30 Rock S01E01: "Pilot"

Synopsis

Jack attempts to convince Liz to hire film star Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) as part of the cast of The Girlie Show and the crew reacts to Tracy's addition.

Episode Details

Episode
S01E01 (101)
First aired
11-Oct-2006
Transcript
View full dialogue
Writer
Tina Fey
Director
Adam Bernstein
Frank's Hat
Ninja Expert
0:40

As Liz begins her walk down the city street a song begins to play with the lyrics, “Who’s that kicking it down the street causing a stir…that’s her…who’s got the kind of charisma the boys prefer…that’s her..”

The lyrics and score to the song and the shots of Fey prancing down the New York streets are reminiscent of the opening sequence for “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” The theme song lyrics for “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” (seasons two through seven) stated, “Who can turn the world on with her smile? Who can take a nothing day, and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile? Well it's you, girl, and you should know it.” This entire opening sequence works on the level of parodying “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” so as to make this a sort of parody “sketch,” but as Fey approaches her office building the camera shifts inside to a set where the theme song playing is being filmed. It is not the theme of “30 Rock” as we have been mislead to believe, but rather the theme song for one of “The Girlie Show’s sketches” titled “The Overly Confident Morbidly Obese Woman,” a screen parody of Kirstie Alley’s “Fat Actress” (replete with sequined dress). Again the show is providing two levels here: the sketch comedy that occurs within the narrative and also the sketch comedy that takes place as a part of the show that Fey as Liz Lemon is writing for. In a sense the show is able to parody two shows at once – one in the narrative and the other in the narrative’s own sketch comedy show. The idea of the show-within-a-show concept is also tied into “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”

1:06

Backup dancers wearing psychedelic dresses.

Also reminiscent of the Mary Tyler Moore Show, but they kind of remind me of the go go dancers from Austin Powers as well. Thought that may just be in my imagination. The dance they're doing is called the frug.

1:15
Pam
The Overly-Confident Morbidly Obese Woman

There's a Facebook Group. Yeah there is.

2:24
Toofer
Surely our massive conglomerate parent could spring for a samovar of coffee.

Samovar: basically a traditional large Russian metal coffee maker. Actually more used to boil water for tea, but still funny.

2:30
Frank
[to Toofer] Are there other black nerds, or is it just you an Urkel?

Referring of course to Steve Urkel, from the old TV show Family Matters. I'd say there were the big three: Toofer, Urkel, and Carlton Banks, from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

2:55
Josh
I thought uh.. That's what I was doing. [bad Jay Leno impersonation] "So, my wife Mavis and I like to go shopping for old cars, you know?"

Jay Leno is best known for hosting The Tonight Show from 1992 to 2009. He's also a massive car nut. He owns approximately 200 vehicles, including about 100 cars. He also has a website devoted to his passion called Jay Leno's Garage.

3:43
Frank
What about Ray Romano? Can you do Ray?

Ray Romano is an actor best known for his roles on the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond, which I, in fact, do not. I never got the appeal of that show. In fact, I was going to put a link to buy the seasons of Everybody Loves Raymond in the sidebar, but I really don't think anyone should buy it, so I won't.

3:49
Josh
[doing a Ray Romano impersonation] My brother's tall!

In the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond, Ray's brother Robert was played by 6'8 1/2" actor Brad Garrett. The entire show's still not funny.

4:22
Jack
Gary’s dead. I’m Jack Donaghy, new VP of development for NBC-GE-Universal-K-Mart.
Pete
We own K-Mart now?
Jack
No. So why are you dressed like we do?

This is cuz K-Mart sucks. Yeah.

4:49
Jack
Are you familiar with the GE Trivection Oven?

Tina Fey, the show’s creator and writer of the episode, has stated the Trivection Oven was actually included in the show purely as a joke and that GE had nothing to do with it, although she suspects that "maybe somebody's taking credit for it." Allison Eckelkamp, a spokesperson for GE, confirms this and says that GE chose to run ads for the oven during the commercial break to make sure viewers knew it was a real product. General Electric is the parent company for NBC, which produces and broadcasts 30 Rock.

