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Review: 30 Rock - The Problem Solvers

by Bob Sassone, posted Nov 13th 2009 3:04AM
30 Rock
(S04E05) "He looks like all the guys in my magazines!" - janitor, about Danny

Another week, another "30 Rock isn't as good as it used to be" article. This one is from The Atlantic, of all places. The gist is this: "30 Rock used to be funny, but now it's not!" The Onion thinks so, too.

Oh, that's such crap.

I was talking to Joel about this earlier this week, and while it's probably true that the show doesn't have that "new car smell" anymore, so what? It isn't like the show is halfway through it's first season and it has fallen apart, the show is in its fourth season and it's still strong. This show has more jokes (and funny jokes) in one episode than most sitcoms have in six episodes. In fact, tonight's episode had more jokes before the opening credits than most shows have in six episodes.

And ladies, if you date a guy who doesn't think 30 Rock is still great? That's a dealbreaker.

Some of the best episodes of 30 Rock contain not just smart, wacky humor but also some real heartfelt feelings between Liz and Jack. No, not romantic feelings, but a sense that Jack really does care for her and wants to take care of her. Tonight was a good example of that, as he was trying to help her with the Dealbreakers talk show (not screw her over in any way) and how he moved the candle away from her because he knew she was going to reach across the table to sample his dessert.

And the way that both of them came together in Rockefeller Center at the end, sort of like Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan coming together at the end of You've Got Mail. Only this ended in a handshake and not a kiss and hug. I love when 30 Rock remembers that about these two.

I'm not quite sure if having Liz actually be more successful and/or wealthy from this new talk show is something I want to see. Well, I do (as I've said many times I want to see Liz have more victories and not be a lonely schlub all the time), I just hope it doesn't tilt the show in the wrong direction. Nah, I'm sure future episodes will throw plenty of obstacles in Liz's way.

The new guy is played by Cheyenne Jackson. I'd love to know if he was really underneath all of that make-up as "Partybot." He could make for an interesting character: the good-looking normal guy surrounded by all the madness at TGS. OK, he's not completely normal, he's Canadian after all and says "about" funny, but it's going to see him try to fit in. Of course, the question is, is Jackson's stay just a multi-episode arc or is he on the show for good?

More thoughts:

- The awful rear screen projection in the flashback to Danny's football movie he made in Canada was funny. The pic above shows you what the scene is like without the background.

- This episode had more visual humor than usual, from Kenneth walking backwards to Jack's suggestion of a weird arm movement for Liz's signature move

- Did you notice that during Liz's opening scene talk with Jack about TV show continuity a scarf magically appeared around Tina Fey's neck and then quickly vanished a couple of seconds later?

- Kenneth says that in ten years NBC won't even be a network anymore. Actually, some are saying that now.

- I love how this show takes TV cliches and takes them for a spin. Besides the continuity joke, this episode brought up something that sometimes bugs me about shows (at least ones with big casts), that two characters can't have the same first name. Danny's real name is Jack but Donaghy can't have two Jacks around now can he? (And neither can viewers.)

- Sports Shouting made me laugh out loud.

- If someone could tell me what the hell Kenneth was saying in that song I'd appreciate it. I think only dogs could have understood it. And are we to assume now that Kenneth has been alive forever?


"Dealbreaker, the book for you, man no good, by Lesbian Flower Sour Fruit." - Chinese translation of Liz's Dealbreakers book cover

"I do! I bought an Activia microwaveable panini..." - Liz, to Jack, about her dinner plans

"I've worked here for three years. I gave you that car I won?" - Lutz, to Cerie

"Last week I was just this street performer getting 50 bucks a day and getting memory loss from all the silver paint fumes, and now I'm...um...um..." - Danny

"Two questions: must I live by Superman's moral code and will the woman get older?" - Jack, about Liz's "would you rather" quiz

"Spit take. Are you serious?" - Liz, to Jack

"Wade Boggs Carpet World, Wade Boggs Carpet World, Wade Boggs Carpet World, Wade Boggs Carpet World." - Tracy, who once signed a contract and has to say the phrase five times whenever he's on screen

"He knows you're special, like a black stripper with blue eyes." - Tracy

"I feel about as useless as a mom's college degree." - Kenneth

"My book is number 15 on the non-fiction bestseller list, behind The Founding Fathers Diet." - Liz

"Oh, he called about your lunch but I told him you had already eaten a weird panini." - Cerie, to Liz

"That's exactly how you look." Cerie, to Liz, who asked "do I look OK?"

"Who cares if Kenneth is bitter? He's an underhuman." - Jenna

"Then who's going to host Top Chef? Aw Jack you're ruining my life!" - Liz, on getting replaced by Padma Lakshi

"I didn't get a bathroom door that looks like a wall by being bad at business." - Jack

"That was aboot the coolest thing I've ever seen." - Tracy

"Regular six, drunk seven." - agent, about Liz

"And one more piece of advice from someone who has been on this side of the business for a long time: Wade Boggs Carpet World." - Tracy

[Watch clips and episodes of 30 Rock and other shows at SlashControl.]

