Friday, January 09, 2009

30 Rock, "Senor Macho Solo": This is not a drill, so shut it down!

Spoilers for last night's "30 Rock" coming up just as soon as I use the subjunctive...

I'm still waiting for them to hit another one out of the park the way they did with the Oprah episode, but if "Senor Macho Solo" didn't feel especially cohesive, at least it had a lot of funny things in it. And funny covers a lot of sins.

Start with Tracy and his wife repeatedly clearing rooms to have sex, which was good enough the first time but hilarious the second, with a horrified Kenneth trying not to abandon his post while also not watching, while pervy Frank gazed on in awe. Or the randomness of Tracy dispensing romantic advice while dressed as a "Lord of the Rings" elf.

Peter Dinklage is a stud, and that story was a nice mix of expected jokes about Liz's baby neuroses and unexpected ones about the UN. (Dinklage's friend with the African click-sound name was almost as good a throwaway joke as Tracy having starred in "A Blaffair to Rememblack.") I suffered through the "Sex and the City" movie a few weeks ago (I should have had a clause about that put into my pre-nup), and of course Liz would try to recreate that Steve/Miranda moment.

Jenna's subplot was the first really work-centric one in a while, which was appreciated -- especially since it gave us a chance to hear Kenneth do the rap from "Teen Witch" (here's the original) only a few episodes after the Teen Witch herself guest-starred as one of Liz's high school classmates -- and Jack's "Janet Jopler" lyrics were about what I'd expect from the comic mind of the guy who tried to give us "Beep! Beep! Ribby! Ribby!"

On the other hand, I didn't love Jack with Salma Hayek, who for whatever reason I didn't buy in that role. But there were enough good asides in that one (like Jack ordering basically nothing for his Fox News anchorwoman date) to cover. Again, funny forgives a lot.

What did everybody else think?

53 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think it was "A Blaffair to Rememblack," but I want to take it behind the middle school and get it pregnant either way.

Alan Sepinwall said...

You're right. And I originally had it as the subject line, and when I decided to put it into the post instead, for some reason my brain went on autopilot and wrote "Blackmember" instead of "Rememblack." (I blame Mike Myers.) Fixed.

Anonymous said...

Is Salma just not funny? Her delivery of those McFlurry and McRib lines didn't come across right. I kept thinking that someone else could have made them funny. Just me?

Toby said...

Perhaps someone else could have been funnier than Salma Hayek, but cleavage covers up a lot of sins as well.

OT:
Oh, great word verification! "smork"

I feel like the Swedish Chef!

DonBoy said...

"...cat sound..."

Withnail said...

Cat Sounds!

Ingrid said...

As a Puerto Rican, I totally did not buy Salma as a fellow boricua.

Anonymous said...

Jack brings wine and Pringles to the party - and the Pringles are in the paper bag. Ha!

Another great line: "Which will be written by the world's greatest screenwriter.... whoever that is."

dez said...

I didn't mind Salma and thought her delivery was fine. But I was mostly laughing too hard from all the throwaway gags to pay much attention to the fact that the nurse was being played by Salma Hayek (well, except for when she was showing off her sweater puppies because, yeah, it's hard not to notice them in a dress like that). Liz was a purse full of "lost" baby shoes was a particular fave gag.

Poor Kenneth must be scarred for life. Tracy is his hero and we all know heroes don't have sex--at least, not raunchy sex in front of lots of people, hee hee hee!

Bryan said...

Steven Spielburger - love it. And Salma was so frumped up as the nurse I wasn't enitirely sure it was her until she showed her talent(s).

dez said...

Liz with a purse full of "lost" baby shoes, sheesh, stupid typos (hoist on my own petard there) :-)

Naturally, my captcha word is "proper."

olucy said...

"Thank you for telling me what I already know. You should work for the Huffington Post."

David J. Loehr said...

This episode also reminded me of the running joke on The Critic with Jay Sherman's son attending the U.N.'s private school for children of diplomats, which included a friend with a clicking name and "that kid from Easter Island."

I agree, it didn't quite hold together, the shifts from scene to scene were quite random, but funny works for me...

Nancy said...

Loved Peter Dinklage. His scene with Jack was funny, and, um too short. (sorry) "Can I have fries with that?"...in Chinese. Snort.

Jenna's reaction to Julia Roberts was priceless too. I mean really.

And oh Jack, two people can fall in love over a benign gonad cyst. Hilarious.

Bitsy said...

I love Peter Dinklage, but I have to say I was cringing throughout this entire episode. Maybe it's because the person I was watching it with is a huge Janis Joplin fan, but you know, I'm not and I really don't think Jenna was very funny. As a matter of fact, she's almost never funny. Tracy was great as always, but again, I was cringing with all the dwarf jokes.

Melanie said...

Yeah, I thought Salma's delivery was awful, and that while there were lots of funny bits, they didn't come together to make a funny episode.

Antid Oto said...

I'm getting sick of the guest stars. It stinks of NBC trying to juice up ratings. The network should take its fingers out of the show and just let them do their thing.

