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.

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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:

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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:

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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.

“Work is the only thing I’m good at, Lemon. You and I have that in common.”

Here we are, at the end of season one. What a great 21 episodes it was.

Last episode left us with a cliff-hanger, so this week gave us with what I think is the only “Previously on ’30 Rock’” in the history of the show. Of course, it doesn’t play this straight either: first they show a random scene before the real highlights, and Kenneth asks at the end of the montage, “Where was Kenneth? Let’s find out!”

Instead of jumping right into the plot, we get two scenes intercut with each other. Jack is visiting Dr. Spaceman, who mostly just gives him sex advice, while Liz visits her doctor, played by Rachel Dratch, who I had feared had left us forever. Thankfully not so.

Dr. Rachel: Still not eating right, huh?

Liz: No but I am eating a lot.

Anyway, Liz breaks down because Jack is mad at her and her boyf is in Cleveland and “it’s the season finale of my show this week and the star is missing and may have been abducted by a cabal of black celebrities.” That’s a lot to handle.

Jack also reveals that his mom is coming to New York for Bianca’s wedding, which gives us:

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Honestly, I could write 138 posts about how amazing Colleen is. Elaine Stritch won an Emmy for her performance in this very episode. And she’s 89. And 89 times better than you.

Colleen, queen of my heart, immediately likes Liz and can’t stand Phoebe — like any sane person — especially after British bird bones calls her “Mother Donaghy.” JUST LEAVE ALREADY.

Eventually, the stress of his mother, his crazy fiance, and Tracy’s disappearance are too much for him, and Jack has a heart attack. The phone call from the hospital breaks up Liz’s pathetic video chat with Floyd because Liz is Jack’s emergency contact!

The first time I watched this, I was probably like, “OK, whatever,” but now I’m like, “SHE’S HIS CONTACT THEY’RE BEST FRIENDS AH WOW.” There were a lot of <3′s in my notes.

And that’s the power of these characters and this storyline for me. Jack and Liz’s friendship is the heart of this show.

But that wasn’t necessarily as clear way back in 2007. Jack tells Liz, “Work is the only thing I’m good at, Lemon. You and I have that in common.” And in 2007, it’s true. Liz sucks at being a friend (see: the “Rural Juror” fight). Jack sucks at being a boyfriend (see: his relationship with Condaleeza Rice and his failed marriage). Jack can invent the popcorn button on the microwave, but he doesn’t know what it means to be happy.

His life flashed before his eyes and, in an exact reversal of every other hospital bed scene ever, he says, “I should have worked more.” It’s a funny moment, but it’s also intensely sad. I’ve talked a couple times about how great it is when “30 Rock” knocks Jack down from his pedestal, and in this scene his misery is cast in vivid color.

Eventually, Colleen realizes Jack’s heart races when he’s lying and his hospital heart monitor becomes a lie detector. And when he admits he loves his mother, he’s telling the truth! This moment is definitely more powerful seven seasons later, but it’s still cute in context.

And thankfully he doesn’t love Phoebe. Bye bye, boring British bird bone lady.

And when Liz asks Jack how he liked the show, he tells the truth again: “I no longer think you’re doing a terrible job and I’m very proud of you.” I literally wrote “<33333.”

Meanwhile, Tracy’s subplot focuses less on the Black Crusaders of America (sadly) and more on his burgeoning friendship with Kenneth, who has hid him with his cousin in a small Pennsylvania town with no dancing or liquor and a lot of wolves.

When Tracy decides to go back to New York — he’d rather die famous than live to 100 unknown — Kenneth’s cousin ties him up and threatens him with some scary stuff:

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Kenneth, assisted by Grizz and Dotcom, saves Tray, only to get stuck in traffic in Manhattan. They try to convince an ambulance to help them, but they’ll only turn the lights on if someone is seriously injured.

So Kenneth throws himself down a flight of stairs.

