It’s like my heart is trying to hug my brain.

As you perhaps could have guessed from this episode’s weird title, this 22-minutes was all over the place. None of the three plots were particularly strong, but a totally weird ending montage made me die laughing.

Kenneth is addicted to caffeine and it’s all Tracy’s fault. It is moderately humorous.

Jack and CC try to make their relationship work, despite their professional obligations. The best parts of this include a miners’ village and German television executives.

German television is probably like this?

German television is probably like this?

Liz tries to buy a co-op and gets overly attached, going through all the stages of a bad relationship and a clingy ex. The metaphor goes on a little too long. The best part is that the leader of the co-op board looks just like my former English professor.

Screenshot 2014-07-28 23.06.24

 

Jack and CC try to make their relationship work, but screw up everything: CC isn’t at the House to vote against legalizing recreational whale torturing (thanks Bush) and Jack leaves Liz and her limited German in charge of the business deal with the Germans. They meet at the town halfway DC and New York and do romcom things, while one of the town’s residents laments that their town is the halfway point, implying that CC and Jack aren’t too special.

BUT. I used this geographic midpoint finder that John Green taught me about and their midpoint is not in Pennsylvania! The halfway point between 30 Rockefeller Plaza and the House Rayburn Office Building is in the great state of Delaware:

Screenshot 2014-07-28 23.09.17 Screenshot 2014-07-28 23.09.44

Admittedly it’s near the border, but it’s not in PA or a small mining town. Wilmington isn’t as funny of a place, I guess.

So Jack and CC break up, and Jack tries to dole out some wisdom to Liz: “All this time I’ve been telling you that we can have it all. … They [love and work] both require everything of you. You have to choose.” :(

Liz doesn’t believe him but he reminds her she picked business over love when it came to Floyd. :(

Anyway, this unexceptional episode becomes amazing when Kenneth decides that New York has corrupted him and he needs to go back to Georgia. After like three mentions of Gladys Knight being the musical guest, Tracy, Grizz and Dotcom begin potentially the greatest group musical number in the history of this show:

Sadly I cannot embed it, because I only found it on Vulture, so click here please.

And Gladys Knight herself appears.

Unclear if this beats my favorite version of this song though:

#teamRDJ #always

Bits & Pieces

JONATHAN’S PLAY IS GOING TO BE PERFORMED BY THE COMMUNITY THEATER. I LOVE YOU JONATHAN.

Most Jack line: “The founding fathers never intended for the poor to live into their 40s.”

Most Jonathan line: “Jack will be CEO and I will be king of the assistants!”

Most Tracy line: “Regrets are for horseshoes and handbags.”

Best continuity: “I’m a great neighbor, ask anyone in my building, except Raheem.”

Kenneth was Grizz’s wingman at speed dating. If only we got to see that on-screen.

Killy Ripa is Jack’s “having-it-all” role model.

Liz drunkenly sings “You Oughta Know” to the co-op board. I love you Liz.

Jenna knows a good porn site that doesn’t sacrifice story. I love you Jenna.

Character I related to most: Dotcom, because he really just wants to see “Spamalot.”

Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: Normal people don’t react to caffeine that way…

Merry Christmas from SheinhardtUniversal everyone!

After this weekend’s break, I’m back with my thirtieth episode. One month of “30 Rock” down, 108 episodes to go.

And this one really is one of my favorites. As aforementioned, “30 Rock” always handles holidays well, and this is our first dedicated Christmas episode. Let us first acknowledge that Ludachristmas is, itself, an expert pun. OK.

Our three plots:

1) The Lemons are in town and seem pretty normal and loving! Colleen Donaghy goes on a mission to prove to Jack that they’re just as messed up as the Donaghys.

2) Kenneth tries to destroy Ludachristmas, the staff’s (well, mostly the writers plus Jenna?) annual Christmas party, because it misses the real meaning of Christmas.

3) Tracy has an ankle monitor to keep him for drinking, but really wants to celebrate Ludachristmas. (This is barely a plot and is mostly folded into plot two.)

Plot one is amazing, and not just because Elaine Stritch is around — though obviously that’s a major plus. Liz’s brother, portrayed by Andy Richter, was injured in a ski accident and thinks it’s still 1985; Jack is, of course, envious that in his mind Reagan is still president.

Jack has invited his mother due to his “paralyzing Irish guilt,” while Liz actually enjoys spending time with the Lemons, who accept her and support her unconditionally. Jack does not get it:

“What did your mother mean when she said you were a beautiful genius? Was she taunting you?”

There was also a great bit of continuity with Mitch. Last season during Liz and Jenna’s fight, we learned that Jenna slept with Liz’s brother, and Liz is outraged because he was “in a really bad ski accident.” This episode, she hits on Mitch, who thinks she’s too old and instead goes after Cerie. I felt bad for Jenna! Like, actually…

Her main concern  was drunkenly singing Christmas carols at the party, and Jeff Richmond was on hand to help her in that task:

Sup Mr. Tina Fey

Sup Mr. Tina Fey

Meanwhile, Kenneth is really concerned that Ludachristmas has perverted the meaning of Christmas so he stages an intervention involving a Jesus puppet. About the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, he says, “That is not a Christmas tree. It’s a way to lure tourists into the basement to buy $20 salads,” which is an amazing NBC burn.

So then he shows them a video of little kids being grateful they got wood for Christmas and everyone goes crazy and try to cut down the tree. But then they realize that their ring leader, Tracy, was drunk this whole time (the ankle monitor people are having their own drunken Christmas party, so they don’t notice) so the attack is called off and Ludachristmas is saved. Real Christmas is probably still ruined forever.

