’30 Rock’ returned for one night – and shouldn’t have bothered

Way to tarnish a legacy.

Tina Fey and most (but not all) of the “30 Rock” gang reunited last night for the one-hour “30 Rock: One-Time Special.”

While Fey’s frequent collaborator and bestie Amy Poehler reunited her sitcom pals from “Parks and Recreation” for a special to benefit charity last April when the coronavirus shutdown was beginning, this “30 Rock” was all about pimping for NBCUniversal’s new streaming service Peacock.

No wonder so many NBC affiliates balked at showing this.

True, “30 Rock” (2006-2013) always winked at the camera about corporate plugs, the price of doing business for a lot of shows today, but this was more than just a joke or two about GE overlords.

This was an hourlong commercial with a few chuckles.

Liz (Fey) is a stay-at-home mom to nasty teenagers; Jack (Alec Baldwin) is retired and bored; Tracy (Tracy Morgan) has moved to Canada; and Jenna (Jane Krakowski) is a pariah since she pooped in Mandy Moore’s thermos. (Whatever.)

When Kenneth (Jack McBrayer) – no longer page and now the head of NBCUniversal (and predicted by the show years ago) – seemingly dangles the offer of rebooting TGS, our misfits Zoom-bomb each other and ultimately learn that there is no TGS reunion. Kenneth was just testing them because they’ve ignored all his other requests to join up online. He misses having friends who treat him badly.

Jack gets a TV executive job and asks Liz to draft some welcoming remarks for a meeting.

Liz replies, “I’m an artist, not a shill for the network. I don’t do industrials.”

She winks at the camera, then winces.

“Oww. Why did that hurt?’

Oh, too little, too late.

At that point, viewers had sat through a numbing amount of promos and teasers for NBCUniversal content.


Fey brought back recurring players Jonathan (Maulik Pancholy) and Toofer (Keith Powell), but not even a mention of Cirie (Katrina Bowden)?

For a show so meta, so willing to mock itself, there wasn’t a mention of Fey and NBCUniversal’s decision last month to pull four episodes of “30 Rock” from streaming and syndication because they contain scenes of actors in blackface.

Some things, like this special, just aren’t entertaining.