4:51
Liz
I don't cook very much. Jack

Okay so I did't have to include all of that dialogue, but it's hilarious and reminiscent of that Sherlock Holmes sizing up thing he does. So. Third-wave feminism is basically the modern age of feminism. Kind of a free-association, post-"bra-burning and hairy armpits" kind of feminism. A feminism we can all get behind.

5:33
Jack
The GE trivection oven cooks perfect food five times faster than a conventional oven because it uses three kinds of heat. Thermal technology for consistent temperature, GE precise air convection technology for optimal air circulation, and microwave technology for incredible speed. With three kinds of heat, you can cook a turkey in 22 minutes.

This is an actual product sold by GE. Jack's description of the product is taken near verbatim from GE’s website. This is the premiere of a hilarious run of jokes where they not-so-indirectly pitch GE products to the audience.

6:21
Jenna
Lee... does my face look bloated to you? Heh. When I played that lady rapist on Law and Order, guess what the make up guy put on under my eyes to take the puffiness out. Hemorrhoid cream!

Lee, the costume designer for TGS, is played by Tom Broecker. In real life, Broecker is the costume designer for "30 Rock." Hemorrhoid cream is reported to not work well, if at all, and can make matters worse. Plus there's the ick factor. Yeah, if it's never been used before what's the big deal, but it's kind of like when you're drinking at a fountain and you hear someone flush a toilet and your water pressure drops. Ew.

6:38
Kenneth
Miss Maroney? I have the cat wrangler here for you. Jenna
Greta Johansen
Hey. Greta Johansen. Short for Lugreta.

Greta is played by Rachel Dratch, who was on Saturday Night Live with Tina Fey. They worked alongside each other from 1999 - 2006. Before that they were writing partners at The Second City in Chicago (referenced later in the series), and the characters of Jenna and Liz are based on Rachel and Tina's experiences there. In fact, Rachel left Saturday Night Live at the same time as Tina to play Jenna Maroney in the pilot, but was subsequently replaced by Jane Krakowski. Rachel ends up playing an endless stream of weird bit-part characters this season.

7:40
Jack:  
I want you think about Tracy Jordan.
Pete:  
Okay, The black guy?
Jack:  
The black movie star. I flew with him on a private jet to the Super Bowl recently and I found him very entertaining.
Liz:  
Isn’t he um... crazy?
Jack:  
Tracy’s had his problems in the Last few years.
Tracy:  
I am A JEDI! I am A JEDI! I am A JEDI!
Jack:  
The Important thing to remember is he was never charged with a crime. It's not illegal to fall asleep on your neighbor's roof.

This is just hilarious. Jedis are, of course, mystical warriors from a galaxy far, far away. They have a church and everything.

In the next episode Jack refers to Tracy falling asleep on someone’s roof again. If you want to know who’s roof, click here.

8:59
Jack
Alfredo. 2:00 PM?

A flashy Italian restaurant in Midtown Manhattan. About a block from 30 Rock.

9:18
Jenna
Hey. What happened to your head?
Liz
Ugh... The sky is falling.

How the hell do you write out that noise Liz makes? It's not really an "ugh".. Maybe "Uchh?". "The sky is falling" refers to the children's fable Chicken Little, which, if we read into it (a lot), may refer to Liz's constant complaints that bringing Tracy Jordan onto the show is ruining everything, when in fact it isn't that bad. In the fable, Chicken Little cries "the sky is falling!" so many times that no one believes him anymore, and he's gobbled up by a fox. If we extended that to 30 Rock, we'd have to assume that Liz, after complaining constantly about Tracy Jordan, is ignored and eventually eaten. Or perhaps Tina Fey's brainchild, 30 Rock, is bought out by the Fox network (essentially a death sentence). Okay that's stretching it a little far. Anyway. Chicken Little.

9:41
Jenna
[seeing Jack for the first time] Mmm, yummers. He reminds me of Scotty on "General Hospital".

Probably a reference to General Hospital's Scotty Baldwin, as Alec Baldwin plays Jack Donaghy.

9:48
Lee
[holding up a frumpy pink outfit] Laura Bush is your size.

A shot at George W. Bush's wife, Laura Bush's Queen-of-England fashion sense.

10:04
Jack
That's how you should dress for work by the way. [referring to Liz's frumpy pink outfit]
Liz
Yeah if I was the President of the Philippines.

