Friday, October 23, 2009

Jordan's Review: 30 Rock, Season 4, Episode 2: Into the Crevasse

It was inevitable that Liz’s suddenly popular “that’s a deal breaker, ladies!” catchphrase from last year would pop up at some point during season four. What was surprising is that it was placed on bookshelves between “The Cigarette Diet” by Dr. Spaceman, and “From Peanut to President,” the biography Jack’s father promised to finish if he got that kidney he needed. It was also imminently enjoyable to watch all of the men in Liz’s life have their own love lives breakdown due to her (often ridiculous) romantic advice.

Its slightly unfortunate that this plotline got sidetracked in the land of sitcom clichés when Tracy decided to move in with Liz (commenting along the way that, “A book hasn’t caused me this much trouble since Where’s Waldo? got lost in that barber shop pole factory!”), but in true 30 Rock fashion, the joke became funny again when no one blinked at Tracy answering Liz’s phone.

More focus tonight is dedicated to the return of the always welcome Will Arnett as Devon Banks, Jack’s corporate rival. It seems Devon has ingratiated himself with the Obama Administration (by gossiping with Sasha and Malia) and is now chairing a hearing looking at GE’s misuse of corporate money (including a big gay Cabaret themed Halloween party on Fire Island, thrown by Banks himself). Banks forces GE into financial ruin, which leads Jack to the writers of TGS for a brainstorming session. Jack isn’t asking much, as he say, “All I need from you is one idea as good as the lightbulb.” The brainstorming session quickly devolves, from an idea for a giant microwave on wheels to the accidental recreation of a Pontiac Aztek, and Jack is forced to do what he has sworn he would never do—take a bailout, which he sees as corporate welfare.

In largely unnecessary B and C-plots, Jenna goes to Iceland for a role as a “moonologist” in a werewolf movie, and in one of the most predictable jokes in recent memory squanders the one minute of nightfall the crew has by forgetting which hand to hold a flashlight in, while Kenneth adopts a bunch of puppies and offloads them on Tracy. As usual Jenna is useless, and Kenneth is misplaced as a character who can head up his own story. Jack McBrayer is hysterical, and Kenneth is a great character, but he was always meant to be a bit player, a side character who supported the leads in zany ways, and he continues to be best served in a smaller role. I did however like his cameo in the microwave ad from the 50s, perpetuating the subtle joke that Kenneth is exceedingly old (he had that parrot for 60 years, after all) and ending with Liz asking, “wait, is that a thing that happened?” Only 30 Rock could pull off a joke about the microwave craze of the late 50s.

The episode has an odd, but amusing resolution in which Liz allows Tracy, who has procured her life rights, to make a porno out of her life. Ridiculous? Yes. But also very funny. Looking at the episode objectively, it had more weak storylines than strong ones, but any time Will Arnett and Alec Baldwin can engage in a “talking like this” contest that gets a little too gay while Tracy brings a reef shark along to Liz’s, I’ll be more than willing to let the lamer storylines roll off of me and revel in the hilarity that takes place between them.

Grade: B


-Jack’s blurb for Liz’s book: “Lemon numbers among my employees.”

-Before going to the hearing, Jack places a JC Penny sticker on his tie to make it look like he’s making sacrifices. Awesome.

-In Kenneth-land, Big Brother isn’t a charity, but a group of people that monitors others to ensure they’re behaving properly.

-“Let’s behave like adults here.” “Liz Lemon, you booger face! I’m going to kill you with a bazooka!”

-Banks brought his own gavel from home.

-“As my mom would say, ‘You can’t eat love.’ And as my mom’s friend Ron would say, ‘The donkey died. You’re the donkey now Kenneth.’”

-Tracy thinks its “too soon” to mention “Thriller.”

-“I could’ve had any ambassadorship I wanted. Even to the world’s gayest country: Ireland!”

-“Now that we’re all up, do you want to talk about the elephant in the room?” “No! I don’t even know why you brought that.”

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