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still a funny show. bedbugs was pretty funny "woodsman companion" .. "blue ridge ticklers".. that was a crack up.


November 23 2009 at 10:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was watching Around the Horn on ESPN the next day, and they started the beginning with "Welcome back to Sports Shouting!"

Great job 30 Rock

November 15 2009 at 12:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

funny, I come across this as I googled wade boggs carpet world while watching this episode for the third time [cause it is so good].

November 14 2009 at 6:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Bob, I don't know you or have anything against you, but you need to go back to the 1980's if you want to continue reviewing TV shows. Jack has been infatuated with Liz since the very first episode and that became very obvious when his ex-wife showed up. Since then they're dancing around each other, so pretending that Jack only cares about her now is just stupid. This show is about the two of them and always has been. As a TV critic you should know that or critique something else.

November 13 2009 at 8:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm sorry, but I've watched Community twice. The pilot which was so bad I couldn't finish. And then the weird guy with Ansberger's as Batman Halloween ep. And the ONLY time I laughed is when Chevy Chase said, "I'm Dar... you know, The Beastmaster!"

Community sucks. The main guy is smarmy and easy to root against. This is a show of what would happen if NBC employed the terribly unfunny Seth MacFarlane to make a live-action show. Unwatchable.

Modern Family, on the other hand, like 30 Rock, Arrested Development, Frasier, and Seinfeld before it... is SMART FUNNY.

That's my kinda funny. It's also sweet funny, which only 30 Rock has been able to do well since Cheers and Cosby went off the air.

The way Modern Family is able to make their characters funny, yet not charicatures is the core of it's success.

How easy would it be to make Cameron and Mitchell a copy of Will and Jack, fussy and flaming gay stereotypes? How easy would it be for O'Neil to be Al Bundy? How easy would it be for his wife to be a latina stereotype?

I'm sorry, but Modern Family is so great because it doesn't descend to those levels. Cam and Mitchell are great examples of what the vast majority of gay male couples are probably like. Not loud stereotypes in the vain of Nathan Lane. Jay is pitch-perfect as an older man coming to grips with having to raise yet another child, made tougher because they're not related by blood.

And Ty Burrell's character is actually the scariest because of how truthful he plays it. How many kids are being ruined by bad parents who want to be friends and not parents?

What a great show. How could you NOT have fallen out of your chair when Haley's boyfriend started singing his song, with the whole family listening, only to find out it was about how he wanted to have sex with Haley?

And then even funnier, during the credits, how all of them couldn't stop singing it to themselves?

Modern Family is a gem.

Community is crap.

November 13 2009 at 8:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sorry. Wrong. It might read funny on paper, so maybe the writing is just as good, but somehow the spirit has gone out of it. They all look stiff and unhappy to me, out of touch with their original spark. Padma Lashki certainly didn't help the situation either. She makes Salma Hayek look like a brilliant comedienne.

November 13 2009 at 5:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Anyone else notice that recently 30 Rock and the other shows have had similar jokes, like Aubrey Plaza's gay Halloween party and then the guys trying to go to the gay Halloween party on 30 Rock, and the last night there was Community and 30 Rock sharing the "I know what you're going to do next" due to character predictability. 30 Rock may have a leaky writer. It seems to work better for the other shows, maybe because they're first, but by the time we get to 30 Rock, the jokes aren't funny.

November 13 2009 at 5:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I loved the fake romantic parts with Jack and Liz. So many people are still hoping for those two to get together so I love when they screw with them.
The new guy seems funny, but I think they used all the Canadian jokes in this episode. I guess they could find a way for him to say margarine.

November 13 2009 at 4:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to izikavazo's comment
John Struckhoff

***** SPOILER ALERT *****

As to wondering if Cheyenne Jackson's role is a multiple arc or permanent ......

he's starring in the just opened Broadway hit "Finian's Rainbow" soooo

November 15 2009 at 3:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I like the new guy. I hope he stays.
Jane Krakowski is aging by the second. She needs more far shots and lots more makeup plus the padded chest to sell the vixen thing.
Tracy Morgan gets more comfortable -- and therefore funnier -- every week.
The writing is so good it is approaching what SNL used to be when it was funny. I am guessing Tina Fey has lots to do with that.
There is no funnier show on TV right now. Get over it kids, Community may last two seasons at most. They can start inscribing Tina Fey's next emmy now.

November 13 2009 at 3:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

30 Rock still is the best comedy show on television. I love Community, Psych, and even bits of Modern Family, but there's nothing that tops this show each week.

The shirt gags throughout the show with Tracy and Jenna? Fantastic.

November 13 2009 at 3:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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