17
Oct
10

30 Rock poised to suck

I watched a lot of 30 rock over this summer and found it to be quite good. This new season though has got some big problems. Things started ok I guess with the “Fabian strategy” but from there, things went really awry.

Liz is in a successful relationship with Matt Damon, taking away a lot of the old spinster jokes that used to get thrown her way and Jack is having a child with Avery, which is just wrong for many parts of his character. Most of episode 2 was just Jack talking to the camera telling his future son how to be like him.

Then there was episode three in which Jack goes to Washington to win over various congress people on behalf of the company, but he runs into Queen Latifah who thinks that the workplace discrimination policy at NBC is poor. The standard race jokes get going in full swing. I guess this is going to be a plot point for future shows as Jack tries to win over Queen Latifah’s character, but nothing great.

Then there was episode 4. Wow was that a bad episode and may have made so upset that I won’t watch again. The idea I guess was to do a faux live show (was it actually recorded live, I still don’t know) in which everyone forgets Liz’s birthday. I’m watching some of the office right now as well and its unbelievable how many times the writers use someone’s birthday as a joke or a plot point. Anyway, its her birthday but everyone forgets, but the whole thing is just really bad. Not a funny joke in sight.

And now I’ll try to make a brief philosophical point. I think the reason most TV shows get bad is because they are inherently written without an end point in mind. The goal is to get from episode to episode and if the show is a hit, then it could conceivably go for years. Seinfeld I think was able to do it actually because of how LITTLE actually happens. George gets married I guess, but nothing really changes for any of the characters as far as I can tell.

The problem though is that art needs a goal or an end point. Novels come to an end and there end point is what defines and makes possible the artistic choices made within the novel’s pages. Without the goal, there is just endless episodery, just like in TV. But the real philosophical point is to notice that this lesson applies to life. Death is our universal end point and we can all make decisions in reference to it. Without immortality, decisions have real consequences because doing one thing means not being able to do something else. The existence of real tradeoffs defines the (artistic?) tradeoffs of our lives. Some people try to live their life as a set of episodes, but that’s exactly what lets triviality and boredom seep in. Just as I don’t want to watch 30 Rock now that I see its all going nowhere, I wouldn’t want to “watch” my own life if I didn’t see where it was going.

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