Anyway, the Lemons are super nice to Jack — they even give him one of those drums of popcorn, which are the most underrated Christmas gift ever — so he ditches his mom for them. Colleen invites herself to “have them tearing at each other like drag queens at a wig sale.” Great burn.

But the Lemons destroy themselves when Mitch reveals that yesterday his parents took him to see the Goonies; he means yesterday 1985, the day of Liz’s one game on the football team. (“We didn’t make the playoffs that year, but I think we led the league in bravery.”)

It turns out her parents didn’t actually support her playing football, and they don’t really support her single New Yorker lifestyle now. And then Liz tells Mitch that he’s really 40, not 18, and it all goes downhill from there.

And over the sounds of their fighting, Jack and Colleen share an adorable moment as Jane Krakowski sings in the background:

Screenshot 2014-07-27 20.30.42

And just when you thought it couldn’t get better, guess what sing played over the credits?

Bits & Pieces

Bald writer/Kevin Miller appears again!

Screenshot 2014-07-27 19.55.25

But also I realized that in my focus on Bald writer/Kevin Miller, I never recognize quiet lady writer, seen right, who also doesn’t say much and is just sort of there. Hats off to you, quiet lady writer.

GRIZZ CALLS LIZ BETH FOR THE FIRST TIME. Mid-series, it’s revealed that Liz and Grizz have a sordid past that we never see on-screen. The major hint about it is that he calls her Beth. This was exciting because I only recently found this out.

Tracy’s three biggest drinking holidays are Ludachristmas, New Years Eve, and Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

G.E. invented photo-scanners/paper-shredders, but it’s impossible to predict which you’ll do beforehand. Everyone gets one for Christmas and throws them out — even the little kids who cried tears of joy over wood the year before.

Best old-person complaint: Colleen on her hotel’s TV: “The TV had over 100 channels for godsake. I’m only going to be here three days.”

Character I related to most: For once, Jack. Everything about Jack. Well, except loving Reagan…

Best Jack insult: It’s only positive reinforcement when they say it to you. In my case they’re just stating the facts. I do look like the Arrow shirt man, I did lace up my skates professionally and I did do a fabulous job finishing my muffin.

Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: We see a flashback to his Wall Street days, i.e. when he worked in a video store that was selling the movie “Wall Street”:

Screenshot 2014-07-27 20.04.47

 

“Wall Street” came out twenty years before “30 Rock” takes place, and Kenneth has not aged at all…

This corporation has a very strict bros before hoes policy.

When I turned on my TV, my dad had left VH1 Classic on, and they were showing an old episode of SNL. The last sketch they showed is one of my G.O.A.T.:

(Did you know that Tina cast whatshisname as Aaron Samuels because she thought he looked like Jimmy Fallon? It’s harder to see now that Jimmy is older, but now when I see young Jimmy I only think of Aaron and his sexy hair.)

Today I read this article that Tina Fey wrote for the New Yorker way back in 2011. A lot of it was reworked in to “Bossy Pants” (maybe even the whole thing? I need to re-read “Bossy Pants,” clearly) but I still enjoyed reading it.

And I’d like to point to three things that are relevant to “30 Rock,” one of which is extremely pertinent to this episode.

1) Tina writes about discovering that 4 to 5 SNL male writers would pee into cups in their offices rather than get up and go to the bathroom. In  an episode of “30 Rock” this blog has yet to cover, Frank pees into cups and jars in his office.

2) Tina writes, To continue with this science of broad generalization, pissing in cups may show that men go into comedy to break rules. Conversely, the women I know in comedy are all dutiful daughters, good citizens, mild-mannered college graduates. Maybe we women gravitate toward comedy because it is a socially acceptable way to break rules.”

Now, I’m not broadly signing on to this statement — I think Abby and Ilana from “Broad City” are probably the perfect evidence against, but maybe they’re nothing like their fictional counterparts — but I think it informs the way we see Liz. It also resonated with me on a personal level.

3) Tina talks about how comedy writing staffs are a mix of Harvard guys and improv freaks. This is particularly pertinent to this episode because that’s our C plot!

Our plots:

A) Jenna is jealous that Liz always give in to Tracy’s craziness, so she starts acting like Tracy.

B) Jack and C.C. try to figure out what to do with their Elephant-Donkey romance.

C) Frank dresses up like a Harvard guy to annoy Toofer. Toofer dresses like Frank. Then it escalates too far for them to stop, even though they totally do. James Carville helps them figure it out.

Jenna gets an award for “Best Actress in a Movie Based on a Musical Based on a Movie” for her performance in “Mystic Pizza: The Musical: The Movie.” Tracy is sad because he never wins anything; even Shaq got a kids choice award for that animation movie they did:

So Liz tells him he won a Pacific Rim Emmy and sets up a fake satellite acceptance of his award.

And Jenna freaks out because she decides Liz never pays attention to her. She gets a gay entourage, comes and goes as she pleases, and acts like … well Jenna, but slightly more annoying.

Which Liz points out to her. Liz had been coddling her this whole time; she even made her that Best Actress award out of a cookie.

Liz: You’re so insecure you get jealous of babies for their soft skin.

Jenna: And for all the attention they get.

The conclusion of this plot is what really separates this show from other sitcoms. On another show, Jenna would thank Liz for all she does, and apologize for being such a baby. Instead, she hugs Liz and tells her that all she wanted was to hear that she annoys Liz just as much as Tracy does. What. Right when we veer into “Full House”-lesson territory, we take a sharp turn into craziness.