J said...

Oh come on, don't make me make cat sounds at you. The guest stars weren't in the way for this, not any more than, say, Sudeikis et al were. And Hayek's presence just gives a whole new culture for Jack to step on. Nice ep, dense with good lines. "Senor Flurry," food taint, Huffington Post, good times, urge to rewatch immediately.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Jenna's movie was going to be written by Kevin Grisham.

Fernando said...

I loved Tracy giving Jack the "positive" test results. One of the funnier bits in a while. "O. I see the confusion, thats funny"

Anonymous said...

STOP with the guest stars. They haven't helped the ratings and they haven't helped the quality of the show. 30 Rock does well at the EMMY's how about a new category... Worst guest actor on 30 Rock. The season has barely started and already there are plenty of contenders. I'd vote for Selma Hayek or Steve Martin's tragic visit.

Anonymous said...

Saddling Hayek with the "McFlurry" and "McRib" lines worked as a nice callback to Isabella Rossellini/"Big Beef and Cheddar."

Tyroc said...

The show made me laugh out loud several times, which is more than most any other comedy on TV, so not so concerned if it held together or not (given Tina Fey's background a bit of the scenes feeling like a group of sketches as opposed to longer traditional storytelling makes sense.)

And Selma may not be a natural comedic actress but the McRib joke really had me laughing.

That said, I agree with the overuse of guest stars. I get it, you're in NYC and there's a lot of wonderful actors who live there and want to be on your show, but the show is not SNL -- it doesn't need a guest to come on and do their thing with the cast each week. Really starting to get into Will & Grace later season territory.

domino87 said...

I thought this ep was one of the better ones this season. I just watched "In Bruges" recently and was excited again to see Peter Dinklage.(Loved him in that movie also, btw. After his declaration of a blacks vs. whites civil war.... "That was cocaine...just, cocaine")

Can't really hate on Salma, even if she wasn't that funny. After seeing her in that dress she reminded me of why she was my desktop background pic for so long.

Tracy before the second love making session, "This is real people! This is not a dream."

Alan Sepinwall said...

Dinklage isn't in "In Bruges." Different actor. Jordan Prentice, I think.

Anonymous said...

Arrgh, that's so ignorant, domino87. Dinklage and Prentice don't even look alike!

Cornelius said...

But both of their characters are mistaken for children.

Cornelius said...

But both of their characters are mistaken for children.

dyb said...

Shut it down!

amysusanne said...

Oh my god. The "Teen Witch" rap. It took me a second, but when I got it that was priceless. I almost wish Kenneth hadn't credited it because then it would have been even weirder and weird is awesome.

I do agree that the guest stars can be toned down a bit, mainly because the way that NBC promotes them is distracting from the funny that is the show and *probably* doesn't bring in new viewers, but I'm not entirely sure I understand the hand wringing over it when it's been going on all along. Maybe because back then NBC and TV Guide *weren't* promoting it and we didn't have Jennifer Aniston or Oprah in our faces constantly? Because unless that's it, I'm just not sure where the griping is coming from. LL Cool J, Carrie Fisher, Edie Falco, Matthew Broderick, Tim Conway, Isabella Rossellini, Paul Rubens and so on and so on. Again, they're not Oprah, but there were "faces" and plenty of opportunities for people to cry "stunt casting" all throughout seasons one and two. Honestly, had Oprah and Aniston not been in there this year (and Tina hadn't seen her profile rise) the infotainment folks probably wouldn't have even noticed Steve Martin or Salma Hayek.

Steve said...

The episode was only so-so, but it was completely worth it for the "Top That" reference.

I also liked the "Chunk of my Lung" song, and the Huffington Post line

Michael said...

The test results positive/negative gag was used on an episode of "The Office" a few years ago when it was Michael's birthday and Kevin was worried he had skin cancer.

Nicole said...

I think Peter Dinklage was used well in the show, Salma Hayek... not so much. Also, her cleavage was distracting and normally I don't pay attention to that kind of thing.
I think she was funnier in her brief appearance on Ugly Betty, so perhaps it was just the role she was given this time.


I have to say that I giggled when I saw the money shirt. It was silly, but worked for me.

Andy said...

Heck, Seinfeld did the "negative results" gag years ago with George in "The Pilot, Part 2." (Which was not the series pilot, but rather the Season 4 finale, about Jerry and George's "show about nothing.")

Eventually somebody here is gonna backdate the joke to Your Show of Shows, or such like.

Pamela Jaye said...

I don't watch promos, so I had no idea who Salma was and actually had to look her up (all I kept thinking of was Carla on Scrubs).

So, stunt casting that I don't notice isn't bothering me (although no, if those McRib things were supposed to be funny, they weren't)

I *adored* the Chunk of My Lung song!

and what show was it I was watching recently (or at least in the past year) where everyone got all gooey about a baby sock?
Sock!!

Chunk of My Lung was awesome, though.

Made me want to call a friend and get them to watch it online. *Is* 30 Rock online? My friend is hard to pin down to watch anything other than Chuck.

amysusanne said...

