Friday, March 12, 2010

30 Rock, "Future Husband": Rip Torn from the headlines

A review of last night's "30 Rock" coming up just as soon as the pervert community gets wind of morning jogging...

Better. Not great (and still suffering in comparison to "Community" and "Parks and Recreation"), but better.

"Future Husband" had the show dealing with a couple of unavoidable real-life events: Comcast's pending acquisition of NBC/Universal, and Rip Torn's ongoing problems with substance abuse and the law. So in "30 Rock" world, Don Geiss is now dead, and GE is selling the network(*) to the Philadelphia-based "Kable Town," much to Jack's horror.

(*) Somebody want to remind me where Sheinhardt wigs fits into the corporate hierarchy? Do they own NBC outright, or do they own GE outright? I always forget.

The comic highlights were, as they often are, on the margins of the episode: Tracy never giving the same take twice on the set of "A Blaffair to Rememblack," Kenneth's donkey spells, the Jamaican dental hygienist living up to Liz's stereotypical impersonation by using "bobsled" in casual conversation.

But I thought the storytelling was better than it's been in recent weeks, particularly Jack's struggle to accept the Kable Town deal and Geiss's irrelevance (and, then, death), and the way his spirits returned after Avery created the rumor about Jack being the leading candidate to run the new company. I watch "30 Rock" to laugh, but I also need to feel at least vaguely invested in what's happening with the plot and characters, and Alec Baldwin and Elizabeth Banks had a nice moment at the end there (even while not in the same room).

On the other hand, Liz's meeting with the titular Future Husband, played by Michael Sheen(*), fell a little flatter. I couldn't tell if they were aiming for "catastrophe" and instead landed on "slightly uncomfortable," or if Sheen's just too charming to be believable as a guy who wouldn't in any way click with Liz. But it seemed like things should have gone much worse than they actually did.

(*) If you like sports movies at all, I cannot recommend Sheen's turn in "The Damned United" highly enough. I neither know nor care about English football, but I loved every minute of this, thanks largely to Sheen's cocky performance as overly-ambitious coach Brian Clough.

Glad to see Tracy's EGOT quest hasn't been abandoned like so many "30 Rock" running plots before it (wherefore art thou, Liz's baby fever?), and to see someone finally act out the old "I would watch him read the telephone book" cliche.

What did everybody else think?

45 comments:

Cody said...

Did you happen to catch the Dr. Pepper commercial during the break featuring none other than Dr. Leo Spaceman?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Yes. Actually stopped the DVR fast-forward to see it, so a wise move on the part of Dr. Pepper and/or NBC.

RB said...

May be the funniest episode of 30 Rock in my book (though my wife didn't think it was anything special). Loved the NBC news competitiveness, Don Geiss's book quotes, and yes, the Jamaican receptionist's bobsled reference.

Amy said...

hey - that's Kable Town with a "k"!

BK said...

Not to nitpick, but wasn't it KableTown with a K?

Stephanie said...

Kable Town- with a K!

Kenneth's donkey fits made me laugh hysterically. Otherwise, just a basic, solid episode.

Joemo said...

Was Liz's ringtone "F*ck the Pain Away" by Peaches? I swore it was.

Paul Rinkes said...

And I think GE owns Sheinhardt, which in turn owns NBC.

Lauren said...

GE owns Sheinhardt, which owns NBC, as seen by this handy flowchart!

J said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alan Sepinwall said...

hey - that's Kable Town with a "k"!

That's what I get for looking down at my notes at the wrong moment (or moments).

Mike said...

It had occurred to me that the only proof that we have that Don Geiss is dead is Jack Welch telling "John" Donaghy that he's been keeping him (on ice? "Geiss Cubes", indeed) in his house. This is a brilliant way of being able to bring him back if Rip Torn's situation permits, and/or the producers want him.

I think this was the best episode of the season. It really clicked in a a lot of ways. The least enjoyable part to me was actually the Future Husband part, and that was still okay.

Anonymous said...

everybody got that Kable Town was an obvious reference to Comcast, based in Philadelphia...when it tried to buy ABC, right?

J said...