And the same thing happens in the B plot. C.C. and Jack fight because she’s willing to compromise for him, but he won’t budge. Finally, after some inspiration from James Carville, who won’t stop saying “Cajun Style,” he takes her to the NBC executive dining hall and introduces her to the crowd. This leads to some amazing Republican confessions:

I donated to NPR last year.

My children go to public school.

I’m gay.

I’m black.

I murdered my wife.

Again, this was almost a cheesy, perfect ending. Everyone learned a lesson about accepting each other! Until it totally goes off the rails.

James Carville also fixes the C plot, letting Toofer and Frank know that Josh has been doing something weird with his hair and they should distract people with that. Again, on another show, James Carville would have given normal advice about getting along and seeing past our differences. These endings are way more interesting and funnier. And realistically absurd.

The Josh plan works. James Carville >>> David Schwimmer.

Some photographic evidence of how great this plot was:

Screenshot 2014-07-22 22.12.20 Screenshot 2014-07-22 22.12.26

Anyway, next episode is Ludachristmas, which I’m really excited about. Then, I’m going on vacation with really bad WiFi, so we’ll resume on Sunday.

Bits & Pieces

Most iconic exchange:

Jack: We are lovers.

Liz: Ugh that word bums me out unless it’s between meat and pizza.

Best James Carville love advice: “True love can weather any storm. Even desert storm.”

Best Frank hat: See above.

Tracy’s kids are named Tracy Jr. and George Foreman. He also wanted to change his name to Wise Greasy Bastard. This is an amazing joke. Sometimes I’m just blown away by how densely packed with jokes each episode is.

Character I related to most: Liz when she slapped Kenneth because he sucked at Celebrity. #competitive

Kenneth’s favorite pizza topping is plain.

Jack sends my BFF Jonathan to an imaginary bakery in Queens to get him sfogliatelle. If you have never had one, you are missing out, and I’m sorry that you’re not Italian.

Things we know about Josh: His mom cut his hair once.

Jack listens to John Legend.

Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: His favorite pizza topping is plain.

I’m thirty-seven, please don’t make me go to Brooklyn.

I got into an argument with one of my best friends. Does Jack actually give good advice? I remarked that I was impressed that he has successfully mentored someone in the past, while he staunchly defended Jack. I’ve decided that I need to keep track of Jack’s advice each episode. Thankfully, he gives a lot of advice this episode! But I’m getting ahead of myself…

Our three plots:

1. Liz dates the coffee boy, Jamie, who is younger than her. Liz: “He is cute. He looks like Zac Efron. That’s a thing, right?” Jenna is jealous of her cougar status.

2. Tracy coaches a little league team in Knuckle Beach, a “bad neighborhood” which I have always assumed is a stand-in for Far Rockaway, and Jack tries to help.

3. Frank is gay for  Jamie. Just Jamie.

(Note: I keep spelling Jamie like Jaime Lannister. Jaime > Jamie. Sorry Jamie.)

So Jamie the coffee boy asks out Liz, who he thinks is 29. He says he’s 25. Not bad.

Except she’s 37 and he’s 20. I am older than Jamie. I am not OK with this.

But Jack convinces Liz to go with it, because it’s fun and she’s, in fact, a catch (I feel vindicated, I guess), and she needs to put herself out there. So she goes with it, and it works out pretty OK.

Until she meets his mom:

Screenshot 2014-07-21 23.06.45

Bye Jamie and your mid-2000s blond highlights.

Meanwhile, Jenna dates a “freshman at NYU” who is clearly no older than 14. He rides away on his Heelys. It’s great.

Meanwhile, Tracy’s little league team quickly gets out of hand. Only “30 Rock” could make little league baseball a metaphor for the war in Afghanistan.

Tracy tells Jack he can’t help the team because he doesn’t understand them. Jack responds:

I don’t have to understand their world in order to help them. It’s like this great country of ours. We can go into any nation, impose our values, and make things better. It’s what Bush is doing all over the globe.

And then we get visuals like this:

Screenshot 2014-07-21 22.56.28

The thing gets really heavy-handed, and that makes it funnier, honestly. He asks Tracy to make a coalition. He fixes the problem with a surge — Grizz and Dotcom join the team. I once read an article about how “Arrested Development” was really important to liberals during the Bush years because it helped them realize they weren’t that crazy and there were other liberals out there. “30 Rock” is for the post-Bush liberal, confused and excited, but also kind of dumb.

Plot three is also amazing. You may have realized that I love Frank a lot. and finally he got a plot all his own, where he does things like paint one-armed unicorn mermaids with bigfoot for Jamie.

Screenshot 2014-07-21 23.03.01

Liz: “You can’t be gay for one person. Unless you’re a lady and you meet Ellen.”

But Frank apparently really is gay for one person, announcing to his new friends at a gay bar, “You guys are great, a lot of fun to dance with, and you smell great,” but he’s just not into them.

As he leaves the bar, Muffintop blasts. Yessssss.

Back to the question at hand: Did Jack give good advice this episode? I’m blue, my friend is gray.

Screenshot 2014-07-22 00.11.24

Yooo actually everyone should listen to that song. Here’s a link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8twpQTna_9w

Now, our general conversation was about whether Jack is a good mentor. Technically he’s not Tracy’s official mentor, so should his missteps in that area count against him? Not sure.

Bits & Pieces

Bald writer/Kevin Miller appears!

sup.

sup.

Best Frank Hat: In an episode of greats, the winner is “Burrito.”

Jamie has never been in a cab with less than seven people. Same, dude.

Best Jack line: “Where did you two meet, an AMBER Alert?”

