|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||22|
|Original release||October 30, 2008 –|
May 14, 2009
The third season of 30 Rock, an American television comedy series, consists of 22 episodes and began airing on October 30, 2008, on the NBC network in the United States. The season was produced by Broadway Video, Little Stranger, and NBC Universal; the executive producers were series creator Tina Fey, Lorne Michaels, Marci Klein, David Miner, and Robert Carlock.
In this season, Liz focuses heavily on her personal life, trying to adopt a child and find a new romantic partner. Meanwhile, Jack Donaghy pursues a new relationship, Jenna Maroney undertakes a new Janis Joplin-based film project, and Tracy Jordan enjoys the success of his video game developed at the end of the previous season.
The third season aired under NBC's promotional banner "Comedy Night Done Right" on Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. Eastern Time. The season was critically acclaimed and received 22 Emmy Award nominations, the most for a single show in 2009. The nominations broke 30 Rock's own record (17) for the most nominated comedy in a single Primetime Emmy Award ceremony. The season was released on DVD as a three-disc boxed set under the title 30 Rock: Season 3 on September 22, 2009, by Universal Studios.
Season 3 continues from the epilogue of the Season 2 finale, Cooter. Jack tries to get his job—and his promotion—back. Meanwhile, Liz tries to adopt a baby, while Tracy enjoys the success of his pornographic video game as Jenna sues him for not properly compensating her.
Season-long plots include Jack meeting a new love interest, Elisa (Salma Hayek), and the search for his real father (portrayed by Alan Alda). Liz also finds a new love interest, Dr. Drew Baird (Jon Hamm), while going through cutbacks and discovering her potential to host a talk show. Jenna is cast as a Janis Joplin-type character since the life rights to Janis Joplin could not be obtained. Kenneth Parcell's (Jack McBrayer) age is also revealed to be questionable. It is also revealed, in the penultimate episode of season 7, that Jack and Jenna were romantically involved throughout season 3.
The third season was produced by Broadway Video, Little Stranger, Inc., and Universal Media Studios and aired on NBC. The executive producers were series creator Tina Fey, Lorne Michaels, Marci Klein, David Miner, and Robert Carlock. Jack Burditt, John Riggi, and Ron Weiner acted as co-executive producers. The producers for the season were Alec Baldwin, Jerry Kupfer, and Don Scardino with Diana Schmidt and Irene Burns as co-producers. Joann Alfano had been the executive producer for the first and second seasons and vacated that position afterward. Ron Weiner became a co-executive producer after being a story editor for the second season. Alec Baldwin, who plays Jack Donaghy in the series, became a producer for the third season.
There were 11 directors through the season. Those who directed multiple episodes were series producer Don Scardino, Gail Mancuso, and Beth McCarthy. There were eight directors who each directed one episode throughout the season: Steve Buscemi, Todd Holland, Constantine Makris, John Riggi, Ken Whittingham, Tricia Brock, Millicent Shelton, and Scott Ellis. Series writers who penned episodes this season include Tina Fey, Robert Carlock, Jack Burditt, John Riggi, and Matt Hubbard.
See also: List of 30 Rock cast members
Ten actors received star billing. Tina Fey portrayed Liz Lemon, the head writer of a fictitious live-sketch-comedy television series TGS. The TGS cast consists of three actors. The lead actor is the loose cannon movie star Tracy Jordan, portrayed by Tracy Morgan. The co-stars are the dense Jenna Maroney, portrayed by Jane Krakowski and Josh Girard, who is also a writer for TGS, portrayed by Lonny Ross. Jack McBrayer played the naïve NBC page Kenneth Parcell. Scott Adsit acted as the witty and wise TGS producer, Pete Hornberger. Judah Friedlander portrayed trucker hat-wearing staff writer Frank Rossitano. Alec Baldwin played the NBC network executive Jack Donaghy. Donaghy's full corporate title for the majority of the season is "Head of East Coast Television and Microwave Oven Programming". Keith Powell played the Harvard University alumnus and TGS staff writer James "Toofer" Spurlock. Katrina Bowden acted as writers' assistant Cerie Xerox. Other cast members include, Maulik Pancholy as Jonathan, Grizz Chapman as Grizz Griswold, and Kevin Brown as "Dot Com" Slattery. The cast featured recurring characters, including John Lutz as J.D. Lutz, and Chris Parnell as Dr. Leo Spaceman.
