Cover Image: The 30 Rock Book

The 30 Rock Book

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If you're a fan of 30 rock, this book not only provides a background and information to each episode, season by season, but it will take you down to a joyful and emotional memory lane. I really enjoyed getting to know all the facts and the points of view of each actor, through the interviews, as well as the creative time. Now I'm in the mood to watch the show, one more time!
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I initially put this book down, until I discovered the audiobook version on Hoopla. And thank goodness! The 30 Rock Book was so much more engaging when listened to. Mike Roe has compiled a fairly comprehensive exploration of 30 Rock, from behind-the-scene anecdotes to tasteful discussion of problematic content the show included. I loved learning about the inspiration for Werewolf Bar Mitzvah, why Cerie's fiance was kidnapped by pirates, and more.
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This is more of an episode guide than an actual history of the show. As much fun as the TV show was, this book does not convey the same energy and humor. It was a slow read and it took me a couple attempts to finish it. I would maybe recommend it to someone who is watching the series for the first time.
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I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I think I've seen every episode of 30 Rock, so I was looking forward to this book. I really enjoy oral histories, such as this.  The book is missing some people that were a big part of the show, but no book like this is perfect. If you enjoyed the show, you'll enjoy this book.
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If you are a big 30 Rock fan I’m sure you’ll enjoy this. It was worth my time just to chuckle while revisiting some of my favorite jokes. Also interesting to read about just how much goes into making a sitcom.
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I really enjoy the T.V. show 30 Rock so I was excited to read this book about the creation of the show. The book provides an introduction about how 30 Rock got its start and then provides a episode by episode guide to each of the show’s seasons. The book is mostly pieced together from DVD commentary, interviews by the author, and interviews by others. 
The book will be very interesting to those who are already fans of the show, but I don’t see people who haven’t already seen the show wanting to read it or wanting to watch the show after reading the book. While the information in the book was interesting, I found myself growing bored and I’m someone who has seen every episode of the show multiple times. The episode recaps just became tedious and made the book drag on. It was difficult to read straight through, however I can see myself on a rewatch of the show referring back to the episode information to learn more about the behind the scenes of that particular episode.
Thank you to NetGalley and Abrams Press for the ARC
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Thanks to Abrams Press and NetGalley for an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

As a devoted 30 Rock viewer, this was a no brainer for me and I was so excited to get my hands on it I dove into it immediately.  I’ve probably seen every episode of 30 Rock more than 20 times.  I had high hopes to learn more about what happened behind the scenes. I have to admit I was disappointed.

The writing is not great.  The sentences are needlessly convoluted, often so awkwardly constructed they require reading two or three times, and sometimes the topic seems to switch abruptly, even within a paragraph.  It’s basically an episode guide-- which I wish had been more clear, because I would not have been eager to read an episode guide for any show straight through.  There’s a lot of unnecessary and annoying voicieness from the writer, offering unsolicited opinions on all kinds of things unrelated to the show.  (Why?!  The book already felt like a way-too-long slog, I definitely don’t need to know what the author thinks of Clay Aiken’s level of popularity in 2009, for instance.)

All 139 episodes of 30 Rock are described one after the other in what I (admittedly, grumpily) would describe as fourth-grade-book-report prose-style.  Contributing to the book-report vibe, the episodes are described in such a weird way -- sometimes, a random joke is repeated, taking up as much space on the page as the entire rest of the episode synopsis. It brings to mind that old Chris Farley Show SNL sketch where Chris interviewed celebrities but only would ever ask them “do you remember that one time…” with no further context or point.

The interviews are also really odd; they spend pages and pages (and pages) on commentary from very minor contributors (like non-trans actor who played the trans HR guy, who appeared in only four episodes, the actress who plays Kathy Geiss, or even more weirdly, Nate Cordry, who only appears in one episode.  But Cordry also appeared in Studio 60, which this book spends WAY TOO MUCH TIME ON.  It sometimes feels like the author interviewed more Studio 60 stars than he did 30 Rock principals! WHY ARE WE QUOTING AARON SORKIN?)

Commentators are not contextualized after first mention, so, if you don’t remember off the top of your head who, say, Alan Sepinwall is, (and why would you?) have fun googling so you can have some idea why he’s being quoted and what his role is.  

Another early reviewer mentioned that lots of the “interviews” come from the DVD commentary, and not a lot of original reporting was done, which would make sense, but re-packaging those DVD commentary tracks isn’t really ideal; this book really needed fresh interviews with the principals.

There’s a great book waiting to be written about 30 Rock: in many ways, the show is better suited to the streaming era than it was to the broadcast era, because of how densely written it is, how thoroughly it pays off sustained attention, and also how ubiquitously available it is on streaming services.  The fan base is wide, growing, and very enthusiastic.  And, the show is ripe for reconsideration; while it was clearly a groundbreaking show in a lot of ways, creatively, technically, having a female showrunner and star, etc., it also hasn’t aged well in some regards. In particular, there’s some unusually pointed casual racism and transphobia, even for the era, and Fey’s subsequent work and comments on these subjects have left lots of folks with complicated feelings.  The book tries to deal with these subjects, but doesn’t really have access to the right interviewees (or, frankly, the right positionality) to add much to the discussion.  

