Conventional wisdom contends that the best way to play a drunk scene is to act as sober as possible and fail. With the exception of frat boys and teenagers at parties people who are deeply inebriated don’t generally want to broadcast that information. So they adopt a none-too-convincing pose of sobriety in an invariably doomed attempt to fool the world.
Jason Sudeikis flagrantly ignored conventional wisdom on tonight’s episode of 30 Rock. As Liz’s asshole ex-boyfriend Floyd he fell hard off the wagon and slurred and staggered and basically did a broad, borderline embarrassing drunk routine. Sudeikis is a gifted comic actor but tonight’s episode found him at his hammy, embarrassing worst.
Then again, just about everything in tonight’s disappointing episode was pitched way, way, way too broad. By the time the Idiot Triplets were ripping off their clothes and quaking with fear over the prospect of a Cloverfield-like monster in the NBC building the show had abandoned any pretensions to sophistication or subtlety. That wouldn’t be a problem if the laughs were there but tonight the show floundered from one flailing, desperate gag to another.
Visit any newsstand in our great land and you’ll see a glammed-up Tina Fey peering sultrily at you from the cover of Esquire with bedroom eyes. Yet tonight 30 Rock relied lazily on gags about how old Liz Lemon just can’t get a date on account of she’s so frumpy and out of shape and old and the men she’s loved and lost just can’t help but treat like the worst kind of human garbage. This hackneyed running joke felt even more ridiculous considering the ostensibly gorgeous, nubile woman Floyd is engaged to—an obscenely flexible Yogaerobics instructor—is infinitely less attractive than Liz. She looked anorexic and gaunt and weirdly wizened. I hate judging people’s looks but considering her only real job was to look incredibly hot and make Liz feel dowdy by comparison it seems appropriate.
30 Rock was misfiring on all cylinders tonight. We witnessed the anti-climactic return of the handsome Canadian dumb guy who still hasn’t evolved into anything more than a butt of Canada, dumb and handsome guy jokes and another very broad, very sitcom subplot involving Twofer, Frank and Lutz playing an elaborate prank on the new guy and getting pranked hardcore in return. It’s hard to believe I once complained that the show didn’t give those characters enough to do.
In the C-story Jenna and Tracy both end up having disturbingly erotic dreams about Kenneth after being subjected to a few too many of his rambling stories. 30 Rock has enjoyed a real comeback as of late, stringing together a few episodes that were solid at worst and a return to form at best. That came to a crashing halt tonight as it indulged its worst tendencies and reduced its cast to cartoonish caricatures.
Of course, that’s just my opinion. That’s all any of these recaps are: one man’s very subjective opinion. There’s nothing objective about comedy. Nothing is inherently funny or unfunny. If you thought tonight was hilarious and that the whole season has been transcendent, more power to you. I just don’t feel the same way though I sincerely hope that tonight was a bump in the road and not an ominous omen that the show’s winning streak is over.
—“He would never have met his wife’s murderer”
—Though I found the whole “Silver Panthers” thing tired and ham-fisted I did like the concept of “Weakness Files”
—Is having sex with Frank’s mother a punishment for Frank or Jack?
—I also liked how Liz referred to Floyd as a “former intercourse companion”
—“We have to Elm Street this!”