Tracy tells Liz to recommend Kenneth for the NBC Medal of Excellence, which does not exist. But it should. I would give it to Questlove.

And that’s season one. Watch out this week for a season one recap video, where I’ll summarize and extrapolate and maybe be funny.

Bits & Pieces

Colleen had “the only marriage in the history of St. Helen’s Church where the priest recommended the divorce.” But given how awful Jack’s dad is, can anyone blame her?

Best Frank hat: Force Field

Best description of Phoebe: When Liz calls her a white geisha

Best dialogue exchange:

Josh: Can I play Barack Obama?

Liz: No, it’s bad enough that Tracy plays Barack Obama

Things we know about Josh: Wants to play Barack Obama in a sketch. Want to do a Robocop walk on the show.

Star Wars references: Liz – “Is that how far apart my eyes are? I look like Admiral Akbar.”

When his hick cousin shoots at his car, Kenneth also shouts, “By the Hammer of Thor!”

When Jack’s life flashes before his eyes, one of the moments he remembers most clearly is when he participated in Hands Across America. No one else makes jokes like that. Bow down to Tina. And Robert Carlock. Mostly Tina.

Favorite Spaceman line: “He might have scurvy because he keeps asking for Lemon.” Awwwwww

Favorite Colleen line: When Liz goes to visit Jack – “Tell him his mother’s here and she loves him. But not in a queer way.”

Character I related to most: Liz when she avoids Floyd’s calls because she knows they have to break-up, but she doesn’t want to have the conversation

I’ll miss you Floyd.

Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: He asks Tracy to take care of his birds if he doesn’t make it. Not proof that he’s immortal, but the birds will return in creepy, creepy ways.

It took a lot of self-control to not watch the next episode, since this one left us with a cliffhanger.

But before we get to that let’s talk about this completely amazing episode. Our three plots:

1. Liz visits Cleveland with Floyd and considers moving there.

2. Liz tries to figure out what Phoebe wants from Jack.

3. Tracy runs from the Black Crusaders.

Good timing to watch this episode after the big Cleveland news this weekend. Liz’s Cleveland adventure mentions the Indians, but the Cavaliers have no headline position, which is weird, since Lebron was there and, ya know, amazing.

But first, Tracy. Bill Cosby is quoted in an article as hating Tracy Jordan and suddenly Tracy’s plans for his career comeback are gone. He blames the Black Crusaders. Liz thinks this is a joke, but Lester Holt literally warns Tracy that they’re coming for him in the middle of an episode of the “TODAY Show.” And Jack is terrified of their power. This will play out next episode.

So, Floyd and Liz on vacation to Cleveland because New York is awful. How wonderful is Cleveland?

Even Jack admits that it’s a rocking place, saying, “We’d all like to flee to the Cleve and club-hop down at the Flats and have lunch with Little Richard, but we fight those urges because we have responsibilities.” Valid.

So Floyd suggests that they live together in Cleveland. My friend, who I watched with, pointed out that this is sort of crazy person behavior. I don’t disagree, but I think by the end of the episode he realizes it. Which is why he’s not surprised when Liz doesn’t want to join him. And thus the Floyd-arc wraps up. I’ll miss you, you handsome, wonderful man.

Liz almost wishes she could be like Jack and do something crazy, like get married to someone she doesn’t know.

But then she remembers that the Jack and Phoebe thing is crazy. For example:

Phoebe: l care about Jack. l make him a better man. You know how John Lennon was better than the rest of the Beatles but didn’t realize it until he met Yoko Ono? Well, l’m Jack’s Yoko.

Liz: You want to be Yoko?

In her attempts to find some evidence of Phoebe’s untrustworthiness/craziness/weirdness she makes friends with Jonathan, the pair finally united by a common cause, instead of hating each other, like basically every other episode. Imagine what a powerhouse they’d be if they’d always combined their forces though. Jack’s life would definitely better.

Anyway, I immediately hate Phoebe because Emily Mortimer of on “The Newsroom” and that show is such a massive disappointment.