Jack sponsors a charity to give tuxedoes to homeless people. ***flawless

The ballpark at Knuckle Beach is Jefferson Davis Park. Best show.

Character I related to most: Liz when Jack accused her of not being fun, and her defense was that she goes on her roof sometimes.

A ranking of all of Liz’s love interests from best to worst: Floyd, Gray, Dennis, Jamie, Conan, Gretchen the lesbian, that guy Wayne Brady played

A note about the above rankings: I feel like I might switch Gray and Floyd. Hmmm. And I feel like I’m forgetting someone. Am I?

Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: HE SHOWS US THIS REALLY WEIRD DRAWING OF A MONSTER, THEN SAYS THAT’S FROM HIS DREAM JOURNAL. THEN TELLS US THAT ALL HIS DREAMS HAVE COME TRUE. TERRIFYING.

Stop eating people’s old french fries, pigeon. Have some self respect! Don’t you know you can fly?

The opening scenes of this episode flawlessly set us up for the plot to follow. Liz, Jack and Tracy all smell maple syrup. Jack’s afraid it might be Northrax, a chemical weapons we sold to Saudi Arabia that smells like maple syrup, but it kills you after ten seconds. Jack and Liz wait on the line for ten seconds before hanging up.

You should know that this is a real thing that has happened and that I have experienced. Jack posited it was coming from the factories in Staten Island, but it really came from Jersey. Staten Island probably would have been my top guess too, though.

Anyway, so many funny things happen that it’s really difficult to pick what to highlight. But here’s my best shot.

This was another heavy Jack episode. After attending a party thrown by “John McCain and Jack Bauer,” he meets and falls in love with a Democratic congresswoman, Celeste Cunningham (better known as C.C.), played by Edie Falco. C.C. is actively lobbying against NBC’s ownder, Sheinhardt Wig Company, which may or may not have dyed some kids orange. Oops

At first it almost doesn’t work out, since Jack orders a really girly drink, the Nancy Drew (he asserts it’s called a Hardy Boy when a man drinks it). It sounds like a summertime dark and stormy, though, so I kind of almost want one?

The Nancy Drew:

White Rum

Ginger ale (Jacks gets diet)

A splash of lime juice

Anyway it seems that political differences will ruin their relationship:

C.C.: I’m helping Hilary retool her universal healthcare plan.

Jack: God I want to kiss you on the mouth to stop you from saying such ridiculous things.

Until! C.C. reveals that she got into politics because a dog shot her in the face and she sued the gun company. And that Lifetime made a movie about it:

Subtitle: A dog took my face and gave me a better face to change the world. Bonus Kristen Wiig!

Subtitle: A dog took my face and gave me a better face to change the world.
Bonus Kristen Wiig!

Jack watches the movie and is moved by the plot, in which Celeste falls in love with the dog that shot her in the face, overcoming the odds for them to be together. He’s the dog, and he races to Celeste to declare his feelings and pursue and clandestine relationship. “We’ll ignore our differences until our sex goes bad and then we’ll walk away bitter and angry.”

Meanwhile, Liz thinks her neighbor, Raheem, played by Fred Armisen, is a terrorist because he’s mean to her, won’t shake her hand, filmed a weird video in the park, and has a lot of maps. Pete points out that she has a map, and she responds, “That’s different, that’s an antique and I’m a white lady.” Awkward.

But Liz’s terrified racism is sort of understandable given the episode’s cold open (the biological warfare that almost was) and the fact that New York is covered in signs that say, “IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING,” “IF YOU SUSPECT ANYTHING, DO EVERYTHING,” and, “WE DON’T POISON THE WORLD. TERRORISTS DO. -SHEINHARDT WIG COMPANY.” I mean, obviously Liz is wrong for calling the NSA on her neighbor, and she doesn’t have the best track record for not being racist, but in post-9/11 New York, people do dumb, dumb things.

Kenneth’s plot involves him trying to get enough money to replace the pants he lost, Jack’s $2,500 pants. The writers make him eat expired ketchup and scare Lutz. It’s funny.

Oh one more thing! Mid-episode Jack and Liz raves about Verizon phones. Liz then looks at the camera and asks, “Can we have our money now?” Another hilarious product-placement meta-moment of awesome.

Bits & Pieces

So starting from last episode, we’re seeing the episodes aired during the Writers’ Guild of America strike of 2007-2008. In this episode, the new crawl on MSNBC made some good jokes at the strike’s expense. It read: “Mysterious visitor from future wins lottery again. Wolf blitzer injured in wolf blitz. News crawl affected by writers strike – using repeat text from previous season.”

Most Jack thing Jack says: There were a lot of good candidates this episode, but I’m picking, “Your hair is your head suit.”

When Grizz and Dotcom bring Tracy a selection of pants, they bring him a pair of Sean John jeans. Do those still exist?

Jack plays “What The World Needs Now Is Love” on a piano at the party while singing and this attracts C.C.? It’s weird.

Tracy has some amazing ideas for pick-up lines:

Tell her that you want her privates and your privates to do a high five.

Tell her you want her to donate her body to science and you science.

And this amazing monologue about forbidden love:

Oh, I get it. Romeo and Juliet? Capulets and Romulans? Mmm hmm, I’ve been there. I’m black, she’s white. I’m black, she’s light-skinned black. I’m black, she’s seventeen.

A ranking of Jack’s love interests from best to worst: C.C., Condaleeza Rice, Bianca, Maureen Dowd, Phoebe. Phoebe is always last.

Best Frank hat: Karate Prom

Tracy lives in Jersey? What? Why? What?

Jack uses a photo of Ronald Reagan as a reference photo for his haircut.

