"30 Rock" feels ready to come to an end, mainly because the show has always seemed a little too smart to always reset to something like the status quo the way the sitcom format tends to demand. Liz Lemon (Tina Fey), Jack Donaghy (Alex Baldwin), Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan), Jenny Maroney (Jane Krakowski) and the rest don't feel like the same people they were when the show started, and like their real world equivelents, they seem like they should be ready to move on to new projects.
With just 13 episodes in this season, including an hour-long finale, there's a pretty good chance this will be an overarching story for this last year of the show, with Jack working to take over the network and to finally manage it properly -- "After seven years," he promises Liz, "you'll finally have a life!" But is that the ending we want for the show and for Liz, the promise of doing more of the same, with her and Jack riding off into the sunset, intent on continuing to put out a middling sketch comedy show with slightly less corporate interence and the additon of Taco Tuesdays at the cafeteria?
Jack is aiming to be a CEO and Tracy's started his own studio. (And Kenneth, of course, has Jack's prediction to live up to: "in five years we'll all either be working for him... or be dead by his hand.") The characters all have end goals in sight, should the show choose to pursue them (or to jump into the future, "Weeds"-style, to see how these achievements worked out).
But as likable as Liz and co. have been over the years, "30 Rock" seems to invite a more "Seinfeld" type of ending rather than a cheery one. It's a prickly show -- it's one about coworkers rather than friends, and the friendships that exist are loaded, as seen in the way Liz strategically shirks her difficult bestie's wedding party duties. Liz herself has been one of contemporary TV's most fabulously flawed female figures -- smart but slovenly, a workaholic, awkward and ooky about sex, never as progressive nor as brave as she tells herself she is. To send her and Jack off into the sunset under new corporate ownership, still working together and continuing to crank out a middling sketch comedy show with the new addition of Taco Tuesday, doesn't seem like it would be true to spirit of the series nor its characters.
The characters can weather it -- and in fact, "30 Rock" has managed to make the relationship between Liz and Jack seem real enough that they would stay in touch even without an office in common. For a show that tends to choose gags over sentiment, the fact that its two dedicated coworkers have become, in fact, convincing friends may be it's greatest achievement -- and it's the kind of touching but unsentimental development that doesn't need to be called out in the end to be celebrated.