A review of "30 Rock" coming up just as soon as I smell like Icy Hot...
"Don Geiss, America and Hope" wasn't as strong as last week's "Future Husband", mainly because I didn't think the Tracy story entirely worked (more on that in a minute). But like a lot of second-tier "30 Rock" episodes, there were so many funny moments scattered throughout that I was satisfied.
The uncomfortable relationship between Liz and Wesley Snipes (and, yes, it does sound like a name more suited to a pasty English dude than to the star of "Passenger 57") worked better here than last week. The awkwardness between them was greater, Liz's frustration with Wesley's fake English names for things ("film pod," "foot cycle") was a good running gag, and I liked the angle of their disagreement over "Hot Tub Time Machine." (Plus, "Hot Tub Time Machine" remains one of those titles that's just fun to say, which is no doubt at least 80% of why it got greenlit.)
Jack's horror at winding up with a company lacking ambition (because who needs ambition when you've had a consumer monopoly for decades?) was a good story for him, and it's nice to see that the show is just as fearless about mocking their future Comcast overlords as they are at making fun of NBC (Kable Town bought NBC as a "charitable donation"). And I laughed a very long time at Jack quoting the line about Alexander the Great weeping, and then attributing it to Hans Gruber rather than Plutarch. (Though I'll admit that's where I first heard it, too.)
Both Jack's story and Tracy's were taken from current events, but it felt like Tracy's was such an on-the-nose role reversal of the Tiger Woods situation that a lot of it fell flat. I liked the Bed, Bath and Beyond voicemail, and throwaways like Jenna talking about the time she ate the pig that played Babe, but I spent too much of that subplot just nodding and saying, "Okay, I get it. Uh-huh. Yes, this is the opposite of what Tiger did."
(Stories like these - and, for that matter, jokes about "Hot Tub Time Machine" - also raise the question of how well "30 Rock" is going to age, which ties into one of the questions Ken Levine answered on his blog today. "30 Rock" is a much, much better show than "Murphy Brown" was on its best day, but so much of "Murphy Brown" was built around references to politicians and media types who were in the news back then that the episodes became unwatchable within a few years. Moments like the honkies shooting Jack or Liz filming the "Dealbreakers" opening titles should be fairly timeless, but how's an episode like this going to play in, say, 2015?)
Still, any episode that opens with Jack citing Rob Mariano as a reason why Boston is better than Philadelphia, closes with the porn-for-women guy telling Liz what button to push (because of course the people at Kable Town assume the women don't know how to work the remote) and in the middle gives us Don Geiss frozen in carbonite like Han Solo, was amusing enough for right now.
What did everybody else think?