'30 Rock' Cast Reunites for Star-Studded Special With Help From Khloe Kardashian, Dwayne Johnson and More
By Zach Seemayer
The entire 30 Rock crew returned to TV on Thursday for a one-time reunion special, with a little help from the magic of video conferencing and some surprising star power. It's been more than seven years since the NBC sitcom aired its series finale, and fans got a chance to see how the celebrated characters have grown since the show came to an end.
Functionally, the hourlong reunion special also served as a sort of promotional tool, and -- along with being a fun chance for fans to reconnect with the characters -- the episode also served as NBC's upfronts presentation, specifically meant to promote the network's upcoming season of shows, as well as its brand-new streaming platform, Peacock.
In classic 30 Rock fashion, the fact that it was a promo for the network played a central role, with Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin making winking references to that fact (at one point, literally). But the special also gave fans everything they could have hoped for in a reunion.
In the episode, Jack Donaghy (Baldwin) calls Liz Lemon (Fey) to tell her there's a possibility that her old sketch comedy series TGS might have a chance at a reboot on Peacock -- if they can sell the idea to NBC President Kenneth Parcell (Jack McBrayer).
Liz is tasked with reuniting all of the show's writers -- including James "Toofer" Spurlock (Keith Powell), Lutz (John Lutz), Frank Rossitano (Judah Friedlander), and her longtime producer Pete Hornberger (Scott Adsit).
However, when it comes to getting her cast back together, Liz is faced with a challenge -- Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski) has been blacklisted in Hollywood for doing something gross and unspeakable in Mandy Moore's thermos at a party, so Liz has to look elsewhere.
While reaching out to possible candidates, she first video chats with Sofia Vergara -- who currently serves as a judge on America's Got Talent -- but Sofia has no interest in being a part of the reboot.
Next on her list is Khloe Kardashian, who seems keen to sign on, but only if she can write her own material because she can "do some really funny impressions," including one of Zandy, her "dog's business manager."
All this falls through, though, when Jenna Zoom-bombs the chat and scares Khloe off, leaving Liz no choice but to hire her old friend back for the revival.
Once she manages to get Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) on board, the whole gang is back together, and they go off to pitch the idea to Kenneth. However, it turns out that Kenneth was only using the revival offer as bait. In actuality, he'd been inviting all his old friends to different Zoom happy hours for months, but all his invites went unanswered. Until, that is, there was a job offer involved.
Kenneth decides he doesn't need his old friends anymore, because he's got better, more famous friends. Which is when Dwayne Johnson and Al Roker join the call, and Kenneth hangs up on everyone he used to be friends with.
As the episode continued, a number of NBC stars made guest appearances -- consistently reminding viewers exactly how much of a promotional tool this truly was -- including Andy Samberg, Ted Danson, and eventually Mandy Moore herself (during an incredibly awkward musical number in which Jenna attempts to apologize for the thermos incident).
Ultimately -- as you'd expect from any good 30 Rock episode -- Kenneth learns an important lesson about friendship, everyone else doesn't really learn any lessons at all, and fans learned that even after seven years off the air, each and every one of the show's stars and writers still understands these beloved characters and can still do justice to the show's sense of humor and style.