This is gonna be bigger than when Tyra Banks put on that fat suit.

I’ve been thinking about how I write these posts, and they seem too synopsis-like for me. The point of this blog wasn’t to just summarize what happens. I think. The point of this project has been sort of unclear from the beginning.

But, while I’m interested in pointing out particularly funny jokes and recurring things I missed the first time, I want to get slightly more macro about this. So that starts with this post, even though this episode had many great lines and it’s hard to not just discuss those.

Our three plots:

1) Liz meets Oprah on an airplane. Oprah gives her lots of advice. Oprah turns out to be a precocious and adorable middle schooler named Pam. She’s really cute.

2) Kenneth finds out that Jack faked a bunch of Olympic events — tetherball, beer pong, women’s soccer — to raise American morale and stops looking up to him. Jack tries to teach him that morality isn’t as simple as he thinks.

3) Jenna and Tracy pull some “Freaky Friday” weirdness (their words) to see who has it harder: black men or women.

The local news just informed that two years from today, we’ll be watching the Opening Ceremonies of the Summer Olympics. I love you, Olympics.

One of the best things about this episode is the interplay between Tracy and Jenna, which becomes more frequent as the show continues because they have such great chemistry. They both seem dumb, but are incredibly conniving and shallow, leading to hijinks.

But also I think there’s a lot of love there. At the end of this episode, they sing “Lean on Me” to each other, and Jack breaks it up.

The core of “30 Rock” is really the love between these people, and it’s easy to focus almost solely on Jack and Liz, but this episode really shows how important the other relationships are. Jack really cares what Kenneth thinks about him, despite of himself. Kenneth continues to love everybody. (And television. End list.) And Tracy and Jenna don’t get each other and are often petty, but they also love each other in their weird way.

And interestingly, Pam/Oprah tells Liz that Jenna and Tracy take the place of children in her life, an idea they return to in season seven. But that’s a type of love too, even if it’s a weird one to have for grown-ups.

Anyway, here are some screen caps of weird things that happened:

Grizz and Dotcom got a boat!

Grizz and Dotcom got a boat!

Liz dresses as Princess Leia to get out of jury duty. iconic.

Liz dresses as Princess Leia to get out of jury duty. iconic.

Tracy is terrifying.

Tracy is terrifying.

Honestly, I am always sad this isn't really Oprah. But like, also it is really Oprah! Liz never met Oprah but Tina did! I have feelings.

Honestly, I am always sad this isn’t really Oprah. But like, also it is really Oprah! Liz never met Oprah but Tina did! I have feelings.

LOOK HOW CUTE PAM IS.

LOOK HOW CUTE PAM IS.

I did not remember this quote but it's amazing.

I did not remember this quote but it’s amazing.

Until tomorrow.

Advertisements

That theme park fire didn’t destroy any of the stuff it was supposed to.

It’s the beginning of season three and also it’s my birthday! This seems like a good sign, because beginnings are good.

Ummmm but also because it’s my birthday I’m not going to write anything right now. Sorrz. I’ll come up with something tomorrow.

Thanks kids.

I haven’t felt this energized at work since the 2 weeks when they tried to teach us Farsi!

And we made it to the end of season two.

Season one ended with Jack having a heart attack and almost getting married to the worst person ever, Liz ending her relationship with Floyd, and Tracy being chased by a bunch of black celebrities.

At the beginning of season two, Jack and Liz were both convinced that this was their year, only to have those illusions shattered 24 minutes later. But Jack was still on the path to success and Liz was trying to make it as a single woman.

Season two really only broke them more.

Our finale:

1) Liz thinks she’s pregnant with Dennis’ baby. Mixed feelings ensue.

2) Jack is working for the Bush administration, which is falling apart.

3) Tracy is finishing his porn video game.

4) Kenneth tries to get his Beijing Summer Olympics Page application in on time.

