30 Rock: "MILF Island"
B-

30 Rock: "MILF Island"

B-

30 Rock

"MILF Island"

Season 2, Episode 11

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Well, my beautiful, beautiful TV babies, it appears that the vast eternity in purgatory that was the damnable writers strike of 2008, an event that will live in infamy as a million times worse than Pearl Harbor and the Trail of Tears combined, had finally come to an end and our beloved television shows have returned. Oh joyous day! Oh what exquisite rapture! I have awaited this moment with feverish anticipation. The return of 30 Rock and The Office in a single magical night is like Christmas, the Fourth of July, The Super and Puppy Bowl and Casmir Pulaski Day all rolled up into one ecstatic super-event!

So it is with a heavy heart that I must relay some sad news. Charlton Heston is dead. Yes, it appears those damned dirty apes finally got to him. It took almost forty years but they finally silenced this proud Mexican gun nut for good. Now might be a good time to share my very favoritest Charlton Heston story. Like his good buddy Ronald Reagan, Heston was a good Hollywood Liberal for much of his early career. The turning point apparently occurred when Heston repeatedly spied a billboard for Barry Goldwater with the always-encouraging slogan "In Your Heart You Know He's Right". At first Heston resisted but eventually he came to realize that, gosh darn it, in his heart he really did know that Barry Goldwater was right and devoted the rest of his life to being a Right-Wing Nutjob.

In more pertinent news I am sad to report that the first new 30 Rock episode back was something of a disappointment, if only by the show's almost impossibly high standards. Though it picked up steam in its second half and boasted its share of quotable lines and big-ass yucks it felt a little lukewarm. I'm starting to suspect that 30 Rock is at it weakest when it comes to firsts. The pilot episode was notoriously weak (in a hilarious bit of irony I remember watching the show's pilot and thinking "Eh, this is O.K, but it's no Studio 60 on The Sunset Strip. How history has proven me wrong), as was the Seinfeld-addled first episode of the second season.

As for tonight's episode: I was expecting more. The primary plot thread found the whole 30 Rock gang obsessed with a sleazetastic reality show called Milf Island hosted by Human Giant's formidable Rob Huebbel, who does a fairly genius riff on Jeff Probst. That there is some swell casting.

While the writers are riveted by the final episode of Milf Island, Jack ponders which of his passive-aggressive minions described him as a "Grade A moron" to a Page Six gossip columnist. (Spoiler) it was good old Liz Lemon. For a show as hyper-verbal and dense as 30 Rock "Grade A moron" seemed like a disappointingly pedestrian insult.

Meanwhile Pete gets his hand in stuck in a vending machine in a time-wasting subplot that struck me as very late-period Simpsons. In a bit that struck me as closer to "hackneyed" than "inspired" the dynamic at 30 Rock comes to mirror the tension-filled melodrama of Milf Island. Tonight's episode benefited from a gradual increase in comic momentum but I was expecting a whole lot more big laughs right out of the gate.

That said there were some pretty wonderful moments, especially Liz Lemon accidentally recreating a Cathy cartoon and a hilarious, if apocryphal hard-luck story from Jack about his hardscrabble childhood as a stuttering misfit in the slow elementary school class. Like Arrested Development or SCTV, 30 Rock has jazzy comic rhythms so it sometimes takes a few episodes for it to get into a good groove. I have high hopes for next week's episode. Lastly, yay! Our television buddies have returned! All is well in the universe!

Grade: B- Stray Observations– – "Then I'll be in erection cove" –"Step aside Randy Quaid!" –"I think he forgot you're a person." –"Heidi, we no longer want to hit that!" –After watching Best Little Whorehouse In Texas recently I came to realize that Kenneth The Page talks just like Jim Nabors –"I feel like I'm back in that boiler room, making little piles of sawdust while Gilly play with himself in the corner." –"Your eyes look like my uncle after he drank from the air conditioner." –"That cartoon copied just what you said the other day!" –"Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate! Ack!" –Is Liz Lemon the thinking person's Cathy? Discuss
Filed Under: TV, 30 Rock

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