Friday, January 15, 2010

30 Rock, "Klaus and Greta" & "Black Light Attack!": A fish called Jenna

Because "30 Rock" began its season so much later than the other NBC comedies, while NBC wants it to end its season at roughly the same time as the rest, "The Office" got a week off and we got a "30 Rock" double feature. A quick review of the two episodes coming up just as soon as I find the Joey Russo button...

Neither of tonight's episode was as emotionally rich as the Christmas episode, nor did they feature a moment as insanely funny as Pete coaching Liz through the "Dealbreakers" opening credits. But each was filled with enough good gags that, together, they made for a very satisfying hour of comedy.

James Franco(*) was as funny in "Klaus and Greta" as I was expecting, playing a perverted version of himself, even if the plot was stolen from a classic "Simpsons" episode with Troy McClure and Selma. Franco's obsession with body pillows (and other objects), and then Liz's willingness to go along with the disturbing fantasy in the end made me laugh a lot. And the first episode also offered Jack being disgusted with Jonathan's lack of lithe-ness, Kenneth unhitching his pelvis, the staff's "Today Show" drinking game, and Tracy declaring Kenneth's haircut an insult to lesbians. And if the Nancy story didn't really work without the presence of Julianne Moore (with or without the controversial accent), the rest was amusing enough to compensate.

(*) Random digression: the first episode of Franco's weird performance art stint on "General Hospital" aired around the same time the new season of "Scrubs" was about to begin. At one point during that episode (which Fienberg and I both watched out of morbid fascination), ABC ran a chyron promoting the fact that "Scrubs" would now feature "James Franco's brother Dave Franco." Ever since, we have been referring to him as "James Franco's Brother Dave Franco" in conversation. Tonight, though, I'm switching it up, and saying that "30 Rock" featured a guest appearance by Dave Franco's Brother James Franco. End digression.

"Black Light Attack!," meanwhile, made the best use yet of Cheyenne Jackson's Danny, less for what Jackson got to do then for the way he unleashed Liz's Dirty Thirties (the callback to her Larry Wilcox fixation from the Christmas episode was hilarious). And hearing Jack try to feign attraction for Lemon played right into Alec Baldwin's strengths. And for once I really enjoyed a subplot built around Jenna's narcissism and self-delusion, particularly Pete's terrified sprint out of the building and Jenna's lame attempts to seem young. ("Uh! Facebook!") Also, any joke that sets up a situation where multiple characters have to shout without realizing they're doing it will make me laugh. Every time.

Plus, while Tina Fey technically wasn't at press tour, I did watch the episode from my press tour hotel room, so the mustache trend has a third member and is therefore an official trend. Woo-hoo!

What did everybody else think?

37 comments:

underdog said...

I actually thought the first episode (with James Franco) was one of their very best. Maybe the Tracy segment was weak but the rest of it was terrific. I laughed out loud about seven times, which is a good number in my estimation. The writing in both was solid but particularly in the first it was at a high level - both story and dialogue. I give it at least an A-.

Marc said...

I think none of the comedies tonight touched ABCs last night which were fantastic. Also I think Community had their worst ep yet and Jack Black had a lot to do with that

Alan Sepinwall said...

Please wait to discuss Community (and Parks and Rec) until after I've watched and written about them.

cadfile said...

I thought the end tag with Lutz dancing was so funny. "Go Lutz Go Lutz" with the manssiere.

Looked like it was an outtake they left in.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if I missed the show or if they were just really, really funny. I think I laughed out loud more than once in both episodes. Kenneth's walk and holding his ears as he screamed "What's happening to me" had me cracking up, as did every time he screwed up with the computer. Two good episodes.

randydufour said...

... " I thought the end tag with Lutz dancing was so funny. "Go Lutz Go Lutz" ...


WHAT WAS THE SONG !!

Anonymous said...

"Why won't they put me on the Jumbotron, I've been doing cool stuff all game."

Rinaldo said...

As of Sunday, Cheyenne Jackson will be way more available than they'd originally planned. I hope he becomes at least a semi-regular. He's really very funny, in exactly the style of the show.

Adam said...

