Archives for posts with tag: sitcoms

I’m thirty-seven, please don’t make me go to Brooklyn.

I got into an argument with one of my best friends. Does Jack actually give good advice? I remarked that I was impressed that he has successfully mentored someone in the past, while he staunchly defended Jack. I’ve decided that I need to keep track of Jack’s advice each episode. Thankfully, he gives a lot of advice this episode! But I’m getting ahead of myself…

Our three plots:

1. Liz dates the coffee boy, Jamie, who is younger than her. Liz: “He is cute. He looks like Zac Efron. That’s a thing, right?” Jenna is jealous of her cougar status.

2. Tracy coaches a little league team in Knuckle Beach, a “bad neighborhood” which I have always assumed is a stand-in for Far Rockaway, and Jack tries to help.

3. Frank is gay for  Jamie. Just Jamie.

(Note: I keep spelling Jamie like Jaime Lannister. Jaime > Jamie. Sorry Jamie.)

So Jamie the coffee boy asks out Liz, who he thinks is 29. He says he’s 25. Not bad.

Except she’s 37 and he’s 20. I am older than Jamie. I am not OK with this.

But Jack convinces Liz to go with it, because it’s fun and she’s, in fact, a catch (I feel vindicated, I guess), and she needs to put herself out there. So she goes with it, and it works out pretty OK.

Until she meets his mom:

Screenshot 2014-07-21 23.06.45

Bye Jamie and your mid-2000s blond highlights.

Meanwhile, Jenna dates a “freshman at NYU” who is clearly no older than 14. He rides away on his Heelys. It’s great.

Meanwhile, Tracy’s little league team quickly gets out of hand. Only “30 Rock” could make little league baseball a metaphor for the war in Afghanistan.

Tracy tells Jack he can’t help the team because he doesn’t understand them. Jack responds:

I don’t have to understand their world in order to help them. It’s like this great country of ours. We can go into any nation, impose our values, and make things better. It’s what Bush is doing all over the globe.

And then we get visuals like this:

Screenshot 2014-07-21 22.56.28

The thing gets really heavy-handed, and that makes it funnier, honestly. He asks Tracy to make a coalition. He fixes the problem with a surge — Grizz and Dotcom join the team. I once read an article about how “Arrested Development” was really important to liberals during the Bush years because it helped them realize they weren’t that crazy and there were other liberals out there. “30 Rock” is for the post-Bush liberal, confused and excited, but also kind of dumb.

Plot three is also amazing. You may have realized that I love Frank a lot. and finally he got a plot all his own, where he does things like paint one-armed unicorn mermaids with bigfoot for Jamie.

Screenshot 2014-07-21 23.03.01

Liz: “You can’t be gay for one person. Unless you’re a lady and you meet Ellen.”

But Frank apparently really is gay for one person, announcing to his new friends at a gay bar, “You guys are great, a lot of fun to dance with, and you smell great,” but he’s just not into them.

As he leaves the bar, Muffintop blasts. Yessssss.

Back to the question at hand: Did Jack give good advice this episode? I’m blue, my friend is gray.

Screenshot 2014-07-22 00.11.24

Yooo actually everyone should listen to that song. Here’s a link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8twpQTna_9w

Now, our general conversation was about whether Jack is a good mentor. Technically he’s not Tracy’s official mentor, so should his missteps in that area count against him? Not sure.

Bits & Pieces

Bald writer/Kevin Miller appears!

sup.

sup.

Best Frank Hat: In an episode of greats, the winner is “Burrito.”

Jamie has never been in a cab with less than seven people. Same, dude.

Best Jack line: “Where did you two meet, an AMBER Alert?”

Jack sponsors a charity to give tuxedoes to homeless people. ***flawless

The ballpark at Knuckle Beach is Jefferson Davis Park. Best show.

Character I related to most: Liz when Jack accused her of not being fun, and her defense was that she goes on her roof sometimes.

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

A note about the above rankings: I feel like I might switch Gray and Floyd. Hmmm. And I feel like I’m forgetting someone. Am I?

Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: HE SHOWS US THIS REALLY WEIRD DRAWING OF A MONSTER, THEN SAYS THAT’S FROM HIS DREAM JOURNAL. THEN TELLS US THAT ALL HIS DREAMS HAVE COME TRUE. TERRIFYING.

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Stop eating people’s old french fries, pigeon. Have some self respect! Don’t you know you can fly?

The opening scenes of this episode flawlessly set us up for the plot to follow. Liz, Jack and Tracy all smell maple syrup. Jack’s afraid it might be Northrax, a chemical weapons we sold to Saudi Arabia that smells like maple syrup, but it kills you after ten seconds. Jack and Liz wait on the line for ten seconds before hanging up.

You should know that this is a real thing that has happened and that I have experienced. Jack posited it was coming from the factories in Staten Island, but it really came from Jersey. Staten Island probably would have been my top guess too, though.

Anyway, so many funny things happen that it’s really difficult to pick what to highlight. But here’s my best shot.

This was another heavy Jack episode. After attending a party thrown by “John McCain and Jack Bauer,” he meets and falls in love with a Democratic congresswoman, Celeste Cunningham (better known as C.C.), played by Edie Falco. C.C. is actively lobbying against NBC’s ownder, Sheinhardt Wig Company, which may or may not have dyed some kids orange. Oops

At first it almost doesn’t work out, since Jack orders a really girly drink, the Nancy Drew (he asserts it’s called a Hardy Boy when a man drinks it). It sounds like a summertime dark and stormy, though, so I kind of almost want one?

The Nancy Drew:

White Rum

Ginger ale (Jacks gets diet)

A splash of lime juice

Anyway it seems that political differences will ruin their relationship:

C.C.: I’m helping Hilary retool her universal healthcare plan.

Jack: God I want to kiss you on the mouth to stop you from saying such ridiculous things.

Until! C.C. reveals that she got into politics because a dog shot her in the face and she sued the gun company. And that Lifetime made a movie about it:

Subtitle: A dog took my face and gave me a better face to change the world. Bonus Kristen Wiig!

Subtitle: A dog took my face and gave me a better face to change the world.
Bonus Kristen Wiig!

Jack watches the movie and is moved by the plot, in which Celeste falls in love with the dog that shot her in the face, overcoming the odds for them to be together. He’s the dog, and he races to Celeste to declare his feelings and pursue and clandestine relationship. “We’ll ignore our differences until our sex goes bad and then we’ll walk away bitter and angry.”

Meanwhile, Liz thinks her neighbor, Raheem, played by Fred Armisen, is a terrorist because he’s mean to her, won’t shake her hand, filmed a weird video in the park, and has a lot of maps. Pete points out that she has a map, and she responds, “That’s different, that’s an antique and I’m a white lady.” Awkward.

But Liz’s terrified racism is sort of understandable given the episode’s cold open (the biological warfare that almost was) and the fact that New York is covered in signs that say, “IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING,” “IF YOU SUSPECT ANYTHING, DO EVERYTHING,” and, “WE DON’T POISON THE WORLD. TERRORISTS DO. -SHEINHARDT WIG COMPANY.” I mean, obviously Liz is wrong for calling the NSA on her neighbor, and she doesn’t have the best track record for not being racist, but in post-9/11 New York, people do dumb, dumb things.

Kenneth’s plot involves him trying to get enough money to replace the pants he lost, Jack’s $2,500 pants. The writers make him eat expired ketchup and scare Lutz. It’s funny.

Oh one more thing! Mid-episode Jack and Liz raves about Verizon phones. Liz then looks at the camera and asks, “Can we have our money now?” Another hilarious product-placement meta-moment of awesome.

Bits & Pieces

So starting from last episode, we’re seeing the episodes aired during the Writers’ Guild of America strike of 2007-2008. In this episode, the new crawl on MSNBC made some good jokes at the strike’s expense. It read: “Mysterious visitor from future wins lottery again. Wolf blitzer injured in wolf blitz. News crawl affected by writers strike – using repeat text from previous season.”

Most Jack thing Jack says: There were a lot of good candidates this episode, but I’m picking, “Your hair is your head suit.”

