Archives for category: Season 1

“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:

Screenshot 2014-07-14 19.48.34.jpg

 

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:

Screenshot 2014-07-14 20.00.16

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.

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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.

 

 

So I come home today to find my mother watch CBS’s “Blue Bloods,” and who’s on screen but:

THE HAIR.

Like I said, the hair is my dream man, so this was super exciting for me. His real name is Peter Hermann and he’s married to Mariska Hargitay. It seems appropriate that this happened today, because Liz actually mentions him this episode. Also I found this great NPR article about that episode.

Not only did we finally get a dedicated Floyd episode, but we also go the appearance of the one and only Devon Banks. And Tracy finds out he’s related to Thomas Jefferson. Fun for the whole family!

Jack worries that Devon will pitch a better idea than he does — he did, after all, pioneer the concept of 10-second internet sitcoms — and the best counter he has is an NBC salute to fireworks. Liz promises to come up with something better, but some stuff gets in the way.

Liz spots my fav Floyd going into a church in the middle of the day and follows him to find out what he’s doing. When she finds out its an AA meeting, she stays in order to find out his secrets.

This perfectly illustrates how completely insane Liz is. It takes classic rom-com shenanigans and inflates them to a level of craziness: pretending to be an alcoholic. Liz is not adorkable — not that that word was around in 2007 — and she doesn’t do cute things to get guys. She only does batshit things, like this.

But then she uses that craziness to get the man in the end, telling him all her dark secrets:

I’m really sorry about what I did. And I know you can’t forgive me but just to even things out, here is all my weird secret stuff. I have been sexually rejected by not one, but two guys who later went to clown college. I get super nervous whenever I hear a vacuum cleaner because when I was a kid, my mom used to turn on the vacuum to drown out the sound of her and my dad fighting. Which is why I rarely vacuum my apartment. Like, never. I have had three doughnuts so far today. Once in college, I pooped my pants a little bit at a country steaks all you can eat buffet and I didn’t leave until I finished my second plate of shrimp. A couple months ago, I went on a date with my cousin. Wow, I am a mess. There is an 80% chance that in the next election I will tell all my friends that I’m voting for Barack Obama but I will secretly vote for John McCain. Here’s one: when I was a kid, I used to put on my fanciest nightgown and then I would mix orange soda and cream soda in a champagne glass and I would sit in the dark and watch The Love Boat. Consequently, I have some weird sexual fantasy stuff about Gopher from The Love Boat. And I lied. I have had five doughnuts today.

Again, we’re subverting our rom-com expectations. Her big romantic gesture was super gross and weird. This isn’t a Nora Ephron movie, bitches.

Tonight I went to see some fireworks with my friends, so the “Rockefeller Center Salute to Fireworks” was even funnier to me this time.

Why are Americans so obsessed with fireworks? Do other countries do this?

The Tracy storyline was also great. He has a nightmare that includes Alec Baldwin dressed as Thomas Jefferson, Sally Hemmings, and Maury. Iconic.

Just go watch this episode. If you’ve never watched “30 Rock” before but somehow stumbled on this blog, start with this one.

Bits & Pieces

The writers returned to their room after a couple episodes of absence, and our bff Kevin Miller was MIA.

Number of 2008 election references: 2

Number of Anne Heche references, total all episodes: 2

Kenneth is fine being humiliated since it’s for television.

Character I related to most: Liz, when she ate five donuts

Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: All his interactions with Devon are super creepy. Not sure if this counts as evidence. Going to count it as evidence anyway.

Before I get started, let’s talk about what I learned today: The identity of bald writer!

I HAVE WEIRD SINUS STUFF.

Anonymous no more!

One of my best friends briefly worked for SNL, and this man — Kevin Miller — was his boss. IMDB gives his “30 Rock” character the same name, though he only gets credited for the one episode in which he has a line. Kevin Miller was a producer on “SNL” and now produces for “Late Night With Seth Meyers.”

Coincidentally, I just applied for an NBC internship so if you, Kevin Miller, have a Google alert set for yourself and have stumbled across this blog, hit me up.

