Friday, January 22, 2010

30 Rock, "Winter Madness": Get Dale Snitterman!

A quick review of last night's "30 Rock" coming up just as soon as I figure out whether the Subway joke in the teaser was supposed to be a dig at "Chuck"...

There are, to my mind, three types of "30 Rock" episodes: the ones like the Steve Martin episode that don't really work at all, the ones that feature a lot of funny gags but aren't wholly satisfying, and then the ones like "Apollo, Apollo" where everything clicks and all the stories, jokes and character beats come together to create a perfect whole.

"Winter Madness" falls into that middle category. I enjoyed a lot of the jokes about the staff's anger at having to go to Boston and share rooms (Grizz/Dotcom tension is always funny), Tracy's road rage coming to fruition, and Kenneth and Cerie's horrible playacting with Nancy Donovan. But it felt like the episode just stopped, rather than building to a real conclusion, particularly in the Liz/Dale Snitterman story, and I enjoyed Alec Baldwin and Julianne Moore(*) in the Christmas episode much more than here.

(*) Because everyone vented his or her spleen about Moore's (intentionally?) horrid Boston accent when we talked about "Secret Santa," can we please table that discussion here?

I'll take uneven-but-funny "30 Rock" over a lot of television, but when "Parks and Recreation" and "Community" have been as strong as they've been this season, it becomes harder to wave away this show's weak spots.

What did everybody else think?

33 comments:

Adam said...

[Deleted: the stuff I can't complain about per Alan's instructions.]

I liked the Tracy Jordan-John Hancock stuff, but that's about it.

Mark said...

reading your reviews every week it would appear you seem to enjoy Community more than Modern Family? Is that accurate?

Chazz Goodtimes said...

It felt very incomplete to me- the whole Bruins Beat seemed like it was supposed to be a bigger storyline that it was. I really feel like they could have done more with being in Boston and I agree that with really strong showings from Parks and Community, 30 Rock's inconsistency stands out more than it did before.

Ken said...

I laughed out loud, by myself, at least twice during last night's 30 Rock, and for me, that's something. Tracey's t-shirt "Impeach George W. Ashington"

Hal Incandenza said...

Agree completely, Alan. Very funny episode that didn't so much end as just stop.

w/r/t Liz's storyline, I'm feeling the urge to quote Homer in "Guess Who's Coming to Criticize Dinner": ""The important thing is, I didn't get my comeuppance...and I never will."

My rank of the top comedies (that I watch...and that are currently showing new episodes) at the moment:

1. Parks and Rec
2. Better Off Ted (very close)
3. Community
4. Chuck
5. Modern Family
6. The Office
7. 30 Rock
8. HIMYM
9. Scrubs

James said...

I've always been a fan of Julianne Moore, but what a dreadful Boston accent.

Jen said...

I really enjoyed the Tracy subplot on the Freedom Trail. His antagonism with John Hancock was kind of awesome, especially for the tag at the end. For a minute I wondered if Hancock was played by the same actor who was the creepy Benjamin Franklin who kept hitting on Pam in the Office. But alas.

Chazz Goodtimes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TomAss said...

I agree with that thought that it's harder to forgive 30 Rock when Parks and Rec has been so grea trecently, but the Office hasn't been funny outside of Creed/Kevin jokes in more than a season, and while I want to like Community, I'm less and less interested each week. More Alison Brie, please.

Last week's 30 Rocks were much better, and had a lot more of what 30 Rock does best -- quotable lines. I'm struggling to remember any specific gems from last night...

Jim said...

(If we were allowed to discuss Julianne Moore's accent, I would posit that maybe it's supposed to be wicked bad, all very meta and pomo and stuff).
I laughed out loud a few times: Tracy Jordan, history buff, whatever they called that thing Lutz did to the guy at the end, dead squirrels on my porch, Twofer going to that college near Boston). But it did feel like the whole Bruins Beat thing was just dropped.

I don't watch Chuck. I just thought we were all agreed that Subway sucks. ()Is Luntz leaving the show?)

DonBoy said...

For those who aren't from "here": Chet Curtis and Natalie Jacobsen, who Moore referred to when she and Jack were in the anchor chairs, are a famous married Boston anchor-couple...or they were, until their divorce about 10 years ago. If it was supposed to be insight into Moore's thinking about Jack, it presumably went over most of America's head.

jefbot said...

I was highly amused at the slam against subway and was wondering if you would mention it.

Anonymous said...

I really don't understand what people find funny about Community. I want to like it, but everytime I watch I find that I almost never laugh. Even a bad episode of 30 Rock usually has at least a couple of laugh out loud moments for me.

Mike said...

It's rare for a comedy to sustain a consistently high level of performance for more than three years. There are a couple of exceptions--seasons 2-7 of the Simpsons are all great. And I think Taxi had four incredibly strong years with few duds.

30 Rock's first season is one of the best in TV history. Since then, it's been spotty, mainly because Liz has become more and more unbelievable.

Anyway, you're right about the contrast with the rest of the line-up. I really like Community because it has an unusual ambition that makes the episodes really rich. How many sitcoms actually explore an idea like this? And do it well.

Last comment on NBC Thursday: The Office has really jumped the shark. At first I was disappointed with that they threw in a clip show. But I enjoyed it more than most episodes this season. NBC should pick up BOT and put it in there.

Mike F said...

I find the Julianne Moore plot to be really really lame...the Bruins stuff was also lame...

