I want to go to there.

30-rock-pamphletI think this week’s 30 Rock was a perfect example of how the show works best: Take a standard sitcom setup (take an office full of zany characters, throw in the conflict-causing plot du jour), then pump it full of manic energy and film it all through an extra thick lens of surreality. When it comes to comedy, I always like it better if the jokes are coming so fast that the audience will miss some of them on the first viewing, which is one of the many reasons that Arrested Development was so great. Rewatchability is never a bad thing for your show.

Most sitcoms like to have the comedy come from the plot/situation (hence the name), which I find limits the potential for both (storytelling potential is truncated and the LPS (LOLs per minute) is lowered). This is why a show like Big Bang Theory is always just on the edge of being truly awesome, but when the episode is over you’re left feeling that a) it could have been funnier, and b) the plot didn’t advance as much as it could have, because the show tried to shoehorn both into 21 minutes.

How I Met Your Mother (which for my money is the best sitcom this season, with 30 Rock in second place) goes about things differently from your standard sitcom, having certain episodes which are clearly more focused on advancing the show’s plot than bringing teh funny, which frees up the majority of the episodes to be stuffed with as much comedy as possible. This is a solid method that’s working really well for them, but it’s still somewhat of a normal approach.

30-rock-scrabble30 Rock takes on the plot/funny problem in a very unique way: If you make your show absurd enough, then the plot itself is comedy (and the comedy is also comedy, resulting in 100% comedic encasement). This has the added bonus of making it hard to tell what exactly is the zany episodic plotline, and what is the actual developing plot thread for the show, making it almost impossible to figure out where the show is going or what’s going to happen next (I honestly didn’t expect Salma Hayek to be around for multiple episodes). Granted, that doesn’t really matter all that much as 30 Rock is very much a show that sweeps you up and drags you through a series of crazy scenes and bon mots at breakneck speed, not leaving you a lot of time to contemplate future plotlines.

-Jerk

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~ by Jerk on March 14, 2009.

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