Archives for the month of: June, 2014

In this episode, as the title tells us “Tracy Does Conan.” The problem is that Tracy is on new medicine that has made him completely insane, Jenna is trying to win back her Conan spot, and Jack keeps calling Liz to his office to get joke ideas for a speech.

Oh, and Liz is still dating Dennis who, mid-episode, send Liz a message to her beeper so that he’ll call her at a payphone so he can ask her to buy him Nickelback tickets. What. A. Treasure.

I watched this episode this morning, before I went to work. I made notes, like I have every time I’ve watched an episode, and figured I’d write something up about the show after. This is another of my favorites because it introduces two iconic gags and Jack utters what is perhaps my favorite Jack line. And I’ll get to that.

But that’s not what I want to talk about just yet.

I’m sitting at work and I check Twitter while taking a break, and I see this tweet:

Right now, I am still overwhelmed with happiness over “Community”‘s resurrection. I remember watching the season finale and seeing the way they tried to wrap things up, in case this really was the end. I thought, “No, this isn’t it. They’ll get one more.”

And then they didn’t. How horrible to be robbed of a proper goodbye.

Facts about me: The series finale of “30 Rock” is one of the episodes I have seen the most. I’ve watched it at least eight times. I’ve watched the series finale of “The Office” fewer times, but still a notably high amount. On the rare occasion that I have a strong urge to watch “Friends,” I usually pick — you guessed it — the last episode. Same goes for the “Lost” finale, which I loved.1

And part of the reason for that is that I love stories. And I like the story’s end, when everything is OK.2 Maybe not perfect, but OK. I like when they’re happy! I like when Liz is in love with Kris and Dwight tells the camera how much his coworkers mean to him, and Rachel gets off the plane. How wonderful to see good things happen to these people I invested so much time in.

So that’s part of the reason I’m so happy “Community” is back. I’m just glad to revisit these stories, and to see these people get a little bit of happiness.3

But it’s not just that. I get emotionally attached to characters — have you been able to tell from reading this blog? The way I miss an old friend, I miss Liz Lemon and Jeff Winger.

And of course, these feelings are only intensified by the fact that I do miss my friends, having recently graduated from college. The very friends I watched “30 Rock” and “Community” with, obsessively, projecting our lives onto the characters, are now missing from my life.

So “Community” coming back is like a friend coming back. Here’s a thing for us to bond over from the different corners of the country. Here are the characters we saw so much of ourselves in at the most turbulent and formative moments of our lives. That’s important.

Many of the conversations around “Orange Is The New Black” have talked about the importance of representation. And I agree: That’s powerful stuff. But I see myself represented on “Community,” too. In Britta’s failures and kindness. In Abed’s nerdery. I see it in Liz’s anxiety and Jack’s sass and Jenna’s narcissism.

John Green once said, “Writing, or at least good writing, is an outgrowth of that urge to use language to communicate complex ideas and experiences between people. And that’s true whether you’re reading Shakespeare or bad vampire fiction—reading is always an act of empathy. It’s always an imagining of what it’s like to be someone else.”

I’ll expand this to say that experiencing a story in any way is always an act of empathy because you’re seeing what it’s like to be someone else. And there’s power in that. But there’s also power in seeing yourself up there. In knowing that someone else gets that thing you’ve been experiencing.

To quote a text conversation with my roommate: “Storytelling <3333333 TV ❤ ❤ <3”

Bits & Pieces

The two iconic pieces: This is the first appearance of the one and only Dr. Leo Spaceman, who promptly informs us that “Medicine is not a science.” This is also the first reference of “The Rural Juror.” I wrote both these things all-caps in my notes. THE RURAL JUROR. DR. SPACEMAN. Two of my favorite “30 Rock” things.

The quote:

Liz: Why are you wearing a tux?

Jack: It’s after 6. What am I, a farmer?

Pete is better looking with hair:

Screenshot 2014-06-30 09.42.55

Tracy’s entourage seems to have been officially shortened to Grizz and Dotcom. The world is a better place for it.

