Friday, April 13, 2007

30 Rock: Let's go to the auction house (today)

"30 Rock" spoilers coming up just as soon as I turn on my humidifier...

Another great episode, though the Liz/Jack/Floyd stuff badly outshone Tracy and his erect horse. Before I talk about the comedy, though, I want to say a word or three about the music.

Jeff Richmond (aka Mr. Tina Fey) is the composer for this show, and his score is a huge part of why I love the show. The theme music aside (which I am never allowed to fast forward past, or else Marian will divorce me), it always sets the perfect tone, whether it's that "Piano Man"-esque accordion (or harpsichord) as Liz is strutting through the halls, secure in her relationship, or the tasteful string music for Jack's visit to Christie's to the ominous Bernard Herrmann-Hitchcock stuff when all of Liz and Floyd's phones started ringing in unison. Hysterical. Most sitcoms, even single-camera ones like this, don't do a lot with their score, but Richmond's work has been indispensible.

Jack's assault by phone and vestibule buzzer ("The call is coming from inside the house!") was the highlight, but the entire story of Jack and Floyd's mutual man-crush was great. Loved the title of Jack's book ("Jack Attack: The Art of Agression in Business"), loved the two of them studying the painting ("Is that lion eating the horse?" "Or perhaps it's eating universal healthcare."), loved Jack's despair at not being a creative type like Liz ("with your work sneakers and your left-handedness"), loved Liz trying to make her fuzzy PJs sexy ("It's got pockets! Are you into that?"), loved that the Christie's lady with the fragile bones (played, I think, by Emily Mortimer) worrying that Liz doesn't remember her each time they meet, loved it all.

The Tracy storyline, as I said, was more nebulous, but at least it gave us Kenneth knitting an NBC peacock bikini for his nana, the entourage guys preparing to buy iPhones (and sporting Bluetooths in the "Jefferson" trailer), and the unimpressive descriptions of Tracy in the trailer ("Source Award nominee Tracy Jordan... Academy Award watcher Tracy Jordan"). So that's something, I guess.

Two questions: does anybody miss Jenna? And when's the last time Rachel Dratch made one of her inconsequential cameos?


Anonymous said...

Actually, until you asked the question her absence had completely escaped me. Did she leave the show officially, or just hasn't been written into any episodes in... months?

Anonymous said...

I actually thought this was the weakest episode in a long time. Maybe ever. I just didn't find myself laughing very much. The highlight was definitely the scene with Liz in her pajamas.

I like Jane Krakowski and like Jenna, but it's obvious they don't know what to do with her (which actually makes me believe they replaced Rachel Dratch because they were trying to rework Jenna.) I wouldn't be surprised if she isn't back next year.

And I thought the bikini was an NBC peacock bikini.

Alan Sepinwall said...

She's still with the show, as far as I know. So either they can't come up with things for her to do, or else it's a budget thing. More and more, I'm noticing that shows with ensemble casts go out of their way to not use everyone every week to save money, and I suspect some actor contracts are written accordingly. (We've discussed this a lot with Veronica Mars, but I remember Ming-Na and Laura Innes both being contracted for less than full seasons in their final years on ER.)

Alan Sepinwall said...

And I thought the bikini was an NBC peacock bikini.

Whoops. Already fixed.

Anna Laperle said...

I actually do miss Jenna and her *sexuality*. She's proved to be a good foil for Liz in previous episodes, supplying ditzy, shallow clueless (yet glamorous) female companionship in a mostly male environment. Maybe she's having a torrid affair with Pete. (He is the director, isn't he?)

Greg said...

Pete's the producer.

I suspect that like The Office, 30 Rock is so packed full of scenes that it's consistently overtime and some clever editing has to ensue. My guess is that whatever Jenna scenes there were ended up on the cutting room floor.

Brian Pack said...

I don't miss Rachel Dratch at all, I don't think she's that funny. Her Barbara Walters is funny, but that's about it; it's the same joke every time, but I still laugh at all of them.

All of Tracey's one-off lines were great ("Get me off this horse." "First, let's get the dead horse out of my car.") What I think I'm missing is some Liz/Tracey scenes. There haven't been many of them lately.

I laughed throughout the entire Jefferson trailer, and the hollow bones bit was also really funny ("Ow, my bones.").

I thought it was a great episode.

Anonymous said...

I was actually shocked last night when Liz and Tracy talked in the hall. I literally cannot remember the last time they shared a scene together. The show seems to have a very solid A & B story structure and the two rarely share the screen. I was actually wondering if maybe they didn't get along because of it.

There have definitely been times when Jenna has ended up on the cutting room floor. There was one episode where you could see she was opening up her mouth to speak, but then they cut to another scene.

They should try to work Krakowski in a bit better, though. If she leaves Tina Fey will be the only woman in the entire cast. Which, actually, I guess makes the Mary Tyler Moore comparison a little stronger. However, you'd think a female writer and producer would work hard to put more talented women in front of the camera.

Anonymous said...

I loved the episode. I laughed out loud many times, which is rare for me.

And Emily Mortimer was as lovely and amazing as always.

Jenna not being in the episode is a non-issue. Pete wasn't either, but that doesn't mean they don't know what to do with him, it just means that Scott Adsit gets an episode off.

Anonymous said...

