This season's running plotline on "30 Rock" centers on the search for a new “TGS” cast member – and executive Jack Donaghy is determined to find a comic from outside New York to appeal to a wider audience.
Maybe he should look in Germany.
The German debut of "30 Rock" scored a zero rating – meaning less than 5,000 people saw the show, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The overseas flop comes as "30 Rock" is deftly lampooning its image as too New York-centric. In last Thursday's episode, the best of the season so far, the talent quest takes Liz Lemon and Donaghy to Kenneth the page's Georgia hometown for a gander at what Jack calls "real Americans."
It's a long way from New York – or “Sexcriminalboat” as it's known in Stone Mountain, Ga., where too many folks bear a disturbing resemblance to Kenneth.
Donaghy nearly hires a Jeff Dunham-like ventriloquist (played by – who else – Jeff Dunham) who turns out to be more downright nasty than down-home.
The debut of Dunham’s new show last month notched the highest ratings of any premiere in Comedy Central history. The ratings for “30 Rock,” though, haven’t quite caught up to its critical acclaim.
The show is in its fourth season – the same season, incidentally, that “Seinfeld,” another NBC comedy said to be “too New York” to make it big, finally broke into the Top 30 shows on its way to becoming a ratings champ.
Tina Fey and co. have made their Emmy-winning show a hit – at least with critics – by making fun of a supposedly elite New York TV world, filled with childish, self-obsessed characters. This season’s attempt to connect with the “real America” may be an inside joke, but it’s a funny one that hopefully will resound far beyond the show's core audience and help earn “30 Rock” more of the success it deserves.
Meanwhile, news of the ratings disaster in Germany – a country not known for its comedy – should get some laughs in the "30 Rock" writers’ room.
Fey might want to recall the words of one of her "Weekend Update" predecessors, Norm Macdonald, who would often remind his audience, “Germans love David Hasselhoff.”
Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992. Follow him on Twitter.