Most ridiculous thing Jack says: “He squeezes the sweetest juice out of his worker’s mind grapes.”

A ranking of Liz’s boyfriends from most to least Irish: Dennis Duffy. Conan O’Brien. You would think Conan’s red hair would give him the edge, but Dennis expressed his intention to name he and Liz’s child “Shannon” this episode.

Character I related to most: Kenneth when he had to pick up a prescription from Rite Drug at a specific intersection only to find four Rite Drugs there. #beentheredonethat

Cameo that wasn’t a cameo when they filmed it but is now:

Aubrey Plaza! Who was actually a page. It seems likely that they just grabbed a page to give a tour in this scene, and they just happened to pick her, but this is wild speculation.

Aubrey Plaza! Who was actually a page. It seems likely that they just grabbed a page to give a tour in this scene, and they just happened to pick her, but this is wild speculation.

(Edit: Friend and fan Emily Perkins would like credit for the Aubrey Plaza sighting since she texted me about it the day before I “officially” watched this episode. I contend that I would have noticed if she hadn’t pointed it out, but Emily has a hard time recognizing people, so I’ll give her this one.)

Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: He knows how to clog. Conan calls him “one weird dude.”

1. OK — I’ve probably actually seen “The Constant” more times, but who could ever get over this. No one with a soul, surely.

2. I also think this is why I tend to rewatch comedies more than I rewatch dramas. A sitcom’s plot is (usually) neatly contained.

3. Is Dan Harmon interested in happy endings? Probably not, but we’ll see.

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The first episode I ever saw — which, again, will be revealed in time — was very Dennis heavy, so I get inordinately excited when an episode features a strong Dennis plot. After a couple of name drops in the first five episodes, we see him in the flesh.

What a vivid character Dennis is. Through Dennis, we learn so much about what Liz thinks of herself. “The only beeper salesman left in Manhattan” is a decidedly horrible boyfriend. The best thing he contributes is the ingenious game “Daughter or Mistress,” in which he and Liz look at old men and predict their dates’ identities.1

Dennis is both the source and subject of some of the episode’s best lines. His obsession with rats — “You know there are 17 rats per person in New York” — included a particularly vivid description of a rat king.2 He also claims that beepers will come back because “Technology’s cyclical” and orders chicken nugget-like cod at a fancy restaurant because “I’m actually allergic to fish unless it’s fried.”

This serves as further reason for Jack to try to bring Lemon under his wing as a successful mentee. He even introduces Liz to a former, successful mentee as an example, but how Jack managed to actually help someone remains a mystery, since, as we and Liz realize, he’s “just an alcoholic with a great voice.”

Liz accepts Jack’s tutelage because “Sadly you might be the most stable person I know right now.”3 That’s because Jenna has gone off the deep-end trying to make herself seem young. There’s a hilarious exchange where Jack asks her how old she is; she says 29, so he asks for her year of birth, prom theme, teenage crush, and what movie she lost of her virginity to. Her answers are immediate. He doesn’t believe her, so she goes to some extreme surgical measures:

Ouch.

Ouch.

Meanwhile Tracy is trying to regain his street cred after a magazine called him normal, so he gets matching face tattoos of a “biblical dragon from face.” His justification?

Tracy: You take away my street cred and I am Wayne Brady.

Liz: No, Wayne Brady has three Emmys. You have a People’s Choice Award that you stole from Wayne Brady.

Liz eventually  finds out he drew the dragons on with Crayola markers.

Iconic

Iconic. Also, that season one goatee is hilarious.

Even Josh, the most forgotten castmember, gets something funny to do this episode. Apparently he occasionally makes fun of Liz Taylor on the show and she is not amused. She shows up at the studio to beat Josh with a fire extinguisher while yelling White Diamonds, the name of her perfume.

We only see Liz’s eyes:

This is probably my favorite Rachel Dratch moment of the show. I'll let you know if that changes.