"They should try to work Krakowski in a bit better, though. If she leaves Tina Fey will be the only woman in the entire cast."

What about Katrina Bowden (Cerie of the Inappropriate Workplace Clothing)? Wasn't there supposed to be a storyling involving Liz trying to break up Cerie's engagement? I thought I'd read that somewhere.

K J Gillenwater said...

I really dislike any of the side plots with Tracy. He just rubs me the wrong way. Haven't really noticed Jenna being gone all that much.

This is why I still have problems with this show. If it were just half of the characters and the rest went away, I could like it a lot better.

Loved Emily Mortimer with the hollow bones. And the non-sexy pajama scene. Tina is such a real person to me...most women dress like that when they go to bed.

Unknown said...

Well, I'm glad they keep Jordan on for me, Alan, even if he can never make you happy. The Jefferson trailer was hilarious. Aside from the too-obvious anachronisms. The white-face, the Brits with French accents, the stiff action, the explosions, "Jungle Fever-Haver" ("I'm gonna have to get back to you on that"). Hilarious.

The 3rd wheel bit was hackneyed - and it helped, a little, that the show realized it was ("It's kind of like you two are dating"). The thing that saved it were the Liz-Floyd scenes, which were adorable. That sequence in the pajamas was great, real. Pockets! "This vap-o-rub isn't going to get under my nose by itself."

And to balance my regret at seeing Fey so happy with another man, they brought on (swoon) Emily Mortimer. I don't know if her fragility is a reference to her usual masochistic role choices, but I wouldn't mind hearing her "Ow" all night long. Bring on the custard.

I miss Krakowski, though the show feels full. The show had just seemed to have figured out how to use her when she dropped off the Earf.

OTOH, they have yet to figure out how to use Rip Torn. Maybe because his delivery's best when it has a lot of space, and they're working at farce tempo.

I went back to see the movie names on the Cinema Village marquee: 'Moonquest: The Quest for the Moon' and 'The Boy Made of Corn' were among them.

Joel said...

I did an interview with Krakowski a couple of months ago (it was about her mom, but I managed to throw in some 30 Rock questions), and I asked her about not being in every episode. She told me that she's in every episode, but at least seven minutes of material gets cut every week, so sometimes she gets edited out. It's the same with other cast members.

So, I'd imagine that in those cases, these actors don't completely get a week off. I'd imagine, though, that their call times may change from week to week, depending on how much they're in each original script.

Anonymous said...

Well last week's episode was "supersized" and Jenna was still absent. That's, frankly, a REALLY bad sign.

Abbie said...

Oh, I forgot about the marquee sign. "The President's Wife" was another choice. "Moonquest: Quest for the Moon" sounds awesome.

chiefbroad said...

I think Jane Krakowski has had her moments. Is this the second straight episode without Josh, though?

This episode made me laugh a lot, and yeah, I have already watched it twice.

Tracey as Jefferson - "I shall call it Susan!"

Anonymous said...

There IS another female writer but she never says anything. She was sitting at the writers' table in last night's episode. Loved how Jack has different places to go for different moods(...horny? he goes to the Stock Exchange) and that Liz knows them all.

Blankity-Blank said...

Oh God. Really? The music? Can't say I noticed it in this particular episode, but that's a good thing. It's generally so distracting. Sometimes it's manic when there isn't much happening on screen, as if trying to create a sense of tension when the show isn't able to (or doesn't even want to?) Other times it's just way too loud; I expect them to turn the corner and see the piano player playing in the hallway. Which I guess will be coming soon if the guy playing it is Tina Fey's whatever.

I suppose I should appreciate them trying something different. But there's a way to accomplish that (Gilmore Girls, Friday Night Lights) without being nutty simply for the sake of it.

Anonymous said...

The devil is in the details. Tracey was wearing a TJ (as in Thomas Jefferson) bling when showing the trailer to Don Geiss.

Overall though, this episode wasn't nearly as funny as last week's.

I'm going to agree with everyone else though in saying that Jane Krakowski is not at all missed.

Anonymous said...

"The devil is in the details. Tracey was wearing a TJ (as in Thomas Jefferson) bling when showing the trailer to Don Geiss."

Couldn't this TJ bling be meant to reference Tracy Jordan, and be a coincidence? But if it adds to your hilarity, then Thomas Jefferson it is.

Jane Krakowski has had some really funny parts, like whenever she breaks out into song after pretend-protest. She was funny with Prince Gerhard as well. Her vapid shallowness is a comedy well that cannot be duplicated easily in any of the other characters.

I can't help but think that Tina Fey is a bit bitter about having JK thrust down her throat after being told her writing buddy (Dratch) wasn't pretty enough, a comment sure to sting Fey just as much. And being the Exec Producer and Head Writer, I think it is all too easy for Fey to push JK out the door by giving her non-essential, not-so-funny scenes that are destined for the edit floor.

Of course I have no proof, but I do feel this sort of vibe of revenge from the whole Missing Jane mystery.

Anonymous said...

Tracey Jordan and Thomas Jefferson have the same initials. That's awesome.

You know, I think the fact that we're constantly being force fed unfunny Rachel Dratch cameos only re-enforces your belief that Tina is screwing Jane Krakowski.

I find the show goes horribly downhill whenever she's on screen.
Maybe it's because she's...