Hiatus (30 Rock)
"Hiatus" is the twenty-first and season finale episode of NBC's first season of 30 Rock. It was written by series creator and executive producer Tina Fey, and was directed by Don Scardino. It first aired on April 26, 2007 in the United States. Guest stars in the episode included Katrina Bowden, Kevin Brown, Owen Burke, Grizz Chapman, Matt Dickinson, Rachel Dratch, Brittany Felton, Hannah Flynn, Sean Hayes, Emily Mortimer, Chris Parnell, Portia, Lonny Ross, Justin Smith, Elaine Stritch, Jason Sudeikis and Nikki E. Walker. Lester Holt appeared as himself in this episode.
The episode focuses on the imminent season finale of TGS with Tracy Jordan, a fictional sketch comedy series which airs live on Friday nights. Liz Lemon (played by Tina Fey) is frantic because Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) is still missing and Jack Donaghy's (Alec Baldwin) health threatens his marriage to Phoebe (Emily Mortimer).
After going on the run from the Black Crusaders, Tracy has traveled to Needmore, Pennsylvania (an actual town located in Belfast Township, Fulton County, Pennsylvania) to stay with Kenneth Parcell's (Jack McBrayer) cousin, Jesse Parcell (Sean Hayes). Liz is stressed as the season finale of TGS with Tracy Jordan is nearing, and Tracy cannot be found. Liz and Jack force Tracy's whereabouts from Kenneth, who they send to bring him back. Tracy realizes that he wants to go back to the city, but Jesse kidnaps him. Kenneth, accompanied by Dot-Com and Grizz, manages to rescue Tracy and get him back in time for the show's finale.
Jack is livid when his mother, Colleen Donaghy (Elaine Stritch), visits him when she is in town to attend his ex-wife Bianca's (Isabella Rossellini) wedding to Vincent Folley. Colleen takes an immediate dislike to Jack's fiancée, Phoebe, but takes a liking to Liz, whom she originally mistakes for Phoebe. The stress of his approaching wedding and the arrival of his mother prompt Jack to have a heart attack. While at the hospital, Colleen uses a heart monitor as a lie detector, on Jack, which leads him to revealing that he does not love Phoebe. They break off their engagement.
Rachel Dratch, longtime comedy partner and fellow Saturday Night Live alumna of Fey, was originally cast to portray Jenna. Dratch played the role in the show's original pilot, but in August 2006, Jane Krakowski was announced as Dratch's replacement. Executive producer Lorne Michaels announced that while Dratch would not be playing a series regular, she would appear in various episodes in a different role. In this episode, Dratch played Dr. Beauvoir, Liz's doctor.
Jason Sudeikis, who played Floyd in this episode, has appeared in the main cast of Saturday Night Live, a weekly sketch comedy series which airs on NBC in the United States. Tina Fey was the head writer on Saturday Night Live from 1999 until 2006. Various other cast members of Saturday Night Live have appeared on 30 Rock. These cast members include Rachel Dratch, Fred Armisen, Kristen Wiig, Will Forte, Chris Parnell and Molly Shannon. Tina Fey and Tracy Morgan have both been part of the main cast of Saturday Night Live. Alec Baldwin has also hosted Saturday Night Live thirteen times, the second highest number of episodes of any host of the series.
The character Jesse Parcell taking in Tracy Jordan during his hard times, mirrors the Stephen King novel made movie, Misery (novel), in which an over-obsessed fan of an author takes in the author but ends up forcing them to stay with them, under the guise of "Being their biggest fan".
"Hiatus" brought in an average of 4.7 million viewers. The episode also achieved a 2.4/6 in the key 18–49-year-old demographic. The 2.4 refers to 2.4% of all people of ages 18–49 years old in the U.S., and the 6 refers to 6% of all people of ages 18–49 years old watching television at the time of the broadcast in the U.S. This episode was watched by 200,000 people upon its original broadcast in the United Kingdom.
Robert Canning of IGN said that this episode left him feeling "a bit cheated." He said that this was because "the storylines we've loved for weeks all failed to come to a satisfying end." He added that "after a string of stellar episodes, it's not surprising 30 Rock eventually faltered." Canning rated this episode with a "6.5 out of 10." Matt Webb Mitovich of TV Guide wrote that he "didn't find this episode quite as manic as the previous few, but that's probably because it had actual story to progress and threads to tie up."
Elaine Stritch's appearance in this episode earned her a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series. Stritch would later appear as Colleen in the episodes "Ludachristmas," which was part of season two; "Christmas Special" and "The Natural Order" in season three; "The Moms" in season four; "Christmas Attack Zone" in season five; "Meet the Woggels!" in season six; and "My Whole Life Is Thunder" in the show's seventh and final season.