As regular readers of this feature know, I'm usually quick on the draw getting this posts up within hours of the respective shows ending. Well, yesterday was totally birthday (happy belated birthday me!) and while I don't mind working on my birthday–I spent much of yesterday listening to the audio commentary of Finian's Rainbow for an upcoming My Year Of Flops entry the world has been angrily demanding–I'd rather not work past ten o'clock on my birthday. I'm terribly spoiled that way. I do hope you'll forgive me this lapse.
But enough about me: let's talk about last night's episode of 30 Rock and also how much it rocked. For the last week or so I've found myself thinking "You know what this season's 30 Rock could really use? More appearances by Dr. Spaceman. That character rocked." He's giving Dr. Nick "Hi, Everybody" Riviera a run for his money as the all-time greatest quack doctor (though I hear Spaceman is also a pretty good dentist). Low and behold, Dr. Spaceman made a spectacular return to 30 Rock last night, rushing into service to try to save Rip Torn's corporate King Lear, a makeshift cape waving behind him. He looked like a cross between Superman, Count Dracula and a role-playing nerd at a comic book convention. It was, to use a high-falutin' critical term, awesome.
I've always had a soft spot for movies and television shows about business. That's one of the reasons I love Mad Men and Profit so I was geeked that yesterday's episode was all about corporate maneuvering and office politrix (as my main man Chuck D would say). In last night's 30 Rock, all the groundwork the show has been laying in terms of setting up Jack Donaghy and Will Arnett's Devon Banks rivalry and Donaghy's father-son/mentor/protege relationship with Rip Torn's epic Don Geiss paid rich dividends in a show that was like a rollicking comic opera, or at least a turbo-charged comic corporate melodrama.
Things at NBC heated up as Geiss prepared to pick his successor and Banks jockeyed for position by marrying Geiss' um, very special daughter as a way of boosting his chances. Meanwhile, Donaghy groomed Liz Lemon for a shot at the corporate high-life and she took to it like a Junior Vice President to three-martini expense account lunches. I know Lemon is ostensibly supposed to be little Miss Quirky McSaddo but I found her embrace of power-suit ruthlessness surprisingly convincing. Lemon's formidable mean streak make her a natural for the Darwinian world of board-room combat.
In a spectacularly silly B-plot Tracy Jordan experienced a profound existential crisis after learning that his son is embarrassed by him by achieving his newfound life's goal of creating the world's first pornographic video game. I don't want to burst anyone's bubble but pornographic video games have a long and sordid history. Back in the day me and Phippzilla even bought our editor an infamous Atari game called Custer's Revenge for his birthday.
Last night's episode of 30 Rock attained a sort of pleasing comic velocity en route to an extraordinarily satisfying episode-closing capper. It was an extraordinarily well-written, well-acted and clever piece of television comedy that was gloriously cinematic in ambition, look and speed. I was also psyched by the re-appearance of Arnett, Chris Parnell's Dr. Spaceman and brilliant Conan O'Brien supporting player Brian Stack in a minor role. I didn't write down any particularly great lines but I nurse a strong suspicion that you beautiful people will be happy to throw out some of your favorite rib-ticklers. Grade: A Stray Observations –I never used to find Parnell particularly funny but now I find him hilarious, not only in 30 Rock but also in movies like Walk Hard and Hot Rod –Man, we sure haven't seen much of Rachel Dratch this season. Not that I'm complaining. –I liked how pathetic and even vulnerable Arnett's character seemed tonight. It was hard not to feel for him, even if he is, in the end, a calculating jerk, and not even a lovable calculating jerk like Donaghy –Man, I can't wait for more Mad Men. Tonight's businesstastic episode totally reminded me how much I love that show.