Character I related to most: Maybe Pete yelling at Liz to stop being racist?

Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: He ate a whole bottle of expired ketchup and suffered no adverse health effects.

Are you saying actors can’t change the world? Tell that to Sharon Stone.

The only thing i remembered about this episode was that it’s the one with David Schwimmer.

Screenshot 2014-07-19 21.49.29

He plays Jared, cast by Jack as Greenzo, the face of G.E.’s environmental campaign.  He’s “America’s first nonjudgemental, business-friendly environmental advocate” who  says things like, “The Market will solve global warming, if it even exists.”

Greenzo gets carried away and goes insane, saying things like, “When I die they’ll want to put my face on money, if there were money in the future instead of just hugs.” I’m impressed by his proper use of the subjunctive though.

This plot was funny, but I couldn’t help but thing how much funnier it’d have been if it was David Schwimmer as himself, instead of as a random loser. Like, they actually would have had to change one sentence to make it about Schwimmer, so my theory is they wrote it that way, and then Schwimmer didn’t want to make fun of himself. Either way, it was a missed opportunity.

The whole plot ends with Al Gore appearing to potentially replace Greenzo. He reveals that he met Jack when Jack interned for Ted Kennedy in his liberal days(!). Jack quickly shuts him up, but oh man, if I were Liz, I’d never let that go. Ever.

Anyway, Al Gore doesn’t do it because he has to go save a whale that’s in trouble. Bummer. He does get a great meta-monologue about how NBC should really affect change by having characters on their shows talk about the true importance of battling global warming. It was smart and funny.

Also, Greenzo’s logo looks super similar to Georgetown’s sustainability logo, and it sort of freaks me out.

Meanwhile, Kenneth is having a party and Tracy spreads rumors about it so people will go. This plot gives us this iconic gif:

The party is a shitshow and Jack has a meeting about it the next day, revealing some of the crazy things that happened:

  • Pete forgot his wife, Paula, at Kenneth’s
  • Tracy stole a sink
  • A Harlem Globe Trotter disgraced the Harlem Globe Trotter name
  • Liz made Grizz and Dotcom cried. Unclear how, though we do see her trying to kiss Grizz
  • Someone wrote “Tool” on Jonathan’s head :(
  • Everyone threw up everywhere, basically

The bizarreness of the party makes it amazing.

Bits & Pieces

Things we know about Josh: loves Fall Out Boy

Jack’s devious business face needs a moment of admiration.

Screenshot 2014-07-19 21.53.10

In a flashback to Kenneth’s Halloween Party, at which Liz was the only guest, Kenneth plays “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah.”

Jenna’s lipstick is called “Tiger Orgasm.”

Best Tracy line:

Liz: People are going to show up expecting all this great stuff and they’re going to be disappointed and angry.

Tracy: Just like colonial Williamsburg

Character I related to most: Probably Greenzo getting incredibly carried away with something.

Hints Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: None, though maybe he did something insane at the party. We can only hope.

Wait! Maybe he roofied everyone and that’s why everyone went crazy. It’s fact now.

“Come on Liz, it’s the 90s.”

Today’s the first day I almost forgot that I had to do this, and then suddenly I remembered. That seems appropriate, because I had basically forgotten this episode existed, until I rewatched it for the first time about two months ago. I’m sorry I forgot you, episode, because this was funny.

1. Liz hires her comedy-writing hero Rosemary Howard (Carrie Fischer/Princess Leia) to work on the show. Rosemary is a hot mess and they both get fired.

2. Jenna burns Kenneth’s page jacket and tries to get him a new one from the creepy head page.

3. Jack tries to help Tracy resolve his daddy issues.

All three plots are really funny!

Liz meets Rosemary at a book-signing where she babbles and babbles and babbles. Rosemary replies, “You’re going to kill me, aren’t you?” I may have basically lived this in real life when I met Colum McCann at the beginning of May and rambled for like three minutes before running away. Not my best moment. Go read his books, though.

Anyway, this plot is great because it shows what Liz doesn’t want to be — lonely and old and insane. Visually this story is told really well since Rosemary and Liz both wear brown while Rosemary tries to convince Liz they’re the same.

Screenshot 2014-07-18 23.42.53

And then this happened:

Meanwhile, the page plot ends in a page-off, advertised on a sign as a “Page Dogfight.” But Pete shows up and breaks it up because “This is a billion dollar company” and shit like this is not supposed to be going down. Of course, this isn’t even the third craziest thing to happen at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, but it’s good to know they have limits.

And Tracy’s plot ends with Jack role-playing as all his family members. It’s super weird and completely hilarious.

Bits & Pieces:

Line of the episode: After Liz tells Jack how crazy Rosemary’s apartment was, he says, “Never follow a hippie to a second location.”

Tracy wants to dog fight, so Grizz and Dotcom get him tiny dogs to fight with.

Rosemary Howard’s apartment is in “Little Chechnya.” This reminded me of Mindy’s apartment hunting on “The Mindy Project” when she looks at an apartment in Little Chernobyl.

When Tracy meets the NBC therapist, he asks who’s crazier, “me or Ann Curry?”

Character I related to most: Liz. Not just when she was fangirling, but also when she said, “I have to make money and save it. And I have to do that thing that rich people do where they turn money into more money.” #financialilliteracy

After the season opener mention repeatedly that Jack can’t drink, he’s been drinking a lot.

Jack’s father, “belongs in the Smiling Irish Bastard Hall of Fame.”

Best 2007 reference: When Jenna says, “If I can’t be Mo’nique fat I have to be Terry Hatcher thin.”

Bald writer was in the writers’ room when Liz got her G.E. Followship Award. For excellence in following.

