Fresh off its third straight comedy series win at the Emmys, 30 Rock kicked off its fourth season by standing inches from the economy and staring it in the face. It was a strange way to start the season, but it created ample space for the satirical one-liners and awkward moments that fans and critics have come to anticipate.
And if the viewers just couldn’t get enough, Judah Frielander provided live commentary via Twitter as both himself (@JudahWorldChamp) and his character, Frank Rossitano (@FrankRossitano). Some of it was insightful, some of it was…interesting.
This season Jack Donaghy feels that the sketch comedy series TGS needs to undergo some changes in order to stay competitive in the midst of the recession. Since Tracy and Jenna are not relatable enough to the American public, Jack gives Liz the task of finding a new cast member. She’s not exactly enthused and recruits the shows’ producer, Pete, to help in the talent search.
They attempt to keep the whole affair under wraps while Tracy and Jenna try to reclaim their audience appeal: Tracy wanders the streets of New York alone and Jenna films a sports promo. Tracy thinks returning to his “roots” will reconnect him with the public and Jenna believes that going country will capture a different set of viewers.
Back in Jack’s office, Kenneth the page is having trouble figuring out why his timecard only allows for 16 hours. So naturally, he goes to the NBC executive for help. Jack informs him that there is no mistake with his timecard, the company is simply eliminating overtime for its pages. He justifies this by telling Kenneth that everyone has to make sacrifices during these hard times. Later Kenneth accidentally receives Jack’s paycheck and is stunned by the all the zeros. He confronts Jack about getting such high pay when the pages can’t even work overtime.
Jack puts it simply, “My talents are more valuable than yours. So I’m paid accordingly, therefore I’m entitled to my bonus.”
But Kenneth is willing to forget the whole matter if Jack admits he’s a liar. He refuses and the pages go on strike. They march outside the building with guys that work as mall Santa Claus’ and picket signs that read “Pages are sort of people too!” They don’t know there’s a mole (played by Steve Buscemi) among them, hired by Jack to bring the strike to an end.
Inside the office, Liz and Pete continue to sneak around trying to find a new cast member. They fail at being secretive, however, and the whole staff ends up discovering what they have been doing. By the time everyone finds out, Jack’s associate has still been unable to end the strike. So Jack goes down there himself and finds Kenneth unwilling to budge. Jack knows there is only one way to end it, so he caves and admits that he is a liar. Just when you think it’s over, Jack and Liz look straight into the camera and introduce The Jay Leno Show.