Monday, October 18, 2010

Live From New York

I finally got around to watching last week's live episode of 30 Rock.  (Doesn't that kind of miss the point?)  Usually I don't like stunts.  If a show is good, just give me the regular stuff, no need to trick it up.  But I thought the whole experiment worked well.

Actually, it wasn't that it was live.  It was that they performed in front of a live audience.  That changes the whole rhythm and style.  What's lost in subtlety is made up in verve.  It was exhilirating to see the cast working the crowd.

I've never understood the networks' seeming mania for one-camera sitcoms.  It's not as if ratings justify the decision.  It wasn't that long ago when taped live was the norm, and I didn't notice anything lacking then.

30 Rock is a complex show full of little gags and moments that they had to simplify to go live.  (They also put in a bunch of self-conscious jokes:  Jack feelings things weren't right, Tracy intentionally breaking, Julia Louis-Dreyfus playing Tina Fey in cutaways.)  I suppose I wouldn't want to see it changed permanently to live.  But it reminded me that the hot live style can bring a sense of immediacy that the cooler one-camera shows lack.  Maybe the networks should learn this lesson, too.

PS  There were some guest shots.  When Jon Hamm appeared on screen, the audience cheered. Matt Damon, however, got nothing. I think they didn't recognize him.

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