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Chris Swanson is a freelance writer and blogger based in Phoenix, Arizona, where winter happens to other people. His blog is at wilybadger.wordpress.com