When Saturday Night Live honcho Lorne Michaels threw a tantrum over NBC’s pickup of Aaron Sorkin’s high-priced, highly-anticipated Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip and forced the network to take 30 Rock, his own SNL-inspired behind-the-scenes-at-a-sketch-show-series-with-a-number-in-the-title– created by and starring his own not-ready-for-prime time player Tina Fey– there weren’t high expectations that the sop was long for the prime time schedule.
Well guess which NBC SNL-inspired behind-the-scenes-at-a-sketch-show-series-with-a-number-in-the-title has been given a second season? Hint: it’s not Studio 60.
After months of fits and starts, 30 Rock gradually came into its own as a smart, off-the-wall, hilarious half hour comedy, thanks to breakout performances by male cast members Alec Baldwin, Jack McBrayer and Tracy Morgan, who quietly hijacked the show from the chunky and clunky Ms. Fey and standard blonde beauty co-star Jane Krakowski, who the network forced in to replace Fey’s less telegenic casting choice and BFF Rachel Dratch.Fey worked to force NBC’s hand a couple of weeks back, telling writers that entertainment president Kevin Reilly all but promised her a renewal because he’s a fan. And today, that seems to be the rationale behind Reilly’s decision. Rock has averaged a 2.7 rating/7 share among 18 to 49 year-olds, which would have killed any other show. And even with his official renewal, Reilly compares Rock to The Office– not because of its quality, but its slow build.
NBC will air repeats of the show over the summer and plans a major relaunch in fall.
30 Rock has also won its share of awards, has people talking and does have Alec Baldwin in its cast– but as we see by NBC’s decision to let Aaron Sorkin tape the rest of the Studio 60 season even though it’s a goner– somebody there likes self-referential SNL-inspired-behind-the-scenes-at-a-sketch-show-series-with-numbers-in-the-titles.
(NBC also has a critical hit with Friday Night Lights, but that’s not about a sketch comedy show, so its renewal is still up in the air.)