Salma Hayek had a recurring guest appearance in six episodes as Elisa, a nurse for Jack Donaghy's mother and Donaghy's eventual love interest. She first appeared in "Señor Macho Solo" and made her final appearance in "The Ones". Steve Buscemi appeared in the episodes "The Natural Order" and "Mamma Mia" as Lenny Wosniak, a private detective occasionally hired by Donaghy. Alan Alda appeared in the episodes "Mamma Mia" and "Kidney Now!" as Milton Greene, a man believed to be Jack Donaghy's father.
See also: List of 30 Rock episodes
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||Prod.|
|37||1||"Do-Over"||Don Scardino||Tina Fey||October 30, 2008||301||8.7|
|Liz tries to stop the TGS staff from ruining her chances at adoption when an adoption agency evaluator, named Bev (Megan Mullally), comes to 30 Rock to determine whether Liz would make a good mother. Jack returns from Washington, D.C. and starts his job again at NBC, only to discover he has been demoted. Jack tries to get his old job and office back from Devon Banks (Will Arnett) and Kathy Geiss (Marceline Hugot). A feud between Tracy and Jenna wreaks havoc among the TGS staff.|
|38||2||"Believe in the Stars"||Don Scardino||Robert Carlock||November 6, 2008||302||8.0|
|To get out of jury duty, Liz flies to Chicago only to be seated next to Oprah Winfrey on her return flight to New York. An argument between Tracy and Jenna leads to a "social experiment" to prove who is right. Kenneth challenges Jack's morality after it is found out that NBC faked some Olympic events during the summer as a ratings stunt.|
|39||3||"The One with the Cast of Night Court"||Gail Mancuso||Jack Burditt||November 13, 2008||303||7.5|
|Liz's former roommate from Chicago, Claire Harper (Jennifer Aniston), comes to visit her and Jenna. She develops a stalker-like obsession with Jack. Kenneth is unhappy with the new NBC page uniform so Tracy decides to cheer him up with the help of Night Court cast members Harry Anderson, Markie Post, and Charlie Robinson.|
|40||4||"Gavin Volure"||Gail Mancuso||John Riggi||November 20, 2008||304||7.3|
|Liz meets one of Jack's friends, the eccentric businessman Gavin Volure (Steve Martin), when the pair attend a dinner party with guests including John McEnroe. Gavin, after offering Jack a secret business opportunity, becomes enamored with Liz. Jack encourages the relationship until he discovers Gavin is not as successful as he claimed. Also, Kenneth invests his money in Gavin's business. Meanwhile, after learning about Lyle and Erik Menendez murdering their parents, Tracy fears that his children, Tracy Jr. and George Foreman Jordan, are trying to kill him.|
|41||5||"Reunion"||Beth McCarthy||Matt Hubbard||December 4, 2008||305||7.1|
|Don Geiss (Rip Torn) finally wakes up from his coma and shocks Jack with his announcement that he will be remaining CEO of General Electric (GE). Jack offers to fly Liz to her high school reunion en route to his vacation, but is stuck with her following bad weather. Once there Liz finds that her high school classmates do not remember their school years the same way she does.|
|42||6||"Christmas Special"||Don Scardino||Kay Cannon & Tina Fey||December 11, 2008||306||8.9|
|In the Christmas episode, Liz decides to help a charity for underprivileged children after her parents ditch their holiday plans. Jack's mother, Colleen (Elaine Stritch), stops Jack from going on a Christmas vacation so he ends up taking his frustration out on the TGS staff. The TGS crew have to ditch their own plans for a holiday-themed episode of the show.|
|43||7||"Señor Macho Solo"||Beth McCarthy||Ron Weiner||January 8, 2009||307||5.4|
|Jenna is concerned when Liz becomes attracted to a new man (Peter Dinklage). Jack tries to help Tracy and Angie Jordan (Sherri Shepherd) organize a postnuptial agreement and Jenna auditions for a Janis Joplin biographical film. Jack finds a new love in the form of Elisa (Salma Hayek), his mother's nurse.|
|44||8||"Flu Shot"||Don Scardino||Jon Pollack||January 15, 2009||308||6.6|
|Liz campaigns for her staff's right to get flu shots from Dr. Spaceman, but Jack will not allow it due to a limited supply. Jack tries to think of creative ways to spend time with Elisa as she works seven days a week. Meanwhile, Jenna and Tracy try to do something nice for the crew.|
