Everyone loves a reunion. Just look at the reaction to this year's isolated get-together of Parks and Recreation, which had fans around the world in tears as Chris Pratt's Andy singing his ode to Little Sebastian. The same cannot be said, however, about the recent 30 Rock reunion on the new streaming service Peacock.
There has been one word used by almost every critic when writing about the 30 Rock special: "Infomercial". Turns out, the new episode was basically one big sales pitch for Peacock, with the plot revolving around NBCU – owners of Peacock – wanting to reboot the fictional show TGS, formerly run by Liz (Tina Fey). Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) is the person to inform Liz that Kenneth Parcell (Jack McBrayer) wants to bring the series back.
"It's NBC's amazing new streaming platform, where all of NBC's hit comedies from the last 93 years will be available!" he tells Liz.
"Wow, even Friends?" Liz replies, a timely gag about how Friends is actually on Peacock rival HBO Max.
Unfortunately, the general consensus is that the rest of the episode failed to land, with references to Peacock being labelled "clumsy" by some. Here's a review round-up of the 30 Rock reunion.
A joyless Peacock ad – Entertainment Weekly
"It seems as though Fey & Co. weren't given nearly as much latitude for self-referential corporate mockery with One Time Special. The meta jabs were far outnumbered by clumsy, box-ticking setups for one of NBCU's many corporate arms... This wasn't an episode of 30 Rock, or even an episode of anything. It was a 60-minute sales pitch lumbering around inside the husk of an Emmy- and Peabody Award-winning sitcom." Read the full review here (opens in new tab).
A funny, blatant commercial – Variety
"While there were plenty of 30 Rock inside jokes as the characters got to update us on where they’ve been since the 2013 series finale and how stir-crazy they are in COVID-19 quarantine, the special was more of an opportunity for NBCUniversal to promote NBCUniversal... If you’re a “30 Rock” fan who tuned in to see a 30 Rock reunion special, it would have felt both very strange and… well, kind of familiar." Read the full review here (opens in new tab).
Really just an infomercial – CNN
"Yes, the whole cast appeared – under the guise of being recruited to do a reboot of the show within the show. But the content basically felt like the kind of promotional video that actors would be enlisted to shoot for an upfront sales presentation for advertisers, which is precisely what this was, just on a national platform." Read the review here (opens in new tab).
NBCUniversal’s hour-long ad for itself – Washington Post
"30 Rock’s sardonic skills in the meta department couldn’t overcome the corporate stink of it all, even with such winking-at-the-camera lines as Baldwin saying, 'Thank God advertisers are some of the smartest and most physically attractive people this industry has ever seen.' Wash your hands all you want (and wash them you should!), it just won’t come off." Read the full review here (opens in new tab).
Forgettable, mostly unfunny infomercial – USA Today
"Not even a block of night cheese could make 30 Rock: A One-Time Special less groan-worthy... If any cast was going to reassemble for the sole purpose of plugging other people's content, you'd think Fey and Co. would be the ones to do it with more than just a knowing wink and nudge. But a literal wink was one of the only bits of meta NBC commentary in the entire special." Read the review here (opens in new tab).
If you're looking for a new show to watch, then check out our list of the best sitcoms (opens in new tab) currently streaming.