This is probably my favorite Rachel Dratch moment of the show. I’ll let you know if that changes.

Overall, great episode. Dennis Duffy is a national treasure.

Bits & Pieces

Frank wears his Ninja Expert hat again. It’s the first hat we saw him in, and also appeared in episode four.

Best Islanders dig: Dennis is suicidal because the islanders lost. Liz replies, “Doesn’t that happen a lot?” It does Liz. It does.

Foreshadowing: Tracy tells Liz she can’t cover his tattoos because it’s in his contract. When Liz contests this, Pete says, “Actually, he’s got a pretty weird contract.”

Character I related to most: Liz when she sat at her desk writing and singing “Maybe” from “Annie” aloud. I have definitely done this before.

Most bizarre pop culture reference: Liz tells Jenna she can’t judge Dennis because Jenna “wrote Scott Peterson a letter once.”

Most bizarre literary reference: Liz apparently let Tracy do a tribute to August Wilson only to find out that Tracy didn’t know who that was.

Best one-liner: When Jack sees Dennis’ dinner and comments “I didn’t know they sold chicken nuggets at this restaurant,” it wasn’t particularly quotable, but it stung.

Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: None. He was only in one scene, giving a tour.

A scientific ranking of Liz’s boyfriends from most to least hilarious: Dennis Duffy, Conan O’Brien

1. In Dennis’ defense, this is a pretty amazing game that I plan on playing whenever possible.”
2. When the tails of a group of rats become entangled and then the bodies fuse together, they’re a rat king (May or may not be an urban legend).”
3. Did I point out that this has been one of the most quotable episodes so far? The dialogue was snappy.

This is one of my absolute favorite “30 Rock” episodes. The episode’s three plots are all strong: Jack has to overcome his stage fright to act in a sketch, Jenna tries to “use [her] sexuality” to keep from getting fired, and Liz thinks Tracy might be illiterate. And the last two minutes are dedicated to the greatest song ever written1:

The in-episode version doesn’t have all those soulful strings, but they make sense in context of the episode! Three times during the episode, the P.A. calls Jenna to the stage to rehearse the song. The first time, they call just Jenna. The second time they call Jenna and Ghostface Killa, who provides the bizarre rap at the end of the song. The third time, they call Jenna, Ghostface Killa (which is tragically missing from the Youtube video), and Yo-Yo Ma. If we had to miss Jenna for two episodes, I’m glad her return was so triumphant.

And now, a lyrical analysis of “The Muffintop Song”

Everyone knows the most delicious part of the muffin is the top.

Preach Jenna.

My muffin top is all that / Whole-grain, low-fat.

Jenna makes such great muffins!

I know you wanna piece of that / But I just wanna dance.

She wants to close the bakery so she can go out.

Ch-checkin’ out my sweet hips / My sugar-coated berry lips. / I know you wanna get with this, / But I’m just here to dance.

No offense Jenna, but maybe don’t cover your lips in sugar if you don’t want someone to lick it off.

So back up off of me / You’re weirding me out.

Jenna is a respectable bakery owner! Leave her alone, sleazy men.

I’m an independent lady. / So do not try to play me. / I run a tidy bakery. / The boys all want my cake for free

Jenna Maroney, The Business Bitch, is not giving you any muffins you didn’t pay for.

But if you can’t shake your fakery / Then kiss my muffin top.

But then they got the muffins for free! Come on Jenna!

Anyway.

The “Tracy can’t read” plot is probably my favorite because Tracy and Liz say so many ridiculous things. Liz asks Tracy if he’s illiterate, and he realizes that pretending to be will get him out of work, so he agrees. He runs through the halls declaring all the dumb things he’s done because he can’t read including, “I THINK I VOTED FOR NADER. NADER.” He also calls Liz “One very, very special white lady.” Liz realizes he can read when she sees him with a newspaper saying, “Damn, George Will just gets more and more conservative.”

And when Liz and Tracy finally confront each other, he tells her, “That’s the subtle racism of lowered expectations. Bing Crosby said that.”