The episode opens with Liz in the NBC Fitness Centerready to take a workout class with Jenna. Until she stumbles across Floyd walking into another class. She and Jenna join him and his girlfriend, Liz Lemler, for Advanced Hip Hop. Yes, Liz trying to dance hip-hop is hilarious, and, yes, it’s funny that Jenna just happens to have a page boy hat to plop on for just this occassion

Screenshot 2014-07-10 22.42.56

Never change, 2007.

BUT. Can Floyd really be that great if he just takes Advanced Hip-Hop classes for fun? I’m having some doubts.

Also, guess who Floyd’s current squeeze is?

Screenshot 2014-07-10 22.42.14

 

Anna Chlumsky of “Veep,” who found out today that she’s nominated for her first Emmy! You go girl.

Anyway, Liz finds out that she needs to fire 10% of her staff and that Liz Lemler is an accountant for her show, so she puts two and two together and goes insane. Typical Liz.

Meanwhile, Jack’s brother Eddie reveals that Jack’s dad — well, “dad” — is dead, which reunites Jack with some of his siblings. The whole thing, as the title of the episode suggests, is very Irish.

You don’t really believe that Nathan Lane could be Jack’s brother until he tells Liz, “You could be really pretty if you didn’t scowl so much.” Ya burnt.

Any way, a lot of Irish Catholic shenanigans go down, and Liz goes insane. It’s very funny, and includes some of my favorite lines ever, including:

Liz: I pretty much just do whatever Oprah tells me to.

Tracy: I believe that the moon does not exist. I believe that vampires are the world’s greatest golfers but their curse is they never get a chance to prove it. I believe that there are 31 letters in the white alphabet.

Liz: I’m gonna go talk to some food about this.

Also Jack calls his fists St. Michael and St. Patrick, his father calls his Tipp O’Neill and Bob Sands, and his brother calls his Bono and Sandra Day O’Connor. I die laughing.

But the strangest moment of the episode was when Jack, after his family’s brawl, says, “The whole thing was strangely reassuring, though. To know that they’ll be there after l’m dead, fighting over my corpse before it’s cryogenically frozen.”

And it wasn’t weird at the time. But six seasons later it’s weird because we never see any of those characters again. Except for a plot about Jack’s father — and he’s never seen during that plot — none of his siblings ever appear again. He acts like an only child when dealing with his mother. Were his other siblings all illegitimate? This just seems like a huge plot hole.

This probably isn’t obvious from this post, but I really like this episode. It’s hard to capture how good it is, but I just found this Mike Schur quote on Tumblr that helps:

It’s also very obviously the case that jokes are fleeting, but good characters and emotional stories are forever. TV is about presenting an inviting world in which audiences want to invest their time, regularly, over many years.

Jokes help because, you know, they make people happy. But what makes people *love* a show, and get attached to it, is great characters having great adventures.

So that’s “30 Rock.” It’s funny, but I can only watch it every day for two weeks without getting bored because the characters matter so much to me.

The episode ends with the best explanation of Catholic guilt ever:

Even though there is the whole confession thing, that’s no free pass, because there is a crushing guilt that comes with being a Catholic. Whether things are good or bad or you’re simply… eating tacos in the park, there is always the crushing guilt.

Too real.

Bits & Pieces

Best reference that was topical in 2007: “You look like that lady astronaut who tried to kidnap that other woman.”

Anna Clumsky wasn’t the only actor to appear in this episode and “Veep.” Presenting Congressman Furlong:

Screenshot 2014-07-10 22.53.34

Kenneth tells Jack, “Your assistant is looking for you.” Tears for Jonathan, who didn’t get a name this episode.

Best Frank Hat: Liz Rocks

Jack uses an animal video to soften a hard blow, a move he’ll use again.

The only Catholics Tracy can think of are Jack, Regis Philbin, and the pope.

Character I related to most: Liz when Jack said, “Lemon you’ve gone chicken killer on me over a guy whose name you don’t even know.”

Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: His church is called “The Eighth Day Resurrected Covenant of the Holy Trinity,” and he grins while the pastor vividly describes the Apocalypse. Awkward.

