Friday, March 26, 2010

30 Rock, "Floyd": Look at the truth you're trying to avoid, Floyd

A quick review of last night's "30 Rock" coming up just as soon as I'm no stranger to the art of japery...

There are episodes of "30 Rock" that manage to blend quasi-human plots about Liz or Jack with the zany antics of everyone else at "TGS" and make them all feel like part of the same show, but "Floyd" never quite pulled it off. The return of Jason Sudeikis as Floyd gave Liz one of her more down-to-earth and relatable stories in a while, but it felt like a complete tonal mismatch from the war between The Pranksmen and The Silver Panthers, and especially from one of the weirder (and dumber) Tracy/Jenna plots I can remember.

With "30 Rock," there will usually be enough good throwaway jokes to carry the day (Floyd's last name is DeBarber, Dave Coulier has been knighted in Canada, Liz can do a Christopher Cross impression), and I did quite enjoy the Pranksmen/Silver Panthers feud, as well as Pete's part of the Tracy/Jenna stuff. But overall, "Floyd" didn't really hang together for me.

What did everybody else think?

41 comments:

Myles said...

The episode's problem: the show already did great "Floyd returns and Liz's feelings are rekindled" and "Liz's ex-boyfriend returns into her life in an unavoidable and invasive fashion" stories in "Sandwich Day" and "Subway Hero," and the sum of their parts just didn't measure up.

Josh said...

I think my problem with the episode was that the Liz story seemed almost mean-spirited, in that Floyd's actions were just really terrible. I realize that 30 Rock is usually very divorced from reality, but I felt so bad for Liz, in a way that was hard to forget when Frank was running around in Jack's office trying to get him to leave for his veterinary appointment. Not the worst episode, but very tonally off, I agree.

Paul Rinkes said...

I agree 100 percent about the tone being off. I might have biased myself – I watch to see who wrote and directed each episode, and I didn't recognize either name. Not proof of anything except maybe my weirdness.

The ending bit, though, was hilarious. Things I can't unsee ...

And the whole alcoholic-on-a-bender thing isn't terribly funny to me.

Chris said...

If nothing else you've got to appreciate the Kenneth Parcel striptease.

Ian C. said...

Floyd, Floyd, Floyd... were you always that thoughtless and tone-deaf?

My favorite part was Jack's video from the bedroom of Frank's mother (including the "she's a hugger!" pop-in).

Zack Smith said...

I didn't like this ep. Season One Floyd was great in that he was a down-to-Earth goofball that brought out Liz's best and worst tendencies at the same time. This guy was a shallow douche. I was really looking forward to this episode, and it was severely disappointing to see one of the show's few convincing romances turned into a joke.

Liz has gone from unlucky in love to actively pitied by everyone else on the show, and it's starting to feel like Tina Fey is a masochist. In real life, she has a good marriage and a daughter, so why can't they move in that direction? Surely there are stories with that? I'm not sure I can take more of these lousy boyfriends.

The "Elm Street" plot amused me for some reason, though.

Digression: Oddly, I just looked up Dave Coulier last night because he's doing a comedy routine in town, and Wikipedia said he was born in America. On the other hand, someone could have just messed with the page, and lord knows Wikipedia is not a reliable source of research. There was also contradictory information about whether or not he was the guy in that Alanis Morisette song, which I will not pursue due to several horrifying psychic images that now torment me.

I just realized that inspired more thoughts than the actual episode. This should say something about its quality.

Kristi said...

Looking back now, I think Kenneth in shiny Peacock underwear may have distracted me from what was a so-so episode. I didn't like Mean Floyd, and what's the point of Danny (who doesn't really seem to fit anywhere in the show) if you only use his character once every 3 or 4 episodes? I had to freakin' Google his name because he has left THAT little of an impression on me thus far.

DonBoy said...

I presumed that Floyd calling himself "Mr. DeBarber" was just a joke for Liz. Although if your first name is Floyd, you've probably used that one before.