Loved the first episode, was 'meh' on the second. I've given up on there being any long-term character development so it's all about the gags, and the Franco stuff and Kenneth's computer problems made it worth it.

Carrie said...

Two episodes back to back with funny Jenna stories? Hallelujah! Although, strangely, the funnier the Jenna story seems to be the lamer Tracy's stories get. Hmm.

Still, this was the best 30 Rock has been in quite a while for me. (And no, that isn't just because of James Franco. But it certainly didn't hurt.)

Mel said...

"You take your reward, Lemon. You take your reward."

LA said...

The Franco episode was hysterical. And the second one was damn funny. It's great to see 30 Rock back to form.

Oh, and I love the transformation men go through when they have daughters.

Phil said...

Regarding the transition men go through when they have daughter, it's like this. When you have a boy, you only have to worry about one penis; when you have a girl, you have to worry about all of them.

The Jenna as a beard for Franco was a riot, but her and the Gossip Girl reading scene was just beyond amazing. The slow sense of realization that she had was perfectly done. I expected her to end up with the face bra that she invented on Ally McBeal, but I guess the scotch tape was a reasonable substitute for that.

Anonymous said...

Jenna's "Gossip Girl" scene was hilarious.
"I've had a full life. And now, I'm 41 years old. Time to die." Bwah!!

And two episodes where in a row where Liz got some action! Hmm. I wonder/hope/dread a possible Liz is pregnant and doesn't know who the father is storyline. (Although I'm probably wrong. It's just that earlier she was wanting to adopt [and that storyline seems to have been dropped], and now Tracy is trying to conceive a daughter...)

Jim said...

And hearing Jack try to feign attraction for Lemon played right into Alec Baldwin's strengths.

That had me laughing out loud. Not just Baldwin's perfect delivery but Fey's willingness to play the (disgusting) fool. I was enormously amused by the whole... situation.

Chalmers said...

Jane Krakowski has now run the gamut from the inappropriately "mature" teenage cousin in "Vacation" to the inappropriately immature-acting 40-year-old on "30 Rock."

renton said...

Kenneth's agony at the high-pitched sounds for over 40s was a great throwaway bit.

amyp3 said...

And two episodes where in a row where Liz got some action! Hmm. I wonder/hope/dread a possible Liz is pregnant
This crossed my mind, but no, they're not going there. Besides, that would mean that 30 Rock was actually employing through-storylines and character development.

Speaking of which, I minorly groused on another forum that Liz getting all that seemed somewhat out of character to me.

I'm just not into Cheyenne J's character that much.

But nice to see Jane getting to stretch her character just the tiniest bit.

The stuff I remember most the day after the shows were the smaller things like:
Pete- Why are you smiling. (Excited) Have we been cancelled?
And of course, Kenneth and the webcam. ("Now I've made it the desktop!")

Reagan said...

Was every cell phone in these episodes an iPhone? It looked like it. The computer Kenneth uses was an iMac.
Is Apple paying for product placement? Sure appears to be the case.

Anonymous said...

This is another season I'm looking forward to re-watching on DVD. "For 4 years I’ve had to make do with what passes for men in this place, with their untucked shirts, their boneless faces, their stars both wars and trek – I needed a man around here and I finally have one."

Anonymous said...

At the exact moment that Baldwin did the "that whole situation right there" line, I was reading almost exactly the same quote in Nancy Franklin's New Yorker review of Jersey Shore. Talk about serendipity... not having seen Jersey Shore, I wouldn't have gotten the reference otherwise.

Hannah Lee said...

I had many laugh out loud moments during these episodes.

Probably the biggest was when Kenneth got spooked by the "albino monk" after Jack suggested they go all Davinci Code to determine Nancy's password

filmcricket said...

"If the Snitch is worth 150 points, why do they even bother with the Quaffle?"

Cracked me right up. But then I'm a giant nerd.

Kenrick said...

i'm with filmcricket. i lol'd at that 'cause to me, the rules of quidditch didn't seem to particularly well thought out, haha.

Delia Jean Streefkerk said...

