Live from Studio 6H
|"Live from Studio 6H"|
|30 Rock episode|
The cast of 30 Rock and their special guests bid goodnight to the live audience at the end of "Live from Studio 6H" in a tribute to Saturday Night Live
|Episode no.||Season 6
|Directed by||Beth McCarthy-Miller|
|Written by||Jack Burditt and Tina Fey|
|Original air date||April 26, 2012|
"Live from Studio 6H" is the nineteenth episode of the sixth season of the American television comedy series 30 Rock, and the 122nd episode overall. It features a return to live broadcasting from the season five episode "Live Show", both of which were directed by Beth McCarthy-Miller, and co-written by series creator Tina Fey. The episode originally aired live on the NBC television network in the United States on April 26, 2012, with separate tapings for the East Coast and West Coast audiences. "Live from Studio 6H" featured guest appearances by comedian Amy Poehler, musician Paul McCartney, and several actors associated with 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live.
30 Rock follows the production of the fictional sketch comedy program The Girlie Show with Tracy Jordan (TGS). In this episode, producer Jack Donaghy and head writer Liz Lemon decide to cease live broadcasts of TGS to save money. In order to save the magic of live television, NBC page Kenneth Parcell gives an impassioned history of live broadcasting to his co-workers in order to maintain the tradition for the show.
The episode makes explicit references to classic television sitcoms and variety shows and draws humor from breaking the fourth wall and acknowledging that the actors are portraying fictional characters. It received generally positive reviews from critics.
Jack (played by Alec Baldwin) announces to Liz Lemon (Fey) that the network is ceasing live broadcasts of TGS in order to save money. NBC page Kenneth Parcell is distressed by the decision and locks the show's staff into a room to convince them of the magic of live television by recounting memorable moments in NBC broadcast history. Meanwhile, TGS co-star Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski) announces that she plans to upstage her fellow actors by announcing her engagement on air and NBC page Hazel Wassername (Kristen Schaal) decides that she will run onstage to get her big break in entertainment by proposing to Maroney herself.
It turns out that Tracy Jordan's dance troupe appeared on a live television fundraiser in 1986 that sparked their love for television: Tracy tripped and fell, realizing that he could be comedic; Liz prank called the studio, igniting her love for fighting authority; and Jack answered her phone call—his professionalism impressed executive Don Geiss into giving him a promotion. The cast agree that they want to continue making live television and in the middle of a skit, Jenna's boyfriend Paul Lastname (Will Forte) proposes, but Jenna declines because she wants to marry for love rather than a ratings stunt. Hazel interrupts their moment by ripping apart a picture of Sinéad O'Connor.
The separate broadcasts have minor differences between them.
NBC asked the cast and crew to create a second live episode and on March 21, 2012, co-star Baldwin announced in an interview with Extra that 30 Rock would air their second live episode after the critical and commercial success of "Live Show". The episode aired to capitalize on May sweeps. Fey, Morgan, Krakowski, and McBrayer have all expressed excitement about performing a second live show, but Baldwin was initially skeptical until he read the script and was convinced.
"Live from Studio 6H" was co-written by series creator, executive producer, and lead actress Fey and co-showrunner and screenwriter and producer Jack Burditt. It was directed by Beth McCarthy-Miller, who worked with Fey on the sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live and received a nomination for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series for directing "Live Show" in 2010. Like the previous episode, it was filmed in SNL home Studio 8H rather than 30 Rock’s usual Silvercup Studios as the latter is configured for single-camera filming and an absence of a live audience.
Although the full list of guest stars remained a secret up to airing, Fey revealed that former 30 Rock writer Donald Glover and previous guest star Jon Hamm would appear. Prior to the West Coast airing, guest star Kim Kardashian previewed that she would appear on the episode.
Connection with TV tropes
Like "Live Show", "Live from Studio 6H" relies on self-reflective comedy and references to classic late night television. This episode includes extended skits referencing The Honeymooners, Amos and Andy, Laugh-In, The Dean Martin Show, telethons, and news broadcasts from the 1950s through 1980s. In addition, the show closed with an on-stage good-bye in the style of Saturday Night Live, owing to the strong overlap in cast and crew of the two programs. Hazel's attention-grabbing stunt explicitly parodied a 1992 SNL appearance by O'Connor where she ripped up a picture of Pope John Paul II. The proposal scene parodied Mad Men episode "A Little Kiss".
The satire of Laugh-In includes the mailbox reference to H. R. Haldeman from "Rosemary's Baby" (despite explicitly taking place during the Johnson administration). Baldwin reprises his Nixon impression from "Subway Hero" in parodying Nixon's "Sock it to me?" cameo from September 1968.
As The A.V. Club noted, this episode was more self-consciously nostalgic of television history than "Live Show" and Ellen Gray of The Philadelphia Inquirer has pointed out that having a live show for sweeps is itself a television tradition.
Meredith Blake of The A.V. Club gave the episode a B, praising its nostalgia for television and daring to break out of a strictly scripted format, but criticizing it for having too loose of a structure and relying on skits and cameos. Entertainment Weekly's Breia Brissey also gave it a positive review and praised its overview of television history. Frazier Moore of the Associated Press characterized it as "full of fun" and "very lively." The energetic pace of the episode was also praised by The Huffington Post's Chris Harnick, explaining that it "was an excuse to play dress up and have fun—and that's just what they did." Andy Greenwald of Grantland characterized the episode as "a balletic, inspired, and insane live half-hour about the importance and visceral thrill of live television."
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- Eckstein, David (2012-04-27). "'30 Rock': Live show brings double the fun". Zap2it. Retrieved 2012-04-27.
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- Raferty, Liz (2012-04-27). "Kim Kardashian, Amy Poehler Guest Star on Special Live 30 Rock Episode". People. Retrieved 2012-04-28.
- Gray, Ellen (2012-04-26). "NBC strives to stay 'must see' on Thursdays". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2012-04-26.
- Moore, Frazier (2012-04-26). "NBC's 30 Rock goes live for a night with a funny episode that has plenty of life". Associated Press (reproduced in The Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-04-26.
- Harnick, Chris (2012-04-27). "'30 Rock': 'Live from Studio 6H' Was Much Needed". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2012-04-27.
- Greenwald, Andy (2012-04-27). "NBC Comedy Recap: An Amy Poehler Showcase and a Live High-Wire Act". Grantland. Retrieved 2012-04-28.
- Day, Patrick Kevin (2012-04-27). "Jon Hamm does blackface for live '30 Rock' episode". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-04-27.