Nicole said...

Dave Coulier is from Michigan. I recall he used to wear Red Wings jerseys a lot while on Full House so maybe the hockey thing makes people think he is Canadian.

But trust me, he is not Canadian. We have a list of those who "made it" in States and he is not on it. :-)

Seriously I do believe that this is the first time that a Juno has been referenced on American TV.
Normally they are just things given to Nickelback for every "new" album they put out.

I was fine with the Jack / the Pranksters plot line as well as Liz and Floyd. The Jenna and Tracey thing was just really weird and not funny.

iamnoahjames.com said...

Was this episode "meh"-worthy? Yes.

Was it one of the better episodes from this season? Yes.

How can those two facts make sense? Because this season has been horrible, full of caricatures of roles that were already caricatures of reality.

Anonymous said...

I though the gag about Danny winning a Juno for doing the "psych-up" at Ottawa Senators home games was pretty funny, but that's probably because I'm originally from Ottawa.

I also got a kick out out the stories Kenneth was telling tracy and Jenna when they had no choice but to sit there and listen.

Otherwise, the whole Liz and Floyd storyline seemed off.

555jay said...

Moments after I said to my girlfriend that I didn't need to watch 30 Rock after the Office, the opening joke about "K-Date, the personals section of the Kraft Foods website" made me laugh out loud.

Anonymous said...

Didn't Lutz used to be a real character? Now he just says stupid stuff that makes him intentionally sound like a homosexual.

Asta said...

I thought this was one of the better episodes of the season, yet I agree completely with your review. The Tracy/Jenna stuff was bizarre and unfunny, but the the Pranksman/Silver Panther storyline I found very amusing (and as much as I enjoy the friendship between Jack and Liz it was nice to see Jack, again, bonding with Danny) and I appreciated Liz's storyline being grounded in reality. Though, Floyd being such a jerk - and that was before he got drunk - was perplexing.

tribalism said...

Not as strong as "Future Husband", but the idea of Liz looking for love on the personal sections of the Kraft Foods website was genius. I don't care how bad he was for her, but Dennis is Liz's true soul mate.

I laugh every time they give Lutz something to do. The "This is the most friends I ever had" throwaway coupled with his "prank" idea to kiss Danny (followed my his near attempt at CPR) were the definite highlights for me.

If anyone is interested, you can find more of my thoughts on this episode on my blog where I explain why I don't think Floyd works for Liz (or the show) as well as my favourite exchange of the night. Click my username for the link.

David said...

I found this ep really grim. The Floyd arc, from Fighting Irish, Fireworks and Cleveland in S1 to Sandwich Day in S2, was some of 30 Rock's best ever IMHO. This ep just stomped all over it. Too depressing and not enough light humor or heart elsewhere to make up for it. They didn't explain how Floyd and his fiancée got together or why she wants to move to NY (to find jobs??), but that fact that he is planning on that definitely twists the knife in Liz even more. And I didn't find Floyd's fiancée attractive at all...not sure what they were going for with that casting.

Liz should have specified which book of Corinthians (1 or 2) she would be reading from, but I have little doubt it's the Love Never Fails passage from 1 Corinthians 13 aka the reading at every wedding ever.

For the first time I really disliked a tag...the scene of dream Liz and dream Kenneth getting freaky will haunt MY dreams. It felt like fan fiction or desperation for having run out of ideas.

Anonymous said...

Meh episode to me too especially against Parks and Rec. I do like how they always incorporate NBC into the shows, the Today Show Wedding was clever.

I do yoga a lot an Floyd's fiancée is an actual famous yoga instructor. Kristin McGee. I've done her dvds dozens of times. Kinda funny.

jeffrey said...

was at first happy to see that liz felt optimistic enough about life to get her hair did for their date.

after that imploded it was back to frizzy bed head at the office. her character looks as bad as it feels this season.

Flap Jackson said...

