30 Rock – though never a ratings monster – remains one of the most critically acclaimed TV comedies in recent years. Now that the series has sadly come to a close, its stars are faced with the next critical step in their careers.
Stars Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey have opted to focus on their film careers for the time being, the latter of whom starred alongside Paul Rudd in the big-screen comedy Admission earlier this year. However, it appears that Tracy Morgan – who played a parody of himself as Tracy Jordan on 30 Rock – has chosen to remain on television.
FX has announced that Morgan will star in upcoming comedy series Death Pact for the network. The show follows a former small-time drug dealer/high school coach (Morgan) who returns to his hometown as a war hero. When he does, he reconnects with three former students and draws them into his own extreme self-help methods.
The series – which aims to begin production this summer – was created by Rob Long and Tad Safran, who will serve as executive producers and writers. Long is a television veteran who served as a producer on Cheers in the early 1990s, while Safran's most notable credit is the 2005 Chris Klein comedy The Long Weekend. Eric Tannenbaum and Kim Tannenbaum (Two and a Half Men) will also serve as executive producers.
The premise for Death Pact seems like it's one of those high-concept ideas that sounds good on paper but then fails to live up to its own potential. Morgan has proven time and time again that he can take even the wackiest material and somehow make it work on 30 Rock. To be fair, though, that series allowed him to play off of gifted performers like Fey and Baldwin. Whether or not Death Pact works may, in fact, depend on which actors Morgan shares the screen with.
Morgan's most successful gigs have been as a part of an ensemble on both Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock, and his first attempt at leading a series was the short-lived (and blatantly titled) The Tracy Morgan Show, which lasted just one season on NBC during the 2003-2004 season. If Death Pact places a greater focus on the group dynamic between Morgan's character and his friends rather than placing all the weight on its lead, the series will have a better chance of playing to the actor's strengths.
That being said, television does feel like the right place for Morgan. Since the mid-1990s, the actor has appeared in at least 15 films (usually in cameos and bit parts), but the closest he's had to a lead role on the big screen is the critically panned 2010 action comedy Cop Out, in which Morgan starred opposite Bruce Willis.
The takeaway here seems to be that Morgan's energy and comic timing are better doled out in sporadic doses over the course of a weekly series populated with other wacky characters that the actor can interact with. Consider us cautiously optimistic about Death Pact as the show continues to assemble its regular cast and nails down its comic tone.
Stay tuned to Screen Rant for more on Death Pact as this story develops.