Archives for posts with tag: robert carlock

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

Welcome to season two.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—-

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

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

During an interrogation on "Law & Order SVU"

During an interrogation on “Law & Order SVU”

"Heroes." 2007 was a simpler time.

“Heroes.” 2007 was a simpler time.

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

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

Screenshot 2014-07-15 20.23.29

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bits & Pieces

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

Screenshot 2014-06-30 09.44.09

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

Screenshot 2014-07-15 19.51.14

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

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

No.

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

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

Liz is the something old in Cerie’s wedding.

Best “Pride and Prejudice” (2005) reference:

Screenshot 2014-07-15 20.06.31

 

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

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

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

Best Cerie one-liner:

Liz: This veil costs more than my couch!

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

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

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

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“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.