Pictured in this display grab: (l-r) Keith Powell together James "Toofer" Spurlock, Tina Fey together Liz Lemon, Judah Friedlander as Frank Rossitano, john Lutz together Lutz, Sue Galloway together Sue. (NBC)
Hoping we’re either as dumb together we look at or no as smart as we seem, NBCUniversal tried come pawn off an hour-long heralding selfie disguised as synergized entertain on that is prime-time network Thursday night — a pitch because that a (so far hypothetical) 2020-21 TV season, disguised together a “30 Rock” reunion.

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Sentient viewers space so inured to proclaiming that that apparently just works now if friend pretend to be cynical about the whole industry — an inside joke around an within joke, in i beg your pardon the hoax was really on anyone hoping because that a solve hour with our old girlfriend who provided to produce and also star in “TGS,” the comedy sketch show at the facility of “30 Rock,” which, you’ll recall, was itself already a spoof of working at NBC in an setting like “Saturday Night Live.”

The suggest of pass “30 Rock” back from the dead, briefly, was to tout a season of prime-time reflects that have actually not yet entered production, due to the fact that of the covid-19 pandemic shutdowns, and the Olympic gamings that have actually been postponed a year and also a autumn sports season that takes no tiny measure of optimism to regard as a sure thing. This to be NBCUniversal shoving that hopes and also plans down our throats, in the type of commercials for its substantial array of programming and its brand-new streaming platform. The Peacock has landed. On your face.

Peacock’s component of this equation ruffled the feathers of a many NBC’s affiliate stations, i beg your pardon understandably see the new, all-encompassing streaming NBC platform, which was consistently touted to viewers the Thursday night’s unique as a totally free service, to it is in an undermining hazard to their business model that getting world to watch NBC the classic way, with timeless advertising. Numerous affiliates chose not to air the special; in the Washington market, the was no problem, due to the fact that WRC is directly owned by NBCUniversal.

From "Parks and also Recreation” to “30 Rock,” countless ensembles have actually been reuniting for special reunions between the pandemic. (The Washington Post)

The “reunion,” such together it was, confirmed some that the old “30 Rock” spark if trying come both acknowledge and disavow the soul-sucking premise of the all. Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) is summoned by her old boss, Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin), to reboot your fictional live-comedy lay out show, just it turns out to it is in Jack’s ruse to get back in an excellent graces with Kenneth Parcell (Jack McBrayer), the exciting dopey previous NBC page who increased to come to be president of NBCUniversal.

Liz persuades she old writing staff come reassemble, and also her star performers. Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) tells her he’s no much longer an actor, having actually read the entire dictionary in prior of a green screen so the he can show up in endless future movie projects, but he agrees. Trickier is the fate of Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski), who has actually been culture-canceled because that defecating in Mandy Moore’s Thermos and then offering an insufficient online apology. Liz tries to discover replacements for Jenna (including Khloe Kardashian) but, together always, Jenna (who has become a experienced Zoom bomber in quarantine) prevails.

All of which provides perfect sense if you loved the initial “30 Rock” and speak the love language. In between the ache tongue-in-cheek segues to an ext ads for all things NBCUniversal, there were some short laughs.

Seeing McBrayer again as Kenneth is enough to make any “30 Rock” fan’s heart walk pitter-pat; even better to watch him pat a second function at the same time, together Kenneth’s besotted assistant, Vivica.

This kind of difficult sell is nothing brand-new at a typical, closed-audience network occasion — such as the upfront gift usually organized in the feather to stir enthusiasm with large advertisers because that the brand-new TV schedule; or at the summertime Television movie critics Association press tour, whereby the networks try to to convince the media the all the brand-new shows space going to it is in wonderful. The people who to visit such events are used to the sarcastic approach, in which network executives usage comedy to laugh turn off last season’s failures and also make light of the reality that they are in sales mode.

“30 Rock’s” sardonic skills in the meta room couldn’t get rid of the corporate stink of that all, also with together winking-at-the-camera lines as Baldwin saying, “Thank God advertisers are some of the smartest and also most physical attractive people this industry has ever seen.” Wash your hands all you desire (and to wash them you should!), it simply won’t come off.

Late in the hour, the totality thing collapsed into an yes, really presentation of NBC’s brand-new prime-time shows, which will premiere . . . Someday. They encompass the comedies “Kenan” (starring SNL legend Kenan Thompson) and also “Young Rock” (based ~ above the youthful exploits that Dwayne Johnson); a magic-meteorite drama dubbed “Debris”; a brand-new “Law & Order” spinoff that brings earlier Christopher Meloni; and, the course, “Mr. Mayor,” a new comedy from Fey and also “30 Rock” co-creator Robert Carlock, starring “The great Place’s” Ted Danson.

And then, as quickly as the special was over, ns received an email purporting to it is in an enthusiasm quote native the chairman that NBC’s “advertising and also partnerships” division, boasting that the special has ushered in one entirely brand-new era in advertising.

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The existential dilemm rages on native there: What walk we just watch? What is television? What isn’t? and most the all: If NBCUniversal achieves perfect viewer/advertiser singularity, what are they walking to execute to united state next?

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