30 Rock: Christmas Special
Isn't it interesting how a funny, fast-paced, irreverent, sometimes surreal comedy like 30 Rock can also somehow grab you emotionally? Maybe it's because it's funny and irreverent 98% of the time the emotional parts hit you a little bit harder. They're unexpected and really welcome. Like the end of tonight's episode. Who could have expected the show would end with a piano duet between Jack and his mother? I've always liked Jack's mom, and it was really nice to see their relationship get better amidst all the usual TGS craziness. Some shows just have a Christmas show that isn't much different than their regular episodes, only with more lights and tinsel. Good to see this show actually make the holiday count.
I'm a sucker for Christmas episodes.
That's not to say this was a Hallmark movie. It's still 30 Rock, so it was damn funny too (though I think the number of jokes might have been slightly reduced in this episode, or at least their laugh-out-loud factor). When the episode first started I thought we were going to have a lame episode where Jack is in Florida with his mother and away from the main action in New York City. That would have been a really bad decision (there's just so much funny you can get with cell phone conversations). Good to see them remedy that quickly.
I also like Jack's idea of the live TV show. This is a classic sitcom situation: the main characters either have a screwed up family situation or they're away from their families for the holidays and have to work, and their co-workers get dragged into it and have their holidays ruined too but end up liking it in the end because, well, your co-workers are their family too (even if they'd rather be somewhere else). Elaine Stritch is great as Jack's mom. She's demanding and a little difficult, but she also makes you really feel for her. The scene where Jack walks out on her after she proves he didn't call the paramedics on time, I got a little lump in my throat.
And is there anyone who wouldn't watch a live TGS Christmas show? Hell, NBC should really run it. I'd much rather watch that than Rosie Live.
I do hope that Liz gets some real happiness in her life though (I've been saying this since season one). She doesn't have luck with men, she lives alone, she eats a lot of junk food, she isn't good with money, her co-workers are nutty, she makes bad decision, and now we find out she can't even celebrate Xmas with her family because they'd thought she'd have her own family by the time she reached 38. Yikes.
(By the way, that was Tina Fey's husband Jeff Richmond on the piano.)
Some great quotes:
"There are these Nigerians on the internet that help me." - Kenneth, on where he finds poor people to help out
"That kid's never gonna be a doctor. Better buy it a jet ski." - Tracy, about a poor kid who wrote a letter to Santa
"Where are you? I hear sunshine." - Liz, to Jack in Florida
"I showed up three days early, showered my mom with gifts which she said were adequate. It's a Christmas miracle." - Jack, about his mom
"Just like Norman Rockwell always drew it." - Liz, about Jack's plan to spend Christmas in Rio watching monkey wrestling
"Toofer, can I buy a kid FUBU? Is that a swear word?" - Liz
"She's better than fine. They're giving her a titanium hip, like their Terminator. It's only going to make her more powerful! - Jack, about her mom
"I kind of assumed they'd rap, which is racist on my part, but still..." - Liz, about the black Santa toys at the store
"Those are going to be the happiest poor kids since me and my brother went to Neverland Ranch." - Kenneth
"Oh, because we're both black we must know each other? Hey, Irene!" - Tracy, to the post office clerk
"We had a falling out over the Jerry Garcia stamp. I mean, If I wanted to lick a hippie I'd just return Joan Baez's phone calls." - Jack, about the Postmaster General
"As the leader of this group of this group, I have to put my foot down. Christmas is a sacred time for me and my surrogate family. So if you're willing to look four 25 year-old gay guys in the eyes and tell them they're not going to see New Kids on the Block at the Borgata...be my guest." - Jenna, to Jack
"If you want a hug from a black person, maybe you should just host The Price Is Right." - Tracy, to Liz
"Numbers, unlike children, don't lie." - Jack's mom
"When has religion ever caused any problems?" - Kenneth