Ellen Gray: '30 Rock' departs with witty finale

Steven Pasquale portrays Dr. Jason Cole (right) and his evil alter-ego Ian Price (left).
Steven Pasquale portrays Dr. Jason Cole (right) and his evil alter-ego Ian Price (left).
Posted: February 01, 2013

* 30 ROCK. 8 p.m. Thursday, NBC10.

* DO NO HARM. 10 p.m. Thursday, NBC10.

YOU MIGHT say it's all about us on NBC Thursday night, as Upper Darby's Tina Fey gives her Emmy-winning baby, "30 Rock," a sweet and funny hour-long send-off, followed by another hour of "The Office" - which has had half a foot in Philly all season - followed by the premiere of the network's new Jekyll-and-Hyde medical drama, "Do No Harm," which is set and filmed here.

Feeling special yet?

"I think TV can be successful without sacrificing quality," says Liz Lemon (Fey) at one point Thursday.

If so, you couldn't tell it by "30 Rock," a smart (though admittedly often very silly) comedy that in seven seasons (some shorter than others) never got the audience it deserved.

Or maybe it did.

That's the loyal audience that will be there for its last hurrah, reveling in the show's vision of an NBC now finally under the control of Kenneth the Page (Jack McBrayer) and getting in a few last kicks at the network's new Philadelphia overlords Comcast, er, Kabletown.

There'll be some mostly NBC-themed cameos (and one blast from the network's past) and some glimpses of the main characters' futures now that their show-within-a-show has also been canceled.

More than that I wouldn't tell you, even if Fey and fellow executive producer Robert Carlock hadn't sent critics a letter listing all the plot points they'd rather we not mention and adding, "anything else that you feel might spoil a longtime fan's enjoyment of the evening."

As someone who's dropped in only sporadically during for the past couple of seasons, I thought it one of the better series finales I've seen - funny, focused and with just the right touch of sentiment.

And let's just say the very last scene is not to be missed.

'Do No Harm'

Philadelphia gets its long-waited close-up Thursday as "Do No Harm," which has been in production here since late last summer, finally premieres in the 10 p.m. time slot where "The Firm," "Awake" and "Prime Suspect" all aired not so long ago.

Remember them? Maybe not.

It's not easy being a new drama on NBC, whose only recent success in this area has been with "Revolution," and most of the early reviews for "Do No Harm" haven't exactly been raves.

On the other hand, Philly's used to underdogs.

For those tuning in to see more than how the show repurposes the entrance to the convention center, here's the gist:

Steven Pasquale ("Rescue Me") does double duty as neurosurgeon Jason Cole and his alter-ego, a character who calls himself Ian Price and who's interested in having all the fun that Jason won't allow himself.

Yes, it's Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, as interpreted by executive producer David Schulner ("The Event"), who, perhaps in the interest of having a story that lasts longer than a novella, has avoided making Ian quite as bad as Hyde.

"It's basically [about] a guy who's got an alter-ego who is, you know, misogynistic and a drug addict and a sexual predator and a sociopath and he has violent tendencies, but he's not a monster," said Pasquale in an interview on the show's Philadelphia set last fall. "He's a human being."

Fans of his "Rescue Me" character may be surprised to see him playing a brain surgeon, but Pasquale, who was born in Hershey, Pa., came out of theater and had "never played comedy before 'Rescue Me.' . . . I couldn't get anyone to hire me on a comedy."

And he wasn't interested in a routine medical or cop drama.

"I really wanted to know if we were telling a story that was going to make an effort to be smart and edgy and different and character-driven."


Email: graye@phillynews.com

Phone: 215-854-5950

On Twitter: @elgray

Blog: EllenGray.tv

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