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Archive for Thursday, October 15, 2009

‘30 Rock’ spoofs its own in-joke status

October 15, 2009

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“30 Rock” (8:30 p.m., NBC) enters its fourth season with an episode sending up the show’s reputation for critical acclaim, low ratings and inside humor.

Jack (Alec Baldwin) warns Liz (Tina Fey) that their show and entire network have lost viewers from the heartland, sending Liz in search of new talent.

Jenna (Jane Krakowski) takes the message to heart, adapting a red, white and blue NASCAR style that’s egregiously inappropriate for her promotional spots touting NBC’s tennis coverage. Tracy (Tracy Morgan) uses the warning as a wake-up call and discovers how out-of-touch he has become with his comedy roots. And Kenneth (Jack McBrayer) organizes a work stoppage after Jack economizes on the page program.

Spoofing the idea that “30 Rock” should become more accessible and throwing in inside jokes about the Writer’s Guild strike only cements this series’ reputation as the smartest-written sitcom on network television — even if its ratings remain less than robust.

At the risk of sounding like an elitist glued to this show’s insider media humor, I’m looking forward to seeing how “30 Rock” adjusts its humor if and when NBC finds a new owner.

• Can a “muscle car” from GM’s mid-20th Century heyday help bolster the car giant’s sales and reputation? “Ultimate Factories: Camaro” (7 p.m., National Geographic) looks at the introduction of the 2010 Camaro SS and efforts to redefine a popular legend using 21st-century technology.

Tonight’s other highlights

• Olivia’s patient may have envisioned a cure on “FlashForward” (7 p.m., ABC).

• A rodent gourmet astounds Paris in the 2007 Disney/Pixar fantasy “Ratatouille” (7 p.m., Disney).

• An officer’s murder has racial overtones on “CSI” (8 p.m., CBS).

• Homicidal rage and fear may be linked to dreams on “Fringe” (8 p.m., Fox).

• “Little Girl Gone” (8 p.m., E!) investigates the tragic story of Riley Fox.

• A lawyer for biker gangs collects his last retainer on “The Mentalist” (9 p.m., CBS).

• Heidi Klum hosts “Project Runway” (9 p.m., Lifetime).

• Dee reacts badly when a waitress beats her to the altar on “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” (9 p.m., FX).

• Filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen set a retelling of Homer’s Odyssey in the Great Depression in the 2000 musical “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” (9 p.m., TCM), starring George Clooney, Holly Hunter, John Goodman, a strong ensemble cast and a stellar soundtrack.

Cult choice

A nervous newlywed has some doubts about hubby in the 1958 shocker “I Married a Monster From Outer Space” (1 p.m., Eastern, TCM). At least he’s not a communist.

Series notes

Jeff Probst hosts “Survivor: Samoa” (7 p.m., CBS) ... Chang plays hardball with cheaters on “Community” (7 p.m., NBC) ... A mystery cadaver may be that of an ancient pharaoh on “Bones” (7 p.m., Fox) ... Stefan tells Elena about his family’s history on “Vampire Diaries” (7 p.m., CW) ... A visit from a sister city on “Parks & Recreation” (7:30 p.m., NBC) ... Post-merger tensions rise on “Grey’s Anatomy” (8 p.m., ABC) ... Murders have an eerie resemblance to fairy tales on “Supernatural” (8 p.m., CW).

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