I honestly had forgotten this episode’s existence. I knew Liz went on a date with Wayne Brady1 in one episode, but I didn’t remember that much about it. And I was really hopeful that Floyd (<3) would return, since it’d been two episodes since we met him.

Sadly, we only got one, brief glance of Floyd.

Bae. Did I use that right?

Bae. Did I use that right?

Anyway, despite my lack of memory about this episode, I really liked it, even though Wikipedia describes its critical reception as “mixed.” The three main plot lines are all wrapped up in each other and it makes the most thematically strong episode of the season.

1. Kenneth accidentally snubbed music producer Ridikolus at Tracy’s party. Tracy tries to keep Ridikolus from murdering him and his family.

2. Jack tries to make his disgusting Donaghy wine the new drink of hip-hop.2

3. Liz goes on a date with Tracy’s new manager, Steven (Wayne Brady), who accuses her of not liking him because he’s racist.

We’ll start with the Liz plot, which thematically informs the rest of the episode.

The trouble starts when Liz claims to be color-blind, without using those words. Steven’s race doesn’t matter to her, she says. “When I leave work at night I am just riding on a subway car full of scary teenaged people.”

I couldn’t help but think of Donald Glover’s response to a similar comment during his brief appearance on “Girls.” Skip to about 3:30.

I’m even more into this parallel than I normally would be since Donald wrote for  “30 Rock.” Boom.

Liz and Steven are hilariously mismatched. An inclusive list of what we know about Steven:

  • Doesn’t own a television
  • Participates in Vietnam re-enactments3
  • Takes pictures of doors as a hobby (?)Called “Star Wars” “the fantasy movie with monsters”
  • DOESN’T CARE ABOUT FOOD4
  • Think it’s a good idea to summarize “Zoolander” to a comedy writer on a date
  • Thinks a carriage ride around the financial district is romantic
  • Says Gracias to Latino waiters
  • Collects tote bags

Let’s take a moment to acknowledge that we know way more about Steven than we do about Josh.

And then things get awkward. When Liz tells him it’s just not clicking, he assumes she’s being a racist and announces this to the whole restaurant. Liz, unable to stick up for herself, is shamed into staying on the date.

Later they have this really hilarious exchange:

Liz: Can’t we all just not get along?

Steven: Maybe one day our children or our children’s children will hate each other like that. But it doesn’t work that way today.

This was crazy funny to me, this sort of “Now we live in a reality where everything is racist until proven not, so you’re actually not aloud to not like me because, until we live in a post-racial America, that’s racist.”

But what makes it actually funny is that “30 Rock” doesn’t believe this: This is Liz’s half-assed, ill-conceived liberalism. We’ve seen shades of it in other episodes, like when she told Pete that inner-city kids in Sudan read better than American kids, then realized that didn’t seem right. Or her Barack Obama line in episode 5.

In Liz’s world, it’s better to date someone you hate so no one thinks you’re a racist than it is to explain to that person that this is not what racism is! Liz is more concerned with looking like a cool liberal than in actually understanding or supporting liberal politics. And that’s funny because there are tons of people like her!5

Meanwhile, Tracy has decided the only way to get through his dilemma is to channel his inner Oprah at the Source Awards, where he’s afraid someone will kill him:

Shooting people  at the Source Awards is a tradition. It’s like Christmas. Or shooting people outside of Hot 97.

It’s funny because it’s true. Jack offers to give him a gun to make it through the evening.

The Oprah thing is weird, but it’s even funnier because when Liz asks if she’s racist, he responds, “No. I think you like to dress black men as Oprah as part of your effort to protect our dignity.”

And then he spends the rest of the episode dressed as Oprah, turning this into an amazing meta moment. He even gives himself a pep talk as Oprah.

Screenshot 2014-07-09 21.41.48

 

At the Source Awards, Tracy literally reveals Chekhov’s gun and Liz accidentally shoots Steven in the butt as he reaches for her purse. Oops.

The whole thing is meta and weird and funny. And I appreciate the show’s self-awareness about Tracy Jordan.

Bits & Pieces

Jack confused Liz with Angie Harmon. Ok…

Jack wants a clear plane “like Wonder Woman has.” Valid.

