Friday, April 25, 2008

30 Rock, "Succession": Too many notes

"30 Rock" spoilers coming up just as soon as I hit the vending machine...

Okay, they're back.

Aside from the ongoing one-note-ness of Will Arnett as Devin Banks (and it pains me to speak ill of Gob), "Succession" was a fabulous episode, at once a great showcase for Tina Fey as an actress, an inspired riff on "Amadeus," and maybe the funniest Dr. Spaceman appearance ever.

After once more having fun with Liz's low self-esteem (she wants to go live with gorillas) and expectations for her future (she thinks she'll be teaching improv on cruise ships in five years), then helping Jack by kissing Devin ("I pretended he was a sandwich!"), we had her wholeheartedly embracing the world of the suits, with their slap-worthy salaries (a fever that Pete also caught), their Business Drunkenness, scapegoating, etc. And then she gets too Business Drunk to remember to keep Don Geiss out of his coma and... Blergh.

Meanwhile, Tracy as Amadeus and Frank as Salieri, on the subject of pornographic video games and The Uncanny Valley, was brilliant in its combination of high and low culture. If it had just been Frank's growing jealousy of Tracy, that would have been enough, but to then have Dr. Spaceman arrive with a billowing black cape? I had to pause the show for a good two minutes to regain control of my senses after that.

The rest of Spaceman's house call was amazing as well, as the guy continues to be Jack's biggest blind spot. He gives a placebo injection to a coma patient to see if he's faking, doesn't know where the heart is ("It's different on every person"), and can't remember the difference between 411 and 911. (Based on his phone request for "Diabetes repair, I guess," I'm assuming he wound up calling 411.) And yet Jack still trusts the guy. I love it.

Again, I wish that Jack's adversary was a more complex individual, but beyond that, "Succession" was so superb that I'm once again reduced to just listing other things I liked:
  • "Eureka!" "What is it, Tracy?" "We should call Eureka! She always has good ideas!"
  • Jack is uncomfortable with hugging, because "It's so ethnic."
  • Liz offers to give up Kenneth to get Devin to stop attacking Jack
  • "Hey nerds, who has two thumbs, speaks limited French and didn't cry once today? This moi!"
  • Both Business Drunk and Rich Drunk mean it's legal to drive a car
  • "My genius has come alive, like toys when your back is turned!"
  • "You've got the charm and spark of a young Leona Helmsley."
  • Liz hands Jack a tampon after he's too sympathetic towards Devin
Oh, one other complaint. This is the first post-strike episode I watched live, and now I understand the overwhelming hatred people had towards last week's "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" promo. Because when the "Baby Mama" ad took over a third of the screen -- in the middle of the otherwise genius Mozart montage of Spaceman's arrival and Frank's descent into madness -- I wanted to drive to NBC/Universal corporate headquarters and start slapping everyone there out of existence.

What did everybody else think?

31 comments:

jcpbmg said...

What happened to Rip Torn as Don Geiss, I'm almost positive they changed actors or something (and it's not up on imdb yet to confirm)

renton said...

I totally agree on the episode and the drop-in promos. At least Universal doesn't have a film or star to promote next weekend, right?

I thought 30 Rock was the funniest show of the night - by a long shot.

And it made me want to watch Amadeus again, which isn't a bad thing, either.

These next few Thursdays are going to be tough -- too much to watch in one night!!!

Alan Sepinwall said...

What happened to Rip Torn as Don Geiss, I'm almost positive they changed actors or something (and it's not up on imdb yet to confirm)

That was Rip Torn again, as it's always been. His hair may have been Grecien Formula'ed more than usual, but same actor.

Tony said...

I didn't know if Rip Torn was supposed to look sick because Geiss was, or if Torn is not healthy himself. He didn't look good last night.

Very funny episode. I totally forgot about "Diabetes Repair."

special k said...

One of the best episodes ever. I cannot comprehend how some people I know watch The Office but don't watch 30 Rock! 30 Rock is 200 times funnier, and I really like The Office.

Brilliant stuff. I can't wait to rewatch. Especially Dr. Spaceman and HIS CAPE.

MC said...

I LOVED this episode. "Amadeus is one of my favorite movies" and they got everything perfect. All of the little things, like the cape and Kenneth holding a candle, and Frank weeping at seeing the beauty of Tracy’s work, and Tracy feverishly saying, “The duet becomes a trio, the trio a quartet…” Absolute perfection!

aml said...

Loved Tracey using his 'thoughtsickles'. Also loved that Liz dispensed with all her feminism for money. Very Michael Bluth.

dyb said...

Frank explaining the Uncanny Valley to Tracey in Star Wars terms.

"And this is Han Solo."
"He pretends like he doesn't care, but he really does!"

Nicole said...

The Amadeus riffs were my favourite part, especially when Spaceman ran around with the cape. I do wonder though how many people would get the references. I was too young to know of it when it first came out and only saw it much later because I was a music student. I wonder if it would be as funny if the connection wasn't made.

Normally I hate that I have the Canadian feed which means I usually don't get any previews, but if this means that I don't have to watch those drop down movie ads, I guess I can live with that.

Rachel said...