My favorite thing about the Liz plot is that she calls Jack all day long and leaves him voicemails. When he gets to the last one — she’s not pregnant — his face drops.

This is the face of your best friend.

This is the face of your best friend.

So he races back to New York to find out how she’s doing. It was, apparently, the sabor de soledad.

HOW COULD YOU BETRAY US?

HOW COULD YOU BETRAY US?

So the Jack and Liz friendship takes center stage, and I have feelings. Though at the beginning of the episode he tells Liz there’s nothing left for him at G.E., by the end it’s clear that there is something left — Elizabeth Lemon.

My second favorite thing about this plot was this line, which I say all. the. time. And I’m not sure I even realized I was quoting Liz.

Screenshot 2014-08-03 20.05.45

My third favorite thing is that we saw Dennis. I have finally come to terms with the fact that I love Dennis so much because I am weirdly attracted to him, even though he’s an Islanders fan — eww.

Apparently I’m the only one who didn’t realize I was into him:

Screenshot 2014-08-03 21.33.05

 

Anyway, Liz decides she’s going to try to adopt. Yay!

Jack’s plot includes Matthew Broderick as the needy, sad bureaucrat Cooter Berger, which is just a nickname given to him by the President because GW thought he looked like a dog and he was eating a burger. Sound like any other sitcom characters you know?

Jack’s job is the worst. The ceiling leaks, they don’t have any pens, and Cooter is a stage five clinger. Example of the disaster that is the Bush Administration:

Jack: Your ceiling appears to be leaking.

Cooter: No, it’s not. We’ve looked into it and it’s not.

But then Jonathan calls with exciting news:

#teamjonathan

#teamjonathan

So Jack wants to resign but Cooter won’t let him, because Jack is his only friend. So they decide to revive this old government program that makes a gay bomb that would make enemy combatants gay, knowing it’ll nuke their careers and get them fired.

That time they accidentally set off the gay bomb in the Pentagon

That time they accidentally set off the gay bomb in the Pentagon

So Jack will be back, but is he the same Jack we once knew, focused solely on Don Geiss’ job? We’ll find out together.

Meanwhile, Kenneth’s plot gives us two gems:

Screenshot 2014-08-03 19.57.42

 

Pete was almost an Olympic archer.

Screenshot 2014-08-03 20.14.57

Jenna sings the greatest self-aggrandizing song about another person ever.

Also Donnie the evil page shows up, so that’s nice continuity.

The Tracy plot was funny also, but I don’t have anything else to say about it?

In sum: good season. Jack and Liz will continue to try to be happy, which is the human condition. We will laugh at them

Perfect Pairing

Weird pick, but I’m going with the first episode of season two of “Friday Night Lights.” Coincidentally, that season also took place during the writers’ strike. Anyway, great show. The episode shows the beloved Coach Taylor outside his town, coaching a college team, and it’s just as weird as seeing Jack outside his home environment. Also his wife, the indomitable Tammy, gives birth this episode, so it continues our baby themes.

Bits & Pieces

The Bush Administration calls it the war on the poor. Oops.

Judi Dench did a voiceover for Tracy’s porn video game.

We get more luscious views of Kathy Geiss’ office when Liz bursts in, forgetting Jack isn’t there:

Screenshot 2014-08-03 20.03.35

Liz’s single mom role models are Erin Brockovich and Sarah Connor. One of these things is way better than the other.

The pilot opened with discussion of Cerie’s wedding. That subject was promptly dropped for the rest of the season.

Character I related to most: Pete because he seems to love the Summer Olympics just as much as I do.

Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: When we see him in Beijing, it appears he’s gotten into some real trouble with the Chinese mob. May be impervious to bullets.

I’ll do it! But only for the attention!

Before we get to the “30 Rock” stuff, I saw “Guardians of the Galaxy” this morning and it was amazing!!! In addition to action, adventure, etc. it was also insanely funny. 10/10 would recommend.

And then I got to watch another of my favorite episodes! Our plots:

1) Floyd is stuck in New York stays with Liz. Uh oh.

