As with many other great television comedies, art often reflects life on " 30 Rock." It just does so through a fun-house mirror.
And the fourth season, which premieres Thursday, Oct. 15, on NBC, is no exception, says writer and executive producer Robert Carlock.
"At the beginning of the season, Jack's ( Alec Baldwin) work concerns have taken over again, and he's dealing with the economy of both TV and our fictional version of the microwave business and government interference in the free market," explains Carlock, whom series creator Tina Fey called "the engine that keeps the show going" during her Emmy acceptance speech last month. "He's chafing under a potential government oversight committee on microwaves and small appliances, like the car czar thing, because Jack is a free-market purist. When he accepts a bonus check that is accidentally delivered to Kenneth (Jack McBrayer), he inadvertently precipitates a strike by the pages."
Jack also begins to meddle in Liz's (Fey) comedy series, pressuring her to make the show more appealing to "real Americans," not just intellectuals (translation: Dumb it down), he adds.
One of the show's funniest running gags continues this season as "TGS" cast member Jenna Maroney ( Jane Krakowski) continues her streak of some of the most ill-fated movie projects imaginable in this case, a werewolf movie. In Iceland.
"She's sure this werewolf movie is going to be the one (that makes her a movie star), because of the popularity of things like 'True Blood' and 'Twilight,' " Krakowski says of her character. "Unfortunately it has been scheduled during the wrong time, during the 'white nights,' and since werewolves only come out at night, they only can shoot it one minute at a time, because there is only one minute of darkness a day. It's the worst ill-fated project ever, but there's a genius flashback where you see it being filmed."
Krakowski, a Tony-winning Broadway baby who recently earned her first Emmy nod for her work in "30 Rock," has emerged as one of the show's most valuable go-to players, walking fearlessly right up to the edge of violating good taste with Jenna's clueless political incorrectness.
"One of the things we're looking forward to," Carlock says, "is having Jenna in an arranged Hollywood relationship cooked up by two agents. But Jenna discovers it isn't fulfilling for her, and she has an emotional realization that she wants more, which I think is a cool turn for that character after three years of thinking that all she wants is to have her picture in the paper and have her hair look good."
"I love playing Jenna," Krakowski says, "and I think because she and Tracy's (Morgan, as loose-cannon comic Tracy Jordan) characters are so self-absorbed and unaware of the world around them that it gives them so much freedom to be wrong, and that is something that is so fun to get to play."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun