- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 10, 2006

30 Rock’ rolls in

Ever wonder how a show like “Saturday Night Live” gets made?

Apparently, so do lots of other people including TV executives — especially those at NBC.

Two new series, both on the Peacock network, take a behind-the-scenes look at the making of a sketch comedy show: “30 Rock” and “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.” But only one, “30 Rock” (debuting at 8 tonight) is actually a comedy.

Moreover, it’s actually funny. Former “SNL” head writer Tina Fey stars as Liz Lemon, the head writer of an “SNL”-like sketch comedy called “The Girlie Show,” described by a nervous studio tour guide as “a real fun ladies comedy show for ladies.”

Well, not quite. Sketch characters like the Cat Lady quickly establish “30 Rock’s” show-within-a-show concept, and other “SNL” alumni — including Rachel Dratch (unmemorable here in a supporting role as a cat handler) and Tracy Morgan (as Tracy Jordan, a self-described “straight up mentally ill” star whose crazy hijinks could either make or break both “The Girlie Show” and “30 Rock” itself ) — join Miss Fey in the ensemble cast.

There’s also “Ally McBeal’s” Jane Krakowski in a solid turn as Jenna Maroney, “The Girlie Show’s” nice but neurotic star.

Yet it’s Alec Baldwin who really shines as the new network exec who clashes with Miss Fey both personally and professionally.

“30 Rock” stumbles a bit in tonight’s premiere. But it’s already funnier than recent episodes of the storied sketch comedy series from which it is spun.

By Christian Toto

Not so ‘Good’

The worst thing to happen to John Lithgow was winning all those Emmys for “3rd Rock From the Sun” — wins that appear to have turned his naturally overboard persona into an ongoing mission.

Now “Twenty Good Years,” the new NBC comedy, lets Mr. Lithgow cut loose all over again. We even see him in a tiny swimsuit before the first episode ends.

Thankfully, Mr. Lithgow’s id is checked by co-star Jeffrey Tambor.

“Years,” bowing at 8:30 tonight, follows a pair of longtime friends who decide — after some major life changes — to embrace their golden years. They’re still in good health, and who cares that they haven’t had their own hair since the Reagan era?

The show’s debut episode features Mr. Lithgow’s character, John, being forcefully semi-retired from his duties as a surgeon. John loves women (too much, it seems) but loves himself quite a bit more. Mr. Tambor’s Jeffrey, on the other hand, must deal with his aggressive girlfriend (“Who’s the Boss’s” Judith Light) baiting him to propose. He remains frozen when faced with a decision, a bad character trait considering he’s a judge by trade.

Together, the two men decide to carpe as much diem as possible while they’re still young enough to do so.

Mr. Lithgow and Mr. Tambor click on screen, but sadly the same can’t be said for “Twenty Good Years.” It quickly resorts to lame sexual humor, and there’s only so much hilarity to be had from Mr. Lithgow’s preening.

By Kelly Jane Torrance

‘Grey’s‘ tops on TV

“Grey’s Anatomy,” ABC’s acclaimed medical drama, topped the Nielsen list of prime time shows — with 22.8 million viewers — for the week of Oct. 2 through Oct. 8, Associated Press reports. Other shows within the top five along with their networks and viewerships were: “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 21.5 million; “Desperate Housewives,” ABC, 20.9 million; “Lost,” ABC, 18.8 million; and “Dancing With the Stars,” ABC, 18.3 million.

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