Brilliant. The cape & candle montage was hilarious. And corporate!Liz is perfection. I'm going to use that "business/rich drunk" line today at a luncheon.

dyb said...

Normally I hate that I have the Canadian feed which means I usually don't get any previews, but if this means that I don't have to watch those drop down movie ads, I guess I can live with that.

I get the NYC feed (rabbit ears represent!) and we rarely get 30 Rock previews, if that's what you mean. It's always a sad sight to see "Executive Producer Lorne Michaels" come up because that means that's it for that week's 30 Rock. The end credits play over promos for other NBC shows and considering the only other NBC show I watch is The Office, it's small comfort.

Can anyone remember the last time they had a 30 Rock promo over the 30 Rock end credits?

Steven said...

Wow, that chart for The Uncanny Valley was taken directly from Wikipedia.

barefootjim said...

"Suck it monkeys, I'm going corporate!!" is on my short list of favorite Liz Lemon moments ever.

I think I want that on a t-shirt.

renton said...

How about Kenneth saying "the only thing we should be ashamed of is our bodies?"

That could be a shirt, too

AB and the Bear Suits said...

This was a fantastic episode. My only squabble is that I feel like Liz as Jack could have gone on for at least another episode.

Regarding Devin being too one-note, maybe he'll prove to be more complex now that he and Kathy(?) are running GE.

LA said...

All Jack has to do is utter the words "Dr. Spaceman," and I'm putty in 30 Rock's hands. It's Pavlovian for me. Hilarity will always ensue. Last night was no exception.

Kenrick said...

Hilarious. I loved this episode.

What happened with Tracey Jordan's porn game plot line? There didn't seem to be an actual ending to it. Btw, I am unfamiliar with Amadeus.

So it goes said...

I think this episode is an instant classic.

Spaceman is my hero and he definitely called 411.

Dr. Spaceman: New York. Uhhh diabetes repair I guess.

Toby said...

It's driving me nuts - I know I saw another show recently with an Amadeus/Salieri joke in it. But I can't remember which one.

Anybody out there can help my swiss cheese memory?

drake leLane said...

I watched it again (thank you Hulu) and was reminded about Liz's dream of living with the apes. Was that just a Simpsons-like random red herring, or do you think there was intention to have Liz's time with 'the suits' mirror living in w/ the gorillas in the wild (ala Diann Fossey)?

Kerry said...

Well, I just saw the 1st season of HIMYM and they had a similar Marshall goes corporate and learns how to be a gorilla gag.

Rama said...

Totally awesome episode...

It also was driving me crazy that I recently heard another Salieri reference and I couldn't quite place it.... then it hit me: Big Bang Theory, when I believe Sheldon was comparing his intellect to Mozart and Leonard was Salieri. Can anyone validate my swiss cheese memory?!?

Anonymous said...

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

Do the dogs on the board get one collective vote or one vote per dog?

Lane said...

I assumed the dogs each were worth 7 votes, no?

DominiqueRdr said...

Your swiss cheese memory is partly right. It was on the Big Band Theory, but Sheldon was Salieri to the new whiz kid Mozart (he was a fourteen year old North Korean.).

Matthew L said...

That was a lot of fun. The moment the Lacrymosa started (my favourite Mozart composition), I was excited to realise they were actually going to do Amadeus, and it didn't disappoint. My favourite part had to be Kenneth with the candle.

But it wasn't until I came here and saw Kenrick's post that I realised that in the hilarity there was no resolution to the porn game plot - all we got was a "he did it" from Frank.

By the way, Kenrick, see Amaddeus. It is a brilliant movie, all about a guy who goes to war with God because he resents that He gave natural genius to a young upstart who doesn't deserve it. Just don't believe anything they tell you about Mozart and Salieri, their relationship, the commissioning of the Requiem (which I believe was commissioned by a mysterious stranger, just not that person), or the circumstances around Mozart's death, because it's entirely fictional. (I suspect Peter Shaffer chose to write about Mozart simply because he needed a genius for his story, and it's easier to pick a person everyone knows is a genius than spend half your time trying to establish that person is a genius). But it is a great film, and well worth watching.

Anonymous said...

The best Amadeus parody I can remember is the one on "Family Guy" with Stewie as Mozart and Peter as Salieri.

christy said...

Liz put Splenda in her scotch.

Alex said...

I just watched it and loved it, especially the little tampon gag, because it was so Jack.

I recently saw "Amadeus" for the first time and boy am I glad- made the joke so much better, once I realized what they were doing.

When Liz was giving her, "What has two thumbs..." spiel, Tina sounded remarkably like she was channeling Amy Poehler's Amber character. If so, cute!

lungfish said...

I like how Liz was eating Sabor de Soledad chips again (when she was holed up reading the living with gorillas book).

Zil said...

You may also be thinking of The Office episode (which was rerun on TBS recently) where Dwight explains his relationship with Michael...

"We're like one of those classic famous teams. He's like Mozart and I'm like Mozart's friend. No, I'm like Butch Cassidy and Michael is like Mozart. You try and hurt Mozart, you're gonna get a bullet in your head, courtesy of Butch Cassidy.