For the longest time Apple products have appeared on 30 Rock because the crew seems to like that brand. On the first episode, "Klaus and Greta," I saw "promotional consideration" listing Apple at the end of the credits. Delia Jean, Biggest Apple Hater in the State of Michigan but 30 Rock fan ironically.

DeeTV said...

I only watched the ep w/James Franco so far. It had a few LOL moments for me, so I thought it was pretty good. Plus I've loved James Franco since his F&G days.

I can't believe that "Cole' on Scrubs is James Franco's brother. I can't take that character! I even commented while I was watching the last episode that the way he was acting reminded me of James Franco, except James Franco is so likely and Cole is so totally unlikeable. It's funny, not in a good way, for me to find out "Cole" is J. Franco's brother.

I've seen him (Dave F) in some videos on Funny or Die and he was much more appealing. That Cole character just has to go!

Sorry for the Scrubs digression.

Ted Frank said...

"If the Snitch is worth 150 points, why do they even bother with the Quaffle?"

I've been asking myself that for years, so I'm glad someone pointed that out.

I was happy with both episodes. Glad Whatshername the Dutch writer got some love.

Henry said...

Yeah, you called it Alan. Pete's immediate running from the scene was hilarious. I loved the black light gags as well as everyone screaming at the top of their lungs. I laughed so hard when Kenneth just flashes by the writers' room screaming, "What is happening to me?!"

The other episode I kinda liked, if only for the weird fetish that James Franco has with pillows and other pieces of furniture.

Henry said...

Genuine LOL moment: Jack, upon discovering Liz's mustache: "Good God, Lemon."

Schmoker said...

Thinking another mustache logo, this time including Liz Lemon, is a must down the road, Alan.

Jerry said...

Both were great episodes!! Loved Sue and Tracy together. Anyone catch the fact that she was date raped!?

And like others pointed out, TWO hilarious Jenna stories! I was thrilled! Great job jane krakowski!

I, too, remember Microsoft Windows 95.

DeeTV said...

I been through 2 of their wars, Star and Trek. LOL!

DeeTV said...

Above, I don't think I got the quote, exactly right, but whatever it was had me cracking up.

amysusanne said...

Just now got to both of them and I *loved* the Franco episode. I thought it was very funny, especially once we got passed the set up and got into Franco's full on crazy. He was fantastic and both Tina and Jane were great with him.

I also really liked the Kenneth/Jack story. I wasn't sure about taking the two of them, together, out of the studio and sending them to the burbs for a B&E caper, but it was realy funny. I especially loved the running gag about the webcam.

I'm glad someone else out there went through their "James Franco's little brother Dave" phase. That ad killed me and it was a long time before I could stop referring to Dave that way.

Number Five said...

I thought both episodes were in perfect form.

The actual line "Black Light Attack!" from Jack, followed by the shot of Liz being caught white-handed, just cracked me up.

Great to see Sue finally get a line. In his bizarre universe, it felt like Tracy was watching her in their early scenes intentionally so he could have an internal montage when it was time to let her go.

This New York Times Magazine article discusses the phenomenon of Japanese men who form emotional relationships with body pillow "girls." The sexually extreme variations are disgusting, but otherwise it's a fascinating subject.

Re: Jack's bit on pretending to be attracted to Liz. First, the cuts to her playing food monster with the writers while he was talking were brilliant in of themselves. Second, it was interesting since a couple of early season 1 episodes toyed with them having some sexual tension, only to (wisely, I think) ignore it after that.

Proc said...

i also loved the eternal kenneth's screaming. i fell out.

randydufour, the song was an instrumental for "muffin top".

Meredith said...

Re: Quidditch.

The reason why teams bother with the Quaffle is if your team scores with the Quaffle enough times before the Snitch is caught, then you can win even if the other team gets 150 points with the Snitch. This happened in Book 4 at the Quidditch World Cup: Viktor Krum got the Snitch, but the Irish team had already scored so many points that it didn't matter and Ireland won anyway. Moreover, Quidditch teams are ranked by points scored, not games won, so the points scored with the Quaffle actually do matter.

End of super-dorky Harry Potter digression. I did crack up at that line though.

Oh, and I liked these two episodes too.