Since 30 Rock is squeezing a full episode line-up in a mid-season slot, we were treated to not one, but two 30 Rock episodes on Thursday! I certainly did not mind one bit.
Idiots Are People Three!
The first episode was a continuation of last week’s antics, but made even sweeter because it brought the return of my favorite guest star, Devon Banks (played wonderfully by Will Arnett). But more about that later.
Liz breaks the news to Criss that his hot dog investor is actually just her boss, and that Jack was only supplying the cash so he could meet Criss and subsequently judge him without restraint. Criss wants to know why Liz didn’t want Jack to meet him, which is a fair question—I guess we’re really to believe that James Marsden is not a flawless human being in this alternate universe. They get in a fight, insults are hurled, and we find out Liz says cholesterol wrong, cheats at board games, and doesn’t use the tab closures on cereal boxes (“If you think those are doing anything to seal in freshness, you are living in a fantasy world, pal.”
Devon Banks is now part of a gay rights activist group called PEEN (And no, it’s not an acronym. It’s just PEEN.) and drops in to capitalize on Tracy’s scandal by blackmailing Jack. If Jack doesn’t give him what he wants, Devon will release to the world a video of Tracy’s stand-up where he offends essentially every minority group you can think of. What does Devon want? Surprisingly, he turns down Jack’s offer to watch him shower (with no touching), and instead he demands Jack use his connections to get Devon’s triplets into the top pre-school in town—St. Matthew’s.
Tracy and Denise Richards’s newly formed National Association for Zero Intolerance (NAZI) (this is an episode full of great organization names) holds a press conference out in the plaza and demands for “Liz Lemon, the American bigot” to apologize to the idiot community. Criss confronts Jack and tries to rip up his check (he can’t, because they’re made from Nixon’s bedsheets, duh), and Jack announces that he officially disapproves of Criss and hands him a black spot. As all Muppet Treasure Island fans like myself know, the black spot is not a good sign.
Jack and Devon go to meet with the St. Matthews president to ensure the gaybies’ admittance, but the president needs a favor first—for the Geiss foundation to make good on a pledge they made and haven’t fulfilled. Jack and Devon just so happen to know the new head of the Geiss foundation—the hilariously inexplicable Kathy Geiss. To further complicate the amount of favors going on in this episode, Kathy says she’ll fulfill the pledge if Jack makes Magelica the wondrous unicorn NBC’s new official mascot and make a commercial for it. I love it, and it’s my new favorite commercial.
Devon then cements his psychological warfare by making Jack realize that he wasted all of his pre-school favors on Devon and his gaybies that he would’ve been using for Liddy next year. Jack has an epiphany, realizing that Liddy can still be great even if she has to go to—GASP—public school (and even though she is technically Canadian).
NAZI confronts Liz and they want an apology, for realsies. Luckily for her, they’ve already carefully written her apology on a Magnadoodle. Liz gives in and reads it out on the plaza, but mid-apology she realizes she’s the one that’s been an idiot for letting Criss’s minor flaws get to her, and that he really is a great guy. She runs off to meet him at his hot dog stand, and they have cute hot dog moments. Jack sees them and puts Criss on probationary approval (reminding me of Professor Whitman on Community).
While all of this has been going on, Kelsey Grammer, apparent expert in getting rid of bodies, came to help Jenna and Kenneth with their predicament from last week with Pete. To distract everyone while they wheel Pete to his office, Kelsey puts on a free mandatory Abraham Lincoln one-man show. During intermission Kelsey sets Pete up to look like he passed out from…pleasure. He runs to get Liz, telling her something’s wrong with Pete, bringing us full circle from a two-episode flashback to the first scene from “Idiots Are People Two!”
The Ballad of Kenneth Parcell
The opening scene is everything you’ve ever wanted: a 30 Rock fake trailer for a movie called Martin Luther King Day, starring Jenna Maroney (and, my favorite, “Andrew” Samberg). I’m pretty sure the song in the background is sung by Jane Krakowski, as well.