Boooooooooo

Anyway, Phoebe’s the worst. When she doesn’t get a Looney Tunes reference, she explains that “both my parents were poets.” Ewwwwww.

Also she doesn’t laugh at this amazing Liz line. Bianca suggests she buy some sexy lingerie and Liz says:

If I was gonna spend $600 to have my boobs pinched I’d have gone to that fundraiser at the Clinton’s home.

Come on.

So Jack pushes Liz to tell him what she really thinks and she finally admits it: Phoebe is weird and probably using him and obviously completely wrong for him.

It was an interesting moment because lately I’ve been sort of obsessed with re-runs of “Who’s The Boss,” this really amazing 80s sitcom where Tony Danza is a house cleaner for this strong, powerful working woman. In an episode I watched yesterday, his boss, Angela, is about to accept a proposal from this guy who’s completely wrong for her, and he convinces her not to.

That move has tons of subtext. Tony loves Angela, and their flirtation is at the core of the show. His protestation that the engagement is wrong has just as much to do with his love for her as it does with the mismatch.

So when I watched Liz tell Jack that Phoebe was wrong for him, I couldn’t help but think of that scene because this one wasn’t full of subtext. It was friend to friend.

Until Jack says that Phoebe told him Liz was obsessed with him and her protestations are the last proof he needed. Oh no. Jack apparently isn’t assured of the platonic nature of their friendship yet.

And then the episode ends. One more episode of season one left!

Bits & Pieces

Tracy’s “Jefferson” movie would have included multiple claymation sex scenes. What a tragedy that we never saw this film.

Tracy plans on recording a Michael McDonald cover album, giving us our first M McD reference. This is not our last. I literally wouldn’t know who that is without “30 Rock.”

There’s this recurring joke where Phoebe keeps asking Liz if she remembers them meeting. It’s really weird and thus funny.

Phoebe’s not the last person to express their desire to be someone’s Yoko…

Favorite1 Jack line: “Who told Tracy about anagrams?”

Best Tracy line: I’m gonna have so much money my grandkids are gonna play lacrosse. Lacrosse, Liz Lemon!

Number of times Liz says, “By the hammer of Thor!” instead of a slur: 2

How much I want to incorporate “By the hammer of Thor” into my daily vernacular, on a scale of 1-10: 8

Best potential “TGS” sketch: Hot babies

Best gag: Floyd is sick of the rat race: the literal rat race outside his apartment’s door. Old men bet on rats who race each other. Chill.

Jack plans on getting married the same day as Bianca. I’m not sure if I’m happy or sad that later seasons will give up his resentment toward his ex.

Character I related to most: Liz, because of her love-hate relationship with New York

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

1. Please not the difference between best and favorite.

What a great episode.

I saw that a lot in these posts — season one is so good — but this is probably my favorite episode so far, by far. The plot:

1) Don Geiss takes microwaves from Jack because of the fireworks disaster. Don tells Jack he should get himself a wife. Jack spirals.

2) Liz is dating Floyd. Jack becomes obsessed with the Floydster and inserts himself into their relationship.

3) Tracy tries to get Don Geiss to pick up his movie, “Jefferson,” in which he plays all the main characters, including Sally Hemmings. Don originally thinks he’s pitching a movie version of “The Jeffersons,” which he is super into.

Tracy ends up filming a trailer for “Jefferson,” and it is amazing.

  1. Grizz and Dotcom are slaves, digging in the park, and Dotcom still has his bluetooth in
  2. Tracy wears white face, but not on his hands.
  3. Kenneth puts his page buttons on his costume.
  4. Tracy gets a real horse.
  5. Tracy, as Thomas Jefferson, dedicates the American Revolution to Don Geiss.
  6. When Sally Hemmings tells TJ she’s pregnant and asks for her freedom/a wedding ring, he replies, “I’ll have to get back to you on that.”