Best Frank Hat: Time Travel Agent

Character I related to least: Liz, when she mentioned being excited that her name was on the board at a Phillies game. Boooooo.

Character I related to most: Liz, when she tried to flirt with Floyd and only managed to say, “You got the old pumpkin leather?” about his basketball.

Best name of a hip-hop artist: Redonkeykong

Best Tracy one-liner:

Liz: What is it with men and guns?

Tracy: I think I speak for the both of us when I say it’s because they’re metal penises.

Best line in a rap song: “Donaghy kind of rhymes with party which is cool.”

Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: He’s unfazed by Ridikolus’ threats. Only an immortal person wouldn’t fear for his life…

1. I kind of just think of Wayne Brady as NPH’s gay brother now. Thanks “How I Met Your Mother.” Also! Wayne Brady is the first, but not the last, actor to be mentioned on the show AND appear on it.
2. It was Cristal until the maker of Cristal proclaimed his hatred of hip-hop and his love of Dane Cook. (This would have been a very relevant joke in 2007.)
3. This is unrealistic; real life war participants in these activities refer to it was “living history.”
4. At this point, I wrote in my notes, “liz leave just leave liz just leave 5. It’s worth noting that Liz was not at all the first female character like this on TV. Bea Arthur’s Maude on “All in the Family” and “Maude” did this pretty frequently.

This might have been the funniest episode yet. Three strong, memorable, hilarious plot lines.

But again, an aside. According to these graphics that compare how long it takes to binge-watch different series, “30 Rock” is 50 hours long. 39 shows are longer, though a lot of those shows aren’t one that people typically binge watch.

The chart has made me think about this project though. Is watching 138 episodes of a TV show over the course of approximately four months even that interesting? One of my friends started watching “30 Rock” when I began my rewatch and she’s on season four. During finals, I watched eight episodes while writing an essay. Once I watched 24 episodes of “True Blood” in three days.1 In sixth grade, I watched “Pirates of the Carribean” every day for a month. Watching one episode of a TV show a day seems pretty normal compared to that.

So why do it? To answer that, let’s consider what happened today. JK Rowling released a glorified “short story” on Pottermore in the form of a Rita Skeeter article about a grown-up Dumbledore’s Army attending the Quidditch World Cup.

And the Internet freaked out. My generation freaked out. I’ve talked about this with a lot of people before, but “Harry Potter” was undoubtedly the biggest cultural moment of my childhood. I honestly just assume that anyone my age has read it.

But even on a personal level, “Harrry Potter” and its characters are so important to me. And, as today showed, it’s super important to tons of people.

And “30 Rock” is also that important to me. So I’m reliving it. I’m savoring it. And it’s fun!

And episodes like today’s masterpiece make it extra fun.

Three plots:

1. Jack is negotiating Josh’s contract and wants to teach Liz how it’s done. Liz wants josh to get a fair deal, but changes his mind when he betrays her.

2. Jenna accidentally says “I hate the troops” when she’s on Maxim’s Hottest Women in Comedy list.2 She meant theater troupes and said, “They think they’re so important but it’s just a bunch of silly gay guys who get in costume and like the prance around.”

3. Tracy recruits Kenneth for the entourage. Kenneth accidentally reveals that Grizz and Dotcom had been letting Tracy win at basically everything.

Plot one is pretending to be a Josh plot, but Liz and Jack get to do all the fun things. Except when Josh tries to take a mouth selfie with his phone.

You tried.

You tried.

But this plot also illustrated the show’s Josh problem. Liz is worried that Josh is too dumb to successfully negotiate, but have they ever even shown Josh to be dumb? Bro-y, goofy, yes, but dumb? He’s not as funny as Frank, but stupid just isn’t the word I would use to describe him.

And that’s the problem. There’s no word I would use to describe Josh.

Anyway, we get to see Liz’s dark side and it’s funny, especially when at the end she makes Josh do the worm to humiliate him. Jack, in an especially funny moment today of all days, says, “It’s so degrading. Are its origin’s German?”