Call me crazy, but that was one of the funniest, if not the funniest episode they've ever done.

Sure, it may be dumb & done before, but to me at least, it was better than what they've been doing. It is technically a comedy show, and lately I haven't been getting much of that from the show. But last night, last night had me rolling.

DolphinFan said...

Liz has never been lucky in romance (it seems like she has had SOME love interests on the show for the same reason that Michael Scott does on "The Office", because it provides story opportunities and makes sure the show's lead character isn't a 24/7 total loser) but I agree that Floyd's return turned her into a punching bag to the extent that it was painful to watch. And that's a carry-over from the Valentine's Day/dentist visit story, when no one would help her out and she was asked to sign a form that basically said it was her own fault if she ended up getting murdered. NOT FUNNY! On the other hand, erotic fears of Kenneth, Jack in full prankster mode, and more for Pete to do and do well? Those things worked. They turn from "poor Liz" back to "plucky Liz" and they can finish this season strongly.

Anonymous said...

Floyd's tone was definitely off - what was with his lame jokes? I loved the rest though, especially Kenneth's sexy dance.

Anyway, I'm from Ottawa so I was completely delighted by the shout-out to Scotiabank Place. There must be someone from Ottawa on the staff. Although I have never seen a man as attractive as Cheyenne Jackson here, sadly.

Anonymous said...

Floyd's tone was definitely off - what was with his lame jokes? I loved the rest though, especially Kenneth's sexy dance.

Anyway, I'm from Ottawa so I was completely delighted by the shout-out to Scotiabank Place. There must be someone from Ottawa on the staff. Although I have never seen a man as attractive as Cheyenne Jackson here, sadly.

Tyler said...

Not my favorite episode but still a good one. I thought that the reactions Tracy and Jenna had to Kenneth's stories were some of the best acting sans faces that I have ever seen. Today when I woke up and also during class today, I laughed out loud about Liz blowing on Kenneth's armpit.

Anonymous said...

"WHUK??" - sheer brilliance. Did no one else catch that? It was when Liz first saw them on The Today Show.

Jim said...

yeah, anon, "Whuck!" belongs in the NBC Hall Of Fame along with "Never follow a hippie to a second location", "I want to go to there", "I HAVE. A LAUNDRY. MACHINE!" and a few others.

Anonymous said...

great to see Danny being used again!!

cadfile said...

Danny threw me off at first since he was just on an episode of Law & Order as a suspect. You would think they had more actors in NYC needing work who could do a turn on L & O....

The Peacock underwear needs to be sold in the NBC store - score!

David Coulier is American but huge hockey fan - hence the joke.

Floyd hanging out on the Today Show with Hoda and Kathie Lee was funny since the joke is they drink a lot during their 4th hour hosting stint.

dickey simpkins said...

I really don't get what the writers want us to think about Liz Lemon's personal life.

On one hand, her failures with Floyd are pretty believable, and aside from her conversations with Jack are the most down to earth moments she has.

On the other, are we still supposed to believe a woman who runs a TV show and looks like Tina Fey is somehow unattractive and incapable of finding a good man in New York City? I don't mind the running subplot that every hot guy she meets ends up having some crazy character flaw, but after 4 seasons it's getting pretty tiresome of hearing the same joke.

While the show still makes me laugh, they are almost all due to the throwaway gags and nothing related to the actual plot. The writers are just annoying, way too much Kenneth/Jenna, and not enough Hornberger or Grizz/Dot Com.

Jason said...

@David: And I didn't find Floyd's fiancée attractive at all...not sure what they were going for with that casting.

I think Floyd said she was an "ab model." i.e., great body, but you would never see her face.

Charbarred said...

I usually judge 30 Rock episodes by how fast my wife falls asleep. On good eps she makes it through the whole show. This time around she fell asleep during the credits. And rightfully so.

Chrissy said...

