By Brooklyn Eagle Staff
NBC's "30 Rock" went live Thursday night with an episode that honored both its roots in live television and its New York City connection, featuring a spoof of Jackie Gleason's 1950s Brooklyn-based sitcom "The Honeymooners."
Gleason's Ralph Kramden character would threaten his ever-suffering, ever-loving wife — Audrey Meadows' Alice — with one of television's classic lines:
"One of these days, Alice, one of these days. Pow! Right in the kisser! Bang! Zoom! To the moon, Alice, to the moon!"
On Thursday night, in a black-and-white recreation of "The Honeymooners" as "The Lovebirds," the terminology used in the couple's bare-bones Bensonhurst apartment escalated a bit from that used in the '50s.
Alec Baldwin as Ralph's character (renamed Larry) greeted Tina Fey as Alice's character (renamed Doris) with this sneer:
"One of these days, Doris, I'm going to take a shotgun and — blam! — blow your face off."
Just as Alice would do, Doris returned fire as fast as Larry could reload.
"It would still be better than our honeymoon," she quipped.
"What was wrong with Niagara Falls?" asked Larry.
"Your mother found it chilly," concludes a poker-faced Doris.
Larry: "You're a real cut-up. In fact, one of these days I'm gonna cut you up in pieces and feed you to the neighbor's dogs."
Alice: "It'd be the first time you've taken me out for dinner in years."
Larry: "Keep it up, Doris, and Bang! Zoom! I'm going to drown you in a bathtub and say a mental patient did it."
The setup for the "30 Rock" episode had boss Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) delivering the bad news that, as a cost-cutting measure, "TGS," the fictitious show-within-a-show produced by Liz Lemon (Tina Fey), would henceforth be filmed, not broadcast live.
"From now on," he said, "you write and shoot the season in two weeks, like 'Wheel of Fortune' and Fox News."
Liz erupted in protest.
"'TGS' has to be live or it will lose all its excitement and spontaneity," she declared. "That's the beauty of live TV: Anything can happen!"
And at that moment, Kenneth the NBC page (Jack McBrayer) entered Donaghy's office with Paul McCartney in tow, telling him, "Here's a bathroom you can use." McCartney disappeared into Donaghy's executive loo. Anything indeed.
Liz was easily won over once she realized that filming "TGS" would be quicker and easier.
But Kenneth argued passionately for the excitement that live TV represents, reminding his colleagues of historic live programs from NBC's rich past.
This paved the way for several wacky flashbacks, including the "The Lovebirds" spoof of "The Honeymooners."
In another flashback, Baldwin played a pickled parody of Dean Martin from his 1960s variety series.
And "30 Rock" star Tracy Morgan appeared in a flashback from a pioneering 1950s sitcom that featured African-Americans — a spoof of "Amos 'n' Andy" with a burnt-cork-faced Jon Hamm as his black sidekick.
Among other surprise guests were Amy Poehler, Jimmy Fallon and Fred Armisen.
Thursday's episode was the second such venture for "30 Rock," which aired live the first time in October 2010. As it was the first time, this half-hour was broadcast from NBC's Studio 8H — otherwise the home of "Saturday Night Live" — in front of a live studio audience.
The initial performance — telecast at 8:30 p.m. Eastern time — went smoothly, with no noticeable technical glitches and just one minor flubbed line.
Three hours later, the cast and guest stars hit their marks once again for viewers in the western U.S. One change: instead of Sir Paul, reality queen Kim Kardashian made use of Donaghy's bathroom.
By the end of the episode, Donaghy was won over to the importance of live TV.
"'TGS' is meant to be live," he concluded. "To make it more profitable, we'll just need to do more sponsored product placements. Or I'll just pay you all less."
Whereupon Paul McCartney reappeared on stage, looking dazed.
"I slipped and hit my head in the bathroom," he said. "Who am I?"
"You're my boyfriend!" Liz Lemon told him as she gleefully led him away.
In the western version, Kardashian had the last word. When Liz remarked that 2.5 million viewers saw "TGS," Kardashian strolled by and recorded the moment on video for her followers.
"Now, 14 million people just saw it. You're welcome," Kardashian said. "Oh, and also, I broke your toilet."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.