Jane Krakowski shines as Jenna in today’s episode. After her disastrous interview, she goes on “Hardball with Chris Matthews” to fix it. Instead, she sings “Muffin Top,” tells a sex story about Fleet Week, and mixes up Obama and Osama, furthering my theory that Tina Fey is a psychic.

Chris Matthews is obviously having a really hard time not laughing while he’s on camera.

Rachel Dratch appears as the angry Christian lady who organizes a TGS protest.

Screenshot 2014-07-08 19.32.28

 

The headline below her are almost as funny as what she says, though.

WOLF BLITZER INJURED IN WOLF BLITZ.

MYSTERIOUS VISITOR FROM FUTURE WINS LOTTERY.

So Jack makes Liz write a Salute to the Troops for Jenna to perform instead of that week’s episode.

Salute to the Troops Jenna would be a great Halloween costume.

Salute to the Troops Jenna would be a great Halloween costume.

But then the pinwheels don’t spin:

Speaking of Germans

Speaking of Germans

Oops.

But the Tracy plot is the real winner.

Finally, Grizz and Dotcom step into the spotlight. And I was just so happy to see them interacting with Tracy in a substantial way. #feels

Tracy wants Kenneth in the entourage because he needs someone to harmonize with. They practice with “Tomorrow” from “Annie,” and it’s pretty great.

This episode also introduces us to my favorite Tracy line: “I love  ______ so much I want to take it/her/him behind the middle school and get it pregnant.”

He also yells “Pornography!” at the television in hopes of getting it to turn on. Never change, Tracy.

But the real winning moment of the episode is when Grizz and Dotcom save Tracy from a mob, while Tracy sings in the background “I Will Always Love You.”

Sadly, the video isn’t on YouTube but the audio is:

Bits & Pieces

Kenneth refers to making out as “European kissing.”

Tracy has an Oscar made of chocolate.

Jenna uses a rubber chicken in her photo shoot. The rubber chicken will return…

Josh’s flip phone and Tracy’s Razr both appeared in this episode, making me nostalgic for mediocre cell phones.

Jon Stewart is the grandson of Saul Sheinhardt, owner of NBC’s parent company, Sheinhardt Wigs.

Things we know about Josh: Was photographed rough housing with Lance Bass at SeaWorld. Was opening for a puppet when Liz found him. Performs well with 13 to 24 year-old girls.

Fat Ballz is studying hotel management at Cornell.

Tracy sent money to help a Nigerian prince and succeeded.

Character I related to most: Liz when she says, “I love America. just because i think gay dudes should be allowed to adopt kids and we should all have hybrid cars doesn’t mean i don’t love America” and winks. This used to be in my Facebook profile.

Best Jack one-liner: “Lemon what happened in your childhood to make you believe people are good?”

Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: His harmonizing is suspiciously good for someone who doesn’t seem to practice very often.

1. Not recommended.
2. Obviously not as prestigious as the Maxim list Avery Jessup makes.

Have i really been doing this two weeks? That’s impressive commitment for me.

—-

Before I begin, I have a pretty unrelated aside. Last night I watched the end of “27 Dresses” because I hate myself and I, like Liz, love James Marsden. But he was not the only “30 Rock” alum — can I call him that if he shot this film way before his “30 Rock” tenure — to show up. Because who was the best man but our very own…

JONATHAN.

Apparently right now he voices an Indian kid with an anthropomorphic snake on a Nickelodeon show called “Sanjay and Craig.” Good for you Jonathan.

—-

Like I mentioned on Day 1, “30 Rock” is a sitcom about a working woman that’s very interested in subverting the classic working-woman sitcoms. And this episode does that in a very clear way.

At the episode’s start, Frank mentions catching a “Designing Women” marathon on TV the night before. It’s about a sharp, liberal working woman and her more conservative, looks-obsessed sister as they run an interior design firm. The show became well-known for speeches the main character would make at the end of the episode, espousing her liberal beliefs and telling people off.

Are Jenna and Liz the modern versions of those sisters? We have no way of knowing. Liz also frequently goes into long, explanatory rants at the end of the episode that either she or another character subverts. “30 Rock” isn’t interested in Liz’s triumphs.