Jack pretends to fire Jonathan. It is sad.

Best Carrie Fischer exchange:

Liz: I grew up wanting to be you.

Rosemary: I grew up wanting to be Samantha Stevens on “Bewitched.” The closest I got was being married to a gay guy for two years.”

Best Dotcom line: “Man this is Phil Spector’s entourage all over again.”

Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: Had he fought the head page in a page-off, there may have been some. Alas, we’re left empty handed.

We never had any cookie jars in my home because my mother never baked us any cookies cause she never felt we deserved any cookies so obviously it has nothing to do with my childhood.

What a bad day. I don’t even mean personally – the world is apparently just going to hell. And Elaine Stritch died.

Screenshot 2014-07-14 19.48.34.jpg

I really wanted this to be a Colleen Donaghy episode; sadly, she wasn’t there, though she was mentioned (see above).

What a rich, vivid life, though. When people die, I always want to immerse myself in their work, and then I feel bad about it, because shouldn’t I have appreciated it when they were alive? I think this is a silly thought, but I still have it every time. So I’ll report back after I watch the documentary about her on Netflix.

But on “30 Rock,” she really is hilarious. “30 Rock” worked because of this large ensemble it could pull on, from Grizz and Dotcom to Dr. Spaceman, from Frank to Colleen. And then there were the famous people who showed up for very short arcs.

But Colleen added so much to my understanding of Jack. Throughout the course of the series, he’s constantly learning things about his mother he never knew. Some of those things are gross, some are sentimental. The third season Christmas special “Christmas Special” is probably my favorite sentimental moment, but we’ll get there in ~1 month.

Jack and Colleen perfectly (and hilariously) explore the complicated relationship that most people have with their parents. Colleen says in her first appearance, the season one finale, that she loves Jack, and Jack admits he loves her back, but that doesn’t fix things between them. It’s a very mature and reasonable portrait of familial love, even if it becomes ridiculous at times. In Colum McCann’s amazing novel “Let The Great World Spin” (coincidentally also about Irish people in New York) a character visits her dying aunt and thinks, “The person we know at first … is not the person we know at last.” And I think that’s true of basically all relationships, but especially of parent-child ones. And Jack and Colleen beautifully illustrate that.

Thanks Elaine for being an integral part of one of my favorite things.

——

So this episode!

1) Jack has Steve Buscemi (in his first appearance as Jack’s super weird P.I.) investigate himself so he can see if there’s anything that will keep him from getting promoted. There is: His massive collection of cookie jars

Screenshot 2014-07-17 19.08.06

2) Jenna is accidentally losing weight. Kenneth tries to help her put it back on.

3) Angie tails Tracy all day to make sure he’s faithful to her. She and Liz butt heads.

First, you’ll notice that there is no real “Liz” plot this episode. Lately, Liz had becoming more secondary — more the glue that holds the episode (and characters) together than the driver of the action. The crazy people around her do things, and she responds.

Jack’s plot is great. As I’ve mentioned, I love when Jack’s veneer cracks and he goes totally crazy. There’s also a sort-of poignant moment when Steve Buscemi shows him a photo with Giuliani with a wooden doll collection, a collection he had to get rid of to be mayor of New York, and Jack wistfully responds, “He looks so happy.”

The first time I watched, I think I only saw Jack’s plot as him trying to be the head of G.E., but this time I’m struck by how constant Jack’s struggle to be happy appears, even in small moments like this.

I really liked that Kenneth ended up with the cookie jars, since he eventually becomes an executive too, and Jack got rid of them because they were a barrier on his path to power.

The P.I. plot also lampoons typical P.I. cliches. When they meet at a private location, it’s not for secrecy: It’s because Buscemi’s gym is nearby. He smokes a cigar — one that Jack dropped on the ground.

Tracy’s plot is also funny. Sherrie Shepherd is very funny as Angie. At one point, she’s angry at Liz for casting Tracy as black stereotypes. When she counters that they support Kucinich, I literally had to Google it to find out what she meant.

And the answer was hilarious and informative! He was this super-liberal Congressman from Ohio who ran for president twice. He was the only Democrat in 2008 who voted against Iraq! And he wanted all these crazy liberal things like single-payer healthcare, abolishment of the death penalty, a repeal of the Patriot Act, legalized gay marriage, ending the War on Drugs, and lowering the voting age to 16! He also was sort of economically isolationist, so that’s weird. Still. I literally knew nothing about this person. Thank you “30 Rock.” Thank you Angie Jordan.

Also when Liz fails in her Tracy-watching duty, Angie says, “I trusted you. You wear glasses.” Truth.

Jenna’s plot though? Ehh. I’m really excited for her to lose the weight.

I mean, some of the jokes are funny! Jenna’s commercial for the best-selling perfume for plus size women, Enormé? Funny!

Screenshot 2014-07-17 18.57.47

Maybe the problem is that Jenna’s fat suit is just awful? And I get that they still wanted her to wear tank tops and stuff, and facial prosthetics would look weird, but she’s still so thin everywhere else.

Add that to the fact that one of the episode’s main plots involves a fat woman, Angie Jordan, being seen as sexually desirable, and Jack’s comments about Jenna being unattractive when she’s fat are even weirder. And I know that Jack is supposed to have messed up standards of beauty, but it’s not like a muffintop (HA!) makes her substantially less hot. Maybe that’s the joke? Everyone overreacting to Jenna’s small weight gain?

I’m confused!

Bits & Pieces

We haven’t seen Josh once all season. The writers in general have been much less present. I miss you guys.