That’s what I love about Tracy. Half the things he says are things you would find on a middle-aged soccer mom’s Facebook page: Misquotes and confused ideas that he misinterprets to justify his actions.2 He’s just a little confused, but not much more confused than someone who attributes fake quotes to Gandhi all the time.

Liz also says about the situation, “Tracy took advantage of my white guilt, which is supposed to be used for good, like over-tipping and supporting Barack Obama.” The show’s constant mocking of Liz’s liberalism is always awesome in my book.

The Jack plot has some great moments too, especially all the Snapple jokes. Jack tells the staff they have to add product integration into the show, to which Liz vehemently rejects on principle. Then the characters start praising Snapple. Later, a Snapple bottle comes out of an elevator during a similar conversation. I can’t help but wonder if this was “30 Rock”‘s response to a similar edict from their NBC/G.E. executives.

Bits and Pieces

Jenna’s former fiance, David Blaine, gets a mention.

Jack’s example product for NBC product placement is a G.E. oil driller.

Number of Star Wars references: One

Screenshot 2014-06-28 11.50.21Jack calls Liz “such a Monica,” which she is.

Jonathan remains a national treasure.

Best gag: Jenna eats a spoon of non-dairy creamer in her attempt to seduce someone, then chokes on it.

Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: None. He’s not in this episode. 😦

1. Alright, it’s in a deadheat with “Rural Juror.”
2. Last week’s “Live every week like it’s Shark Week” is perhaps a more iconic example of what I mean.

Let’s start this post with something very important: I really need a Judah Friedlander hat. They’re not only hilarious, but I’ve been meaning to try to wear more hats. Just saying, my birthday is in five weeks.

So! “Jack the Writer” continues the theme of Jack trying to assert himself in part of TGS where he doesn’t belong, this time the writers’ room. The season one writers’ room is full of people I don’t recognize, like this guy. Who is this guy?

WHO ARE YOU.

WHO ARE YOU.

I think Jack said his name in episode 2, but bald white guy has yet to utter a line, and if he’s in any episode after season one, I have absolutely no memory of him.

The flip side of Jack’s “intervening with the show” plot line is that this is definitely the most actual television producing we see these characters do. Does any other episode spend time watching the writers’ actually write for an extended period? Mostly they screw around. No wonder they come up with such horrible sketches. The early episodes also have so much Jonathan in them! What a treasure.

This episode had a really high quotient of nerd references. When Jack mentions Six Sigma,1 Frank thinks it’s a special kind of G.I. Joe. Liz compares Jack to Darth Vader twice, and Pete calls Liz Captain Needa to scare her, Needa having been killed by Vader for his incompetency.2 During one of these conversations, the announcer in the background calls Josh to the stage to rehearse a sketch called, “Homophobic Hague,” which I really wish we’d gotten to see.

I mean, can you imagine what might possibly happen during that sketch? Is it basically an extended version of the “Legally Blonde” joke that it’s hard to tell if someone is gay or European? And the judges on the International Criminal Court make all their decisions based on how gay they think you are. And all these gay people just try to seem really Italian? It sounds like some really tragic black comedy that we have TRAGICALLY been denied. I bet Lutz wrote it.

The B-plot involves Liz trying to get Cerie3 to dress more appropriately, which is actually really funny because Cerie wears things like this:

Page boy hat, low rise skirt, and Avril Lavigne tie. This is so 2000s it hurts.

Page boy hat, low rise skirt, and Avril Lavigne tie. This is so 2000s it hurts.

And Cerie gets Liz to wear this:

Dayum girl.

Dayum girl.

When Liz tells Cerie she has to dress seriously to be taken seriously, she responds, “Career-wise I’m just gonna marry rich and design handbags,” which is accurate. Liz eventually tells her, “You need to dress like you have a job and parents who raised you in some kind of shame-based religious tradition,” which made me snort.