The Sheen storyline's a laugh vacuum, but this was waaaay too full of classic toss-offs to dump on. "Weakness tissues?" "Pac-Man, I'm Jewish!" Coolrunningsbobsled?

I hope that there's an ongoing Banks-Brian Williams feud, and that Dr. Spaceman and Dr. Dre get to be in the same Dr. Pepper ad next time. WHY AM I IN THIS CAGE?

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised you didn't mention the blink-or-you'll-miss-it Olympics gag, with Liz voicing the actual winner's info over the video of her saying "blah blah blah" so they could pre-tape. We were rolling on the floor.

Anonymous said...

This episode really felt like the first half of a two-parter. All set-up, little pay-off. But the funny stuff in the margins made it work.

And jenna's evil glare at Kenneth when he said she was a fat baby was priceless.

Joe said...

Fun game that I (and probably several others) play with your blog, Alan - always trying to guess what the jump-line is going to be.

I thought you'd go with: "...after I get back my lucky rabbit spine."

or

"...after I win an award for tarantula misplacement."

J said...

I just can't get over Elizabeth Banks's terrible wig.

Anonymous said...

Loved the end when Tracy reads the name "Lorne Lipowitz" from the phone book. It is Lorne Michael's real name.

LDP said...

My favorite moment was Jack Welch, thinking Jack Donaghy was going to cry, said, "I'll get you some weakness tissues."

Meanwhile, the Kenneth "donkey seizure" scenes were horrible. There's such a thing as too much Kenneth.

Alf said...

I agree that the donkey seizures were awful. I hated them more and more as the episode went on.

What was that muffin top-like thing, bread back?

AL said...

Liz Lemon's ringtone was definitely Peaches's "Fuck the Pain Away"--hearing that made me burst into a fit of laughter. Or maybe it was just a donkey spell. . . .

A. Duncan Carson said...

I apologize in advance for this. But "wherefore" means "why." From Wiktionary:

"A common misconception is that "wherefore" has ever meant "where"; it has even been used in that sense in cartoon depictions of Romeo and Juliet. In Romeo and Juliet, the meaning of "Wherefore art thou, Romeo?" is not "Where are you, Romeo?" but "Why are you Romeo?" (i.e. "Why did you have to be a Montague?")."

While I'm nerding out, a PSA: "forte" (something you're good at) is pronounced "fort," not "fort-ay."

That is all.

tribalism said...

"Pac-Man, I'm Jewish!" was definitely the best line of the night. I wish that Don Geiss was given a more substantial send-off than the "locked in the freezer" throwaway line. My main fear now is that we won't be seeing much of Kathy Geiss now that her father has passed on.

I haven't been following any spoilers, so I don't know if Devin Banks will be making any appearances in an effort to capture the CEO throne. Will Arnett is starring in that new FOX sitcom, so if it's picked up I don't think we'll be seeing Devin in season five.

Anyways, if anyone is interested, more of my thoughts on this episode are available on my blog where I go into detail about what character has had the best romantic chemistry with Jack. Click my username for the link.

FoundNemo said...

Loved the straight into the camera endorsement Liz gave to Kable Town-- "fine, generous company"

Jim said...

(wherefore art though, Liz's baby fever?)'

Sssshhhh! Don't remind them!

I'm sad to see Don Geiss die, but I guess it is possible they can bring him back. I still have a soft spot in my heart for Rip Torn from the Larry Sanders Show. I'm kind of surprised at Jack Welch making an appearance, given that I always figured DG was based on him, and not always in a flattering way..

No Frank, no Grizz or Dot.com? If those are budget moves, I have a differest savings measure to suggest to Tina Fey and crew.

Bronwyn said...

Wherefore art THOU, not THOUGH.

Kristi said...

I hate to say it, but "30 Rock" isn't working for me as it has in years past (it was my favorite of the Thursday night NBC lineup for the last couple of years), and I find myself looking much more forward to episodes of "P&R" and "Community". I don't know if it was the late season start or the fact that it seems like there have only been a handful of new episodes this season, but I just haven't been able to get into it. At this point, Jack Donaghey's got nothing on Ron Fing Swanson.

Did love the Dr. Spaceman commercial, though.

Jerry said...

