• Must-see comedy Wednesday? Maybe.
NBC created a viewing dilemma for me this week, scheduling two appealing sitcom concepts against the intriguing nuclear drama Jericho. First impressions:
30 Rock (7 p.m. Wednesday) • With the brilliant Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin on board, this behind-the-scenes take on an SNL-like skit show has the potential to become the first truly must-see comedy in years. In typical fashion, Baldwin devours the scenery whole and kills from the moment he introduces himself as vice president of East Coast television and microwave oven programming. In the premiere, he arrives on the scene to tinker with Fey's baby, "The Girlie Show," and troubled comedian Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) joins her cast. Morgan's scenes in the premiere aren't as funny as they ought to be, and I'm looking forward to seeing lots more of Baldwin hamming it up as the network exec who spouts viewer research data and focus group inanities every other sentence. A favorite moment in the premiere: drunk Liz (Fey) throwing down to Salt-N-Pepa's "Push It." 30 Rock has a similar in-your-face reality quality to that of The Office; in fact, the two seem obvious partners for a one-hour comedy block. While that vibe can lead to some dull moments, 30 Rock promises to inject some needed laughter into the current sitcom landscape. Verdict: &&&1/2
Twenty Good Years (7:30 p.m. Wednesday) • Odd couple old guys cut loose. The endlessly hilarious John Lithgow does the same egomaniac shtick he did on 3rd Rock from the Sun, and Jeffrey Tambor (so great as Hank Kingsley on The Larry Sanders Show) does his insecurity routine. Depending on your perspective, it's either: A) an opportunity to watch two of the best at work, even if the material is mediocre, or B) it's a shame to see two great talents muddling through mediocre sitcom material that makes The Class not look so dull. Verdict: &&1/2
All times Central. Photo: NBC