The C plot involves Kenneth doing a lot of things for Tracy, including getting him nachos from a closed Yankee Stadium and getting him an illegal fish. Also notable is the first appearance of Tracy’s wife.

This is not Sherrie Shepherd.

This is not Sherri Shepherd. “30 Rock” is the only thing that makes Sherri even remotely bearable.

Tracy also gives Kenneth great advice like, “Dress everyday like you gonna get murdered in those clothes.”

But that’s not the only blossoming friendship this episode. When Jack is mean to Liz in order to impress some Six Sigmas, he whispers to her, “I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry.” She tells him she doesn’t like him anymore and he responds, “I don’t believe you.” And the audience doesn’t either. #bestfriendsforever

Bits & Pieces

Another Jane Krakowski-less episode, sadly. The Entourage was also M.I.A., but if they had been there the “Kenneth does everything for Tracy” plot would have made much less sense.

Number of times Chamillionaire is mentioned this episode: Four

Number Chamillionaire songs played: Just one

Number of Aaron Sorkin references: One, when Liz and Pete have a conversation while walking in a circle, realize their mistake, and conclude, “Good walk and talk.”

Best Frank Hat: Bigfoot Expert

Best Tracy one-liner: “Live every week like it’s shark week.” Iconic.

Character I related to most: Kenneth when he said, “When I get nervous I ask a lot of questions.”

Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: None? If I’m reading into it, he only survived his encounter with the Chinese mafia because he’s immortal, but that’s a big stretch.

1. Only in the last twelve months did I find out that Six Sigma is real and not just a joke “30 Rock” made up. I’m forever amazed at the liberties this show took when it came to making fun of G.E. and NBC.
2. Sadly, I wasn’t nerdy enough to recognize the character by name. He has a really long “Star Wars” wiki page, if that interests you.
3. Every time I tried to write Cerie, I wrote Cersei instead. Damn you, “Game of Thrones.”

In one of the first moments of the episode, Jack tells Liz, “I would like to become a resource for you to improve your personal life.” He then tries to set her up on a date.

She responds, “It is completely inappropriate for you to be questioning me about my private life.” Imagine her saying that in season 3, let alone season 7. Character development!

This is the first episode that focuses on Liz’s status as a single woman; Jack sets her up on a date with another woman, mistaking Liz for a lesbian. The shenanigans are only sort of funny. This was definitely the least enjoyable episode so far.

But, it’s a good chance to talk about my biggest “30 Rock” pet peeve: the show’s insistence that Liz Lemon is unattractive or undesirable.1

tina-fey-young-photos

This isn’t even that weird, considering!

Tina Fey wasn’t hot her whole life, but few people are. Here’s her high school yearbook photo, which is mostly funny because of her hair and the dramatic pose; my mom was posed similarly in her high school portraits.

In the more unfortunate photos of her young adulthood, which you can easily Google, she’s wearing some weird clothes or has some less than flattering hair cuts, but by 2006 she was basically completely out of the awkward phase. Her hair looks good most of the time in this episode!

But let’s pretend that Tina Fey/Liz Lemon isn’t at least of above average beauty — which I think she is. She’s also funny, smart, and the head of her own television show. Liz even has an Emmy!2 She’s a “catch” — which is a weird thing to call someone.

“30 Rock” tries to paint her gross in other ways: She eats junk food, she dresses poorly most of the time, she … loves mozzarella sticks? None of these are really that weird.

Every white girl thinks she’s Liz Lemon, and that’s partially because Liz is pretty normal. She’s so weird that she likes eating and watching TV and isn’t always graceful or well-spoken and puts off doing her laundry … like a normal person.

And, like a normal person, she’s often times unlucky in love. But it’s usually not because she dresses weird or loves Sabor de Soledad,3 but rather because she’s neurotic and needy and lacks self-esteem sometimes. Like a normal person.

I might be using a strange definition of normal, because no really great, iconic sitcom character on a show like this is “normal” the way Betty Draper would imagine, but what I mean is that Liz is like lots of people I know.4 She’s not nearly as weird as they try to make her seem. A lot of her humor comes from how hilariously she states the things I’ve always thought.

