Friday, December 08, 2006

30 Rock: Hey, Dr. Spacemen, won't you please take me along for a ride?

"30 Rock" spoilers coming up just as soon as I figure out whether I have a toupee coming in my future...

Very girl-with-the-curl episode. What was good (everything not involving Tracy) was very good, but what was bad (everything involving Tracy) was awful. And Rachel Dratch must have been sobbing in hair and makeup every time she had to get dressed up as Blue Man. She left "SNL" for this?

As Dratch's replacement, Jane Krakowski hasn't exactly dazzled, but the whole "Rural Juror" joke was so good that anyone could have sold it. (That and Dr. Spuh-che-men were reminders that a silly name is its own comedy reward.) Jack's contempt for Liz keeps coming out in very specific ways (the Bryn Mawr put-down, "What am I, a farmer?"), and I even liked Pete having to wear the stupid wig.

But the Tracy scenes were just painful, and I say that after having been pleasantly surprised by Tracy for most of this season. I appreciated the use of the classical music and Liz's low blood sugar to go for a more farcical tone, but the stupid over-the-topness (is that even a word? no, I don't think so) of the Tracy stuff derailed it.

What did everybody else think?

24 comments:

J said...

Are you kidding? The show didn't have my full attention, unfortunately, but I thought it was a blast. "Past Pete is here to kill Future Pete?" The way "mind-grapes" got used in consecutive unrelated scenes? "Blue Man, where your legs at?"

It was frantic and absurd, almost like the whole thing had been written as a fever dream. It moved, it was fun. My only complaint: No dinosaur.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Okay, I'll give you "Past Pete is here to kill Future Pete," but overall the Tracy stuff felt like a misfire. And, again, I've liked him most of the time on this show.

Matt said...

I agree. I actually liked Tracy more in this one than in any other episode by far. Everytime I hear someone dislike an episode it is usally one where rachel dratch was in it. I wonder if there is still a sour taste from all the people that knew she was supposed to have a lead role. Are you really all that surpised they chose a pretty blonde over her. You mean Hollywood is based on looks?!?!? I'm shocked! This show is steadily climbing my charts of top comedies. Personally, I hope they keep Tracy this crazy or close to it.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Matt, I don't really care about the Krakowski/Dratch switch at all, as Rachel wasn't much better as Jenna in the original pilot and I was never a huge fan of hers on SNL. The Tracy scenes just fell very flat for me, Rachel or no Rachel.

Anonymous said...

I like Jane Krakowski, but for some reason she just doesn't work on this show. I know the reason for the switch was that they wanted someone more "sitcomy" but her character doesn't really seem to fit in. I think Rachel Dratch's quirkiness and bizarre delivery would have been a better match for the humor of this show.

Matt said...

I should have added at the end. "Or it could just be that the type of humor they were shooting for is very hit and miss with viewers."

Generally, I agree with all your opinions Alan. I guess there is a first time for everything.

Joel said...

Holy crap, the "blue man" was Dratch? I didn't even recognize her! She really got the shaft on this deal, didn't she?

Otherwise, I thought this episode was pretty funny, including the scenes with Tracy. I tend to think that Tracy Morgan is one of the few comedic actors out there that can actually sell that craziness, especially if you've heard him during various radio interviews. Let's just say that Tracy Morgan isn't exactly stretching to play Tracy Jordan.

But Alec Baldwin is a hoot as usual. And Tina Fey's acting has gotten noticeably better since the pilot, to the point where she makes a good foil for Baldwin.

From what I can see, this show is getting better in the same way as The Office got better in its first dozen or so episodes: figuring out who amongst the big cast to focus on and which stories pop. I can definitely see this show hitting its creative stride by the end of this season or (hopefully) the beginning of next season.

By the way, the funniest line this week was by Conan: "Let's not do this, Elizabeth."

And Jack McBrayer (Kenneth the page) is this show's ace in the hole. He's just a loopy character, and Fey and company can take him just about anywhere.

Toby said...

It's a good thing the network thinking exhibited with the show wasn't around when Carol Burnett was going to get her own show - she'd have been replaced with someone "prettier" but not necessarily more talented.

I like that Tina Fey showed loyalty to Rachel Dratch by keeping her around in other roles, but I think she missed the best opportunity to keep her on board:

This is a show that was called "The Girlie Show" and there are no female comedy writers on board? This is where Rachel Dratch could have had the chance to create a fun, interesting character - a Selma Diamond for the 21st Century perhaps.

Toby said...

Oh!