A shot at Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's Queen-of-England fashion sense. She was the president of the Philippines from 2004 to 2010.

11:13
Cerie
[referring to a movie Tracy Jordan was in] I saw the one where he plays, like, Five different characters.

Probably a reference to Eddie Murphy in The Nutty Professor, who actually played seven different characters.

11:16
Josh
[guessing at a movie Tracy Jordan was in] Yeah, "Black Cop, White Cop"!

Oddly enough Tracy Morgan did end up doing a movie called Cop Out, which was released a little over three years later in February of 2010, where he starred across from Bruce Willis, where they both played NYC cops. Spooky. I know.

11:20
Josh
[guessing at a movie Tracy Jordan was in] "Who Dat Ninja"?

The poster for this movie appears later in Tracy Jordan's dressing room as "Who That Ninga", and in later seasons, "Who Dat Ninja ". I read somewhere this is probably a reference to Beverly Hills Ninja, in which another non-Asian (Chris Farley) plays a ninja, but that seems kinda weak sauce.

11:21
Cerie
[further explaining her Tracy Jordan movie] No, he -- he had to pretend to be this old lady.

Probably referring to Big Momma's House , where Martin Lawrence plays an undercover FBI agent who poses as an old lady, to much hilarity.

11:44
Tracy
Where's the love? Right on. Hey, let me get two half a chickens and some pecan waffles.

Referring to the stereotype of black people liking chicken and waffles. Which aredelicious. I mean, show me someone who doesn't like chicken and damn waffles! As a stunningly relevant aside, y'all should watching Black Dynamite, which is a) friggin hilarious for connoisseurs of blacksploitation, and b) details the origins of chicken and waffles.

11:59
Liz
So Tracy, we should talk about the show. Tracy

In 2010, HBO announced Tracy Morgan would get his own stand-up comedy special in November of that year. Okay so it was four years after this episode, but cool, right?

13:13
Tracy
This show is our chance to break the shackles. Cause the white dudes want to see us fail.
Liz
What white dude?
Tracy
All of 'em. Jack Donaghy, General Eclectic. George Bush. Karl Robe!
Liz
Karl "Robe" you say?

Tracy mispronounced Karl Rove, former Senior Advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff to former President George W. Bush, and apparently quite evil.

14:52
Tracy
[singing] Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa. We are strong! No one call tell us we're wrong! Searching our hearts for so long!

Tracy is butchering the classic 80's "Love is a Battlefield" by Pat Benatar.

15:53
Tracy
From Chicago? I was in Scottie Pippen’s wedding!

Scottie Pippen is a retired NBA player famously on the Chicago Bulls. Yeah okay so most people know this. Whatever!

18:00
Tracy
This is where I grew up.

Tracy Morgan was indeed born in the Bronx, though he was never an orphan.

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10 Responses to 30 Rock S01E01: "Pilot"

  1. Gillian says:

    What an awesome site! Can you please explain now how her and Steve Carrell joined up with Date Night? Perhaps she should have had a hand in writing that one as the jokes are few and far btwn. And far from brilliant.

  2. Chiyto says:

    I did not know about Scottie Pippen 😛

  3. Taso g. says:

    Great work! But you missed a good one. When Liz is talking with Tracy over chicken:

    Liz: So Tracy, we should talk about the show.
    Tracy: I ain’t doing it unless I can get to do it my way. You know, I want it to be raw. HBO style content.
    Liz: Well it's not HBO, it's TV.

    This is a clear jab at HBO's slogan, "It's not TV, it's HBO".

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  6. 30 Rock 4eva says:

    Great breakdown here. This pilot is brilliant on so many levels. I love when Liz and Frank meet Jack and sparks from a workman welding in the background are falling as Liz tries to size up Jack. Liz's personality quirks are evident when she buys all the hotdogs. Later, when she tells the fired Frank that she's about to quit, Frank says, "Don't quit. You have the best job in New York. Don't buy all the hotdogs."

    This phrase shows that Frank and Liz know each other well and Frank refers to buying the hotdogs and uses it as a metaphor for Liz making grand gestures to make a point. Jenna's first line of the series is, "This fat suit smells like corn chips", a totally absurd and self involved thing to say, like Jenna herself.

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