Sadly, there is no version of this on YouTube. This is crazy upsetting because it is so funny. I urge you to watch the episode and relive this.

Here’s a gif to tide you over:

Another great moment in this plot comes when Tracy asks Liz if he can use the crew for his trailer and she shuts him down. Tracy yells, “LIZ LEMON YOU ARE MY ALEXANDER HAMILTON.” Liz, who has frequently not gotten historical references — like all the ones Jack made to the Hapsburgs — doesn’t understand this one either, which is sad because it is AN AMAZING REFERENCE. TJ and Hamilton fought constantly, mostly about the direction the country was headed. TJ wanted a nation of small farmers, while Alex wanted cities and trade to control the economy. Wonder who won.

Unrelated: You should watch this rap about Alexander Hamilton, who, as one of my professors succinctly said, was a bastard, literally and figuratively.

Tracy decides to stick it out on his own, financing the movie himself.

Moving on!

Don Geiss, in all his creepiness returns to take microwave ovens away from Jack. It’s really sad; he apologizes to the picture of the trivection oven on his wall for letting it down.

And then he goes off the deep end. I don’t think “30 Rock” would “work” if Jack didn’t have these episodes where he went completely insane. Otherwise, it would be a show about a ridiculous woman and the smart man who helps her solve her problems. Instead, it’s about two screwed-up people trying to help each other be happy, even though neither actually knows what happiness is. Without their frequent descents into madness, it wouldn’t work.

Jack and Liz are both smitten with Floyd, and who can blame them for loving that babe. He loves playing Uno, he’s not grossed out by all of Liz’s old woman habits, he’s funny, he knows how to give a compliment, he likes sports…

Bae.

Jack’s sadness brings us this amazing dialogue as he waits for her in Christie’s:

So Jack occupies his time by inserting himself into the Floyd and Liz relationship.

That is, until he decides to marry Phoebe, the woman from Christie’s with avian bone syndrome. Her bones are hollow. He hurts her as he slips the ring on her finger. It’s amazing.

In summation: Liz and Jack are both trying to be happy. Liz’s choice of mate is less unfortunate, but neither relationship is going to work out too well. Sorry guys.

This episode is also impressive for carrying on a plot, which the show hasn’t been the best at. Tracy is dealing with the Jefferson reveal, Jack is dealing with his post-divorce sadness and fireworks disaster, and Liz is just trying to be happy. Well, all of them are just trying to be happy. That’s literally the show.

And I love it.

Bits & Pieces

Jack invented the popcorn button on the microwave. Praise to Jack Donaghy.

It’s been a while since we had a good Jenna plot. I miss you girl.

Tracy offers Don Geiss grenadine and fried rice during their meeting.

Number of “Star Wars” references: One. When Floyd mentions Americans suffering through an economic downturn in 2002, Liz adds that we also had to suffer through “Attack of the Clones”

Best Frank hat: Problem Solver

At some point I wrote “ugh liz i love you” in my notes. I have no idea why. But it’s true.

Everything we know about Tracy’s movie “Fat Bitch”

  1. Tracy’s character turns into a dog
  2. Fat Bitch dies by the end of a movie, so a sequel is illogical
  3. The dogs use their high-pitch screening to stop a missile

Grizz is excited about Tracy’s promised “Fat Bitch” paycheck because now he can get an iPhone and everyone will be jealous. Oh, to live in a world before everyone had a smartphone…

Kenneth is knitting this amazing bikini for his grandmother.

Screenshot 2014-07-12 22.50.29Character I related to most: Liz when Jack pointed out that she was the third wheel in her own relationship. #thirdwheelsforlife

Jack sold Bianca’s engagement ring and used the money to buy a boat. He named it “Bianca Blows” and purposefully sank it. What a badass.

Liz’s love interests from most to least perfect for her/me: Floyd, Gray, Dennis, Conan, Gretchen the lesbian, that guy Wayne Brady played

Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: He did look pretty comfy in those old-timey clothes.

 

 

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