Last night’s west coast 30 Rock was a lot of fun.  It was funny for sure, but more than that it was fun.  Seeing Amy Poehler as a young Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) was fun.  Seeing Jimmy Fallon’s Alec Baldwin (while Fred Armisen mugged in the background) was fun.  Seeing Donald Glover’s Tracy Morgan impression was fun.  Seeing John Hamm’s Tracy Morgan impression was fun.  Seeing Will Forte descend from the rafters in a dress was fun.  Seeing them prove the show was live – by revealing NFL draft picks – was fun.  Seeing Kim Kardashian was not fun, but sadly with all these cameos she was probably still the most famous person in the episode – perhaps one last nod of the cap to live television in that it takes talent – something today’s television celebrity need not possess.

We open with Jack (Alec Baldwin) and Liz discussing the financial insolvency of live television.  Liz loves it, but Jack reminds her if they taped she’d only have to work two weeks a year – giving Liz the chance to utilize a staple of live television – the catch phrase – with her response, “I want to go to there.”  Liz argues TGS has to be live or it’ll lose the spontaneity – which sets up our first flashback of the night, Amy Poehler playing a 16-year-old Liz watching live TV in her parents’ basement and dreaming of losing “my virginity in 9 years.”

Because the word is now out that tonight may be the last TGS, Hazel and Jenna are both going to seize the opportunity to bypass the FCC; Hazel is planning on walking on stage and being discovered, and Jenna is planning on Paul proposing.

Another person who loves live TV is Kenneth, who calls a meeting in Tracy’s dressing room for everyone who isn’t Hazel and Jenna.  He swallows the key to the room and isn’t letting anyone out until they figure out a way to keep TGS a live show, because of the wonderful history of live television, including 12 Angry Men (even if it did star Jane fonda’s dad, a fact Jack finds preposterous). Liz thinks it’s all for naught because either Jenna or Hazel will realize they’re all missing, but between their egotism and live dreams, it may take a while.

And because they’re locked in a dressing room, they’ve got a while, so what the episode evolves into an homage to the importance of live television:

– A Honeymooners rip off called “The Lovebirds” starring Jack and Liz, and just like the original, full of humorous domestic abuse jokes like, “one of these days, I’m going to shoot you in the face with a shotgun.”

– A Cameo by SNL alum Chris Parnell doing an old timey Chatterton’s cigarette commercial – the official cigarette of the American Heart Association

-The Joey Montero Show – a Dean Martin rip-off starring Baldwin as Deano (complete with Wink Martindale’s pencil thin microphone) featuring Jenna as Dusty Springfield

– Alphie and Abner – an Amos and Andy rip-off with Tracy and John Hamm featuring racial tension that eventually results in Tracy’s refusal to pander and John Hamm’s accent being greeted with the back of a chair followed by more forced episodes because it was “tense, but thrilling live TV.”

-Tracy and Frank in a weird Dick Cavett/Jackson 5 flower power show

-Brian Williams doing David Brinkley and Alec Baldwin in 70s garb making misogynistic comments about Liz’s female reporter named Jaime at the Apollo 13 launch site.
 

Meanwhile, Will Forte has shown up to let Jenna know he isn’t feeling the live proposal, but Jenna insists; because of “Rowe versus Dwyane Wade, I have a choice,” and her choice is live.

Back in Tracy’s dressing room, most people have come around to the necessity of live television, especially once they’re reminded of other important live events: the moon landing, the Beatles, The Voice results show, and the time Lutz threw up (which he does again, thanks to his lunch of “lobster roll and two yogurts”).

Jack is still skeptical.  After all, “TV replaced radio, and cars replaced horses.”  Kenneth balks, “not likely, unless the mayor of your town is a horse!”

Jack is finally swayed by a Tracy flashback that Liz and Jack were, unbeknownst to them, a part of: Tracy’s 80s dance crew was on a telethon where he broke his coccyx and enjoyed the laughs of the crowd for the first time while a young Jack screened calls including a prank call from a young Liz Lemon.

Both Jack and Liz consider this moment a major development for them and Liz believes “we all got our start on live tv,” and because most of them are SNL alums, they did! Perhaps because of this subtext, Jack is finally swayed into keeping the live show going, culminating in a TGS sketch called “Prince William and Prince: Time Traveling Fart Detectives.”  Thankfully the skit is derailed by a proposing Paul (complete with Zoobie Zoobie Zoo serenade – love you Megan Draper), and a scene-stealing Hazel who, in one last brilliant live moment tears a picture of Sinead O’Connor in two.  I love you 30 Rock.

*If you’re under 25, Sinead O’Connor was a one-hit wonder from the late 80’s who got some quick publicity for tearing up a picture of the pope on SNL one night.  No, I can’t explain why this was considered controversial, but mostly it had to do with the same thing that made tonight’s episode so special: it was live.