2) Jack copes with Devon trying to push him out of GE. His office is on the 12th floor. Uh oh.

3) It’s sandwich day and the writers ate Liz’s sandwich. Only the teamsters know where to get more. Uh oh.

Part of the reason why I love this episode is because I know where the sandwich store is! Or, I guess, if I were a teamster, I know what my sandwich store would be.

Paneantico Bakery, which was right by my high school. They have the greatest sandwiches in the whole universe, and they come with great dipping sauce. All we know about the place the teamsters go is that it is some obscure spot in Brooklyn, and to all the jaded Manhattanites (I googled that, but it still seems wrong) of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, Bay Ridge is definitely obscure.

So I’m standing by that.

As far as “30 Rock” episodes go, this one is pretty depressing. Jack quickly spirals until he ends up somewhere … bad.

At the episode’s start, we find him at Don Geiss’ bedside, reading him the “Communist Manifesto” in hopes that his anger will wake him up. But he quickly bursts into tears (twice in two episodes!).

Then we see him in his old office, now Kathy Geiss’. It’s full of unicorns and photos of Marky Mark/Mark Wahlberg. And apparently she sent the entire company an email that was just a link to photos of cats wearing bow ties.

Bow down.

Bow down.

Jonathan, too, is ripped apart by Jack’s demotion. He suggests that Jack use his government contacts to get a position in D.C., to which Jack responds, “The Bush Administration? … Good God I’d rather work for an American Car Company than work for that sinking ship.”

Jonathan, meanwhile, has made him a beautiful friend collage, and sadly sings “I Will Remember You” by Sarah McLachlan as he leaves.

Screenshot 2014-08-02 14.28.59

I should really try to work in props, because assembling this collage had to be a lot of fun.

Jack and Liz have an awkward encounter in the elevator where he won’t tell her he works on the 12th Floor. Liz is your friend Jack! 😦

So he ends up drunk at Don Geiss’ bedside when a nurse with a ghostly voice (He was struck by lightening as a child. There was a movie.) tells him to leave. He takes this as a sign, and when he goes to Liz for advice, she’s too wrapped up in her stuff to realize he’s flailing.

But she realizes it at the end of the episode when the news show on the airport television reports that Bush has just appointed Jack Homeland Security Director of Crisis and Weather Management.

Oh right, the airport. How did we get there?

Floyd calls Liz and tells her that he’s stuck in New York. She decides,”For once I am not gonna be Jan Brady. I’m gonna be Marcia Brady, dammit.”

And then a football hits her in the nose, seemingly confirming that she is, in fact, Marcia.

Oh my nose!

So Liz looks great and she and Floyd hang out until 4:30 AM and everything is great.

Though this was such an awful thing to say, right? Like, you're the one that left, Floyd.

Though this was such an awful thing to say, right? Like, you’re the one that left, Floyd.

Until Floyd’s airline is cancelled, and he asks if he can stay at Liz’s again. You might think that cancelled airline thing is a joke, but that actually happened to my friend when he was leaving Chile. The airline declared bankruptcy that day and all the flights were cancelled. Not a good time.

But Liz can’t be cool and cute anymore and asks about the girl who answered Floyd’s phone. Just when he’s about to discuss their break-up, he finds out he got a new flight and leaves.

Until Liz is casually running through the park and sees Floyd. She’s in the middle of singing “Bitch,” which reminded me of this iconic scene of someone else in athletic clothes singing this amazing song:

(P.S. Please watch “Orphan Black.” Thanks.)

Anyway so Floyd admits that he’s “The Michael Clayton of Cleveland” because he’s handsome and a lawyer, so he’s been sleeping around, and Liz gets really upset. He really just wants to “Fast forward to being friends again.”

