Season six of NBC's 30 Rock premiered last night (has it been six years already?) in its new time slot following an extended break after the end of season five. Rumors have been swirling that star Alec Baldwin (Jack Donaghy) will be leaving the show after this season. For obvious reasons, 30 Rock could not continue without Tina Fey, but I think the same hold true for Baldwin. Jack is too central to the show; and the re-pore between him and Fey is the main source of the humor on the show.
If last night's episode was any indicator (and I could be reading too much into it), I think the show's writers are planning for a Baldwin departure. The theme of the episode was Liz's unusual mood...an overwhelmingly happy mood, and what is behind it. Liz didn't get bogged down in the usual drama of TGS's stars and writers, nor did she vent about her horrible love life. She attributed her new attitude to a n expression she read on a tampon box, but no one thinks it's that simple.
The reason why I think this episode laid the predicate for Jack Donaghy's eventual exit is the way Jack deals with Liz's new mood, and his conflict between making money and doing the right thing (a conflict he has never even acknowledged exists). NBC has a new show, America's Kidz Got Singing, featuring Jenna as a Simon Cowell type who insults all the young children vying to be the next child star. The show is ratings gold and making a ton of money. But, as a new parent, Jack has a change of heart when he sees, up close, how hurtful Jenna's comments are to the kids. He even orders Jenna to be nicer, despite the ratings drop it may produce. Has this ever happened in Jack's career before?
As far as Jack's dealing with Liz, he points out in a conversation with her that she has not been "barging" into his office to get his advice every day. He says it sarcastically, but it appears that he sort of misses their daily interaction. Ultimately, we learn that Liz has been working as a WNBA dancer and has a new boyfriend. A mystery boyfriend, who has yet to be revealed on the show. Jack seems sad, but is he sad that Liz has someone, or that he didn't know about it. This change in the Liz/Jack dynamic could be glimpse into the post-Jack 30 Rock world.
With Jack going soft, being a single parent, and Don Geiss's old job now irrelevant, what is there left for Jack to do? I could see a retirement coming at the end of the season. Or Jack heads to North Korea to stage a breakout of his missing wife, Avery, who somehow became the wife of North Korea's new Supreme Leader.
Overall, the episode was a dud. No serious laugh out loud moments for me. It was more of a character development piece. Regardless, it's good to have 30 Rock back. Although I do feel some attachment to the characters, the show has to remain a comedy, first and foremost. Oh yeah, there was a Kenneth storyline in the show, too, but he is my least favorite character.