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Jenna wants Liz to promote Martin Luther King Day on TGS; so, at Jack’s suggestion, Liz realizes she has to resort to the power of friendship to let Jenna down easy and tell her no. Since both stars of TGS can never be happy at the same time, Tracy starts to think that he has it all and therefore has nothing else to live for, while Jenna is high on her own fame. The always philosophical Dot Com tries to talk Tracy down, but it’s no use.
Liz and Jenna go out to lunch like they used to in the old days, just as friends and not as
babysitter and child coworkers. But because Jenna is crazy and self-absorbed, she ruins the friendly lunch by knowingly sending Liz out as bait for her PETA haters (after all, if PETA doesn’t either love you or hate you, you’re nobody in this business) so that Liz gets splattered with paint while Jenna remains in tact for the paparazzi waiting outside the restaurant. Naturally, Liz is furious (but I give her top marks for her fabulous Jenna impression). The two get back to 30 Rock and yell at each other, trying to figure out how they were even friends in the first place (a valid question; they are the MOST different). At last, a Jenna and Liz origin story for the ages: they met at a bachelor party where Jenna was wrestling in a kiddy pool full of lube, and Liz was invited because the guy she liked thought she was also a guy (which has happened to all of us, I’m sure) and Liz didn’t want to ruin what was happening between them. Despite their promising beginnings, they decide the friendship is OVER, and they should both find new best friends.
In an effort to impress his new boss, Hank Hooper, Jack has decided to cut the page program. Kenneth later confronts Jack about canceling the program, while wearing the most upsetting thing I’ve ever seen—Kenneth in non-pagewear. But what could replace the infamous NBC page?? Jack introduces Not Kenneth, the new automated NBC page, that contains the entire NBC page manual (but sadly without a blazer in sight).
It also happens to be Jack and Hank’s businessversary, and Hank is extremely put-out that he didn’t get a present from Jack for this obviously well-known business ritual (P.S. I love all of Jack’s made-up mash-up words: subordifriend, businessversary, etc.). Jack, ever the flawless businessman, of course had in fact remembered to throw Hank a party, but realized it accidentally got sent to the 6th floor and not the 60th floor where Hank’s office is. Of course only the lowest of the low work on the 6th floor—TGS. Jack runs in to find all the peasants eating the food he was sure he had told Not Kenneth to send to the 60th floor and not the 6th. Frank is the first to point out that computers don’t make mistakes, and Jack must have been the one to make the mistake. With no one to blame for his mistake, Jack feels lost and helpless.
Liz’s search for a new BFF starts by invading anbook club meeting in progress that’s full of middle-aged versions of airheaded teenage girly girls, with whom Liz fits right in. Of course I’m kidding—she judges them and leaves. She goes to the one place Liz Lemon goes for a night out on the town—the Barnes & Noble bathroom! Here she finds her doppelganger, Amy. The two bond for about 5 minutes over how much they hate all of the same things, until Liz realizes that hanging out with herself is the worst, and she needs someone vacant and self-absorbed enough to not listen to her vent and not add to her venting; i.e., Jenna. Across the city, Grizz and Dot Com are even able to convince Tracy that he does have things to live for, and they talk him down from jumping off a bridge. In the warm fuzzy montage of the year, Jenna and Liz reunite at the studio with a slow-mo run into each other’s arms (Jenna’s new celebrity friends were too self-absorbed to listen to her), and Jack and Kenneth run to each other and also embrace as Jack realizes a machine can never take Kenneth’s place or his affinity for receiving blame.
Now Presenting: Tracy Jordan, without comment or context.
- “My ringtone is the chicken dance. If I answer the phone, I won’t hear the whole song.”
- “Oh, I get it. She’s naming awesome things.”
- “Idiots aren’t just strippers or stay-at-home moms. They’re all around us!”
- “I already have a room full of old black women!”
Watch new episodes of 30 Rock on Thursdays on NBC at 8/7c. Next week’s episode on Feb. 2 is a new episode entitled “Today You Are a Man.”
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