But then he blames her for not moving to Cleveland with him, which is super silly because he could have stayed in New York instead of moving, so the blame is at least equal, if not entirely on him. Expecting someone you just started dating to move to OHIO for you is a crazy thing to do, way weirder than for your girlfriend to be upset that you moved on so quickly and she misses you. This show totally lets Floyd off the hook for all the things he’s done.

And then Jack does something completely unexpected and gives good advice!

Lemon, life is about minimizing regrets. You never know when someone’s going to slip into a coma and leave you regretting all the things you didn’t say, or get in writing from the company’s lawyers. What I’m trying to say is you’re young, and you still haven’t blown it completely. So don’t start now.

So she goes to the airport and reconciles with him. Well, after scarfing down a sandwich at security.

Amazing

Amazing

And they leave the door open for more Floyd in the future.

Meanwhile, the writers ate Liz’s sandwich and have to get a new one from the teamsters. In order to do that, they have to beat them in a drinking contest. Except Kenneth doesn’t drink, Tracy still has an ankle monitor, and Frank has been taking antibiotics. So they ask Jenna:

A drinking contest? What am I 12 and at my boyfriend’s frat party?

Jenna agrees to do it, “but only for the attention,” which honestly is like the only reason I have ever agreed to compete in any sort of drinking game and isn’t nearly as weird as “30 Rock” wants us to think.

Anyway, they all get drunk and sing “Danny Boy” together and get Liz that sandwich. Good job.

Perfect Pairing:

This one is hard because there’s no unifying theme. But, I’m picking “Indianapolis”, the season 3 episode of “Parks and Recreation.” Ron and Leslie go to Indy and all Ron wants is a steak from this specific restaurant, only to find out it’s been closed. It’s very depressing for him. This is also the episode where Ann realizes that Chris broke up with her and she didn’t notice, which feels like a good balance to Liz’s Floyd-angst.

Bits & Pieces:

Best Frank hat: Speling Expirt

Best response to someone saying you look great, via Liz: Do I? I’m pretty tired from playing as hard as I work.

Most accurate depiction of New York: One day it is snowing. The next it is 90 degrees and humid.

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

Floyd was demoted for being unreasonably mean to Liz. And for using Ghostbuster for evil.

Character I related to most: Jenna, when she agrees to compete in the drinking contest for the attention.

Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: He appears completely unaffected by the alcohol, though he does reveal that alcohol is hill people juice, and he’s been drinking it since he was a baby.

Why is leaving your children a legacy that will live forever so hard? It’s been thirty minutes.

There are only two more episodes in season 2 after this once, which is unfortunate. Curse you WGA writers’ strike of 2007-2008! What a dark time.

Thankfully we got this amazing episode to tide us over. Undoubtedly, this was the nerdiest episode since the Hapsburg Prince of season 1, but its nerdiness only comes through midway through the episode.

Tracy, realizing he needs to leave a legacy his kids can be proud of, decides to invent a porn video game. He presents the idea to Frank, who explains the uncanny valley to him using “Star Wars” characters as his good examples (We hadn’t gotten a “Star Wars” reference in a while), and Tom Hanks in “The Polar Express” as his bad example. WHICH IS TRUE.

The only good thing about this movie is the Josh Groban song.

Anyway, so Tracy says, “I’m like Mozart. you’re like that guy that was always jealous of Mozart.” Frank reminds us that his name was Salieri.

And then only Mozart music plays for the rest of the episode! Because, like “Amadeus,” this is a story about epic rivalries.

Jack and Devon are fighting for the CEO job, and Frank is the Salieri to Tracy’s pornographic Mozart.

At the episode’s beginning, we find out that Don Geiss has picked Jack as his successor, and Jack uses his one lifetime cry in his moment of joy.

I want my mother to know before she dies so she can go to her grave a defeated woman.

Still, Devon Banks is afoot and Jack knows it’s not over until it’s over.

But when Liz throws herself at Devon in order to blackmail him, Jack knows she should be his successor and brings her into the amazing world of mid-level NBC executives. This was a great episode for my Liz and Jack friendship feels. I don’t know if you noticed, but I just love their friendship so much. And this episode really let it blossom.

