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.
(S04E10) "For four years I've had to make do with what passes for men around here, with their untucked shirts, boneless faces, their Stars, both Wars and Trek." - Jack
So Tina Fey got a lot of action in this special double-header. In the first episode, she did it with James Franco (and a pillow - I don't want to know more than that), and in this one she makes out with Danny. Which reminds me: we need more episodes where they actually show what's going on with TGS. We don't see many skits anymore or anything else to do with the show, just plots involving the personal lives of the characters (with the occasional plot about a problem/scheme Jack has concerning NBC and executives). I'd like to get back to more of that.
In the meantime though, this was another good episode. Facebook!
(S04E08) "Those sites are for horny married chicks with kids who want to exchange pervy e-mails with their old high school boyfriends." - Liz, about YouFace
I'm glad to see Danny back on the show. He hasn't been on that much (if at all) since being hired as the new cast member, and I thought it was going to be another one of those things where we don't see him again even though he's supposed to be on TGS still. But didn't you want to hear him sing normally during the TGS Christmas show? I didn't back Pete's plan to try to make Jenna angry (really, who wants that?) and it would have been a nice, Christmas-y ending for Danny and Jenna to sing well at the end and Jenna be OK with it. Instead, we got Jenna placated yet again and Pete going crazy. Eh.
Still, it was great that they got Cheyenne Jackson's singing in the show in a couple of scenes. Maybe in a later episode fans will find out that he's actually good.
[Watch clips and episodes of 30 Rock and other shows at SlashControl.]
(S04E01) "We'll trick those race-car loving wide-loads into watching your lefty homoerotic propaganda hour yet!" - Jack
One of the many, many reasons 30 Rock is one of my favorite shows is because it's well aware of its own world. For example, one of the running jokes tonight was about Josh (Lonny Ross). I spent most of the last two seasons wondering where Josh was. He'd make a cameo here and there, but he's been pretty much missing since the first season. Liz and Jack talked about this tonight when Jack revealed that TGS needed a new cast member and Liz wondered about Josh's popularity on the show. Jack said "Oh, that's right, Josh. I forgot about that guy. You think that's a good sign?"
For the record, Josh was indeed in this episode, for a few seconds. He quit and then attempted to tip over the table when he found out a new person was coming on to the show.
Oh, come on. There's no way that Liz Lemon would be that incompetent when it comes to replacing a water bottle. It was like she was a mixture of Steve Urkel and Barney Fife, dropping the bottle, getting herself soaked. I mean, she could have at least known that you take the empty jug off before you attempt to put the new one on. That whole scene was odd. It went on a lot longer and was more slapstick-oriented than most 30 Rock gags.
Now, I'm not posting this because I think NBC made a mistake (I'm sure they actually did mean to say Tina), nor do I think it's important. I'm posting it because it illustrates how things have changed, how the lines between a character and an actor are now a lot more blurred than they used to be. Or maybe NBC just isn't secure in calling Tina by her character name because there's not much recognition, but everyone knows and loves Tina Fey so they say "Tina?" Regardless, can you imagine an X-Files promo ten years ago where they called David Duchovny's character "David" instead of "Mulder?" Or a Golden Girls promo twenty years ago where they called Bea Arthur "Bea" instead of "Dorothy?"
Jason asked earlier today if Governor Sarah Palin would help 30 Rock finally get out of the ratings doldrums and become the hit it deserves to be. I don't know if that will happen. It seems more like a weird little show that just so happens to be on a big network on a big night with big stars (I think NBC will stick with the show no matter what the ratings are, at least for a few more seasons), but fans of great comedy should definitely tune in. It's the best comedy on TV right now, not just Emmy-wise but also funny-wise, and tonight's third season opener shows that it's still running on all cylinders.
I'll have a full review next Thursday night, but let's just say you won't be disappointed. The show is just like it has always been: funny, unpredictable, and really clever. We even find out how a few plot points from the past actually turned out. The guest star in the first episode is Will and Grace's Megan Mullally, who plays an adoption agency rep who has to check out Liz's workplace to see if she's a suitable candidate to raise a child. Will Arnett also appears, as Jack tries to get his job back.
(S02E15) "I'm just gonna be a kick-ass single mom. Like Erin Brokovich, or Sarah Connor." - Liz
30 Rock fans looking for laughs, plot twists, and a cliffhanger in the finale are probably happy. You got all that, plus a guest star (more than one, actually) that I didn't even know was going to be in the episode. And if you're one of the people who was wondering "what the heck does the episode title 'Cooter' even mean?," well, he's the secret to that (and Tina Fey has been using the term for a while now).
But some 30 Rock fans - I would go out on a limb and say most of you - weren't happy to find out who the father of Liz's maybe-baby might be.
(S02E11) "When you Google 'class A moron', my name comes up first now...so step aside Randy Quaid." - Jack
Is this a happy day or what? No more writers strike, no more hiatus, no more repeats, no more Thursday nights spent crying, wrapped up in a blanket on the couch, eating tons of chocolate, depressed that new NBC Thursday comedies are nowhere on the horizon. Sorry, I may have just told you a little too much information there.
Anyway, 30 Rock is back! It's almost as if this was the season opener, but it's actually the 11th episode of the season (four more new episodes to follow this season), and it features a call back to a joke in an episode from earlier this season.
(S02E09) "That's not a Christmas tree. It's a way to lure tourists into the basement for $20 salads." - Kenneth, about the Rockefeller Center tree
I'm a sucker for Christmas episodes. The plots, the lessons learned, the music. And it doesn't matter if it's a corny, traditional type of holiday episode or a modern, irreverent look at the holiday. This 30 Rock episode is more the latter, but it doesn't mean that there isn't some crazy traditional aspects to it too. These characters - even the ones who get on each others nerves - care about each other in their own way. When Jenna sings "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" and you see a montage of people arguing and Guatemalan kids destroying their Christmas gifts, that's a nice mix of the old and the odd, and the capper of having Jack and his pain in the ass mom wish each other a Merry Christmas just fits so perfectly.
According to accounts of the show -- most notably, from Rachel Sklar at the Huffington Post and Dan Hopper at the Best Week Ever blog -- every major member of the cast, including Alec Baldwin, was at the reading. An upcoming episode was read for the audience, and Tina Fey asked that the audience members not divulge the plot of that episode because "this show is like Heroes and we don't want to ruin it for everyone else."
(S02E06) "We Parcells are neither wealthy nor circumcised, but we are proud!" - Kenneth, trying to find money to replace Jack's missing pants
This show is less than a half hour long but I have a harder time reviewing it than I do two-hour season finales. How do you review a show that has 25 awesome one liners and a bunch of great comedy bits and scenes without simply repeating everything that just happened to people who have already seen the episode? How do you even pick one funny quote from those 25 lines and put it at the top of the review? The one above might be the funniest, it might not be, who knows. It just stands out to me.
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