It's hard to know whether to be excited or skeptical of tonight's live episode of 30 Rock. On the one hand, much has been made of the fact that Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, and Tracy Morgan are all live TV veterans and, for that reason, the show is guaranteed to be a hit.
On the other: Not only does the potential for an unscripted Morgan do nothing for me, but it's also unclear whether the live format will lend anything to an already very funny show. And, don't live comedy episodes have a reputation for being rather lame?
There's actually not much of a precedent for attempts at live episodes by TV comedies. The Drew Carey Show broadcast three live episodes (#5.8, "Drew Live," #6.5, Drew Live II," and #7.9, "Drew Live III"), which overlapped with Carey's other show, Whose Line Is It Anyway?
The shows were funny enough but not exactly memorable. (In fact, did you even remember them until I brought it up?)
Much more well-known is the live episode of Will & Grace from Season 8. This attempt garnered a few more laughs if only because the cast couldn't help themselves from laughing at each other -- a gimmick that starts off as funny but starts to get old after a while.
But no other comedy -- until 30 Rock -- has repeated the feat, which suggests perhaps that neither was viewed as a success.
Perhaps more enticing about the tonight's 30 Rock episode is the John Hughes-premise (everyone forgets Liz Lemon's birthday) and guest appearances by Matt Damon and Jon Hamm. Then again, perhaps the live show will go down in history for being truly epic.
30 Rock airs tonight on both the East and West Coasts at 8:30/7:30 CT.
Are you excited for the 30 Rock live episode?