Too bad! Can’t recommend this book, but would still pick up another book about 30 Rock in a heartbeat.
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My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher Abrams Press for an advanced copy of this  entertainment book.

Great Television shows are like pictures on a wall. No matter the length of a show's run, the television program is always a reflection of its time. Cheers, MASH, The Prisoner. The plots reflect the thoughts and fears, right or wrong, of the time. The humor is topical of that time, and how the humor is created is also of that time. The becomes quite obvious as you read through The 30 Rock Book: Inside the Iconic Show, from Blerg to EGOT  by Mike Roe. 

The book is an oral history with a lot of the interviews taken from commentary tracks or  extra features from DVD collections, with some recent reviews. The book is also an episode guide, but not written in the way that most guides are written. Instead of chapters devoted to each episode, with director, guest stars and other information, the book is broken down by season and the episodes are included in the narrative, which if you are looking for specific episodes might be tough, or lead to a lot of reading. 

Mr. Roe also addresses the many humor missteps, what seemed funny then is not now, like the preponderance of racial and ethnic slights, leading to a few being pulled off of streaming sites. One show being pulled seems like lot. Four seems like a problem. Harvard humor writers seem to love blackface. 

Serious fans might find the book lacking, where others might find the interviews of lesser characters and directors more than they need to know. The book is still funny in spots, but for the casual fan it might be a little much.
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This pains me. I love 30 Rock. It's my favorite show. I have tattoos dedicated to the show. I have multiple pieces of artwork based on different characters. My love for 30 Rock knows no bounds. This book should have been perfect. Unfortunately, this book dragged to no end. I slogged through this. It felt very disjointed. Maybe I was expecting more. Maybe I just wasn't in the right headspace to read it. Whatever the reason, this book wasn't for me.
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While advertised as an oral history, for the “names” on the show it’s mostly commentary taken from DVD’s and other interviews. 

A lot of pages are taken up by things that really didn’t have much to do with the show. 

Great concept, unfortunately boring execution. 

My thanks to Abrams Press and NetGalley for an eARC of this title. All opinions shared are influenced by nothing other than my reading experience.
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I never knew all the behind the scenes stress and chaos. I knew 30 rock was bit of underdog but not to this extend. The episode by episode blurb of the show insight was amazing and makes me appreciate the show more. This book made me go back and rewatch some scenes with a new level of appreciation.
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Oh wow, the amount of information packed into this book!  It’s crazy how in depth it goes. A must for any hard core 30 Rock fan!  I mostly expected some funny anecdotes and a lot of pictures and it was just SO MUCH MORE!
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I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. Thank you to the publisher!

This book is like a deep-dive into 30 Rock, which is a TV show I really enjoyed for its quirky meta humor and characters/plots that were often absurd. I was really excited to read more about the behind the scenes of the show, and especially hear from some of the actors/writers. I love that behind the scenes stuff!! But this book is written like an episode-by-episode summary, which didn't really hold my interest.
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I'm a sucker for books about sitcoms and The 30 Rock Book gave me everything I needed: behind the scenes stories, gossip about the stars, and the struggle against the network higher ups who never know what they're doing. A must read for fans of the show and sitcoms in general.
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I am a fan Of 30 Rock created by Tina Fey and have seen episodes multiple times.  This book starts with the focus on getting 30 Rock through its first season.  Changes in focus, casting and the competition from an Alan Sorkin drama also about putting on a SNL type show.  A lot of the first season I knew from reading Rachel Dratch's "Girl Walks into a Bar" and Tina Fey's "Bossypants".  After the getting approved for a second season and garnering several Emmy nominations the show chugs along as a niche favorite never with huge ratings.

The rest of the book is an episode guide for each season.  I was entertained by quotes of celebrity guest stars and show writers alike this was very uneven.  Some guests stars were given much attention although they were on the show minutes.  And the narrative flips between talking about the brilliance of Tina Fey and then dissing her for choices involving race issues.  The writer doesn't take much of an option himself just quoting others.  The episode guide became tedious reading for me after getting through more than half I resorted to skimming for episodes that stands out to me.  

I was disappointed at in looking at the bibliography at how many quotes are actually taken from other sources like DVD commentaries, books, and interviews not done by the author himself.  None of the principal stars were interviewed by the author.  This book is really only for die hard fans of the show.  For me it will be an episode guide when I binge shows in the future.  I imagine it is too detailed for a casual reader.  Thank you NetGalley and Abrams Press for an ARC ebook in exchange for an honest review.
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Interesting but too detailed