And she’s not ugly! Jack calls Liz unattractive all. the. time.5 It’s just not true, and I’ve never understood the show’s over reliance on this. Maybe they constantly say it in an attempt todepict Liz as an every(wo)man, loser-type, the underdog who somehow makes it through with (some of) her dignity intact, but usually those moments just ring false to me. Or, I have to suspend my disbelief and act like Tina Fey could be considered ugly.6

Tina Fey is in hair ads, damn it. Ugly people aren’t allowed to do that.

Bits & Pieces

There are two Dennis references in this episode! In the more memorable one, Liz and Pete discuss her ex-boyfriends.

Pete: There was the guy who played Halo under the name Slutbanger.

Liz: Dennis.

Pete: There was the tall, gangly, red-haired guy who played guitar all the time.

Liz: Conan

Appreciate that continuity on her past with Conan.

When Liz asks Frank for love advice, he tells her to act more like woman in porn, which maybe explains why Liz opens up to Jack’s attempts to help her.

Liz one-liner of the episode:

Her lesbian date, who she becomes obsessed with says, “I can’t be around you anymore. Bye, Liz” and Liz replies, “That’s funny because that’s what the guys always say.” Like I said, this was a pretty weak episode.

Character I related to most: I guess Liz? The prospect of being single until I die by choking on something alone in my apartment is pretty terrifying.

Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: Watching this episode for the first time, it probably just seemed like Jack was paranoid about Kenneth because he didn’t have a tell in poker, but, watching it over again, it’s foreshadowing. Jack, after becoming obsessed with figuring out Kenneth’s deal, concludes, “In five years we’ll all either be working for him or dead by his hand.” *cue dramatic music*

1. Liz’s undesirability is more hinted at in this episode than stated outright, but the undercurrents are pretty strong, so I’m running with this.
2. Which I’m almost positive is only mentioned in this episode when Frank uses it as his bet in a poker game. Still, it exists.
3. Everyone’s favorite Cheetos knock-off.
4. Like me!
5. There’s an argument to be made that Jack calling Liz ugly actually demonstrates more about his twisted worldview and incredibly high standards for female attractiveness than it does about how attractive Liz really is, but Jack isn’t the only one who makes these comments, so this argument doesn’t hold up well. 
6. In defense of “30 Rock,” they’re not the only show or movie to do this. In “The Spectacular Now,” which I otherwise loved, Shailene Woodley doesn’t believe her boyfriend when he says she’s pretty, which is absurd, because she is gorgeous. There’s even a TV Tropes page about this! Though, again, I disagree with their description of the Liz situation. Totally agree about “The Mindy Project” though. (I’ve spent a lot of time reading this website.) 

The Netflix summary for this episode told me that Liz and Tracy were going to throw a party together, but for most of the episode I could not remember that party. And then, when Tracy mentioned that he owns a boat, it came back to me: They have a party on a yacht that Tracy steals.1

At the moment I remembered, I burst into a huge smile, full of anticipation at viewing something I didn’t remember, while remembering how funny I thought it was. That’s a pretty awesome feeling and also the general feeling I have about rewatching “30 Rock.” I remember some specifics, but not all of them, and I’m really excited to revisit those again. Rewatching is almost like a time machine — I get to revisit my friends! Do I get overly attached to TV characters?2

To the episode!

That's so 2006

That’s so 2006

More than last episode, I was blown away by how horrible Tina’s hair is this season the second she walked on screen. I guess Tina was less famous then, and this weird thick on top, flippy on the bottom thing was more “stylish” in 2006,3 but girl, that is not your hair. She’s sort of glamorous on the yacht though, so she eventually made it work for her.

Kenneth again gives a tour in the early moments of this episode, but this time the tourists are excited about “The Girlie Show” because Tracy Jordan was on it. It’s a great scene because it’s short but accomplishes a lot.

