Hey there, 30 Rocketeers! Nathan Rabin is out doing what Nathan Rabin does, so I'm once again on deck for tonight's episode. When I don't like an episode of 30 Rock, I get yelled at by those of you who still believe in the great A.V. Club Betrayal; when I like it, I get yelled at by those of you who have decided, without even the benefit of all the NBC bribe money that we get, that the show sucks. Who will I get yelled at by tonight? Well, the rating oughtta tip it off. Sorry, folks.
The main plot tonight involves Liz discovering, after getting doped up during oral surgery, that she's programmed someone into her phone as "Future Husband". Having no recollection of how it happened, she attempts to pry information out of her dentist, but very Lizfully, she manages to insult him and talk herself out of a swimming Batman toy. After conniving a la Three's Company with Kenneth, Liz finally manages to track down the mystery man, a British fellow with whom she decidedly fails to hit it off.
In the side story, we get what could be a promising plot about NBC's sale to a cable giant. I've wondered for a while how the show would deal with the Comcast sale; in the Scheinhardt Wig alternate universe, it's in the guise of KableTown. At first, Jack refuses to believe it, but it soon becomes obvious, with the aid of Avery Jessup -- who doesn't have much to do here, and thus isn't nearly as funny and effective as she was in her first appearance -- that he's out of the loop. There's a funny scene with Jack Welch (where it's revealed as an aside that Don Geiss has died; this show can't afford to so casually lose a comedic asset like Rip Torn, even if he does end up doing time), but when you get more laughs out of a real-life septuagenarian billionaire than you do your regular cast, your show has taken a wrong turn.
Meanwhile, Tracy -- still seeking his EGOT -- decides to do a one-man show. At first, it's a smash hit (or, rather, a Claps-Giving Yay Har-ade), but Jenna informs him that to qualify for a Tony, you have to do the same show eight times, a major challenge to the deeply improvisational Tracy "Pac-Man, I'm Jewish" Jordan. This is the shortest and best of the plots, and even manages to get a laugh out of that old "I'd watch him reading the phone book" chestnut.
Unfortunately, the rest of the show is more or less a dud. There's too few laughs, too much padding, a subplot with Kenneth losing his wallet and doing donkey impressions that's so broad that it's downright stupid, and what's with all the reaction shots of Kenneth smiling broadly while Jenna and Tracy act wacky? If it was meant to be ironic, it failed, and if it was wasn't, it was straight-up old-school playing for time in an episode with not enough good material. This may have been the laziest episode of the season with weak outings from two of the three main characters and zero contributions from the supporting cast, and for me, 30 Rock has become the weakest link of an otherwise strong Thursday night NBC lineup -- something that would have seemed unthinkable in 2008.
- Man, 30 Rock, way to blatantly rip off The Simpsons.
- Adorable cupcake jammies aside, I agree with Liz Lemon: Nicole Kidman should get an Oscar for that waffle.
- "It's so romantic! Just like that movie I only saw the first ten minutes of, Fatal Attraction!"
- "It's a 24-hour news cycle, Jack. We don't have time to do it right anymore."
- "Do they give an award for tarantula misplacement?"