Friday, November 16, 2007

30 Rock: Can we have our money now?

Was the above just a dig at product placement, or was it a coded message from the WGA? You decide. "30 Rock" spoilers coming right up...

Whatever episode followed "Greenzo" was almost certainly going to suffer in comparison, but "Somebody to Love" did as a good a job as one could in the shadow of that genius. The Jack storyline was the only one that was consistently brilliant, but it was enough to carry the rest.

Nearly every word out of Alec Baldwin's mouth last night was gold: "After all, your hair is your head suit," "I assure you, John McCain is very real," "You must have grabbed it by acciden after our night of doing it," Jack's description of CC making love like an ugly girl, etc. The best, though, and the one that was most quintessentially Jack, was his response to CC's mention of Hilary and universal health care: "God, I want to kiss you on the mouth to stop you from saying such ridiculous things." Jack and CC's absurd blind loyalty to their respective political ideologies was marvelous to behold, though it makes me think back to Al Gore's line last week about Jack being a former liberal; will we one day get a flashback (possibly starring Billy Baldwin) about how and why Jack switched teams, or was that meant to be a throwaway joke, never to be referred to again?

Not that it should be a surprise to anyone who laughed with her on "The Sopranos" (I have one word, and only one word: "Marco"), but Edie Falco was very light on her feet and played well off Baldwin. (The "Tennessee sorority girl" line was a particular highlight.) I look forward to more CC -- and, if possible, more snippets of her Lifetime movie with Kristen Wiig.

The rest of the episode was more uneven. I liked Liz's evidence of her non-racism -- "Remember, I asked that black guy if he had seen 'Sideways'" -- and the eventual reveal that Fred Armisen and his brother were making an "Amazing Race," audition tape, but it felt like a lot of effort to get to that punchline. (The story did, however, work as something of a thematic parallel to Jack's, showing that liberals can be just as hypocritical and tempted by the other side as Jack was being.) And, especially compared to the amazing, "This earth is ruined!" payoff from the end of "Greenzo," the Northrax/maple syrup conclusion to the episode just fizzled.

(On the plus side, is The Rerun Dance ever not funny? Though Tracy doing it wasn't as brilliant as Bill Haverchuck doing it.)

And Kenneth's quest to buy Jack new pants felt both predictable (did anyone not assume that Jack had a dozen identical pairs?) and too brief. If it hadn't been the distant third story of the episode, maybe it could have built up some momentum, with the pranks progressing from merely gross to genuinely dangerous, but there wasn't time for that.

But I can't complain much about any episode with this many Sheinhardt Wig Company references, can I?

What did everybody else think?

37 comments:

J said...

Superb episode, as superior to last week's as Falco is to Schwimmer.

I might just be a country bumpkin with great skin and soft hands, but everything worked for me. The opening with the maple syrup smell we'd all wondered about last spring and the split screen that guaranteed ten full seconds of Rerun dance. That San Francisco sound! The idea that you could "defile" a place where Bill Clinton had already been.

A Dog Took My Face
And Gave Me a Better Face
So I Could Change the World!

Seriously, just 23 minutes of flat-out awesome.

Dave Sandell said...

We had to pause the episode after Kenneth's prank on sleeping Lutz. Kenneth is my favorite part of the show and I thought he got more screentime than usual, so this is an automatic top tier episode for me.

But you're right, after Greenzo it felt like a letdown. I think that speaks to how awesome Greenzo was though.

Alex R said...

Let me put it this way, just like with the Greenzo episode, I laughed out loud so much, I had to rewind scenes on my DVR a few times because I couldn't hear the dialogue over my laughter.

Alec Baldwin and Jack McBrayer, in pretty much every scene, comic GOLD.

And Baldwin played beautifully off Edie Falco. I think I am in love with Falco as an actress so she could read the dictionary for 23 minutes and I would be mesmoerized.

Please, "30 Rock", bring back Falco more often - her scenes with Baldwin were phenominal.

Here's hoping she makes him some fresh Ziti.

The Fred Armisen/Amazing Race stuff was hilarious too. I especially loved the scene where Jack takes a liberal position to Liz in front of his middle eastern assistant, and you KNEW as soon as he left the room, Jack would then tell Liz to call the authorities immediately.

Like I said - comedic gold.

lungfish said...

My favorite line was Tracy's "I'm black, she's white.... I'm black, she's light-skinned.... I'm black, she's 17."