Given my observation yesterday that the four characters were really well-developed, it was interesting to see today that Jenna was way less of a drama queen in season one. She’s unhappy that Tracy is there, but mostly because he’s a crazy person, not as much because he’s stealing her spotlight. By the end of episode, she is a little more of the drama queen I know and love — bursting into song on the boat and relishing tabloid coverage of her drunkenness. That’s my girl.

Also! Frank looks at YouTube and it’s really old looking and I actually laughed for like a minute. Evidence:

That's so 2006

That’s so 2006

My big takeaway from the episode was realizing how much season 1 was about Jack’s attempts to meddle with the show. In later seasons, it really is, as he says in the last episode, about Liz coming up to bother him with her problems, but in this season, he’s really putting himself in the middle of it. I guess I’m just fascinated by the way things change and evolve.

The one thing that never changes? The summary for the episode on Netflix starts with “Liz struggles to make sure the show goes on,” which could be the plot of every single episode.

Bits & Pieces

Liz calls Jack, “Mr. Donaghy” a handful of times, which is retroactively hilarious and also weird to hear her say.

Liz tells Tracy that Jenna’s last name rhymes with baloney, which leads to him penning her nickname, “My Baloney.” It was cute to see the origins of that.

Grizz is driving the boat! It’s the first time we’ve seen him, so I was really excited about it.

Tracy one-liner of the episode: “Superman does good. You’re doing well.” This is an amazing joke.

Making fun of NBC moment of the episode: Tracy reads a promo that reads “I’m bringing the black back to NBC.”4

Character I related to most: None? Maybe Jenna, since her egoism/extroverted-ness was being neglected.

Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: Still none

Jeff Richmond a.k.a. Mr. Tina Fey had a brief cameo!

Jeff!

Jeff!

1. Is it really stealing if it never leaves the harbor? It was more like “creative borrowing.”

2. Yes.

3. The only reason I would even say this is “stylish” is because Stana Katic had a really similar style on a “Castle” rerun I saw a few weeks ago. Tina wasn’t alone.

4. This was arguably the third “Cosby Show” joke of the episode; the two more obvious ones are when Tracy calls Toofer Cliff Huxtable and when the writers get Tracy to do a Bill Cosby impression.

The episode opens as many episodes ended up opening: Liz is on the streets of New York, interacting with New Yorkers. This time, she’s waiting in line to buy a hot dog when some finance-type jerk cuts in front of her. Liz retaliates by buying all the hot dogs and trying to hand them out to people on the street, who mostly throw them back at her. That moment is really Liz in a nutshell.

As she walks, an upbeat theme song plays. Some of the lyrics are, “Who’s got the kind of charisma that the boys prefer? / Who’s hot and you know that she knows it? / That’s her!” It feels like a parody of “The Mary Tyler Moore” theme, another show about a single woman working on a TV show, whose credits included someone walking to work in the midst of busy city streets.

“30 Rock” subverts this two ways, though: Liz’s walk to work is less than ideal (i.e. people throw hot dogs at her) and it turns out that the theme is really for “Pam, the overly confident morbidly-obese woman,” one of the horrible characters Jenna plays on the show.

You totally didn't remember who Josh was until you say this photo. Don't lie.

You totally didn’t remember who Josh was until you say this photo.

The song is sung by Josh, who I rarely remember was on the show, even though one time my friends and I saw him playing frisbee in Central Park.1

Anyway, in case that intro wasn’t enough to make you see what sort of character Liz is, Jack Donaghy hits Liz on the head for us: “New York third-wave feminist, college-educated, single-and-pretending-to-be-happy-about-it, overscheduled, undersexed, you buy any magazine that says ‘healthy body image’ on the cover and every two years you take up knitting for…a week.”

This works in two ways, because it tells us a lot about Liz,2 and because it tells us about Jack’s uncanny perceptiveness, which comes up a lot. Jack also knocks down a piece of dry wall to enter the room, which is pretty badass. He also won’t stop babbling about the trivection oven and introduces himself as the VP of “East Coast Television and Microwave Oven Programming,” which is a joke that never gets old.