So in this episode, the writers criticize Liz for being too mean, which she kind of is sometimes. But then Lutz calls her the “C” word. Rachel Dratch, in her third appearance as the cat lady Lagreta Johansen, conveniently named one of her kittens “Runt” to help you figure out what the word is.

Anyway, Liz ends up doing all of the writers’ work because she wants them to like her, and Pete tells her to stick up for herself. The next day, she, half-asleep and full of garbled ideas from the “Designing Women” marathon she caught the night before.

She delivers this epic:

And then she subverts the brief moment of fulfillment by crying and falling asleep! Brilliant.

But that was only one hilarious half of a great episode.

The other main plot involved Jack taking Tracy to Don Geiss’ golf tournament so he can entertain Don with his “grandchildren’s favorite movie star.”

Jack painted this really terrifying portrait of Don:

Screenshot 2014-07-07 10.01.41Jack also gets some great double entendres in about Don:

Being in a foursome with this man can change your life

Tomorrow I’m going to be in an intense 6 hour foursome with 3 other men and Don Geiss is going to get all my attention and you’re just going to sit back and watch.

Next weekend Tracy and I are going to double team Don Geiss with our big ideas.

But the real gem is Tracy. When he meets Don, he asks him, “How come there’s no black people here? Black people can’t make light bulbs?” Then he calls the one black guy in the Don Geiss entourage “Carlton,” which Jack tries to save by reminding Don that “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” was on NBC. It doesn’t work.

Tracy refuses to play the role Jack wants him too, and embarrasses him as much as possible. Until Jack reminds him that he’s not a movie star anymore, since he hasn’t been in a movie in two years, and it might be in his best interest to suck up.

But I really like this Tracy plot because it reminds us that Tracy isn’t an idiot, that he’s very self aware about the way he portrays himself, and that he has moments of shrewd business acumen.

Bits & Pieces

Kenneth is in love with another page who has these really great NBC logo earrings. I want them. They also shared this amazing awkward movie quote exchange:

You make me a complete person.

When you said hello, you had me.

Best Pete one-liner: “If you’re worried about disgracing the National Broadcasting Company, you’re too late.”

Best Lutz sketch ideas: “Dancing With The Hobos,” “America’s Next Top Hobo,” “Hobo Eye For The Straight Guy,” and “The Amazing Hobo.” Again, it is a travesty that we never get to see these performed.

Best Frank hat: 1,000,000 Points

Kenneth allegedly majored in television theory at Kentucky Mountain Bible College. While KMBC does exist — and I encourage you to explore their website — that major sadly doesn’t.

BALD WRITER SPOKE.

I HAVE WEIRD SINUS STUFF.

I HAVE WEIRD SINUS STUFF.

Character I related to most: Liz. Being a woman in charge is hard.

Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: He’s pretty cut throat when it comes to page-related tasks, even when the girl he loves is involved.

And it’s Valentine’s Day at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. “30 Rock” tends to do Valentine’s Day episodes really well.1 This isn’t my favorite Valentine’s episode, but it was pretty good.

This is probably the least Liz-focused episode to date because every cast member has some plot to deal with. The overarching theme is that the writers have to stay up all night to finish the episode after some food-poisoning caused by Cleveland clams set them back.

1. Jack finalizes his divorce from Bianca and then wallows in a sea of pity and booze.

2. Tracy tries to spend the night with his wife, finally played by Sherrie Shepherd. Weird roleplaying ensues.

I am very annoying in real life, but very funny on this show.

I am very annoying in real life, but very funny on this show.

3. Jenna doesn’t understand why Frank always kills her when playing “Boff, Marry, Kill.”

4. Kenneth tries to get with Cerie after she says she would do him while playing “Boff, Marry, Kill.”

5. Liz receives flowers from a mystery person.

6. Pete forgot to get his wife a Valentine’s/Birthday gift.

7. Cerie is fighting with her fiance because she refuses to have a Greek Orthodox wedding because she disagrees with the church’s stance on Cyprus.

