Friday, November 19, 2010

Jordan's Review: 30 Rock, Season 5, Episode 7: College

This week was one of those weird times when 30 Rock tries to add thematic depth to its sleet little joke machine, and fortunately, it was also one of the weirder times it pretty much worked. "College" is all about finding yourself by losing yourself, and about how we may not be who we think we are or who we want to be, but that doesn't mean we can change who we are at our core.

At the episode's center is Jack's journey into his own past, started when he realizes the recordings he created for a scholarship of him reciting every word in the dictionary to preserve perfect pronunciation in the event of a nuclear holocaust (awesome sentence to type, by the way) have been sold by Princeton and that he is now basically the voice of everything. This leads Jack down memory land to a time when he worked several jobs to pay his way through college (as Liz says, "i always forget you were poor" and as Jack replies, "Thank you.") Jack was working too hard to truly enjoy his college life, and he wants that experience back. Additionally, he wants to make sure that the microwave division, which just had its best quarter in five years without him, doesn't succeed unless he can take the credit. Its unfortunate that his efforts included a lot of racist jokes about Indians and Hinduism, but I'm chalking that up to a meta gag about how terrible Outsourced is and just moving on.

Meanwhile, Liz too is trying to recapture her lost glory days by making the crew like her. In typical Liz Lemon fashion, the second she steps out of control the place spirals into disarray, with drunk crew members, shit covered dogs, flying footballs and a 72-minute long ice cream break. This is a plotline that the show has done before, but it still generates laughs, and provides some nice thematic resonance with Jack's A-plot. In a strange move for a 30 Rock episod, "College" had no real C-plot, with all of the background characters pretty much existing on the sidelines of the main stories. I guess you could argue that the Prank on Pete was a C-plot, but really that tied so fluidly into Jack's story that I don't think it particularly counts. This is one of the only shows on tv that pulls off cramming three plotlines into the episode on a semi-regular basis, but tonight the lack of one wasn't bothersome at all. Instead, it allowed two plotlines that may have been just "joke generators" in a three plot episode to breathe and gain a little depth.

The moment at the end in which Pete, Jack, and Liz all get a little taste of happiness and a little taste of college was a nice emotional ending for a story about the place that nostalgia keeps in our daily lives, and the fact that we may not be able to change, but we also all serve a purpose just as we are.

Grade: B+

Notes:

-"Your boo's are not scaring me. I know most of you are not ghosts!"

-"Lemon, lesbian Frankenstein wants her shoes back." "Oh my god it is him!"

-"It wasn't the feces that got to me, Lemon. It was the crudely scrawled notes of 'Help me.'" I love how Baldwin played this, with the perfect mixture of pathos and humor.

-"Oh Lemon, please. Money can't buy happiness. It IS happiness."

-I loved Lutz saying, "i told them not to. Let's get out of here, Jack!"

-"Usually everyone around here makes me feel like Hitler. But today, I feel like...Hitler in Germany!"

-"I'm Ogbert the nerd. Always have been, always will be."

-"My uncle was a tinkerer. Until the FBI shot him."

-"Oh really? That's how much time is left? Pizza?"

-"Kenneth, I've told you this before: Your Nana was an idiot."

-"Not stolen property of Adolf Lemon."

-"Want to see me shotgun this?" "Oh god, she means the pizza!"

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