Double the 30 Rock, double the business cases and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles references! While neither of the nights two episodes were groundbreaking or side-splittingly hysterical, they were, for the most part, consistent character-wise and joke-wise. And really, that’s all I need from this show.
And this week’s winners are…
Most Fun (Read: Most Tragic) Liz: In both episodes, Liz returns to her sexually-frustrated and tragically-misguided-on-everything roots: In the first episode of the night, Liz (Tina Fey) learns that she is somehow the only positive female role-model in Hazel Wassername’s (Kristen Schaal) life, and becomes her new mentor. The results? Hazel ends up with prison tattoos from her Eastern European boyfriend and invites Liz to search out modern bathhouses with her. In the latter episode, Liz takes it upon herself to prevent Jack (Alec Baldwin) from hooking up with Diana Jessup (Mary Steenburgen), just by being her dowdy, depressing third-wheel self – her college friends didn’t call her “The Blocker” for nothing! Liz’s character is most fun to watch when she’s like this – while it’s good to see her maturing and occasionally being romantic with Criss, I will always welcome any reminder that Liz is a woman rejected by two different men who would go on to attend Clown College. In tonight’s episodes, Liz tries to convince Jack that her Mythbusters fan fiction is sexy, and in a flashback, cock-blocks her parents on their anniversary by inviting them to help her pick the scabs on her knees. The best reveal? Liz once debuted her hip-hop act at the Apollo, with the stage name “Leminem.” Nothing more needs to be said. Except that she falls off the stage, and the audience chased her into the river.
An Award to Recognize that Pete Exists, Since He’s Never Going to Get an Interesting (Let alone Funny) Story. Ever: Pete (Scott Adsit) hasn’t died. And he still works at TGS. That is all.
Best Poop Jokes: Classying itself up, “Kidnapped by Danger” gave its viewers some actually funny poop jokes in the form of a sponsorship of Jack’s movie by Pride adult diapers. The company boasts slogans such as: “Make every room a bathroom,” “The World is Your Toilet,” and “Have a private sewer in your pants.”
Most Surprising Self-Awareness: Kenneth (Jack McBrayer) quits his job in Standards in order to save Tracy (Tracy Morgan) from an on air disaster, and re-enters the company afterwards by starting from the bottom again as a janitor. At first this development seemed like a terrible idea – the writers barely scratched the surface in terms of the possibilities of what Kenneth could do given even a modicum of power before they returned him to his familiar, servile place. What’s worse is that he has even less authority now than he did as a Page. Kenneth literally sings “I love this!” as he unclogs toilets. Way to show your appreciation for a character that’s been a part of the team for six years, show. But trust Tina Fey, who is the writer of “Kidnapped by Danger,” to show that all hope is not lost: Kenneth admits to Jack that his smiley assurances that everything will be all right are just an act:
“I lie to myself. Every morning, when I wake up, I say ‘everything’s gonna be okay.’ But I’m lying. And I don’t know how much longer I can do it…”
It’s a surprising bit of self-awareness, and definitely a welcome surprise. I just hope that this signals that he isn’t going to fall into the same dynamic with Jack, Tracy, and the others once he becomes a Page again, which is clearly where he is headed.
Best Relationship Rebound: The schizophrenic duo Jenna (Jane Krakowski) and Tracy happily leave behind last week’s nastiness to take on a new enemy: Weird Al Yankovic. The master songwriter has turned Jenna’s classic ballad “Kidnapped” into the kitschy parody “Knapsack,” and our simple but lovable duo become determined to write a song for her to perform on Jimmy Fallon that he cannot parody. And we have a winner! It’s much more fun to watch these two combine their limited brainpower for a common purpose, albeit wacky and ultimately self-interested, than endure pointless and inconsistent bickering. This C-story as a whole worked – like Jim Carrey’s cameo in “Leap Day,” Weird Al’s Cameo in “Kidnapped by Danger” was well used (he only performed in videos that the crew of TGS watched online) without being drawn out too long. And his response to Jenna and Tracy’s song “I Eat Pizza” was fantastic: a patriotic ballad to his father fighting overseas in front of a billowing American flag.
Best Euphemism for Sex: Lance Drake Mandrell (guest star Billy Baldwin) on Diana Jessup’s skills in the bedroom: “She’s a real hotshot at boinking. She boinks like a dog. I’m not a writer.”
So how about it, 30 Rockers? Did this episode make you want to rock out to Rhythm and News, or did you too shout “No more Krang!” Sound off in the comments below!
30 Rock airs at 8:30 pm EST Thursdays on NBC.