And we get two of the most iconic lines in the history of “30 Rock”:

AND

That gif might be the Liz Lemon moment I identify most with, since moi aussi, je parle un peu de francais.

Anyway, Don Geiss tells Devon he’s giving it to Jack and is pretty depressed about it. He tells Jack, “It’s like when Christian won ‘Project Runway’ even though Rami was clearly the better draper.” Which is probably the worst analysis of “Project Runway” ever, because all Rami did was drape things and he really didn’t have the same creative vision as Christian who, coincidentally, is like by far the most famous PR winner. So wow, your judgement sucks Devon.

Meanwhile, Tracy is running himself into the ground trying to make this game. Frank helps him, JUST LIKE SALIERI, but will this break Tracy’s spirit? WE HAVE NO WAY OF KNOWING.

Speaking of which! Liz forgets to give Don Geiss food, so he goes into a diabetic coma. Who do you call when there’s a medical emergency?

Guess what's playing as he runs dramatically down the hall! MOZART.

Guess what’s playing as he runs dramatically down the hall! MOZART.

And Tracy is saying things like “My genius is coming alive, like toys when your back is turned.” And Frank is yelling things like: “I’VE GIVEN MY WHOLE LIFE TO PORN AND HE DOES IT IN ONE DAY.”

Sorry Salieri

Sorry Salieri

It’s a great montage.

Ummmm but shockingly Dr. Spaceman is incapable of helping Geiss, who enters a diabetic coma.

Devon goes behind Jack’s back (“I tried to call you but not on a phone so you may not have heard me.”) to get a new CEO installed, one that will keep the Geiss family intact:

Screenshot 2014-08-01 21.02.40

Let’s be real:

So things don’t end so well for Jack, but they did turn out well for  me when Dr. Spaceman referenced by favorite “30 Rock” inside joke with myself:

Screenshot 2014-08-01 21.00.16

 

Perfect Pairing

The perfect episode pair for this is “The Job,””The Office” Season 3 finale, which I watched while writing this post. Michael, Jim, and Karen (what’s up, Rashida Jones?) are all up for a job at corporate. Michael, like Jack, is assuming it’s a done deal, though, unlike Jack, he has absolutely no to think this. And then Michael doesn’t get it. And ends up with Jan again. So this was not a good 42 minutes for him.

This episode also has a rivalry at its center, Karen vs. Pam. Though their rivalry is much more passive aggressive. Actually, calling it a rivalry makes it sound weird? They just both really like Jim?

Pam and liz actually have very similar series arcs. They start out very willing to settle for what they have — Pam settles for Roy, Liz settles for her gross spinsterhood — and then grow and change and take charge of their destiny and become happy. Yay ladiez!

And Michael picks Dwight to be his successor, just like Jack picks Liz. Similarly, Liz has no plan similar to Schrute Bucks:

Screenshot 2014-08-01 22.22.17

One more similarity!

Screenshot 2014-08-01 22.16.49

Bits & Pieces

The head of the stress ball division hanged himself because the race for Don Geiss’ job was too stressful.

I hate when Jenna is absent for a whole episode.  😥

Liz is eating Sabor De Soledad when Jack finds her hiding from the writers and reading about scientists who live with gorillas, which seems to be her dream (?).

Best Devon one-liner: “Like taking candy from one of those guys that gives out candy at gay night clubs.”

Sometimes Lutz calls in sick with March Madness. Honestly, this almost seems too clever for Lutz.

Jack has a naughty stool for Jonathan when he’s bad, and Jonathan loves sitting on it? I love this.

Character I related to most: Liz. See above.

Liz spends most of the first act of the episode running around in her TGS sweatshirt. Again, my birthday is Monday…

Tracy’s description of Han Solo: “He acts like he doesn’t care, but he does.” True life.