Sort of? Maybe?

Sort of? Maybe?

Jenna says Jack reminds her of Scotty from “General Hospital,” which was really funny to me, because my mom and grandma love GH. The internet seems less knowledgeable of who Scotty is, since Google auto-filled “30 Rock’ when I searched for a photo of him to show you that he does, in fact, sort of look like Alec Baldwin, ish.3

I can’t help but wonder how I would have received this episode if it was the first one I’d ever watched; would I have stuck with it?3 No clue. But I’m surprised by how well-defined the characters are in the pilot. A lot of shows change characters a lot from the way they originally imagined them in the first few episodes or first season.5 And while the minor characters shift in and out of focus, Liz, Jack, Tracey and Jenna really don’t. I mean, they develop as characters, but they don’t have sudden shifts in characterization. That’s pretty cool.

Bits and Pieces:

Pete and the writers have a pretty strong presence in the episode, which isn’t true of the later stuff. Kenneth, meanwhile, is on screen for maybe two minutes total, but memorable utters “I just … I love television so much,” while fighting back tears. I feel you Kenneth.

Dot Com was in Tracy’s entourage, but Grizz was noticeably missing. Granted, there are like 3 people in the entourage who we never see again, so it wasn’t exactly a settled group.

Jack hits on the TGS dancers by talking to them about Afghanistan.

Liz has a Razr phone. #throwback

Best Jack one-liner: “I like you. You have the boldness of a much younger woman.”

Character I related to most: Probably Liz . She explains that she bought $150 worth of hot dogs because she “hate[s] it when people cheat or break the rules.” Right there with you.

Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: None. I really want to keep track of this bizarre progression.

Until tomorrow.


1. I’m like 99% sure it was him.

2. Obviously.

3. Generally I find it really disappointing that “General Hospital” has fallen out of our cultural consciousness. “American Horror Story” ain’t got nothing on that campiness.

4. We’ll talk about the first one I watched when we get there.

5. Leslie Knope, Kelly Kapoor and Dr. Jeremy Reed are the first three I think of, but that’s not even close to a complete list.

1) It’s my favorite show, but the first time I watched it in high school, I went through the episodes quickly, so there are some things I don’t remember well. When I do rewatch episodes, I have no order about it, just randomly picking ones I like. I wanted to do it in order.

2) Since I want to work in TV and I think this sitcom is the gold standard, I want to record any of the good insights I have about the episodes.

3) At the same time, I know myself well enough to not make the rules too structured by limiting what I can talk about. So, umm, things might not always be so insightful.

4) More people need to love “30 Rock” so they can get my references.

5) Because Meat Cat told me to.

6) Every white girl thinks she’s Liz Lemon

This project was partially inspired by:

99 Days at Tombs – wherein I and about 100 other Georgetown seniors went to one bar every day for the last 99 days of our college careers. The tradition began with the class of 1999.

40 Days of Dating – wherein these two people dated for 40 days as a social experiment

Lawrence and Julie and Julia – wherein Lawrence watched “Julie and Julia” every day for a year

Tomorrow, it begins.

 

Watch one episode of “30 Rock” every day for 138 days in a row. Write a blog post every day* about the episode. The posts can be about anything related to the episode, including but not limited to:

1) Why this show is one of the greatest sitcoms of all time

2) What I ate while watching the episode

3) Bizarre anecdotes I remembered while watching

4) The best Jenna-isms

5) An in-depth analysis of specific jokes

6) The ways in which I imagine myself EGOT-ing

7) Scientific rankings of Liz’s love interests by attractiveness

If a day is skipped, some sort of punishment will be decided. Methodology TBD.

Thanks for following along.

*A day is defined as the time between when I wake up and when I go to sleep, approximately 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. EST. For example, a post at 3 a.m. on July 12th would count for July 11th.