Watch and compare the two different live episodes of 30 Rock, 2012 edition

NBC let 30 Rock go meta last night, as its second time doing double-duty live shows (one for the Eastern and Central time zones, and one for the West Coast) found the fake show-within-a-show debating the merits of continuing with live shows for TGS. That allowed Kenneth the NBC Page (Jack McBrayer) to throw back to flashbacks to great past moments in live TV history.

And that allowed the cast to don all sorts of 1950s-era costumes to send up the live TV shows and ideas of yesteryear. Oh, to do anything on live television.

30 Rock‘s typical format is difficult to pull off live, what with its frequent cutaways. But these live episodes, written by Tina Fey and Jack Burditt, found a way around the norm by acting out a love-letter to live TV with nods to classic series such as The Honeymooners, Laugh-In, and even the awkward period of accepted blackface. Star turn drop-ins included — spoiler alert — Amy Poehler, Jon Hamm, Donald Glover, Sir Paul McCartney, Jimmy Fallon, Fred Armisen, Kim Kardashian (?) and recurring characters Paul (Will Forte) and Dr. Spaceman (Chris Parnell).

They made a few slight changes hours later for the West Coast.

Which version did you prefer? The Eastern version had more starpower from an actual living legend, while the Pacific version did make its theme music lyrics particularly live to incorporate NFL Draft news. Nice touch there. But I’m still going with first as fresher and better, which means the East was beast. What did you think? My Two Franks? Tricky Dick or Charles Nelson Reilly? Hamm or BriWi?

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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