Where Liz sees herself in 5 years: “Realistically, teaching improv on a cruise ship.”

Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: When he says, “Everyone knows the only thing we should be ashamed of is our bodies.”

I don’t care if you’re making an omelet, a baby, or a television show. Things are gonna get weird.

Dennis is back!!!!! Maybe it’s episodes like this one, which is firing on all cylinders, that makes me love Dennis so much. Or maybe it’s a subconscious thing. A few weeks ago, a friend brought this tweet to my attention, asking who it was referencing:

The only answer is Dennis. Is my love of Dennis subconsciously tied to my love for Jimmy Fallon? Are Liz and I just both suckers for dumb Irish guys? We have no way of knowing.

So! Dennis has returned because he is our eponymous Subway Hero because he saved someone who fell on the subway tracks. (Am I the only person who thinks that title is amazing? Because Subway makes sandwiches which they call subs, but New Yorkers would call them heroes…) Like the maple syrup plot before it, this is a very real thing that happens all the time. People save people who fall on the tracks, are in the media spotlight for a few days, and then fade from view.

Dennis’ fame means that Jack wants him on TGS, so he’s back in Liz’s life.

Luh dat news crawl

Luh dat news crawl

In case you were wondering what happened to Dennis after his “To Catch a Predator” appearance, Jack lets us know he was exonerated. “The whole thing was one big misunderstanding. Like the Giuliani campaign.”

And then Dennis pulls out some classic Dennis lines: He’s teaming up with the Stanley Cup to fight illiteracy. He was inspired by Derek Jeter to save that person — his hatred of Derek Jeter.

Jenna appears as the voice of reason, which, you may have noticed, literally only happens when Dennis is around. Jenna is completely insane and narcissistic every other episode, but Dennis shows up and she’s laying down the law. I think this might be a weakness: the show wants Liz to have a female friend, but they also want Jenna to be crazy. But “30 Rock” isn’t real life — it’s some heightened, absurd form of reality — so it gets away with it. Anyway, we get exchanges like this so it’s OK:

Jenna: Dennis is like those spanish Cheetos … You know those are bad for you but you keep stuffing them into your mouth because it’s easier to do that than to bother to eat well.

Liz: That’s a weak metaphor.

And those Mexican Cheetos? The iconic Sabor de Soledad!

I love this show.

Sabor de Soledad translates roughly to “the taste of loneliness.” I love this show.

And thankfully, Jenna’s advice gets even worse. Liz says Dennis isn’t so bad because she doesn’t have to try with him, and can not shave and sleep all the time and eat junk food, and isn’t love about being yourself? Cue Jenna’s craziness:

Love is hiding who you really are at all times, even when you’re sleeping. Love is wearing makeup to bed and going downstairs to Burger King to poop and hiding alcohol in perfume bottles. That’s love.

The magic of “30 Rock” is contained in the fact that they’re both wrong. No one on this show is able to give good advice for more than a second, and there’s something deeply human about that.

Anyway, I literally wrote, DENNIS IS THE RAT KING, RUN LIZ. So you can imagine how this was going.

So then Jack accidentally/maybe on purpose inspires Dennis to seize the moment with Liz, so he decides to stop overthinking (which, as Liz opines, was never his problem) and proposes in front of a large crowd. Thankfully she says no, and the crowd boos. But the mob turns their vitriol on Dennis when he says, ” I could get any girl here I want. And not just the fatties and the butterfaces.”

So Jack bumps Dennis off the show because the Subway Hero’s minute is over and America now obsessed with a bird that dialed 9-1-1 and yelled, “Fire!” Jack scoffs at Liz when she suggests he made this business decision for her, but then he makes this face when she isn’t looking:

I once read that Alec Baldwin, like me, really wanted Jack and Liz to be a thing, and it's faces like this that make me believe that.

I once read that Alec Baldwin, like me, really wanted Jack and Liz to be a thing, and it’s faces like this that make me believe that.

