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'30 Rock': The 10 best episodes

'30 Rock' first came on the air in 2006, and since then, it's become a critical darling and an audience favorite. The show has won, at various points in its run, Emmys for Outstanding Comedy Series, Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (Alec Baldwin), Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (Tina Fey), and multiple wins for guest spots by actors on the show. The show wraps up its run on Jan. 31 with the last of its seventh-season episodes.

We are certainly sad to say goodbye, but the memories will always be sweet. 

From what the viewers see of the ensemble on '30 Rock,' much of the writing and acting on the show seems to be based on the fundamentals of improvisation, techniques such as always saying yes, not asking questions, and making connections. The show is a team effort – there are no stars. The actors also seem to work to bring something to every scene and to recognize that it's okay if not every joke works. This is the reason that '30 Rock' has been so successful: they explore, they provoke thought, and sometimes they fail. We all have our personal favorite characters, of course, but every role contributes to a larger whole – there is a unity of purpose to the show that helps every episode reach its manic conclusion, even if that purpose is just to have fun. In the business, they call that an "ensemble."

Watching "30 Rock" without understanding improv or sketch comedy (or having watched 'The Muppets' as a child) leads some to call it silly or stupid. To be fair, its brilliance has sometimes been surpassed by its wackiness. But the whole show feels like one big long-form improvisation: what would happen if these people actually worked together for seven years?

The writing staff has an ear for true-to-character dialogue, making their one-liners the best in television. But the best part of watching it is that you can tell everyone involved is having fun.

Another reason that '30 Rock' works so well is its willingness to experiment with potentially volatile subjects. '30 Rock' is hands-down the bravest show on television. Critics don't like every episode, and they don't have a wide viewership, but those that do watch end up becoming hardcore fans.

The show exposes and ridicules the typical rules of a sitcom while simultaneously following all of them. In the future, anyone teaching a master class on sitcoms would be well advised to include '30 Rock' in their curriculum.

We've assembled a list of 10 of our favorite episodes. Here they are, in no particular order. Enjoy!

- Contributor

1. 'Leap Day,' season 6, episode 9

Everyone celebrates "Leap Day" on February 29, which in "30 Rock" land is the day when Santa-like Leap Day mascot Leap Day Williams emerges from the Mariana Trench to trade candy for children's tears. Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) has never heard of Leap Day, and the other characters take the opportunity to educate her. Meanwhile, Jim Carey spoofs Tim Allen's movie "The Santa Clause" (1994) and his own career in family movies as a man who gets turned into Leap Day Williams to learn the true meaning of Leap Day (Andie MacDowell plays his wife in a cameo shout-out to "Groundhog Day" (1993)). Learning the true meaning of Leap Day (a holiday that doesn't actually exist) is a theme for this episode as Jack, Tracy, and Liz all find themselves in situations that test their moral fiber.


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