|45||9||"Retreat to Move Forward"||Steve Buscemi||Tami Sagher||January 22, 2009||309||6.4|
|Nervous about his performance at a corporate retreat following his Bush administration and CEO debacles, Jack invites Liz to the retreat for moral support. Jenna employs method acting for her Janis Joplin role, which Frank quickly takes advantage of. After Tracy is diagnosed with diabetes Kenneth attempts to find a way to dissuade Tracy from eating sugary food.|
|46||10||"Generalissimo"||Todd Holland||Robert Carlock||February 5, 2009||310||6.4|
|Former Wall Street hotheads become interns at the TGS studios, much to Tracy's exhaustion. Jack deals with Elisa's grandmother's hatred due to a strange lookalike coincidence. Liz schemes to win over her new neighbor, Dr. Drew Baird (Jon Hamm) after accidentally receiving his mail.|
|47||11||"St. Valentine's Day"||Don Scardino||Jack Burditt & Tina Fey||February 12, 2009||311||7.6|
|Liz invites Dr. Baird on their first date, accidentally scheduling it for Valentine's Day. While she tries to plan a date that will not be awkward, Jack's Valentine's dinner plans with Elisa must be postponed to attend church with her. Kenneth falls for a new staffer (Maria Thayer) and Tracy tries to help him with the romance.|
|48||12||"Larry King"||Constantine Makris||Matt Hubbard||February 26, 2009||312||6.4|
|Jack considers taking the next step in his relationship with Elisa. Tracy appears on Larry King Live and inadvertently triggers mayhem in New York City in responding to questions about the economy. In addition, Tracy's interview sends the TGS crew on a search of the 30 Rock building for a treasure. Liz loses her phone and must go with Kenneth to Queens to recover her phone which is being held for ransom.|
|49||13||"Goodbye, My Friend"||John Riggi||Ron Weiner||March 5, 2009||313||7.3|
|Liz tries to adopt the baby of a pregnant teen she meets in a donut shop. Kenneth learns that Tracy has never celebrated his birthday and ends up asking Jenna to share her birthday celebration with Tracy. Jack goes on a "guy's night out" with some of the TGS writers and Frank tells Jack about his daddy issues.|
|50||14||"The Funcooker"||Ken Whittingham||Donald Glover & Tom Ceraulo||March 12, 2009||314||6.4|
|Liz leaves the TGS crew unmanaged as she must participate in jury duty for the trial of an oddly familiar woman. Kenneth tries to assert control over the crew in her stead and Jack uses the writers to develop a new name for a GE product. Meanwhile, Jenna seeks Dr. Spaceman's help so she can work on TGS and her movie. Elsewhere, Tracy comes to the conclusion that being able to afford FCC fines is a license to swear on television. When TGS' ad sponsors threaten to pull out due to Tracy's behavior, Tracy buys the ad time himself.|
|51||15||"The Bubble"||Tricia Brock||Tina Fey||March 19, 2009||315||7.1|
|Liz learns that Drew's attractiveness has led to society giving him special treatment and Liz tries to bring this to his attention. Meanwhile, Jack attempts to renegotiate Tracy Jordan's contract but hits a snag when Tracy realizes he no longer needs money thanks to his video game success. Finally Jenna gets a new hairstyle to try to capture the public's attention.|
|52||16||"Apollo, Apollo"||Millicent Shelton||Robert Carlock||March 26, 2009||316||7.2|
|While Jack plans the perfect 50th birthday party for himself he watches old home videos that inspire him to recreate one of the happiest moments he had as a young boy. Liz's ex-boyfriend Dennis (Dean Winters) decides to come clean to Liz about an addiction, stirring up drama between Liz and Jenna. Kenneth and Pete team up to make Tracy's childhood dream come true.|
|53||17||"Cutbacks"||Gail Mancuso||Matt Hubbard||April 9, 2009||317||6.8|
|Joy about the 50th TGS episode turns to worry when word spreads about imminent budget cuts at 30 Rock. Before long, Jack must fire several employees to save money, Kenneth takes on new responsibilities, and Liz wheels and deals to spare her staffers from layoffs. Meanwhile, Jenna and Tracy suspect that Kenneth is masking a deep dark secret.|