Jokes about the McRib are always funny, no matter who the actor or what the context. {g}

Salma got a couple of good lines (I liked the bit about authoritative rapid spanish subduing white people and the call back when she was checking Jack's balls), but I agree that there was something off about it. This episode was basically a handful of really great lines wrapped around a few absurd storylines that didn't really tie together all that well. Still, I was entertained. A lesser ep of "30 Rock" is still decent television.

Oh...and I'd really like to have Tracy's money hat.

dez said...

The baby sock joke was on HIMYM.

And just because I can: Cat anus! Cat anus! Cat anus!

Bobman said...

Arrgh, that's so ignorant, domino87. Dinklage and Prentice don't even look alike!

C'mon, I think you can reign in the righteous indignation a little bit, it's not like the television and film world is full of little people.

Pamela Jaye said...

thanks dez

and okay, I'll admit, I thought the rapid Spanish intimidation was good.

Anonymous said...

What Toby said.

Dustin Sullivan said...

I didn't even recognize Salma Hayek as a star, so her presence didn't bother me. She wasn't funny, but I wasn't necessarily expecting her to be. In my mind, she was there to help progress the character of Jack.

The guest star episodes are hit and miss. I really didn't like the Aniston episode, but I thought the Broderick and Oprah episodes were done well. The Steve Martin episode was meh.

Anonymous said...

Bitsy,
Jenna is not supposed to be funny. She is pathetic, and that is what makes her character funny. Funny.

K J Gillenwater said...

I liked Salma...and I don't think she was there for the funny either. She was more of the 'straight' normal person to Jack's crazy lines. And it worked well.

I didn't realize she was going to be a guest star...so it was a nice surprise to see her there. The way the storyline went, it's clear she's going to be on there for more than one ep. Which annoys me a lot less than a one-time guest star like Jennifer Aniston or Steve Martin. All the good ones have been in several episodes to serve an entire plotline. Like Edie Falco as the liberal politician Jack falls for or Will Arnett as Jack's CEO rival.

christy said...

I took the positive/negative joke as making fun of the fact that it was such a predictable joke, what with Tracy's over-the-top "OH YOU THOUGHT I MEANT--HA HA HA." Also, after seeing every sitcom in the world do that joke, one was expecting Tracy to say "it was negative" all sad because he doesn't know that means not-sick, so the fact that he says it's positive, knowing exactly what he was saying, was a surprise.

(Nothing makes a joke funnier than explaining why I thought it was meant to be funny, right?)

I enjoyed Salma. She wasn't gut-bustingly funny, but she was good with Jack. And I like her accent. I've always enjoyed her in Dogma.

Stef said...

I liked this one -- it wasn't an instant classic, but better than a few others this season. They did have the recognizable guest stars (and Dinklage esp was great), but they also had a little more balance this time by including more of the players -- it wasn't just the "Liz, Jack and a guest celebrity" show. I loved the way they used Kenneth in this one, he was perfect with his rap and reaction shots.

Anonymous said...

I still totally associate Peter Dinklage with the great great speech he gives in the movie Living In Oblivion --

"Have you ever had a dream with a dwarf in it? Do you know anyone who's had a dream with a dwarf in it? No! I don't even have dreams with dwarves in them. The only place I've seen dwarves in dreams is in stupid movies like this! "Oh make it weird, put a dwarf in it!". Everyone will go "Woah, this must be a fuckin' dream, there's a fuckin' dwarf in it!". Well I'm sick of it! You can take this dream sequence and stick it up your ass!"

It's a high point of a great movie. And, not having seen The Station Agent, the first thing I thought was that he's aged very well.

Anthony Foglia said...

I thought it was a weak episode. Some good moments, but not enough. Also, at the end (or at the quincenera) Salma's character would be shown having a boyfriend/fiancee. It would have better shown Jack's "feelings" as stemming from a fear of dying alone, and be a good change from the magical latina nurse/maid we see too often on TV.

Pamela Jaye said...

correcting myself slightly - it's not that I've not heard of Salma, I didn't recogize her. (unlike the actress who played intern Graciella on Grey's and turned up guest starring on ER)

Victor said...

Hayek I've never been a fan of. I guess she was okay in this role, but it still stunk of stunt casting.

The joke that really cracked me up was the throw away Huffington Post one.

Ryan Vanasse said...

I made a video with my friends of the rap from Teen Witch a couple years ago and it was really fun to see kenneth do the same.

Anonymous said...

Is Peter Dinklage saying "Shut it down" a reference to Dark City?

Alex said...

Salma Hayek has somehow managed to make it impossible to look at her face anymore. I noticed it watching the Golden Globes too. I'm not usually a "Stare into her cleavage" kind of guy, but at this point Salma could be decapitated and no one would even noticed for years.

I mentioned this to my wife last night; she disagreed.

Anonymous said...

"Is Peter Dinklage saying "Shut it down" a reference to Dark City?"

I was thinking 'Kitchen Nightmares'