All right, nerds. Time to put away your Blanco Bandito and sign off of Desperationships.com. We have the new season of 30 Rock to recap!
Let’s break it down.
True to the 30 Rock form of the past couple seasons, this premiere was uneven overall. There were some interesting character beats and fantastically funny meta humor, but both were dragged down by some recycled jokes of yesteryear and storylines that don’t seem to go anywhere.
Since being the nice one is my thing, and as Jenna (Jane Krakowski) explains, it’s John McEnroe’s thing too - I’d rather start with the positives. 30 Rock is most consistent when it comes to pop culture parody and as a result the best jokes of the night revolved around the America’s Kidz Got Singing storyline. The fictional reality TV show is NBC’s new ( and only?) success and comes to us in the form of Angie Jordan’s (Sherri Shepherd) boy D’Fwan (Tituss Burgess), John McEnroe (as himself), and Jenna judging a singing competition for the pre-teen set. I love that the kids were forced to sing such “classics” as “Turkey in the Straw” and “Camptown Races” for “Public Domain Week” on AKGS. It’s surprising that this isn’t a real theme for American Idol or The Voice.
The best line of the night came from Jack (Alec Baldwin) as he and Liz (Tina Fey) discussed the advancement of Shayla, the pitchy contestant with the compelling personal story:
Did you know that both of her mothers’ are serial killers? That’s America.
I laughed until I realized how true that was, then I spent a few minutes pondering what America has come to stand for in the cultural zeitgeist. Of course, that was until I watched Kenneth (Jack McBrayer) crawl into Liz’s office with a clown wig on and straws in his mouth, and laughed like the five year-old I really am.
For once, watching Jenna was actually enjoyable. Jenna’s storylines usually involve her trying too hard to overhaul her image so that she appears to be the kind of superwoman/feminist/sane person that no one would ever believe that she is. So I was glad to see that in this episode she is finally encouraged to indulge her inner snarky diva publicly as AKGS’s Simon Cowell. She does so by telling weird looking ten year-olds to “go jump back up your mother” and requesting a specific tearful response to be edited into the episode. Okay, so maybe Jenna is not so much snarky as she is …say…odious and inhumane, but damn if it isn’t funny. Also: Kudos to Jane Krakowski for not being afraid to make Jenna that unlikeable, and yet not pushing it too far or making her into a caricature.
Too bad other storylines weren’t as interesting. Kenneth is apparently now a member of a cult, and Reverend Gary has determined that the Rapture is drawing nigh, as in tomorrow. Uhhh… how relevant? This plot could have been funny if something original had been done with it, like revealing something new about Kenneth. Instead, it’s wasted on Kenneth using his last day on earth to complete his list of “dream chores,” which included peeling the Chiquita banana sticker from the ceiling and doing something about ‘Jewishness.’ So this impending apocalypse plotline emphasizes what we already know: Kenneth is reducible to a love of television and a belief in the damnation of almost everyone except for himself and Tracy (Tracy Morgan).
- Liz’s storyline about joining the Liberty dance team may have come out of nowhere, but Tina Fey sure wasn’t afraid to bring it to that dance routine at the end of the episode.
- Can someone please make Cash Cow into a real show? I know I wouldn’t be the only one who watches it.
- What exactly could it mean that Frank (Judah Friedlander) is a “Closet Amish,” as indicated by this week’s hat? He only churns butter under the cloak of darkness? He keeps trying to grow a beard but caves to peer pressure and shaves it in the morning? Hmmm…
- Best description of a character: Jack learned that he likes spending time with his daughter, who is “a human tumbler of scotch.”
- Runner up: Tracy walks into Jack’s office and announces that “Liz Lemon is a crack whore.”
- Did I miss something? Why did Jack look so scandalized that Liz met up with someone at the movie theater?
So what did you think, fellow ‘Rockers?