|54||18||"Jackie Jormp-Jomp"||Don Scardino||Kay Cannon & Tracey Wigfield||April 16, 2009||318||7.3|
|Liz meets a new group of friends while on suspension from work. Meanwhile, Jack is worried that Jenna's Janis Joplin biographical film will not get released and tries to promote the movie at the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards. However, following a mix-up, the world believes Jenna is dead and Jack tries to use her death to further hype the film.|
|55||19||"The Ones"||Beth McCarthy||Jack Burditt||April 23, 2009||319||6.3|
|Jack goes shopping with Liz for an engagement ring for Elisa. Jack grows worried about whether he and Elisa's potential marriage would survive in the real world, but Tracy counsels him on married life. Meanwhile, Elisa tells Liz that she is keeping a secret. A prank results in an injury back at TGS and Jenna falls in love with an attractive emergency medical technician who comes to help.|
|56||20||"The Natural Order"||Scott Ellis||John Riggi & Tina Fey||April 30, 2009||320||6.0|
|Liz reprimands Tracy in front of the staff for not acting professionally. Liz worries, expecting Tracy to act out, but he surprises her by instead acting very professionally. Tracy says that because he no longer requests special treatment as an actor, Liz should give up any privileges she is given as a woman. Jack's mother, Colleen (Elaine Stritch), comes to visit revealing memories about Jack's father. Jenna adopts a pet gibbon and learns about motherhood.|
|57||21||"Mamma Mia"||Don Scardino||Ron Weiner||May 7, 2009||321||6.2|
|Jack begins to search for his biological father with help from Liz. Meanwhile, Tracy introduces his supposedly illegitimate son to the cast and crew of TGS, but some question his intentions. Meanwhile, Jenna and Liz fight for attention when Jenna gets public recognition for a comedic sketch Liz wrote.|
|58||22||"Kidney Now!"||Don Scardino||Jack Burditt & Robert Carlock||May 14, 2009||322||5.7|
|Jack gets to know his newly discovered father, but soon discovers Milton (Alan Alda) has a serious medical condition to contend with. Liz gains notoriety as a relationship expert for a sketch she wrote. Meanwhile, Tracy is invited to speak at his former high school's graduation and Kenneth tries to help him overcome troubling memories from his high school experience. Guest stars included Elvis Costello, Mary J. Blige, Sheryl Crow, Clay Aiken, Adam Levine, Ad-Rock and Mike D of Beastie Boys, Michael McDonald, Rhett Miller, Wyclef Jean, Steve Earle, Moby, Cyndi Lauper, Sara Bareilles, Robert Randolph, Rachael Yamagata, Talib Kweli, Donald Glover and Norah Jones.|
On Rotten Tomatoes, the season has an approval rating of 92% with an average score of 8.3 out of 10 based on 38 reviews. The website's critical consensus reads, "Brandishing its trademark silliness with vigor, 30 Rock's third season hits the ground running and cements its reputation as one of the smartest, funniest comedies on television." Robert Canning of IGN called the third season "a series at the top of its game", scoring the season a 9.3 out of 10. In particular, Canning noted that the "first half of the year ... had the most focus." Canning said the premiere episode "Do-Over" was "filled to capacity with comedy", called "Señor Macho Solo" "near perfect", but said the story for the finale "Kidney Now!" was "fun" but "average for a season finale." Alynda Wheat of Entertainment Weekly, reviewing the DVD release, gave the season an A−. Jeremy Medina of Paste magazine also reviewed the premiere, saying it was "sort of like the first day of school after summer vacation: sort of awkward at times, but fast and buoyant and warmly familiar all the same". Brian Lowry of Variety was more critical, calling the third season "wildly uneven" and saying 30 Rock was "merely a good comedy whose shortcomings prevent it from joining the ranks of great ones." The season is also noted by critics positively due to the praise of Tracy Morgan and Jack McBrayer's performance. Metacritic, which gives a score based on critical reviews, gave the season a rating of 84% from 17 reviews, signifying "universal acclaim".
