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July 31, 2014

30 Rock: Christmas Special

by Bob Sassone, posted Dec 12th 2008 11:00AM
30 Rock(S03E06) "What's the past tense of scam? Is it scrumped? Liz Lemon, I think you've just been scrumped." - Tracy

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


30 Rock' Show & Cast Photos

    Actress Tina Fey arrives at the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards at the Nokia Theatre on September 21, 2008 in Los Angeles, California.

    Dan MacMedan/WireImage.com

    Actor Alec Baldwin attends HBO

    FilmMagic Inc/FilmMagic.com

    Actors Alec Baldwin and Jane Krakowski attend HBO

    Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic.com

    Actors Alec Baldwin and Jane Krakowski attend HBO

    Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic.com

    Actresses Tina Fey(L) and Amy Poehler attend the Governors Ball for the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards held at the Los Angeles Convention Center on September 21, 2008 in Los Angeles, California.

    Mathew Imaging/WireImage.com

    Writer-actress Tina Fey leaves HBO

    Mark Sullivan/WireImage.com

    Actress Tina Fey and TV Host Stephen Colbert attend the Governors Ball for the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards held at the Los Angeles Convention Center on September 21, 2008 in Los Angeles, California.

    Mathew Imaging/WireImage.com

    Actor Alec Baldwin attends the Governors Ball for the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards held at the Los Angeles Convention Center on September 21, 2008 in Los Angeles, California.

    Mathew Imaging/WireImage.com

    Actress Tina Fey arrives at the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards Governor

    Jason Merritt/FilmMagic.com

    Actresses Tina Fey and Amy Poehler arrives at the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards Governor

    Jason Merritt/FilmMagic.com

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15 Comments

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StillBash

This episode was bad. Really really bad. It was so blatantly unfunny.

Oh and Bob "I'm a sucker for Christmas episodes."

It hurts me physically not to score with that pass...

December 13 2008 at 4:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Zachary

I thought it was too predictable. I knew Colleen would use the watch and phone bill to discover Jack's delay, Liz ruining Santa, and Tracy knowing Irene.

December 12 2008 at 8:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
DMD

I got a little misty...

December 12 2008 at 7:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Phil

Yes more of the 30 Rock crew. That's good. Jenna's singing great. More Tracey Morgan. Elaine Stritch was a stitch and getting hit by the car. Good one. But some of it got a little too predictable. The whole Santa letter thing. You knew that when Liz Lemon went back to the apartment that there were going to be kids there. I even predicted the Santa Claus line. And what's with the Kenneth character? He's being sort of a caricature of a caricature. . . I hate to criticize because I love this show.

December 12 2008 at 6:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Phil's comment
Tracey

"Elaine Stritch was a stitch"

what does that even mean?

December 12 2008 at 7:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bob Sassone

Hey, thanks Jay. Yeah, I feel the same way about this show. I look forward to it every week and I'm always a little sad when it ends.

December 12 2008 at 6:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ben Clark

I loved this episode. Favorite line was the "I hear sunshine" bit.

The building that Jack was standing in front of right before he got in his car and ran over his mother looked a lot like Cà d'Zan, John & Mable Ringling's mansion in Sarasota, Florida. (I'm from that area.)

Anyone else notice this?

December 12 2008 at 5:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jay Black

My God, I love this show. Every Thursday when I finish my Office review, I say, "Well, there's 30 Rock, but it's late. Watch it tomorrow." And every Thursday night, I'm up way too late laughing at this show.

I'm going to make a bold statement: I look forward to this show with the same level of excitement that I used to look forward to classic-era Simpsons episodes.

Great review, as always, Bob.

December 12 2008 at 3:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
SHANNON

Alec Baldwin may be a complete wingnut, but I love Jack Doneghey. The scene at the end with he and Eileen singing at the piano was so sweet, and Baldwin's impish smile made me think that there were really some memories going on there. Great stuff.

December 12 2008 at 12:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
sww

Loved this episode, seemed like a return to what's great about 30 Rock. Thank God for the return of the TGS staff -- so good to see Pete, Toofer, Frank. I love Jenna and am always glad to see her in an episode, especially when she sings.

This show is hilarious and so in touch when dealing with race. The stereotypes and misunderstandings are so cleverly delivered. That's not easy to do and part of what makes this such a good show!

Did you all notice Colleen was reading "Urban Fervor" by James Grisham while lying on the couch -- hilarious!

December 12 2008 at 12:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to sww's comment
Mike

I did notice the "Urban Fervor" that's why 30 Rock is great, the details.

December 12 2008 at 10:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
cdawg

max, thanks for the helpful comment.

December 12 2008 at 11:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to cdawg's comment
Andrew

This comment didn't help me at all.

December 12 2008 at 6:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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