Anonymous said...

i know Jack's involvement with the Girlie Show is done for comic effect and this question might come off as too nitpicky...BUT...would a guy as high up at NBC/GE as Jack really be that intimately involved with one show under his purview like Jack is? I would think Jack has so many other things to do than have daily involvement in the ins and outs of one of his late night programming?

Or does that kind of interaction happen in real life to someone like Lorne Michaels simply because his show is based at Rockerfeller Center where NBC is headquartered?

Brandon said...

The news crawl had several amusing items, but my second favorite (behind "Anne Heche leaves husband for pony") was "News Crawl Affected by Writers Strike - Using Repeat Text From Previous Season." Awesome!

Allison said...

It was no Greenzo, but still terrific. I loved Tracy trying to feed Jack romantic lines ("Say you want her genitals and your genitals to high-five!").

bill said...

I hope we weren't the only ones counting down the ten seconds with Jack to see if they had been poisoned.

What's in a Hardy Boys, again?

Chip said...

Anybody notice that the TV show Pete was watching at the opening when he shushed Liz was "A Dog Took My Face, And Gave Me a Better Face, So I Could Change the World!"

Brian said...

Even if the conclusion to the terrorist storyline wasn't satisfying to you, Tina Fey and the other writers do a fantastic job of mocking societal and cultural conventions without being cruel and offensive for the purpose of being offensive. That sort of humor can work a lot of times, but when it doesn't, it's just cruel.

David J. Loehr said...

I think I jumped when she looked right at the camera and did the "Can we have our money now?" line. And I'm pretty sure it's meant to link their running joke about product placement directly to the insidiousness of advertising and questioning where the money really goes. Beautifully done.

LA said...

No one's mentioned one of my favorite moments... Tracey talking to the pigeon.

This show can't miss.

Anonymous said...

The Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys = white rum, diet ginger ale, and a splash of lime

barefootjim said...

What made us stop and rewind the DVR was Tracy talking about Romeo and Juliet: "Capulets and Romulans."

J said...

Orange children are comedy gold.

It's too bad that advance tix for the live cast member performance of the show sold out so quickly. Can't image what the stand-by line will be like.

Lindy said...

What I'm dying to know is, did Verizon actually contract for a "30 Rock" product placement? If they did, will they pay for it even though they ended up as the butt of a joke about the lameness of product placement?

Karen said...

I agree with @J: I didn't laugh nearly as much at the Greenzo episode as most others seem to have (Alan's preview made me force my brother to watch it, and then when I saw it I was embarrassed; predictably, my brother was unimpressed). I thought last night's episode was superior in almost every way, save for Al Gore's screamingly funny cameo.

The show does have an incredibly local feel--when the opening scene dealt with the strange maple syrup smell from last year (I thought someone was brewing International Coffees somewhere), I wondered if anyone else in the country would know (or care) what they were talking about. Also, the series of bus shelter ads starting with the [genuine] "If you see something, say something" right up to the Sheinhart Wigs board blaming polluted rivers on the terrorists.

As to whether the "Can we have our money now?" line refers to the Verizon Wireless product placement or the WGA strike--any reason it can't be both? That's JUST how good the writing is on this show.

Bruce Reid said...

The only downside to a terrific episode is that Kristen Wiig, whose neurotic mannerisms are perfect for this show, has been given her cameo, and likely won't return in a larger part. Though, like Alan, I hope we at least get more clips from the movie.

It's weirdly admirable that one of Liz Lemon's consistent character traits is that, as Pete pointed out last season, she's a bit of a racist.

Thanks for clarifying the poster gag, Karen; I was indeed wondering if any of them were real.

Anonymous said...

I like how excited Liz was about getting her prescription shampoo.

Toby said...

A Dog Took My Face
And Gave Me a Better Face
So I Could Change the World:
The Celeste Cunningham Story

Adding that last line makes it the perfect Lifetime Original Mockery.

I'm hoping we do get to see Kristin Wiig again on the show - apparently her character is a "name" actress in their TV world; enough so to be mentioned by name in the ad for the TV movie.

So maybe they can bring her back as that character to do a guest spot on 'TGS with Tracy Jordan'.

Here's what should happen - Jack juggles affairs with CC and with the woman who played CC.

Not the real thing, but an INCREDIBLe simulation..... heh heh.

David J. Loehr said...

