How are your minds today? Are they good? Not blown, you say? Do you like them that way? Then my sincerest apologies for THIS...
Tina Fey's 30 ROCK is currently the most acclaimed comedy series on television. It's won numerous Emmys and Golden Globes and I think Pulitzers. Critics and audiences alike love the show and its lovable zany characters, and consider it one of the most original comedies in years.
And I guess it is original...if you've never seen THE MUPPET SHOW. Because, my "friends" (in quotes because I don't know or trust you, please don't be offended), Tina Fey's 30 ROCK is quite obviously ripping off Jim Henson's beloved TV show.
"You're crazy", you say? "Wow, now with the insults. This is why I don't trust you", I respond. And the I hit you up with so many facts you HAVE to concede I'm absolutely right.
EXHIBIT A: THE PREMISE
Each week, our smart yet neurotic lead character has to manage a group of wacky misfits and put on a weekly sketch comedy show. Which show am I talking about? 30 ROCK plays like NBC went to JJ Abrams and told him to reboot THE MUPPET SHOW. "Do what you did with STAR TREK. Make it hipper, more adult. Maybe lose the puppets to allow more time for product placement."
EXHIBIT B: LIZ LEMON VS. KERMIT THE FROG
Both are the most normal characters on their respective shows. Both are unlucky at love. Both are neurotic worrywarts and type-a personalities who slow burn into a crazy breakdown once per episode. AND both have some kind of flirtation with the guest stars that ultimately goes nowhere. There is absolutely no difference between Liz Lemon and Kermit the Frog save for genitalia (Liz is a lady, Kermit has none).
Clearly Tina Fey has studied Kermit for hours preparing for her role. Remember the wacky voice Liz Lemon used to get out of Jury Duty? Oh man, that was funny. UNLESS you saw the part in THE MUPPETS TAKE MANHATTAN when Kermit got amnesia.
EXHIBIT C: JENNA MARONEY VS MISS PIGGY
Blonde and beautiful...but possessing, to put it politely, questionable talent. Both characters' vanity and desire to be the star of the show leads them to conive and backstab...which usually winds up making them the butt of the joke. NBC got really lazy on this one, as Jane Krakowski looks like the human version of the beloved Muppet. I'm somewhat surprised that Krakowski hasn't busted out karate moves or awkward French phrases.
EXHIBIT D: TRACY JORDAN VS. THE GREAT GONZO
The insane cast member overflowing with eccentricities? Check. Is in a committed relationship but has a wandering eye? Check. Has to be watched closely or he will hurt himself? Check. Watch this clip from THE MUPPET SHOW and picture Tracy Jordan doing it instead of Gonzo. Oh sure, there might be cursing and Tracy would probably be topless by the end of it, but other than that, Tracy and Gonzo act the exact same. And don't tell me you'd be surprised if Tracy started dating a chicken during sweeps. In fact, I am going to write that as a spec script.
In 30 ROCK's defense, the actual Tracy Morgan was ripping off Gonzo's completely ludicrous antics long before 30 ROCK was on the air.
EXHIBIT E: KENNETH THE PAGE VS. SCOOTER
I'm talking out my ass here, I guess. Kenneth is a naive, earnest page who runs around the set trying to put out fires and make everyone happy. Scooter, on the other hand, is a naive, earnest GO-FER who runs around the set trying to put out fires and make everyone happy. Totally different.
EXHIBIT F: THE JACK DONAGHY FACTOR
This is where 30 ROCK almost had me. Alec Baldwin's Jack Donaghy is without ANY direct Muppet parallels. Aw man, arguably the most beloved 30 ROCK character and he's not clearly based on any one Muppet. At first I thought he might fill the role of "Very Special Guest Star" every week (after all, before 30 ROCK Baldwin was known primarily for being a film actor and crazy).
But then I watched an episode of 30 ROCK and it hit me: Jack isn't just ONE Muppet. Jack is like Voltron: many Muppets combine to form a BIGGER, COOLER super muppet!
Jack's Republican leanings and stiff outward demeanor? Come on now.
Jack began as the cold, all business boss that only cared about the bottom line and profits.
But he slowly came around, hanging out with Liz Lemon and becoming all sorts of warm and fuzzy. Beneath that big, hirsute exterior was someone who just wanted to be loved.
And Jack/Fozzie's relationship with his old, decrepit mother? Why does she insist on constantly insulting him, doesn't she realize how insecure she's making him? I mean, who does she think she is?
I mean, think about it. Even Jack's VOICE is ripped off from the Muppets.
"Now you're grasping at straws" you say? Well CHECK OUT THESE STRAWS AND PREPARE TO GRASP SOME YOURSELF, I SAY! As I hit you with:
EXHIBIT G: THE REST OF THE CAST
Hey what about
"Hey, Lynch, he's not from THE MUPPET SHOW, he's from SESAME STREET"
"Quiet, you, I'm almost done, let me end big..."
EXHIBIT H: VERY SPECIAL GUEST STARS
30 ROCK is famous for bringing in guest stars. Oprah. Al Gore. Jennifer Aniston. Steve Martin. Paul Reubens. That impossibly handsome man from MAD MEN. Week in, week out, people that would never do network television pop by for surprise guest appearances. DOES THIS SOUND AT ALL FAMILIAR? It happens with such regularity, I half-expect Tina Fey to pop out of the "0" in the 30 ROCK opening credits, announce who's stopping by, and then wave her arms manically in the air celebrating.
EXHIBIT I: THEY'VE PRETTY MUCH ADMITTED IT
Kenneth the Page sees the world as puppets.
Jane Krakowski has STARRED in a Muppet TV movie as penance (or so she could spy on the Muppets and take notes).
WERWOLF BARMITZVAH plays like a MUPPET SHOW sketch.
Hell, maybe some of the stars of 30 ROCK are Muppets! Here is some sloppy puppeteering on the part of the Alec Baldwin puppet.
And then, there is THIS. They're getting sloppy, people. An actual still from an episode of 30 ROCK:
THE PROSECUTION RESTS. I'm glad I opened a few eyes. Tina Fey, you should be ASHAMED. But can we do? We can't just sit back and let NBC and Tina Fey get away with this. We have to bring this to light.
Maybe, MAYBE we should even steal 30 ROCK and give it BACK to the Muppets.
Don't fret, people.
The Muppets' cohorts at SESAME STREET have already done just that.
That's all for now. Stay tuned next week, when I blow the lid off of the entire "NBC's THE OFFICE is a rip-off of a British TV show of the same name" scandal. I'm almost too good, is the problem.
By the way, if you're not following me on TWITTER, you can do so here. Critics call my Twitter "pretty great" and "okay I guess". Catch the fever!
1 year ago