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Review: '30 Rock' - 'Verna'

by Bob Sassone, posted Feb 5th 2010 1:00AM
30 Rock(S04E12) "It was perfect. Like a John Mayer song." - Jenna, on meeting with her mom

There's a 1984 episode of 'Kate & Allie' titled 'New Year's Eve' where Kate and Allie make a bet: Kate has to give up smoking and Allie has to give up eating chocolate (never mind that we never even saw Kate smoke before, but that's another story). Sound familiar? OK, so Liz had to stay away from all junk food and not just chocolate, but still, that was one of the plots of tonight's '30 Rock.' It's an old staple with sitcoms, of course, I just didn't think that '30 Rock' would necessarily go there.

I also don't want to see yet another character have to stay at Liz's apartment. Pete has stayed there, Tracy, and now Frank. Who's next, Jack? Kenneth? Luckily, even a couple of creaky plots can't completely hurt an episode of this show because there are so many great jokes flying at you from all directions.

I did enjoy the visit from Jenna's mother Verna, and it's really great to see Jan Hooks again. She was one of my favorite cast members of 'Saturday Night Live,' from one of my favorite eras of the show. And it's good casting. I didn't really think that Jenna's mom would have such a thick Southern accent, though. Maybe she and Kenneth should have bonded more.

Of course, Jenna had to go to the only person at NBC who could possibly empathize with her about having a bad mother, and that would be Jack. We didn't get to see his mom, but we did get to see a picture of a frowning Elaine Stritch during Jack's slide show presentation to Jenna about how to deal with her mom.

Speaking of Kenneth, I truly loved the series of crazy ideas and observations that he made at the end of the episode, talking to Pete at the table. I saw a little smile on Pete's face at one point, and I'm going to guess that it wasn't Pete smiling; it was Scott Adsit. I mean, Kenneth mentioned 'Jennifer Slept Here!' That's great!

More thoughts:

- Have they used the Cheesy Blasters mascot before? I know that Liz went through a time when she was constantly eating those Mexican Doritos knock-offs.

- Jack's presentation to Jenna had echoes of 'Glengarry Glen Ross.' ASQ (Always Speak Quieter) could be ABC (Always Be Closing).

- The hidden video camera footage of Liz and Frank was ... surreal. Like a horror movie involving a video camera. I'm assuming that the woman in the video was one of the women Frank referred to when he warned Liz of his sex drive coming back. It's great how Tina Fey is willing to look ridiculous and gross.

- I can't think of a more inappropriate song for Jenna and Verna to sing to each other. Well, maybe "Baby Got Back."

- This was yet another episode that had nothing to do with TGS and, well, the actual goings-on at NBC (except for Verna wanting to have a reality show). I'd like to get back to some of that. I wonder if Rip Torn will be around to film some scenes as Don Geiss, or will Jack become head of NBC in the season finale?

Quotes:

"You just enjoy your coffee, sir, while I tell you a funny story about my neighbor's cat. His name is Mr. Wiggles, and his cat's name is Benson." - Kenneth, to Pete

"I didn't see her. Security called. She was trying to use an Oxycontin bottle as I.D." - Jenna, on Verna

"I'm sure she's down there, chain-smoking, sitting on the curb, waiting for me to come out. Just like the day I was born." - Jenna

"To her I'm just a gorgeous, naturally blonde ATM." - Jenna

"Don't go to sleep with a frown in your pocket!" - lyrics to song Liz's mom used to sing to her

"Were any of the firemen strong? Were any of them the ones from the calendar?" - Lutz

"Oh, I'm not offering. I'm just taking a survey to guage general interest." - Tracy, asking Frank if he'd like to stay in his guest house

"It's stuff like this that makes me eat stuff like this." - Liz

"Oh, I'd like to pre-apologize for clogging your tub, sink, and toilet." - Frank, to Liz

"Mothers. You can't kill them..." - Jack

"Can I just tell you that I'm genuinely having fun right now?" - Jenna, during Jack's presentation

"Wow, an old white lady yelling at me while wearing microwaveable socks. This is so different than living with my mom." - Frank, to Liz

"I saw it because it's on a compilation DVD I have of fat ladies crying." - Frank, about a 'Dr. Oz' episode

"Manufactured in a facility that also processes food." - warning label, Cheesy Blasters

"I guess I'll get one of those throat radios and you'll be buried in a piano crate. Good night, Liz." - Frank

"While you were talking, I put a thumb tack in my neck. Makes me feel something." - Pete, to Liz

"Autumn tempe risotto with salmon-rubbed streusel chunks." Liz's noofud lunch

"Thanks. I made them myself. Something's killing all the birds in my neighborhood." - Verna, on her earrings

"Could a bad mom have raised a daughter who was engaged to a Congressman when she was 16?" - Jenna

"Wear something nice. Like a pair of white jeans and a Dan Marino jersey." - Verna, to Jack

"Hi, I was told I'd get paid if I came here and danced while the Atlanta Hawks ate dinner." - Jenna, at the restaurant

"Nice office, Jack. I feel like I'm in the Martha Stewart section of K-Mart." - Verna

"Yeah, this show will have laughter. Tears. Topless arguments. Infections caused by jacuzzi water!" - Verna, on her reality show

"It's even better, Jack. She's made a full 360!" - Jenna, after Jack said Verna did a complete 180



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

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11 Comments

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Galley

Jan Hooks is only 12 years older than Jane Krakowski, although they did a good job of making her look older.

February 05 2010 at 7:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mike

Oh the writing . . . they can do the Muppets with this writing and it would still be the best thing on TV

February 05 2010 at 7:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
George

Can't believe nobody's mentioned Liz eating from a bag of junk food named "Cornholes"!

February 05 2010 at 6:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jamie

They've spoofed Glengarry Glen Ross last season aswell. When Jack and Liz were at the 6 Sigma thing, at the lego event Liz keeps screaming "ALWAYS BE TALKING!" at Jack.

February 05 2010 at 3:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ac

Yeah the way Liz stood there and swayed in her sleep made it obvious that it was a Paranormal Activity spoof. I was expecting her to walk off camera and start screaming.

February 05 2010 at 11:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Alex

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1W8R5TSNNk

That's where they got MeatCat from. The season premiere at that crazy restaurant that serves foods from other parts of the U.S.

The lack of mention of Night Spanks is almost criminal. Or the fact that Denise from the mail room was singing Liz's frown song to Frank during the videotape.

"God, your arms are really weak!"

February 05 2010 at 10:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jim

Hmmm ... strange review. So many quotes, yet you left out the best one: (paraphrasing) "Aren't you moved by this?" "No, I'm listening to the words."

Other points:

* Ditto on "Night Spanks."

* "It's an old staple with sitcoms, of course, I just didn't think that '30 Rock' would necessarily go there." Don't you mean "go TO there?"

* I didn't see the Glengarry Glen Ross connection. It certainly wasn't as blatant as "Always Be Cobbling."

* YES, the woman in the video was from the mail room.

* I also LOVED Jan Hooks on SNL, but the woman has not aged well.

February 05 2010 at 10:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
PJC

What...no mention of "Night Spanks?"

February 05 2010 at 9:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
A different Brett

Note that "Cheesy Blasters' are hot-pockety things. THe Mexican tortilla chips were 'Sabor de Soledad'. Boy, my parents are proud of me right now.

February 05 2010 at 8:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
SHANNON

My Mom's name is Verna... I'm tryin to figure out how to get some audio clips from this show to use as her ring tone...

February 05 2010 at 8:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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