Tracy was funny, but the material wasn't original

This all just seemed like an excuse to mail it in for an episode and dust off a whole bunch of stereotypical Boston jokes

Combined with the lame clips episode of the Office, I was left feeling pretty cold at the end of the night

But Conan O'Brien came to the rescue! His 2nd to last episode (and the previous night's) was a real ball to watch...from the race horse watching restricted NFL Super Bowl footage to Robin Williams cursing out NBC, it was a particularly fun and cathartic hour of television

BigTed said...

I wondered if the anti-Subway joke was a way for someone on the show to complain about all the product-placent advertising "30 Rock" has had to do in the past. (Taking advantage of the fact that it's now apparently open season for NBC shows to bash their own network.)

Bobman said...

I have to assume the accent is intentionally bad / mocking, since the rest of the episode was so mocking towards Boston stereotypes (the Bruins guys, Moore's character not wanting to talk about things, etc).

I definitely laughed a bunch of times at this episode (and I love anytime Lutz is beat up on - "Shutup everyone, Shutup Lutz!"), but agree it didn't quite all come together. I like to think of these types of episodes as "Family Guy-esque". Disjointed jokes with only a vague sense of connectedness.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Alan, that accent is such a turnoff for me, it pretty much ruined every scene that JM was in.

Henry said...

There goes Julianne Moore's abominable Boston accent. I didn't like it, and I usually enjoy stuff from Julianne, too.

I loved that Pete narrates a smash cut and they immediately smash cut to Tracy and Liz on the Freedom Trail. Also loved Tracy's "George W. Ashington" shirt.

Henry said...

Oh, sorry Alan. I posted the comment before reading your post about the accent. I retract the part about the Boston accent in my comment.

אורי said...

I thought this episode was good, but also, rather forgettable.

dez said...

Some parts were inspired silliness, and the rest was...eh. Loved Tracy's nuttiness re: the Freedom Trail.

Matthew said...

"I suck?! The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Sucks!"

That had me rewinding the DVR several times. The wife had to come down to see what I was laughing about.

The Topiary Cow said...

HOW can Mr. Sepinwall not like the Steve Martin episode? That episode ROCKED! The part about having to "nod and smile" on the first 12 dates was priceless!

Plus, the "dream guy" turning out to be under house arrest--this is so typical of the way dating turns out!

Anyone who doesn't think this episode is fantastic hasn't been dating much lately.

RosebuDD said...

The only stuff I really enjoyed or was interested in aside from Tracy's Anti-Patriotism was the rest of the Meta stuff. It was obviously a huge dig at NBC higher-ups with the Subway (product placement/Olympics), the move to Boston (I know NBC forced a couple shows to move from sunny LA to Connecticut and other NE places for Tax saving reasons this past year) and the faux-hatred of Dale Snitterman. Maybe it's just with the Conan fiasco and the near cancellation of Chuck but I am much more observant when it comes to network screw-ups now. I feel this will be even more of an angle than usual for Fey and Co.

Wes Covington said...

I can't say I disagree with the sentiment that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame does indeed suck. The idea of going to a museum to look at stuff devoted to a medium that you have to listen to doesn't work at all.

When you wait in line to go in, they make you pose with a guitar in front of a green screen in hopes that you will buy the picture. In my photo (which I didn't), I looked like the saddest human being in the world.

Because I realized that the experience would, in the words of Bart Simpson, both suck and blow.

chris said...

I'm just glad that we have so many outstanding comedy shows right now. 30 Rock wasn't in perfect mode last night -- their guest stars can be distracting when they go beyond Oprah on the plane -- but it was still good. I will go with the list of good shows on right now and add a couple. It is hard to find time to watch them all?
1. Parks and Rec
2. Better Off Ted (very close)
3. Community
4. Chuck
5. Modern Family
6. 30 Rock
7. HIMYM
8. Scrubs
9. Big Bang Theory
10. Cougar Town
11. The Office
and then go to cable for Party Down, Bored to Death, My Boys, Always Sunny, Greek, Nurse Jackie, Weeds... oh my, it is a golden age...

Anonymous said...

PURRRRRRFECT LIKE A CAT BIRTHDAY

Georgiana said...

I laughed at the subway joke cause I just thought they were making fun of their sandwiches which I agree that they are awful.
Loved seeing Kevin Meaney! He cracks me up!

annie said...

i actually liked the doorbell/lightbulb gag, and think Kenneth had a couple neat moments. But overall it didn't have a storyline that gelled.

Number Five said...

Yeah I often like it when a show avoids the usual structure, but this was just weird. The temporary closure of the Julianne Moore storyline was touching, though, and very well done.

It's funny you mention the Steve Martin episode, Alan, because "I miscounted the men, Liz! I miscounted the men" followed by the callback at the end of the show, is one of my favorite moments. I guess I'd put that episode more in the middle category.

Good to see Cleveland referenced again. And the way Tracy got into trouble with the Patriots fans was the kind of "Twist!" they haven't always pulled off as well lately. I've never been to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville was actually very interesting - and I don't listen to country music. Being able to listen is pretty important, and they did have lots of places where you could listen to clips.

Rick said...

Weird to see that most people didn't like this one that much -- I thought it was one of the strongest episodes in a while

Farrah said...

"ones like "Apollo, Apollo" where everything clicks and all the stories, jokes and character beats come together to create a perfect whole"

Alan, out of curiosity, which other 30 Rock episodes do you think fall into this category?