I admit I am not a huge fan of 30 Rock but I have watched every episode. I also like books that go behind the scenes of shows I watch. So I thought that this book would be a good fit for me. I just hoped that it would be neither be an adulation nor a character assassination. And it was neither of these. When bigger issues such as sexism and racism are discussed, the book is excellent. The book also does a good job of giving season overviews. However, I found the episode-by-episode discussions  much too detailed and I ended up reading the book quickly looking for interesting parts. Fortunately, there were enough of these that I kept reading. I liked the writing style and the interviews are good. Thank you to Netgalley and Abrams Press for the advance reader copy.
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Never has reading about something I love been so joyless. I almost gave this three stars, because it's exceedingly average. Then I almost gave it two stars, because it was annoying to slog through and finally reach the end. But as I reached the "sources", and realized that, as I suspected, all the bigger names quoted in this book came from DVD commentaries and previous interviews, and that the most notable interview this author actually landed was the 5th billed star, I was filled with a soft boiled rage. The rage you feel when the rug has been pulled out from under you. The quiet intensity of feeling you get when you perform a task for hours and then realize that task was useless. Reading this book is useless. 

Where to start? The first thing is that it tries to be an oral history. I love oral histories. My favorite ones so far for tv have been The Wire and The Office. The Wire's author got interviews with almost everybody in the cast and crew, an incredible achievement. The office's author didn't get interviews with the really big stars of The Office, but made up for it by getting really good, in depth interviews with lots of the secondary actors and the crew. The author of THIS book, in contrast, I'm sure tried to get the best interviews possible, but didn't really. And some of the people interviewed are just really bizarre choices, or the sheer AMOUNT of page time they get is strange. It feels like he sent an email out to everybody who ever appeared on the show, and anybody who agreed to the interview, he decided to focus on them. Matthew Broderick, Paul Reubens, the girl who plays Kathy Giess and an actor that I barely remember in the show make up a staggering amount of the "actor" interviews for this. If you added up all the screen time of those people, it would be a third of an episode. And they are constantly giving quotes! The episode Paul Reubens is in is given like 10 pages. 10 pages for a Paul Reubens guest spot! This is outrageous!! 

Make due with what you have, I suppose. But the early portions of this book spend A LOT of time on something that barely relates to 30 Rock, which is Aaron Sorkin's tv series that aired at the same time. The stars of that show are interviewed for this book, talking about THEIR show! What?! 

The other thing that is bad about this book is that it is just flat out written in the most boring style ever. Imagine someone actually writing out the plot for 24 episodes of 30 Rock, including explaining some of the funniest jokes. Over and over again. For 7 seasons. That's this book. Occasionally a writer is given a quote about working on the episode. But mostly, this is an episode guide. 

The final thing I hated about this book is just how much social justice naval gazing it is doing. "Hey, that's an important thing to point out and discuss", I hear you saying. You're not hearing me. It's ALOT. I would hazard a guess that 20% of this entire book is talking about jokes that didn't age well, or blackface, or jokes about gay people, or transgender people, and every single time, it just acts like everybody involved is the worst person ever, and then immediately backtracks to talk about how wonderful everyone is, as soon as the "incident" is done.

 I absolutely think shows need to reckon with the way comedy evolves over time and how problematic aspects have been shoved aside for too long, and 30 Rock had multiple instances of blackface in the mid 2000s- this needs to be discussed. I don't fault the author for talking about it. I just think it should have maybe had an entire chapter dedicated to it as a whole, with some sort of focus, and actual commentary from the people affected (especially the black community, which the book hammers the show hard for, but as far as I know, has mostly white interviews). It felt like every 5 pages, the author was bringing up ANOTHER problematic joke and raking Fey over the coals for it. Then two pages later, more quotes about wonderful and hilarious and genius Fey is. Hell, when discussing Fey and Carlock's new show Mr. mayor, the author could not resist mentioning that while the show has a diverse cast, the two leads were white! THE GODDAMN HORROR! 

Mostly, I'm upset that there are a finite number of books written about shows, and this was a total waste of a 30 Rock one. I hope somebody comes along that can do a better 30 Rock book, hopefully with some substantial interviews.
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While it was on, 30 Rock was must-see tv in our house, and its inventiveness and the charm of its characters played a large part.  Although I was looking forward to this well researched oral history, it didn't really break new ground.
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Great material for anyone who loved 30 Rock or wanted to learn more about the series. An iconic show featuring legendary names like Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin and Tracy Morgan certainly had lots of drama in play. This book provides the most amusing and fascinating tales about the underdog comedy making its place in history.
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I recently read The 30 Rock Book by Mike Roe. 
When 30 Rock came out when I was in college, I was intrigued by this new comedy with SNL alums Fey and Tracy Morgan about the fictitious GTS show. 

Last year, I read The Office: The Untold Story, and I felt like this book went much more in depth. It is an oral history, and goes through each episode over its 7 seasons. I had no idea its 1st season they were close to cancelation and were in competition with another freshman show, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Studio 60 is only a faint memory for me because I knew it was created by Aaron Sorvin. 

Unlike the Office book, it has extensive interviews with the stars, writers and guest stars. I enjoyed hearing how the show changed from season to season and how the cast and writers were one big family. 

This book is for any die hard fan of 30 Rock or Tina Fey. 

Thank you to Mike Roe, Abrams Press and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange of an honest review.
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