When Grizz and Dotcom bring Tracy a selection of pants, they bring him a pair of Sean John jeans. Do those still exist?

Jack plays “What The World Needs Now Is Love” on a piano at the party while singing and this attracts C.C.? It’s weird.

Tracy has some amazing ideas for pick-up lines:

Tell her that you want her privates and your privates to do a high five.

Tell her you want her to donate her body to science and you science.

And this amazing monologue about forbidden love:

Oh, I get it. Romeo and Juliet? Capulets and Romulans? Mmm hmm, I’ve been there. I’m black, she’s white. I’m black, she’s light-skinned black. I’m black, she’s seventeen.

A ranking of Jack’s love interests from best to worst: C.C., Condaleeza Rice, Bianca, Maureen Dowd, Phoebe. Phoebe is always last.

Best Frank hat: Karate Prom

Tracy lives in Jersey? What? Why? What?

Jack uses a photo of Ronald Reagan as a reference photo for his haircut.

Character I related to most: Maybe Pete yelling at Liz to stop being racist?

Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: He ate a whole bottle of expired ketchup and suffered no adverse health effects.

“Come on Liz, it’s the 90s.”

Today’s the first day I almost forgot that I had to do this, and then suddenly I remembered. That seems appropriate, because I had basically forgotten this episode existed, until I rewatched it for the first time about two months ago. I’m sorry I forgot you, episode, because this was funny.

1. Liz hires her comedy-writing hero Rosemary Howard (Carrie Fischer/Princess Leia) to work on the show. Rosemary is a hot mess and they both get fired.

2. Jenna burns Kenneth’s page jacket and tries to get him a new one from the creepy head page.

3. Jack tries to help Tracy resolve his daddy issues.

All three plots are really funny!

Liz meets Rosemary at a book-signing where she babbles and babbles and babbles. Rosemary replies, “You’re going to kill me, aren’t you?” I may have basically lived this in real life when I met Colum McCann at the beginning of May and rambled for like three minutes before running away. Not my best moment. Go read his books, though.

Anyway, this plot is great because it shows what Liz doesn’t want to be — lonely and old and insane. Visually this story is told really well since Rosemary and Liz both wear brown while Rosemary tries to convince Liz they’re the same.

Screenshot 2014-07-18 23.42.53

And then this happened:

Meanwhile, the page plot ends in a page-off, advertised on a sign as a “Page Dogfight.” But Pete shows up and breaks it up because “This is a billion dollar company” and shit like this is not supposed to be going down. Of course, this isn’t even the third craziest thing to happen at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, but it’s good to know they have limits.

And Tracy’s plot ends with Jack role-playing as all his family members. It’s super weird and completely hilarious.

Bits & Pieces:

Line of the episode: After Liz tells Jack how crazy Rosemary’s apartment was, he says, “Never follow a hippie to a second location.”

Tracy wants to dog fight, so Grizz and Dotcom get him tiny dogs to fight with.

Rosemary Howard’s apartment is in “Little Chechnya.” This reminded me of Mindy’s apartment hunting on “The Mindy Project” when she looks at an apartment in Little Chernobyl.

When Tracy meets the NBC therapist, he asks who’s crazier, “me or Ann Curry?”

Character I related to most: Liz. Not just when she was fangirling, but also when she said, “I have to make money and save it. And I have to do that thing that rich people do where they turn money into more money.” #financialilliteracy

After the season opener mention repeatedly that Jack can’t drink, he’s been drinking a lot.

Jack’s father, “belongs in the Smiling Irish Bastard Hall of Fame.”

Best 2007 reference: When Jenna says, “If I can’t be Mo’nique fat I have to be Terry Hatcher thin.”

Bald writer was in the writers’ room when Liz got her G.E. Followship Award. For excellence in following.

Jack pretends to fire Jonathan. It is sad.

Best Carrie Fischer exchange:

Liz: I grew up wanting to be you.

Rosemary: I grew up wanting to be Samantha Stevens on “Bewitched.” The closest I got was being married to a gay guy for two years.”

Best Dotcom line: “Man this is Phil Spector’s entourage all over again.”

Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: Had he fought the head page in a page-off, there may have been some. Alas, we’re left empty handed.

“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.

“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.

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.

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.

Upon seeing the episode’s title, I was extremely excited to watch, but after viewing, I realized Liz’s plotline is far superior to the other two.

1) Liz and Jenna have two guys they flirt with in the elevator. They refer to the good looking one as “The Hair” and the bald, weird one as “The Head.” The Head asks Liz out and she freaks out.

2) Jack is a page for a day.

3) Tracy gets Toofer and Frank to write his autobiography when he remembers that it’s due tomorrow.

The best thing from plotline 2 was this Kenneth quote:

Do you know why I put up with this pitiful job, Mr. Donaghy? Why I fetch these folks’ lunches and clean up their barfs? Because they make television. And more than jazz or musical theater or morbid obesity, television is the true American art form. Think of all the shared experiences television has provided for us, from the Moon landing to the Golden Girls finale; from Walter Cronkite denouncing Vietnam, to Oprah pulling the trash bag of fat out in the wagon; from the glory and the pageantry of the Summer Olympics, to the less fun Winter Olympics. So please, don’t tell me I don’t have a dream, sir. I am living my dream.

I get you Kenneth. Also, the Olympics thing is iconic.

The best thing about the Tracy plot is when he sings the song from his Christmas album:

So plot 1. This sort of picks up where the last episode left us, with a precarious Jenna and Liz relationship that both are struggling to effectively navigate. In this one, they realize that someone attractive might be interested in Liz over Jenna, and it throws both of them for a loop.

I’d be intimidated too. The Hair is my ideal man. He’s 6’5″, hot, but not in an intimidating way, and works at NBC.

I am attractive but not in the aggresively attractive way most men on television shows are.

I am attractive but not in the aggressively attractive way most men on television shows are.

The one character flaw he possesses is that his name is “Gray,” which is silly.

Of course, Liz does have a problem: They’re related. Her great aunt Dolly is his grandmother’s cousin. Gray says that he thinks that makes them 3rd cousins, but that’s too close for comfort on both their accounts.

I wanted to do the math on their relation, though. So! Liz’s Great Aunt Dolly, we can assume, is her grandmother or grandfather’s sister. So her grandparent is his grandmother’s cousin. That makes one of her parents and one of his parents second cousins, and Liz and Gray third cousins.

I just finished Jeffrey Eugenides “Middlesex,” a novel about generations of a Greek family that has its own incestful tendencies. The novel’s protagonist’s parents are second cousins and it’s implied that this wasn’t uncommon in Greece’s small villages.

You’re Greek Liz! Third cousin isn’t that bad!

No, it’s still kind of gross. Sorry girl.

Liz decides this is what she gets for thinking she’s a “Hair,” but Gray asserts that she really is a Hair. I think she took this to heart, given how attractive her future boyfriends are. But that’s for later posts…

Bits and Pieces

“Star Wars” Reference: One; Liz compares Gray’s eyes to the Death Star’s tractor beam sucking in the Millennium Falcon. Jenna mislabels this as a “Star Trek” reference.

Sometimes I watch the show with captions and have noticed that sometimes they add things the actors don’t say. For example, when Jack gives Liz Chamillionaire tickets, he tells her to take one of the writers or a friend, but the captions said “lady friend.” In today’s episode, after a bunch of characters said “January 17” and the captions got it right, Cerie apparently confused them:

Weirdly proud that I got a screenshot of her making a weird face.

Weirdly proud that I got a screenshot of her making a weird face.

Continuity: Brian Williams trashes his hotel room.

Character I related to most: Liz when she questions Gray’s motives:

I don’t have any money if that’s what you’re after. And I’m not one of those girls that does weird stuff in bed because they think they have to. If you’re a gay guy looking for a beard, I don’t do that anymore.

Kenneth invents “Gold Case” this episode, the second-most important “30 Rock” game show after “Homonym.”

I think this was the first episode without a Rachel Dratch cameo.

A ranking of Liz’s exes from most to least attractive: Gray, Dennis, Conan.

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