This episode was chock full of funny lines:

Angie: Tracy’s like a horny child. He needs constant adult supervision.

Steve Buscemi: You’re like Kerry with his windsurfing. I warned him too.

Jack: Every time I meet a new person I figure out how to fight them.

Jenna, on giving up on David Blaine: He drove a wedge between us with his magic!

Tracy: Do i have to fix this situation? I am the immature one, but the two of you, you’re making me act like an adult. An adult!

Kenneth, after presumably having sex with Jenna: It turns out she’s the wrong kind of crazy. And I guess we have to get married now.

But the best exchange?

Kenneth repeatedly mentions his mom’s “friend” Ron. #foreshadowing

Angie figures out that Tracy went to a strip club because she smells like Enormé and brass polish. I appreciate the in-episode reference.

Liz describes Jack’s spirit animal as “an eagle with the head of a bear.” I mostly agree.

Jenna almost plays Ms. Pacman in a live-action Atari movie. If only “30 Rock” had made a trailer for that.

Tracy always goes to strip clubs, but do people actually enjoy going to strip clubs? This is a real question.

Character I related to most: Hmmmmm. Maybe Jack re: his secret love of nerdy, weird things.

Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: None. Disappointed again.

Did you know, scientifically speaking, that humans want food but don’t need it?

Alright, let’s just talk about the greatest thing to come out of this episode:

In the episode, we only hear the chorus, but it is a great song and I make all my friends listen to it on Halloween.

Who’s the second voice in that song? Donald Glover, who was a writer on “30 Rock” at this point. His parts really just elevate the whole thing, his sort of “Tracy, what are you doing why does this song exist” thing.

So. Good.

This episode gave everyone a lot to do.

1. Jack finds out Devon is engaged to Kathy Geiss (who doesn’t do interesting this episode but I am SO EXCITED) and fights him for Don Geiss’ favor.

2. Jenna deals with her weight gain. Dr. Spaceman is heavily involved.

3. Tracy continues his fight with Angie. Kenneth tries to save his marriage.

4. Liz tries to put her life together and to deal with the Jenna thing.

This episode was particularly notable for the number of references it had to things from season one. All the ones I caught:

  • Devon claims he isn’t gay anymore because he joined the Church of Practicology. Tracy tried to join that church in “The Fighting Irish.”
  • When Jack is talking about secrets people at G.E. have: “Alan Garkel in legal? I don’t think he really needs his wheelchair.” Alan Garkel is the black guy in a wheelchair who gets the job Floyd was gunning for, which inspires him to move back to Cleveland.
  • When Tracy wants to talk to Kenneth, he tells him, “I’ve got something on my mind grapes.”  Jack coined the term “mind grapes” in episode 7 while trying to come up with a speech about Don Geiss. Tracy uses it in that episode as well.
  • When Liz tries to assemble her Ikea office furniture — named blërg — the song from the pilot plays. This is amazing.

So that was pretty cool.

 

Anyway, Devon tries to use Jack’s heart attack against him. He tells him, “I’m gonna make your heart explode,” and I was struck by how, in another context, that could be sort of romantic? Jack tries to use Devon’s homosexuality against him. This includes having someone named Winthrop tackle Devon shirtless:

Screenshot 2014-07-16 23.39.46

You might have noticed that Winthrop is Luke Cafferty from “Friday Night Lights!” I freaked out when I realized this. If you’ve never watched “Friday Night Lights” you should do that right now. Wow. What are you doing with your life.

Don Geiss is in this episode too, which always strikes me as odd because I think I thought that we never saw Don Geiss and he was this sort of ethereal being that was only mentioned and never seen. This is false, obviously. I have no idea why I thought this. Anyway, Don tells Jack he’s on his list and Jack is pleased, even though he still can’t eat red meat.

Meanwhile, the Jenna plot was weird. A lot of funny things happened, like Dr. Spaceman suggesting “crazy surgical options” and meth as weight loss tools:

Meth puns are always funny.

Meth puns are always funny.

Liz is trying to get Jenna to embrace her fatness and not make it the joke, but it doesn’t work out so well. “Me want food” becomes Jenna’s catchphrase and finally gets her noticed. Liz is insightful as always: “You just can’t be a real woman in this country. It’s like those Dove commercials never happened.” I snorted.

Anyway, Jack encouraged Jenna to do this to begin with, and Liz asks him, “How come men can be heavy and respected like James Gandolfini or Fat Albert?” OR ALEC BALDWIN. I mean, Alec is sort of heavy and gets to play this rich sex god, and I feel like this plot, or at least this moment, could have let them be a little self-aware about that, but they missed it.

Overall, I didn’t know what the point of this storyline was. On the one hand Liz, the voice of reason, is mocked for being idealistic, but on the other Jenna doesn’t come out looking so great either. I suppose they’re not championing anything and just exploring a funny situation, but I’m still sort of uncomfortable and don’t know why.

The best part of Tracy’s storyline is when Kenneth tries to seduce Angie and says, “I like your top. I’m a real good sex person. I do it all the different ways.” And he’s visibly shaking as she walks away. Poor Kenneth.

Bits & Pieces

Don Geiss technically died twice.

Kenneth eats grilled cheese with mayo at Tracy’s house. I want to try this now? Will report back.

As the above video shows, Tracy has a key to the city of Gary, Indiana. Another of my favorite NBC sitcom character has a key to an Indiana city.

Best Tracy one-liner: Angie is in the past, like Dracula and broadcast television.

Character I related to most: Liz, during the entire episode. At work she’s great, but in her personal life she’s messy, unorganized, plans stuff that she never gets around to, single… Wooooo.

Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: None.