@dickey
"On the other, are we still supposed to believe a woman who runs a TV show and looks like Tina Fey is somehow unattractive and incapable of finding a good man in New York City?"

I think it's more that she has a whole set of standards that most men don't satisfy (and "rules about sex"). She's incredibly insecure because she tried to be an actress and failed miserably, in part because of her looks. So she makes it almost impossible for someone to like her, insults people and things constantly (remember Reunion?), and insists that men fit into some predetermined role she has set up in her mind (Astronaut Mike Dexter). Dealbreakers was all about crossing people off your list, not being open to new things, and that's kind of who she is. It doesn't mean she'll never find someone, but it makes it harder.

Also, this show is sort of about female insecurity, so the things that happen to Liz tend to be those nightmares writ large (like actually having an ex who you still love tell you he loves his new girlfriend more because she's blonde.)

I actually liked this episode a lot. It didn't surprise me that Floyd was kind of a dick (he's the Michael Clayton of Cleveland), and I found the prank war pretty hilarious. Tracy and Jenna wasn't a highlight, but it was amusing and tangential, and all of the Pete stuff was absolute gold.

digamma said...

I usually agree with Alan but, damn, I loved this episode. Liz struggled with right and wrong in a believable but still hilarious way. I wanted to get up and cheer at the end.

Anonymous said...

All right, what's the blog post title from, Alan?

30Rocker said...

Agreed. I loved the episode.

"You should try THE FISH!" Classic.

Rob S. said...

"Like a killer whale being born..." KILLED me.

Zack Smith said...

Cheyenne Jackson (Danny) gets an actual New York Times profile, and even addresses the Coulier controversy.

http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/26/cheyenne-jackson-gets-his-new-york-times-profile-sort-of/

KVV said...

This show has become such a shell of what it once was. It's not even a show, really. It's just a series of one liners and sight gags. I still laugh on occasion, but it disappears from my brain the minute it's over.

Karen said...

I'm not comfortable with the direction Liz's character has taken in the past year or so, and this episode was an extreme example of it. The current Liz is so flawed and damaged that it's hard to believe she can even find her way out of her apartment in the morning, much less run a hit TV show.

When I watch the opening credits, the little clip of Tina-Fey-as-Liz seems to show someone who has a kind of rueful sense of humor about the chaos going on around her but is definitely above it. And I seem to remember that that's how Liz started out. But she has deteriorated over the seasons from a believable person into a sitcom caricature made up of a thousand quirks, and it's not pretty. (I find the same is true about Julia Louis-Dreyfus' "Christine," as well.)

Anonymous said...

I'm the anonymous poster who asked what the blog post title was from, because my only guess was Say Anything. And I've confirmed I was right, and I've reaffirmed that I belong here. Thanks for making me happy, Alan.

Rob said...

Jumped. The. Shark.

They may as well just end the show. It's staggering. I can't remember such a funny show going to crap so fast without losing any of the principals or having any reasonable excuse.

I chuckled a few times, but as KVV said, it's empty calories.

My best guess is that it's mainly because the characters have zero depth. Kenneth is a dumb bumpkin. Tracy and Jenna are dumb self-absorbed TV stars. Frank wears funny hats and is a nerd. Lutz might be gay or might not even be a real person for all I can tell.

This leaves the show hitting or missing based on the only real characters, Jack and Liz, and while Alec Baldwin still makes me laugh once or twice every week, the material for him is getting weaker and weaker. Liz's material just gets worse and worse as her character doesn't seem to develop or go anywhere. At this point I think it's more a satire of Liz than the Liz Lemon that was so funny and insightful in Season 2.

I'm still watching, but many more episodes like this and it might be time to move on...

Lena said...

I personally enjoyed the Jenna/Tracy plot line, and found the sequence of Kenneth's storytelling hilarious.

However, ruining Floyd was such a disappointment, somewhere deep down I always thought that romance was where they would take the season when it came to wrapping it up. He was a favourite in my eyes.