"Anonymous said...
everybody got that Kable Town was an obvious reference to Comcast, based in Philadelphia...when it tried to buy ABC, right?"

Nope. "Everybody" got that Kable Town was an obvious reference to Comcast, based in Philadelphia.... which has *actually* bought NBC/Uni in real life.

Right?

Tyroc said...

I thought it was okay. The long break between new episodes kind of made me forget where we were in the ongoing storylines.

I never care much for the Don Geiss/NBC politics/Will Arnett episodes (although love Arnett in other roles.) So if this signals an end to them soon, I'm happy.

I agree with those who thought the donkey fits was too broad, but can't agree with the sentiment that you can have too much Kenneth. Never enough!

iamnoahjames.com said...

Kristi- 100% agree. This episode was probably the best of the season, but the show is NOTHING like the first two wonderful seasons.

Anonymous said...

I love 30 rock but Liz's impersonation of the receptionist rubbed me the wrong way. Last week's scene with the dental staff was funny because we could attribute it to Liz's whacked out post-operative state, this time it seemed unearned.

Liz saying "gentlemen friend" however was extremely hilariously. She managed to make that sound as unseeingly as possible.

Alf said...

ADC, one correction. It's "wherefore art thou Romeo" with no comma.

Anonymous said...

I liked this episode, but it could have been better.

I loved the Dwight-Jim interactions, glad to see those back again. I understand Pam won't be coming out as much for while because of their baby and that's fine with me.

The Andy and Erin? Loved it! It was cute, sweet, and funny. Not super funny, but Andy and Erin funny, cute funny. I've become a Erin and Andy fan and by seeing this episode, I hope nothing goes wrong. Andy has always had bad luck with love; and Erin seems like the type of girl to make him happy. Also I was glad to see more Erin, she's a great character, and rather cute too.

I just wish the episodes could be an hour long.

Anonymous said...

Liz is so out of it that she puts a waffle in a DVD palyer but she can type "Future Husband" and a phone # into her phone? They should have at least spelled it funny.

Andrew said...

Yeah, that Brian Williams cameo was a highlight.

Anonymous said...

There is little point in trying to regulate "forte," as the word itself is some weird mutt, not English but not proper French either (the French word has the T silent, too).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forte

filmcricket said...

Oh Alan, it crushes me that you have no appreciation for the Beautiful Game, but I do share your enjoyment of sports movies (Hoosiers is on my TV right now). "Charming" isn't a word I'd ever have attached to Sheen ("smarmy" hits closer to the mark) but the scene with him and Liz was wonderfully cringe-worthy.

Oh, and while it's correct that "forte" (pronounced "fort") means "strong" in French, the pronunciation "fortay" can be attributed to the Italian musical term which also means "strongly" or, more accurately, "loudly."

ADW said...

Ditto on much on what has been said .


I loved seeing Michael Sheen (& a big thanks for reminding me about "The Damned United") but would have liked to see the interaction a little less painful.
I hope they can fix that.

Loved Kenneth's donkey fits, except I may always think of him as the the old Hee-Haw cartoon donkey. Loved Jack and his "husky-like piercing blue eyes" ..I hope I'm close on the quote.

Kenneth's warning that Liz was sliding into an Irish accent from the Jamaican one was hilarious.

Anonymous said...

It's difficult to be prescriptive about a word's pronunciation when it's foreignish and apparently derived from words that are other parts of speech altogether (noun versus adjective or adverb). It's untenable to be a purist or nitpicky about it.

Anonymous said...

*A relatively recent word, I should say. Otherwise I'd be including pretty much all words.

Merve said...

That was much better than most of this season. 30 Rock just doesn't function well as only a fountain of silliness. It needs actual story lines and characters to work. This was a step in the right direction.

abc said...

The hard cheese and your root canal pamphlet had me laughing for hours. I laughed till I cried. I laughed a painful laugh. No one else mentioned it! huh. ("And frankly I'm a little tired of talking about it."

Karen said...

@Anonymous 7:40 PM: the T is most certainly NOT silent in the French pronunciation of forte, because there is a final e. The T would only be silent if it were spelled fort.

Anonymous said...

Best show of this season