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October 13, 2015

'30 Rock' 100th Episode Recap

by Jason Hughes, posted Apr 22nd 2011 10:45AM
Alec Baldwin, '30 Rock' - '100th Episode'['30 Rock' - '100th Episode']

'30 Rock''s little show-within-a-show is reaching 100 episodes. So's the show about a show, and I've gotta say that I am absolutely exhausted after sitting through that hour of television. Exhausted in a good way.

When '30 Rock' is firing on all cylinders (like on last night's show), it does fast-paced nonsense and throwaway gags at an 'Airplane'-like pace. Add an actual story that made sense, liberally sprinkled with flashbacks and guest stars recalling the past five years, and this is one of the most satisfying 100th episode celebrations of a series I've ever seen.

Even Tom Hanks deemed it worthy of stepping down from film acting to make an appearance. In fact, his appearance confirmed a nod-and-a-wink speech by Jack Donaghy to Tracy Jordan about a surefire way to lose the respect he'd gained in the entertainment business by winning that pesky Oscar.

And that, simply enough, was the plot of the entire hour. If Liz didn't get Tracy back on board the show and have a great 100th episode, 'TGS' was cancelled. Tracy's journey across morning television, including appearances by Rachael Ray, Regis and Kelly and Matt Lauer, was an early highlight as the hosts were charmed and delighted by his every attempt to be insulting and outrageous.

As always, '30 Rock' is smart when it comes to its statements about the entertainment industry. The whole notion that having an Oscar adds weight and value to whatever you say is ridiculous. By the same notion, the idea that working on television erases all of that may be equally silly, but it's fairly evident that TV actors aren't equated the same as their film counterparts.

Do you think Alec Baldwin helped pen that speech he gave Tracy at the end of the episode. Was he snubbed at a Hollywood party because he's "just a TV actor" now, I wonder? You have to figure he's respected enough now for it not to matter, but having the speech come from a film actor like Baldwin made it that much stronger.

I found myself nodding with him as if this was some profound moment and not the culmination of a scene that saw Tracy trying to shoot Kenneth in the head to regain his negative public status. But then the strategy was confirmed when Tom Hanks saw Tracy on television and called George Clooney to have him removed from the A List. I love that these were both former TV stars, and that Hanks wrapped by singing the 'Bosom Buddies' them.

Other special guest stars included Michael Keaton trying to contain a gas leak (a genius way to add another layer of lunacy to the proceedings), Rachel Dratch as the blue blob and her Greta Johanssen character, Dean Winters as Liz's disastrous boyfriend Dennis (apparently being high on gas makes being with him a great idea) and Will Forte as Paul.

Jenna checked in with Paul while considering getting pregnant with Kenneth's baby. This was perhaps the weakest story in the episode, but still allowed Jane Krakowski some true character moments. For a moment, it was as if she might grow and change, but then the thought of having her own talk show transformed her physically and mentally back into the fame whore we've come to know and love.

Baldwin was brilliant as four versions of himself. Sideways Jack was a reminder of the Jack Donaghy we met five years ago. He's softened a lot, and I liked the idea that Liz is a needed distraction from Jack's blind ambition. It's a great description of their dynamic and how importance she is to his ultimate happiness.

You knew the 100th episode of 'TGS' was going to kill and save the show, but I love that it wasn't easy. With the scripts written while everyone was high -- I loved the board -- Liz resorted to triggering another gas leak so everyone in the studio audience, including Hank Hooper, was loving it.

Sure, the logic collapses completely because it was likely a disaster on the air which means the reviews will come back terrible. Or it might have been so bad it was great. I'd love it if we got a quick follow-up next week. Maybe Liz got Hank to sign a document confirming the million additional episodes he approved them for.


"I'm gonna cut your face up so bad you'll have a chin." --Liz to Kenneth

"Tonight 'TGS' will not be the worst thing on television." --Liz (way to aim high, Liz!)

"F-U-L-L spells full, because you're full of B.S., Liz Lemon." --Tracy

"I can't take much more of this. I think Bono got in my limo." --Tracy

"Dammit, I'm getting too old for this shh-sound that comes from this gas pipe." --Tom

"You don't even know what a shark is anymore!" --Sideways Jack

"Hey look, Tracy Jordan is ironically reappropriating his bad past behavior as a commentary on Fitzgerald's dictum that there are no second acts in American life." --Guy on street

"Did you also have to evacuate the NBC store?" --Liz
"No, it's just empty."--Jack

"Brian Williams sure gets close to you when he talks. Very feminine energy." --Hank

"It's not rape if neither party really wants it." --Jenna

"That's crazy. A man named Elia. That's a giraffe's name." --Tracy

"You're a cook in the bedroom and a whore in the kitchen." --Dennis

"Do TV and no one will ever take you seriously again." --Jack

'30 Rock' airs Thursdays at 10PM ET on NBC.

[Follow Jason on Twitter.]

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Mike Siroky

Yes yes yes. They can write when they want to. The double time slot helped. They even had a chance to show the really pregnant Jenna (then) and hide Liz' bump. Less of the writers and more of the main characters, please.

April 22 2011 at 6:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tim Ross

Is it just me that saw the Fringe references?? Sideway Jack planning to destroy to world (Walternate). There was another one, but I can't remember it.

April 22 2011 at 5:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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