And nice show of friendship/loyalty towards Chris Parnell in getting him a role on the show as well....

Clifton Smalls said...

I could see how insane Tracy might turn some people off, but I can't get enough of it. Playing rape with his wife? The (real) writers are giving Morgan and Baldwin gold and they are doing very well with it.

Kristin said...

The only thing that is funny on "30 Rock" is Alec Baldwin. Don't get why people think this show is so hilarious.

Anna Laperle said...

This show is getting better every week and I'm glad NBC decided to "grow" it. I enjoyed Morgan's craziness last night but I'm hoping it's a joke they keep in check while developing the Jenna character more. I loved what they did with Pete and Kenneth the Page and hope for more of the same. Kenneth's little pantomime of drinking from an invisible coffee mug was particularly awesome. Also, I believe I will making extensive use of the line "What am I? A farmer?" at work today.

Dan Coyle said...

"This is a show that was called "The Girlie Show" and there are no female comedy writers on board?"

Obviously, Fey consulted with Christopher Hitchens before writing the pilot.

Pete said...

My wife and I were watching this show last night and we both came to the same conclusion simultaneously: _30 Rock_ is in many ways the comedic heir to _Arrested Development_. It came to us after the cut to the _Rural Juror_ scene. What other show would have bothered to film something like that? And have the joke pay off so well? Only AD. We love this show.

Grimoald said...

Personally I think the only good things about the show are Tracy and Baldwin, and thankfully, for me anyway, there was a lot of both in this episode. I was close to bursting the first time you saw the blue man.

To pete, in terms of approach to comedy it does share some of the same tones and marks with arrested (although it could be argued that tonally it just rips AD off), but 30 Rock can't hold a candle to it's predecessor.

Pete said...

Grimoald, I think you're right...30R hasn't risen to AD level yet, but there's no other show on TV that has that same potential (with the possible exception of _Scrubs_).

Anonymous said...

"I like to walk around my house naked...to remind my son who still has the biggest ding-dong."

Crazy Tracy is one of the best features of the show, the lines he gets away with are classic.

I still can't believe this show doesn't do better. It's very well written.

Magnolia said...

Alan, I agree with your comments. I love the Jack/Liz interaction but the Tracy stuff didn't work at all for me. WAY too over-the-top.

I was embarrassed for Rachel Dratch. How humiliating.

Matt Brady said...

Oh, good god, this episode was hilarious. It's quickly becoming my favorite comedy. I loved the crazy Tracy scenes, and my wife and I thought we were going to die from laughing too hard when he was dancing. She made me rewind the DVR and watch two or three times. And I agree the Kenneth the page is really, really funny.

Ted said...

I thought the Tracy-on-Conan scenes were a nice riff on the infamous Crispin Glover incident on Letterman--certainly Conan's reaction mirrored Letterman's, which one can confirm on YouTube. Where the episode didn't work for me was the rest of the Conan; Conan's appearance doesn't really fit in. I agree that 30 Rock is the heir to AD. Nowhere near as good as AD, but right now it's the second-funniest show on television.

Alan, my reaction to the first shot of Dratch mirrored yours.

undercover black man said...

This is the first episode of anything I ever downloaded from iTunes. It's the end of the world as I know it.

Hilarious episode... so many jokes, all of them worked. I dug crazy Tracy, from "I am Stabbing Robot" forward.

And don't shed a tear for Rachel Dratch. After playing that SNL birth-defect character with the arm sticking out of her skull, she is clearly impossible to embarrass. Bless her for doing anything for a laugh.

baylink said...

> It came to us after the cut to the _Rural Juror_ scene. What other show would have bothered to film something like that? And have the joke pay off so well?

Scrubs.

2 or 3 times an ep, for the last 6 years.

Ted said...

I'm not embarrassed for Dratch. I'm sad for her that she left a good-paying gig for a starring role on this series and was focus-group-demoted into blue makeup guest spots. If Jane Whatshername is the difference between the show surviving or not, however, I won't mourn; I just feel bad for the actress, though I'm far from a big fan of hers.

Anonymous said...

"I AM A STABBING ROBOT!" just about killed me. I was on the floor laughing. seeing that written even makes me laugh. Also the past pete future pete was gold. Everyone in the show is gold cept for that blonde that does the rural juror bit. it's a funny joke i just don't like her. she doesn't fit in with all the other halarious people. Rachel Dratch would have been awesome as her. Still some of her roles on that show make up for it. Like the new years prostitute and the cat lady. This show is just incredible and i agree that other dude that this is definately the heir to arrested development (although i think i'd rather have that back).