Television comedy will live on safely for another year. NBC has confidently ordered a new full season of 30 Rock episodes (and of The Office). Evidence of what a difference an Alaskan makes.
It was kind of an obvious pick up at this point, considering its creator and star Tina Fey is just about the only NBC-related thing that people talk about these days. The rest of their lineup, while earning higher ratings, is mostly forgettable and un-buzzworthy. But this is a big change for a show—which still, despite the zeitgeist, languishes in critically-beloved-yet-relatively-low-ratings land—that was a much bigger question mark at the start of the 2008-2009 TV season.
After the Writers Guild strike broke its second season in half, 30 Rock was put on cancellation watch. Though it got a third-season order, going into the fall, it looked like NBC chairman Ben Silverman had left it for dead. After plastering promos for his brilliant idea for a new series, Kath & Kim, all over the Olympics in August, he announced a precariously late premiere date for 30 Rock and the cast and crew were seemingly on the last of their second chances.
But then, a few weeks before its third season debut, Fey went supernova. She became a celebrated national darling with her infamous Sarah Palin impression on Saturday Night Live. Some wondered if she'd take that heat—the magazine covers! the interviews! the glowing, nerdy adoration!—over to Rock. It looks like she did. For now. We're curious to see how long it lasts, as Palin recedes (blessedly) farther and farther into the ruined past.
So that's good news, because the show is wonderful (last night's episode, with zombie jokes!, is below). Also good news, we hope, is that Amy Poehler's new NBC show now has an official start date. The sitcom, created by The Office's Greg Daniels, will drop on April 9th, filling the Kath & Kim slot. That Floridian comedy "may or may not" return to the airwaves (or, I guess they won't be airwaves anymore, will they?) next year. I hope it does come back, because it's actually pretty funny once you get used to its strange, muted sense of humor.
It'd be nice to call the Poehler series "promising," but we don't really know anything about, um, what it's about. (Update: Oh wait! Yes we do!) Though, rumored to be joining the SNL (and Boston College, woot) alum are splendid comedian Aziz Ansari, former Office mate Rashida Jones, maybe Poehler's hubby Will Arnett, and the "New Funny Girl" from New York Magazine's terrifically depressing "New Issue" (Ronan Farrow, swoon), Aubrey Plaza.