Farewell to ’30 Rock’: How Tina Fey and Co. Said Good-bye

by | January 31, 2013 at 10:31 PM | 30 Rock, TV News

Good-bye, 'Rock' stars (clockwise from upper left): Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan, Jack McBrayer (Photos: NBC)

The honor of uttering the final words on “30 Rock” went to Jane Krakowski, who sang them as part of a farcical song at the conclusion of the final episode of “TGS.”

“TGS” was, of course, the fictional variety show produced by Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) on “30 Rock,” which ended its seven-season run Thursday night with a two-part hourlong finale on NBC.

The series, about a weekly TV show produced at NBC’s 30 Rockefeller Plaza headquarters in New York, said farewell with a pair of back-to-back episodes in which sentiment took a back seat to comedy. The final line sung by Krakowski — in her role as Jenna Maroney, the egomaniacal co-star of “TGS” — was a case in point. “These were the best days of my flurm!” she sang — a line that started out sentimentally and ended in nonsense.

Sentimentality and nonsense were juxtaposed in much the same way throughout the two final half-hours of “30 Rock.” For example, in their final scene together, Liz Lemon and her boss and mentor, Jack Donaghy (the incomparable Alec Baldwin), managed to admit that they loved each other. But moments later, Jack had an even bigger epiphany — an idea for a clear dishwasher that would allow users to watch their dishes being washed.

Watch the series finale of “30 Rock”:

It was an innovation that gave clarity to Jack’s life too, and he immediately returned from a planned voyage on his new sailboat — a journey that lasted all of two minutes — to mount a comeback at GE. The comeback was apparently successful too because he was shown back at the company in a brief coda that appeared at the end of the final episode.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. First, here’s what happened to the “30 Rock” characters:

Liz Lemon: With “TGS” having been already cancelled, Liz became unhappy in her new role as a stay-at-home mom, while her husband, Criss (James Marsden), was unhappy in the working world. In the end, they agreed to switch roles, and she went back to work — first producing one last episode of “TGS,” as specified in Tracy Jordan’s contract (Tracy Morgan). Then, by the episode’s end, she was seen running a new network sitcom starring one of Tracy’s assistants, Grizz (Grizz Chapman).

Jack Donaghy: With “TGS” coming to an end, coupled with Jack finally achieving his life’s goal of running the network’s parent company, Kabletown, Jack realized that he, too, was unhappy. So he suddenly resigned and with little left to live for, he moped — leading Liz to believe that Jack was contemplating suicide. What he was really thinking about was shoving off on a worldwide sailing trip from a dock in lower Manhattan, where Liz confronted him for their final scene together. As well-done as that scene was, a scene between the two from earlier in the evening — in the first half-hour of the show — was even better. It was a savage conversation in which the two of them reviewed the relationship that had developed between them over seven years. When the dissection was over, the two realized their friendship had been so toxic that they vowed to end it. That decision lasted about a half-hour until their final dockside scene.

Tracy Jordan: As usual, Tracy rebelled against the idea of producing one last “TGS,” even though it was a contractual obligation that would earn him an extra $30 million. And, as had become customary, Liz fretted over Tracy’s sabotage of the final show and confronted him in a strip club. It was another scene combining sentiment with farce — as Liz made a touching speech about the meaning of workplace friendships, while strippers cavorted just off-screen.

Kenneth Parcell: Having already become president of the network, happy-go-lucky Kenneth the (former) page (Jack McBrayer) got accustomed to his new role. Besides ordering Liz to bring everyone back for one more “TGS,” Kenneth engineered Liz’s new role as showrunner for Grizz’s sitcom — a show idea that happened to be Kenneth’s. Come to think of it, that was another great scene, early in the hourlong finale, when Liz and Kenneth had a conversation about the nature of TV shows, and he schooled her on what the public really wants.

Jenna Maroney: The self-centered actress spent most of the hour plotting her next move in show business now that “TGS” had been cancelled. One of her plans was to take up TV drama with a guest-shot on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” — playing a corpse who suddenly comes alive (though that wasn’t in the script). Her improvisation frustrated “L&O: SVU” stars Ice T and Richard Belzer, who appeared in the scene on “30 Rock.”

Pete Hornberger: The put-upon second-in-command on “TGS” (Scott Adsit) spent most of the “30 Rock” finale furtively planning his own fake death. At the episode’s end, however, in a glimpse of Pete’s future, he was found out by his wife.

Though Jenna technically had the last word — the nonsensical song verse — the very last scene of “30 Rock” belonged to Kenneth. It came at the end of the brief coda tacked on to the end of the show after the final commercial break, with Kenneth, many years in the future (though not visibly aged), still in his office as network president and holding a Rockefeller Center snowglobe — shown in closeup like in “Citizen Kane.” He was seen interviewing a young woman who was telling him an idea she had for a TV series about a show produced at 30 Rock. Kenneth addressed her as “Ms. Lemon.”

“It’s based on stories my great-grandmother told me,” the young woman told him, evidently referring to Liz.

“I know, and I love it,” Kenneth said, smiling.