“Life is a pizza with everything on top.” - Mystic Pizza, the musical

Welcome to season two.

Before I get started, I want to talk about this interview I listened to today with former “30 Rock” and current “Mindy Project” writer Tracy Wigfield. Tracy first entered my field of knowledge when she won an Emmy with Tina for writing the last episode of “30 Rock.” I definitely didn’t cry when that happened…

Anyway, the podcast is called “Act Three” and the guy, Chris Dwyer, interviews comedy writers. I originally downloaded this episode way back in December when it came out, and then kept putting off listening to it. I have listened to no other episodes (yet), so I can’t exactly recommend it, but as someone who wants to be a comedy writer, it was informative and interesting.

Oh, and as a “30 Rock” fanatic. Tracy was originally a writers’ assistant until she got hired as a staff writer right before season four. And then when that show ended, Mindy hired her. Even if she didn’t work for two of the famous women I admire most, I’d be jealous of her.

Anyway, in addition to sharing a few cute stories about the “30 Rock” writers’ room — mostly about everyone being nice and Tina and Robert being completely amazing — Tracy ends up talking about sitcom season arcs. She paraphrases something she heard Julian Fellowes (“Downton Abbey”) say — if the season ends exactly as you thought it would, you probably screwed up. So while, as Tracy says, Tina might know that she wants Liz to be working but married with kids or for Jack to be mayor of New York, that changes and grows, and their conversations are mostly focused on what issues that character will be dealing with all season long.

First, what? Did Tina want Jack to become mayor of New York at some point? Woah. This would have been hilarious. But I can also see why that wasn’t the show’s ending: Jack’s story isn’t about his career growth. It’s about him figuring out what makes him happy. Jack as the mayor of New York for an episode might have been funny, but that’s also not the sort of plot you can have for just an episode.

Tracy also talks about how season one of “30 Rock” involved them figuring things out a lot, similar to the experience she had on the freshman year of “Mindy.”

So, with season arcs in mind, and inspired by Tracy’s story to follow my own dreams, I begin season two of “30 Rock.”

—-

The season’s arc is apparent. Jack and Liz are both convinced that this is their year. Jack had a great summer, coming up with such great shows as “America’s Next Top Pirate,” “Are You Strong Than a Dog,” and, of course, “MILF Island.” Liz’s summer was less perfect — she broke up with Floyd — but she did read two books! So there’s that.

But things fall off really quickly from there. Jack’s newest idea, SeinfeldVision, in which he digitally inserts Jerry Seinfeld into NBC shows seems to be going well…

During an interrogation on "Law & Order SVU"

During an interrogation on “Law & Order SVU”

"Heroes." 2007 was a simpler time.

“Heroes.” 2007 was a simpler time.

I used to watch "Deal or No Deal" all. the. time.

I used to watch “Deal or No Deal” all. the. time.

Screenshot 2014-07-15 20.23.29

Until Seinfeld finds out, and he’s not happy. Maybe if he could be on “Lost”…

So Jack jumps off the deep end trying to find solutions, which basically all include killing Seinfeld and then committing suicide. Idea number 71 is making up a hurricane to pre-empt all the regularly scheduled programming. We find him balled up on the floor watching “Bee Movie,” which stars — you guessed it — Jerry Seinfeld.

On a completely different note, “Bee Movie” is probably the weirdest movie ever and includes multiple instances of Bees suing in the court of law and a Bee-Human romance. So.

Anyway, Jack manages to trade some TODAY Show promotion of “Bee Movie” — which will include Al Roker in a bee costume — for one night of Seinfeld vision. The crisis may be averted, but it seems obvious that this really might not be Jack’s year.

Meanwhile, Cerie asked Liz to be a bridesmaid and Liz ends up buying a wedding dress because it’s on sale and “I will marry myself” and and and. She ends up crying to Jerry Seinfeld in a Seinfeld-voice and it’s very funny.

Jack gets her out of her funk momentarily, but if this is setting up the season arc, things aren’t going to go too well this year. They should probz just listen to The Mountain Goats and try to power through:

Bits & Pieces

Season 2 gave us two great upgrades. Jack got a new office — the office we know and love — but he also got a new spot in the opening spot. Before he just sort of smiled and was boring:

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Now, he turns around quickly with this sort of crazed look on his face:

Screenshot 2014-07-15 19.51.14

It’s super hot, basically. He can get it.

Is there anything better than the way Jenna says “Broadway?”

No.

I didn’t talk about Tracy or Jenna even though they both had plots. Angie kicked Tracy out and Kenneth becomes his work husband while Jenna gained some weight while working on “Mystic Pizza, The Musical,” this summer. The best line to come from either plot:

Jack: She needs to gain 30 pounds or lose 60. Anything else has no place on television.

Liz is the something old in Cerie’s wedding.

Best “Pride and Prejudice” (2005) reference:

Screenshot 2014-07-15 20.06.31

 

Character I related to most: Kenneth, when he met Seinfeld and could only make weird noises at him.

Seinfeld’s love advice: No, it’s not over till you pick up the phone, you say, ”l don’t love you anymore.” They say, ”l don’t love you anymore, either.” You go, ”Great. l’ll pick you up in 20. Let’s grab a scone.”

Jonathan’s description of angry Seinfeld to Jack: “He looks the way you did when I tried to hold your hand on the jet.”

Best Cerie one-liner:

Liz: This veil costs more than my couch!

Cerie: Is that comedy or do you really have a $300 couch?

After seeing Jack and Liz cry, Jerry exclaims, “What is wrong with you people? What has happened to this network?” No one knows.

Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: None. Disappointed, really.

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