30 Rock struggled for ratings in its first year, despite critical acclaim. It is returning for a full season this fall, and now star and writer Tina Fey has learned enough lessons to tighten the show's format in year two.
Tina Fey on 30 Rock Formula
"We want the characters to be believable enough that you still care about them but still be able to do crazy jokes with them. So I think we learned that as the year went. This year, I think we are going to try to maybe do a little less because the shows were so dense that sometimes we worried that it was almost going by too quickly for the audience. So we're hoping to let things breathe a little bit."
Of course, Jack Donaghy and Tracy Jordan are pretty broad caricatures, but even they will show some more humanity. "I think you can make them pretty big but I think it would be better if you believe that somewhere they're actual human beings."
Fey has also gotten into the habit of telling full stories rather than short sketches. "Coming from a sketch comedy background where you don't have to deal with story, then all of a sudden, you really do need it to move things forward and for people to care about your characters. It's hard."
The season premiere features Jerry Seinfeld as a guest star. If that's stunt casting, it is one hell of a stunt. "We could not be more excited to have Jerry Seinfeld on the show because hopefully then regular America might actually find out that we have a show and watch it maybe at least that one time. Also, he's super funny so that fell into our lap. He sort of volunteered to come on and that's all going to be great. Then we had a lot of guest actors last year but I really liked them all because they really sort of suited the roles. It never felt like stunt casting to me and hopefully we can kind of keep that going if you have Isabella Rossellini or Paul Reubens who are just people that happen to fit that role right at that time."