Thursday, April 10, 2008

Sepinwall on TV: '30 Rock' returns, a little rushed

Today's column looks at the return of "30 Rock," which is wicked funny in spots but overall still getting up to speed after the strike:
"If you're going to make something beautiful, you have to make a mess of it first. I don't care if you're making a baby, an omelet, or a television show -- things are going to get weird."

These are the words of Bucky Bright, a racist, sexist, possibly bisexual, definitely drug-abusing TV star from the '40s and '50s, who appears (in the form of comedian Tim Conway) in next week's episode of "30 Rock." And though the man doesn't seem wise on most subjects -- he takes Conan O'Brien for a lesbian and asks, "Why is she so sad?" -- his thoughts on the creative process of TV, particularly as it relates to "30 Rock," feel particularly on the mark.
To read the full thing, click here. Also, use this post to discuss tonight's episode after it airs. I'm going to do my best to watch "Office" and "Scrubs" (and maybe "Earl") tonight or tomorrow, so please refrain from commenting on them until I have separate posts up for them. It may be a day or two late, but it'll get done.

26 comments:

anon said...

Alan,

I know Lisa DeMoraes had to do it for her piece in the WaPo, but did the Ledger really tell you you couldn't use the word MILF? Given that the episode is entitled "MILF Island," what will the paper do in its TV programming guide?

Moreover, didn't the Ledger, in covering the recent crane accident in NYC, regularly refer to the first floor drinking establishment by its given name: Fubar? Or was it F----?

Are there no snafus in the tri-state area?

Anon

Alan Sepinwall said...

did the Ledger really tell you you couldn't use the word MILF?

Not two days before the screener showed up in my mail, there was a newsroom-wide e-mail sent out noting that a recent story had included MILF and that this wasn't an acceptable acronym to use in the newspaper. I understand the rationale -- especially since, as opposed to SNAFU, there's no wiggle room for what the F stands for -- and got to amuse myself (slightly) by coming up with a workaround.

dyb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Allison said...

ROFL at all the substitutions for "MILF," particularly the Angelina Jolie one.

David J. Loehr said...

See, I always thought it was "Moms I'd Like to Friend."

Loved all the euphemisms, but Angelina Jolie? Really? Me, I'd have to go with Tina Fey, ironically enough.

Anonymous said...

I never thought 30 Rock was that funny in the first place. Maybe I don't get the fast jokes but I loved Arrested Development for those quick jokes.

Toby said...

Gee, if they do a sequel to MILF Island within the show, I hope they use your alternate title of "Yummy Mummies" as a sub-heading. "MILF Island 2: Return of the Yummy Mummies", that sort of thing...

Giving you full credit of course!

LA said...

OMG, your workarounds for MILF are pure genius. But the fact you can't use MILF is totally FUBAR.

Dark Tyler said...

I got to the end of the review and realized that I had no idea what Alan's point was, because after a certain point I just stopped reading and just started jumping from MILF replacement to MILF replacement without realizing it.

David J. Loehr said...

I suppose the ad campaign for the show-within-the-show should be "got milf?"

(I'm here all week. Tip your waitress, try the veal.)

Zach Haldeman said...

You know, script-wise, The Office is going to be in a good position with the post-strike episodes (at least at first) since they have a ton of scripts left over from the fall that didn't shoot because their actor/writers were on strike. They were written before any hiatus that may have made them a bit clumsier.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Some quick spoiler-y follow-up thoughts to my column:

Again, there were a lot of funny things in this episode -- Tracy confusing Liz with "Cathy" ("Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate! Ack!"), virtually all the discussion and glimpses of "(Sign Me And Her Up For a Mommy & Me Session) Island" (Erection Cove, the leaky breast implant), Jack's lies about the special class ("I feel like I'm back in that boiler room, making little piles of sawdust while Gillie plays with himself in the corner.") -- but the pace was way too slow, the Pete story was completely pointless, and overall it felt like it needed another rewrite or three.

Grateful to have it back; hope it rounds back into championship form quickly.

David J. Loehr said...

Just watched it, and you're right, it really needed at least one more polish.

It was very quick, but did anyone else notice that the executive producers of "(Are you trying to seduce me, Mrs. Robinson?) Island" were Jack Donaghy and Jerry Seinfeld?

Anon said...

especially since, as opposed to SNAFU, there's no wiggle room for what the F stands for

Not only is "fornicate" a perfectly good word in this context, but it is even more technically accurate (since it usually refers to sex without marriage).

But as for your thought on the episode itself, I agree. The episode's con was obvious from the get go. And while I did enjoy "Chocolate! Chocolate! Chocolate! Ack!", I didn't think "myirt" was as funny as "blerg". I can't explain why.

Anon

J said...

I want to know when someone will finally come up with a serviceable acronym describing women who've given birth with whom I don't want to be wit'.

Because WoWGaBWWIDWa2BeeWit's is damn hard to pronounce.

Episode was undernourished, but Liz' angry Kenneth put-downs were funny. And I loved "step aside, Randy Quaid" and "fortified with optimism."

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to mention that if you Google "class a moron", the top link is about 30 Rock. (not by design of course but it madde me laugh).

Anonymous said...

I loved most of the episode, but I thought that Pete's arm getting stuck in the candy machine was a complete rip-off of a Scrubs episode featuring Turk.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I think the Jack bit was ripped off from Sealab 2021. But no one watched that show.

domino87 said...

Apparently the arm stuck in a vending machine joke is the least original ever, as The Simpsons did it way back in 1993.

http://tinyurl.com/5r5u7m

Good episode though, just glad to have it back. Even if the vending machine plot was complete filler.

"Have you heard her story? Before this she was just a struggling actress living in Los Angeles."

ThreeSheets said...

I' don't know if the arm-stuck was filler or product placement. I opened the Chicago Tribune today to find a half-page ad for Soy Joy.

Other than the chance for them to have Pete mention Soy Joy, the plot had nothing to do with the MILF Island theme.

Although, it was a bit funny when he called himself.

Allison said...

Maybe I was set up with low expectations for this episode, but I *loved* it. "Grade-A moron," the Cathy cartoon and "Deborah wants to sing in every episode" got huge laughs at my house.

Dejafu said...

Soy Joy is a real product? That's fascinating.

Marsha said...

I also loved Pete calling himself. Not where I thought the joke was going, and I liked it.

Yes, this wasn't their best. But the glimpses of the show within a show were genius. My favorite? The wonderfully smarmy Fauxbst saying goodbye: "We don't wanna get wit you." I didn't just LOL, I guffawed.

barefootjim said...

While I really missed this show, and used the strike to watch it's amazing season one growth on DVD, I was lukewarm on this one.

The Pete vs. the vending machine seemed like something that would happen to Ross Geller, and it was no surprise whatsoever that Jack knew all along that Liz had said those things and was stringing her along for his own evil purposes.

Mark said...

I have to say that even though I knew that Pete was going to call his own extension, I still laughed when he left his message.

Anonymous said...

J: "I want to know when someone will finally come up with a serviceable acronym describing women who've given birth with whom I don't want to be wit'."

"Mother" pretty much has your definition included implicitly. Notice the lack of -ILF. Very important distinction. Not an acronym, but the right word for your description.

I thought this episode was generally good, but not the series' better ones.