The main thrust is plot 1, which continues yesterday’s theme of humanizing Jack. He’s still a crazy rich person — a main asset in his divorce is an Arby’s he and Bianca bought because they love hamburgers — but he’s a flawed, broken, crazy rich person. He also mentions the love letters he wrote Bianca, which made me think of a young, romantic, hopeful Jack, and then I got sort of sad. He also specifically mentions making love on the floor of the Conchord with Bianca, and all references to the Conchord make me giggle.

This relationship is crazy screwed up though. No wonder Jack struggles to figure out what happiness is; he thinks this sex/hate/murder thing is love. I’m not sure I was struck by how sad Jack’s life is the first time I watched. So much focus is on Liz’s misery, but Jack isn’t doing better.

Also, Rachel Dratch appears again as his prostitute.

Never leave me Rachel

Never leave me Rachel

The other plot I find interesting is the Frank and Jenna plot. it all starts with the writers playing Boff, Marry Kill. Let’s talk about the two trios they consider.

The women: Jenna, Liz, Cerie.

Frank marries Liz, boffs Cerie, and kills Jenna. I’m not sure my choice would be the same. Liz and I are pretty similar — would our relationship go down in Jack and Bianca-esque flames? Potentially. I might just try to marry whoever was richest. In season one that might be Liz, but Jenna probably isn’t hurting financially either. And Jenna would probably do a lot of crazy stuff in bed…

So! Marry Liz, Boff Jenna, Kill Cerie. Sorry girl

The men: Toofer, Lutz, Kenneth. Cerie marries Toofer, kills Lutz and gets with Kenneth. Considering Kenneth in any sort of sexual way is weird, though. If I consider Kenneth’s future career, then I’d marry Kenneth, get with Toofer, and kill Lutz. Otherwise, Cerie is right.

Anyway, so Jenna confronts Frank about why he keeps hypothetically killing her, and he explains that she’s too fake. Honestly, he’s completely right. I think that’s part of the reason why the Liz and Jenna friendship falls a little flat sometimes. Jenna is so rarely genuine, and she might only become faker as the seasons continue and she becomes more famous.

Jenna is also right when she tells Frank, “You spend just as much time and energy trying to look look as I do trying to be beautiful.” But she’s still missing the authenticity point, though.

But I left this exchange thinking about what an amazing couple Frank and Jenna would have been. A quick perusal of Tumblr leads me to believe that literally one other person thinks this is a good idea. There appear to be no fan fiction stories about this couple.

But it actually feels like a really interesting couple. There are so many things Jenna thinks she wants, and Frank is none of those, but I think it would have helped her get in touch with her more authentic side. And Frank would have had to clean up his act. True love!

Alright, this mostly would have just been funny. But the actors have really good chemistry — which is why they end up with a lot of plot lines together — and seeing that turn into a long-term, romantic situation would have been funny.

But the biggest long-term plot development happens at the end, when Floyd walks in, having sent his flowers to Liz Lemon instead of his girlfriend, Liz Lemler.

And man, Floyd is gorgeous. And funny. This is the Liz relationship that I mourned until Kris arrived.

But our last moment of the episode was really weird because of this caption:

what.

what.

This has not appeared in any other episode’s captions. Also, the “30 Rock” captions, as I’ve mentioned, are full of things that people don’t say. Not mistakes, just words that aren’t said or are suddenly changed. An instrumental rap track has lyrics, an orgy at Elizabeth’s turns into an orgy at Elizabeth Hasslebeck’s. WHAT IS CAPTION MAX DOING?

Bits & Pieces

Jack goes on a long rant about Bianca while suddenly moving from place to place, indicating the passage of time. A similar montage showed Liz stealing a baby a few episodes ago. I never noticed how iconically “30 Rock” that narrative move is.

Best Liz one-liner: When she calls the flower shop to find out who send the flowers, she says, “No, I’m not with so many men that it’s impossible to tell who it’s from.”

Liz is taking off her bra when Floyd walks in. Classic Liz. Props to “30 Rock” for subverting the meet-cute.

Jenna participates in Vagina Day: “A group of celebrities who have never been invited to do the ‘Vagina Monologues’ improvise monologues about their lady parts for the homeless … just for them.”

Character I related to most: Liz because she’s alone on Valentine’s Day.

Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: When Cerie calls him an old-soul, he says, “My mama thinks so too. In fact, she’s pretty sure I’m the reincarnated soul of Adren Twyfer. He was our town minister who died in an organ fire.” ……….

1. I also love their Christmas episodes, season 6’s “St. Patrick’s Day” episode is amazing, and it’s probably the only show that has a Leap Day episode. I love you “30 Rock.”
2. We’re going to take a moment here to appreciate Cerie. She’s often just the silly millenial — before that word was in our lexicon — but she’s also pretty smart and funny.

This episode’s summary got me really excited and I wondered why I’ve never re-watched this episode. Then I watched and realized this episode is only OK.

Jack asks Liz to be his date for a Hapsburg prince, Jenna sneaks into the party to try to seduce said prince, and Tracy throws a party so Pete can get some.

This has to be the nerdiest set up for a sitcom episode ever. Has the Defenestration of Prague ever been mentioned on a TV show before? The main joke is that the Hapsburg’s tendency for inbreeding left them with a monstrous prince as the last of their line.

Baby hands forever remind me of Kristen Wiig.

Tiny hands forever remind me of Kristen Wiig.

Two incest plots in the last two episodes? What a crazy, random happenstance.

But the real focus of the episode is the relationship between Jack and Liz and Jack’s ex-wife. Jack, apparently, only sleeps with models and other assorted hotties because he’s afraid of love and commitment after his “surprisingly age-appropriate” ex-wife left him.

I only refer to Jack as John and it is weird!

I only refer to Jack as John and it is weird!

Jack pretends Liz is his live-in girlfriend to save face, but then Bianca tells Liz how unhappy this makes her. She says, “I can take the models, the Rockettes to Shakira, because ultimately I know they are going to leave him, but you? You can actually make him happy and that makes me want to sit on a knife.”

She also proclaims, “I can tell from the way he looks at you that he’s serious.”

Confession time. When I started “30 Rock,” I really wanted Jack and Liz to get together. I’ve heard that Alec Baldwin also wanted this, and you can sort of see it in his acting.

YOU GUYS ARE SO GOOD-LOOKING.

YOU GUYS ARE SO GOOD-LOOKING.

This episode both plays with the idea while also mocking it. Jack keeps telling Liz that she’s not his type — he dates models — and every time something sort of romantic-ish might happen, it’s played for laughs.

“30 Rock” also isn’t the type of show that’s interested in a slow-burn romance. This isn’t “The Office.” Jack and Liz actually getting together would only be weird. I’ll discuss this more eloquently when I get to season 7.

I was just discussing “When Harry Met Sally” with one of my best friends — who’s a man — so this episode is a really good counter to that movie. WHMS is one of my absolute favorite movies, but I don’t think its “Men and women can’t be friends thing is true.” I also hate the way Harry explains that philosophy. According to Harry,  those friendships don’t work because obviously the men will want to sleep with any women they spend time with. It’s a gross way to speak about men.

Liz and Jack are the proof that this isn’t true, and as Jack will say in six seasons, something happening between the duo would have cheapened what they had.

But can you blame me for sort of wanting it to happen?

Bits & Pieces

Will Forte is amazing as the Prince’s body man/announcer/thing.

Screenshot 2014-07-05 22.01.22

Character I related to most: Liz, when she was upset that she’d have to wear high heels to the birthday party. Down with foot oppression!

Pete does a crazy disturbing Elmo impression.

Best Jenna one-liner:

Liz: Maybe I’m Cinderella this time.

Jenna: No Liz, Cinderella is blonde.

At one point the music Tracy plays has no words, but the captions gave lyrics. It was weird.

Jack technically introduces Liz as “my live-in girlfriend Lemon,” apparently forgetting that she has a real name.

Jack dated Beyoncé. The captions at least got the accent mark right.

Jenna does some pretty hilarious dances to win over the prince. Sadly, I could not find a video of this. I should work on my gif skills.

The Hapsburgs also use Dr. Spaceman.

A scientific ranking of Jenna’s known exes from most to least attractive: The creepy Hapsburg prince, David Blaine.

Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: When he says, “Do you remember that movie ‘Footloose’ where those evil kids won in the end?”