What I'm dying to know is, did Verizon actually contract for a "30 Rock" product placement? If they did, will they pay for it even though they ended up as the butt of a joke about the lameness of product placement?

Apparently, Snapple didn't pay for the running gag last year, so I'd guess Verizon didn't either.

Steven said...

The fake MSNBC crawl:

MYSTERIOUS VISITOR FROM FUTURE WINS LOTTERY AGAIN

ANNE HECHE LEAVES HUSBAND FOR PONY

...[MUR]DER-SUICIDE SHOCKS CHINA

WOLF BLITZER INJURED IN WOLF BLITZ

NEW CRAWL AFFECTED BY WRITERS STRIKE - USING REPEAT TEXT FROM PREVIOUS SEASON

Anonymous said...

J said...

"Superb episode, as superior to last week's as Falco is to Schwimmer."

Couldn't have said it better myself. I found Schwimmer too irritating and the plotline to predictable to enjoy last week's episode, but this week's, well, this week's episode I really liked.

"30 Rock" in absolute top form.

DonBoy said...

What even better is that they've used "MYSTERIOUS VISITOR FROM FUTURE WINS LOTTERY AGAIN" before.

Lost: Pants
Reward: Hugs

Anonymous said...

Pants! Pants! Pants!

J said...

Thanks for the crawl transcripts, guys. Love that stuff.

Verizon was listed in the end credits. A game show-like "Promotional Consideration furnished by..." nod.

I was laughing so hard during the Jack-CC scene by the elevator (for some reason Baldwin's reading of "No - a terrier?" made me spit soup) and the cut to that Lifetime title, that I completely missed the line "You know, I thought you made love like an ugly girl. So present, so grateful."

Anonymous said...

Dude, I love Alec Baldwin. He MAKES 30 Rock, but have you seen the new movie he's in? What's he thinking?

http://digg.com/videos_people/Alec_Baldwin_Plus_Half_Naked_Chicks

Anonymous said...

Edit:
http://digg.com/videos_people/
Alec_Baldwin_Plus_Half_Naked_Chicks

David J. Loehr said...

I wonder if some sort of spambot has gotten through the word verification, since the anonymous comment about Alec Baldwin's supposed new movie also appears here at www.collegeotr.com, coincidentally on a page mentioning Alec Baldwin.

Then again, spambots don't correct themselves.

filmcricket said...

After "Greenzo" and now this week, my girl-crush on Tina Fey is reaching Allison Janney-level proportions. Pretty much all the brilliant parts have been mentioned already, except for Kenneth bargaining down from $1000 to $400 to eat the ketchup. I will say, however, that Scrubs did the Rerun dance better.

Anonymous said...

If the writers can afford $400 to feed Kenneth expired ketchup, they don't need to strike.

Anthony Foglia said...

Chip wrote, "Anybody notice that the TV show Pete was watching at the opening when he shushed Liz was 'A Dog Took My Face, And Gave Me a Better Face, So I Could Change the World!'"

I didn't, but did you notice that when Liz enterred her apartment after meeting Fred Armisen's character, Pete was watching "Intimate Portrait: Candace van der Shark."

Undercover Black Man said...

Alec Baldwin... wow. He can just throw away a line like "After all, your hair is your head suit," and it just rings like a bell. The show packs a lot into 22 minutes.

Anonymous said...

No one caught that Raheem said he and his bro had been to London, Toronto, Berlin, and THE CLEVE?

Stef said...

This was quite likely the most brilliant and satisfying television episode I've ever seen. I really liked Greenzo/Kenneth's party, but this even blew that out of the comedy water. Nonstop laughter. Thank you, Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, and the whole wacky gang! I hope you get your money now.

Mo Ryan said...

I really, really, want a Sheinhart Wig Company T shirt for Christmas. Please, Santa, I've been (somewhat) good!

Though I should just be happy that I just got my Crucifictorious T shirt in the mail. Thank you for the heads up on that, David Loehr.

I loved Fred Armisen's neighbor character, and also Kristen Wiig's great on 30 Rock. More of both, please.

I have to go watch the Jack-Tracy therapy scene from "Rosemary's Baby" again. Dang. that just never gets old.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember Liz's apparent problem with scalp pain last season (Josh, after breaking into Liz's office: "Her last two Google searches were for 'singles yoga' and 'scalp pain." Frank: "That is bleak.")?

I wondered if Liz's prescription shampoo from ScalpRx was related.