The season premiere, "Do-Over", received 8.7 million viewers and was the highest-rated episode of the series. The sixth episode "Christmas Special" would break that mark, garnering 8.9 million viewers. Digital Video Recorder (DVR) accounted for an average additional 1.2 million viewers for episodes of the third season. 30 Rock is the most popular series among upscale viewers, defined as those who have an income higher than $100,000 a year, on the broadcast networks. The show averaged 7.7 million viewers through the first ten episodes, a ratings level that Variety called "solid" and credited to pairing the show with The Office on NBC's Thursday schedule. The season finale, "Kidney Now!", aired on May 14, 2009, and was viewed by 5.7 million viewers.
This season of 30 Rock received 22 Emmy Award nominations, the most for a show in 2009, breaking 30 Rock's own record for the most nominated comedy in a single Primetime Emmy Award year (previously 17). At the 61st Primetime Emmy Awards, 30 Rock won two Creative Arts Emmy Awards, "Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series" and "Outstanding Picture Editing for a Comedy Series", for the episode "Apollo, Apollo". The show won three Primetime Emmy Awards: "Outstanding Comedy Series", Alec Baldwin won "Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series" for his role as Jack Donaghy, and Matt Hubbard won "Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series" for his work on "Reunion". Tina Fey, though nominated, did not win "Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series", which she had won the previous year; Toni Collette from The United States of Tara won instead. CNN called the decision a "mild surprise", saying Fey was the "heavy favorite".
30 Rock is broadcast in Canada, the United Kingdom (UK), and Australia, in addition to the United States. The show was simulcast in Canada on Citytv. This season of 30 Rock was shown in Australia on the Seven Network at 11:30 p.m. local time starting on February 2, 2009. The third season began in the UK on October 5, 2009, on Comedy Central, moving from Five where the previous season had aired.
The season was released on DVD by Universal Studios on September 22, 2009, in the United States and Canada after it had completed an initial broadcast run on NBC. The DVD set is scheduled for Australian release on November 11, 2009. The 3-disc set of 22 episodes has a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, Dolby Surround 2.0 and 5.1, and English and Spanish subtitles. In addition to the episodes, the DVD set special features included unaired scenes, featurettes, and audio commentary on the select episodes, "Flu Shot", "Goodbye, My Friend", "The Bubble", "Apollo, Apollo", "The Ones", "Mamma Mia" and "Kidney Now!".
In Other Changes, New Comedy Kath & Kim (now 8:30–9 p.m. ET) Switches Time Periods with 30 Rock (Now 9:30–10 p.m. ET) on Thursdays.
30 Rock has been adding an average 1.2 million viewers to its previously reported "live plus same day" numbers when "live plus seven day" viewing is counted. 30 Rock is the most upscale show in primetime network television, with a 147 index of adults 18–49 living in homes with $100,000+ incomes.