THAT IS THE FACE OF SOMEONE WHO BASES HIS BUSINESS DECISIONS ON LIZ’S NEEDS.

So Liz tries to comfort Dennis about his loss of fame, saying, “If reality TV has taught us anything it’s that you really can’t keep people with no shame down” and then he tries to throw her in front of the subway. And I cackled. Oh Dennis. Until we meet again.

Our other two plots:

1) Jack tries to get Tracy to be the new celebrity face of the Republican party.

2) Kenneth gives a tour to an old NBC star, Bucky Bright, and is scandalized by his stories of old NBC, until he realizes that present day NBC is just as weird.

The first of those involves a lot of great jokes, like McCain’s campaign being funded by the Committee to Reinvade Vietnam, Bruce Willis insisting he gets to sing if he’s going to appear at the McCain fundraiser, and Tracy trying to tell “Blackmericans” that MLK hates the estate tax. He also has a “We Didn’t Start The Fire”-inspired dream in which Jack plays Nixon and Toofer plays Sammy Davis Jr., who was, apparently, a Republican.

Screenshot 2014-07-31 21.37.19 Screenshot 2014-07-31 21.37.53

What.

Anyway, they realize that black people will never vote Republican, so instead they record an ad telling black people to just not vote. Don’t do it.

The other great thing about this plot is that DotCom finally shows off his trademark intelligence when Jack tells Tracy that Lincoln was a Republican. DotCom tells him that today’s Republicans “would be unrecognizable to Lincoln”

Screenshot 2014-07-31 21.33.49

DotCom ❤

Perfect Pairing

So this is a new thing I’m going to try where I match “30 Rock” episodes to other TV episodes. This one reminded me of the season two “Mindy Project” episode “L.A.” where Mindy reconnects with her ex-boyfriend Casey (who sucks, and not in a charming Dennis Duffy way) when she goes to L.A., knowing that it’s a bad idea. Mindy and Liz both know that they shouldn’t do it, and they do anyway. Sigh.

Bits & Pieces

Jack refers to Chuck Norris as C. Norr.

Most iconic exchange:

Kenneth: Choosing is a sin so I always write in the Lord’s name.

Jack: That’s republican we count those.

Bucky Bright calls jeans dungarees, which was cute because my grandmother also does that.

Best Frank hat: Exactly

Bucky Bright finds a “gigantic lesbian” at 30 Rock. “Who is Conan O’Brien and why is she so sad?” 😦

Dennis says a lot of amazing things this episode, but my favorite might be when he describes his political views as socially conservative and fiscally liberal.

My second favorite is when he accuses the firefighter’s exam of bias against Irish people.

Frank is not a hero and has watched seven people die in subway stations.

Character I related to most: Liz when she realizes the Mexican Cheetos are junk, but can’t stop eating them.

Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: He’s the only one who recognizes Bucky Bright, who was “famous” way before he was born.

“It has sex, lies, puberty, betrayal, relay races. MILF Island reflects the drama of the human experience. And isn’t that the essence of art?”

Dear “30 Rock,”

I’m sorry that I have been neglectful in the last week. I promise to not miss anymore days. If you, dear readers, have ideas for silly things I can do to make up for this lapse, please comment with those ideas.

Thankfully, “30 Rock” gave me a great episode to get me back in the swing of things. Well, actually this was just a fine episode that was elevated by the amazing idea that is “MILF Island.”

“MILF Island,” which had been previously mentioned, is some combination of “Survivor” and puberty. Our episode takes place the night of the show’s finale. Jack wants to bask in his glory as the brain behind the show, but PageSizx has reported that one of the TGS writers thinks he’s a “Class-A Moron” and that he should eat his/her poo.

It’s unclear if it was obvious from the beginning that it was Liz or if I just suddenly remembered it, having suppressed the plot of this episode somewhere deep in my memory. Anyway, Liz holds the writers hostage until one of them  confessed, but then she remembers that she did it, and awkwardness ensues.

