Friday, January 12, 2007

Earl & 30 Rock: My name is Glurg

Spoilers for, in order, "My Name Is Earl" and "30 Rock" just as soon as I submit my application to the Ho Chi Minh School of Medicine...

Wow, the "My Name Is Earl" writers have just blown up the formula, haven't they? And I couldn't possibly be more pleased. They're on a great run right now, with the Mexico trip, last week's "COPS" visit, and now the "My Name Is Randy/Joy/Crabman/June Cleaver" perspective-shifter. (Best fake credits, by far: Crabman. I remember his love of cheese, but is him being a cello virtuoso new information?) It almost makes the first season feel worth it because it layed the groundwork for all these unconventional episodes.

The "Rur Jur" returns on "30 Rock," and it's still funny. (In particular, I liked Frank trying to make sense of that "View" interview and complaining, "I feel like I'm getting further away from it.") The Meat Machine story turned into a rip-off of The Cornballer at the end, but Dr. Spuh-che-men is quickly becoming an indispensible recurring character, so I won't complain too much.

Best scenes: Jack being schmoopy on the phone with Maureen Dowd (and is this in any way a dig at Aaron Sorkin, or just a dig at Maureen Dowd?), Jack explaining the GE corporate flowchart (a wig company "owns NBC outright"?), Dougie the prop guy harassing Kenneth with a fake bass, the Rashomon approach to the Liz/Jenna flashbacks (particularly Liz's boyfriend), and Dratch's Barbara Walters, which I liked much better than anytime she did it on "SNL."

What did everybody else think?


Alan Sepinwall said...

Just polled a couple of TCA'ers, both of whom think the Maureen Dowd thing was entirely a dig at Sorkin.

Unknown said...

Crabman being a cello virtuso was a new one, as was "graduated college at 14", which explains the book smarts he busts out one in a while. I really liked the Rashoman aspect of the episode, especially how we could see the other charcters in the background of each retelling. Randy's pratfall showing up in Joy's retelling but not his own was priceless.

I have to admit that 30 Rock is growing on me, and not just because of Baldwin. The Whoopi cameo came out of nowhere. And I haven't laughed at anything she's done in years.

Anonymous said...

Alan wrote: "Jack being schmoopy on the phone with Maureen Dowd (and is this in any way a dig at Aaron Sorkin, or just a dig at Maureen Dowd?)..."

Must admit my ignorance here ... what is the dig at Sorkin for this? Please respond kindly.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Dowd is one of Sorkin's famous ex'es (and the inspiration for the Christine Lahti character on Studio 60).

Anonymous said...

Re: 30 Rock, does the following quote sound familiar:

"Kids, let me tell you about another so-called 'wicked' guy. He had long hair and some wild ideas. He didn't always do what other people thought was right. And that man's name was... I forget. But the point is... I forget that, too. Marge, you know what I'm talking about. He used to drive that blue car?"

It's Homer Simpson circa 1992.

The gag last night with Kenneth paraphrasing the above, was it homage or rip-off?

bill said...

From the comfort of my couch, I'm guessing it's a Sorkin dig. An earlier episode had the "good walk-around" conversation. The interviews I've seen or read with Tina Fey, she won't comment on Studio 60 but doesn't seem to mind if someone else mocks it.

And the Homer gag is probably coincidence. It's a common enough bit of comedic misdirection.

Ted Frank said...

I will say that after the Dowd gag, I immediately said "That was aimed at Sorkin." So it's not just you and the TCA.

I think the Jesus gag was a rip-off (intentional or no), but most sitcom gags are recycled if you watch enough of them long enough, and I have no objection to its reuse; it probably didn't originate with the Simpsons, either.

If you were to take the best 22 minutes of SNL on a week when Alec Baldwin is hosting, that would be a pretty good show. Add the quality added from the flexibility of not doing the show live, and you have "30 Rock."

Grimoald said...

The first thing that came to my mind was that there was a Sorkin thing there, but for the life of me I couldn't figure out what the swipe was, as it doesn't make much sense if construed in that way.

Which makes me think it was just a Maureen Dowd thing

CM said...

Kenneth is turning out to be my favorite part of 30 Rock. Last week's episode sealed the deal when Alec Baldwin snarled at him to go to hell and Kenneth's immediate response was, "No, thank you!"

SJ said...

The 2 hour NBC comedy block is certainly excellent. I'm loving Earl after it being somewhat mediocre for a while. More Crabman!

Also 30 Rock is great goofy fun. Tracy was more mild this time around and that's always better.

I loved this exchange: (Paraphrased)

Jack: (Referring to the meat machine): "So did anyone get hurt so far?"

Tracy: "Only Kenneth."

Jack: "That's ok."

R.A. Porter said...

We time shifted and didn't watch until Friday night, but I'll chime in with another "that's a Sorkin dig" vote. In fact, I thought it was unnecessary when Jack used her surname when asking his secretary to call her back.

What I want to know is whether the writers were yanking Liz and Jenna around to avoid work or if they really thought the movie was alright.

Anonymous said...

I've tended to like this show a lot--especially any scene Baldwin is in--but this episode was one of my least favorites. It had way too much Jenna. Sorry to Jane, but I think that for the second season they need to write her off and go in another direction.

And yeah, to me it was a dig at Sorkin--but why bother?--30 Rock has been more solid than Studio 60. The idea of pairing Baldwin with famous women that started with Condi is actually really funny, but when it's used in a very inside-way to poke fun at the "competition," I think it's a bit much. Self-referential when it's self-deprecating is often good, when it's ultimately about self-promotion, then it's not so good(that is a lesson they should have learned from Sorkin's own mistakes).

Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) said...

I wasn't impressed with the Cornballer rip-off.

I wondered about the Maureen Dowd thing, but it seems to be more in the vein of a "chauvinist pig like Jack dating hard-core, serious women like Dowd and Condaleeza Rice" thing, than a dig at Sorken. Either way, it's damned funny and I can't wait to see who Jack dates next.