Jack, for his part, seems really scarred by her words, since he was designated a “Class-A Moron” by the state of Massachusetts and had to overcome being in a special class with a kid named Gilly. Sadly not this Gilly.

And then Jack starts stuttering and I got suckered in and thought the whole thing was really sad. I literally wrote that in my notes: “This is really sad.” I’m just a really big sucker for Liz and Jack’s friendship.

The funniest thing about this episode is that “MILF Island” is playing constantly in the background and the players’ actions and the commentary by the show’s host mirror Liz’s actions. Like Deborah (pronounced Deh-bore-ah), the best MILF of them all (?), Liz isn’t here to make friends. Liz will do anything, including sacrificing her principles, to not have Jack find out it was her. She even lets Kenneth take the fall, but not before he gets a passive aggressive comment in:

I couldn’t lie anymore,sir because everyone knows the weight of a lie makes your soul so heavy that you can’t rise up to heaven. And you don’t look good in jeans from behind.

Ya burnt.

But, of course Jack knows that it was Liz the whole time. And here’s where the episode gets “30 Rock” — there’s no lesson to be learned, no moment of peace. Jack just uses this to blackmail Liz into writing a TV show for Deborah.

On the one hand, I shouldn’t have expected anything else form “30 Rock,” but on the other hand I really wanted to think he didn’t know and this was genuine. Liz told him about the extra foot she was born with so he’d feel better!

The episode’s subplot involved Pete getting his arm stuck in a vending machine and it is FUNNY. Pete does not get enough love and this is a travesty. What a strange, interesting character.

Or maybe Pete isn’t interesting. Isn’t half of television about serious white men in mid-life crises? Maybe what makes Pete interesting is that, instead of being the main, sulky character, he’s the funny background one, whose story we only learn in bits. I’ll think about it.

Bits & Pieces

THE FIRST APPEARANCE OF THE FART MACHINE SKETCH.

Screenshot 2014-07-30 21.43.21

Josh is worried Jack thinks he said it, and Liz replies, “I think you’re safe because I think he forgot you’re a person.” Awkward because it’s true.

One of the MILF Island contestants died when she drunkenly fell into quicksand. Quicksand, I think, is wildly misrepresented on TV. As in it is mentioned way more often than people encounter it in real life. I’ll do some research about this.

Kenneth gets sleepy when he’s stressed. Kenneth and I have that in common.

Character I related to most: Liz, when Tracy thought a Cathy cartoon has plagiarized her life. Specifically this panel:

I read Cathy all the time when I was younger. Like ten years old. In retrospect, that was weird.

Best Tracy one-liner: “I love it up here. It’s hot, it’s loud, there’s no pizza. It’s like Miami.”

Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: None really. Maybe a little too obsessed with virtue and goodness?

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

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

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

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

German television is probably like this?

German television is probably like this?

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

Screenshot 2014-07-28 23.06.24

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And Gladys Knight herself appears.

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

#teamRDJ #always

Bits & Pieces

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Merry Christmas from SheinhardtUniversal everyone!

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

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

Our three plots:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sup Mr. Tina Fey

Sup Mr. Tina Fey

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

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

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

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

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

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

Screenshot 2014-07-27 20.30.42

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

Bits & Pieces

Bald writer/Kevin Miller appears again!

Screenshot 2014-07-27 19.55.25

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Screenshot 2014-07-27 20.04.47

 

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

This corporation has a very strict bros before hoes policy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our plots:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jenna: And for all the attention they get.

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

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

I donated to NPR last year.

My children go to public school.

I’m gay.

I’m black.

I murdered my wife.

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

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

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

Some photographic evidence of how great this plot was:

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

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

Bits & Pieces

Most iconic exchange:

Jack: We are lovers.

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

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

Best Frank hat: See above.

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

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

Kenneth’s favorite pizza topping is plain.

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

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

Jack listens to John Legend.

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