Strap yourselves in, fellow Rockers, because this Criss Train is about to depart. Destination? TO BE CONTINUED!
Let’s break it down…
We finally get the reveal of Liz’s (Tina Fey) new boyfriend, and we learn enough about him simply from the fact that his name is ‘Criss’ (James Marsden). Yes, that’s ‘Criss.’ You know you’re doomed to Charlie Brown-level sad-sackery when the only person you share your name with is a magician who rocks guyliner and emo bangs. Criss’ story? He’s an entrepreneur who is trying to open up his own organic gourmet hot dog truck and who likes to meet dogs at the park. Kudos to Marsden for how he’s playing Criss. If Criss were not so charming or endearing, it would be a lot to swallow that Liz is not only dating this guy, but letting him live with her for a month. He plays that up well.
Liz basks in the glow of her new relationship, having ‘nooners’ with her new boyfriend (which in Liz’s case means enjoying pancakes for lunch). Yet Jack (Alec Baldwin), ever the mentor to Liz’s train-wreck protégé, tries to get her to admit the relationship depths to which she’s fallen into. For the most part, this set-up feels like a recycled plotline from the glory days of Liz and Dennis Duffy (the greatly missed Dean Winters). At least we got some fun scenes between Jack and Liz, like when Jack’s stuck in Liz’s head. We get some pretty fantastic commentary on Liz’s new beau. Faux-Jack sums it up best when he strums Criss’ ukulele (complete with Obama-sticker) and informs Liz “This. Guy. Might. Suuuuuck!”
Meanwhile, our characters are in super-meta mode this week. Liz and TGS are forced to respond to Tracy Jordan’s (Tracy Morgan) ‘accidentally’ homophobic stand-up routine, after protesters camp outside the studio. Like the real dust-up caused by Tracy Morgan’s act this past summer, an apology was issued on Tracy Jordan’s behalf. Yet he takes offense to Liz’s wording, as she blames his comments on his idiocy. The result? Yep, you guessed it. Tracy organizes a protest of the show by idiots, including their celebrity spokesperson Denise Richards, those who have been tramp-stamped, and people who won’t shut up about scuba diving. Again, this B-story wasn’t terribly exciting, but the details wrung a few laughs out of me, like the picket signs that read “this marker smells good!” & “I haz protest,” and Tracy’s chant: “We’re here! We’re loud! I came up with this rhyme!” These little beats go a long way with Tracey. Even if his actions are borderline absurd, his lines are always funny.
Since it is a day that ends in “y,” Jenna (Jane Krakowski) finds herself in a closet with an inbred virgin trying to hide the unconscious body of a married man. Kenneth (Jack McBrayer) tries to help Jenna change a light bulb in her dressing room, but accidentally breaks a case of fluorescent bulbs in the storage room. It turns out this is also Pete’s (Scott Adsit) favorite place for indulging in scotch and sleeping pills when he’s in Hornberger Crisis Mode. So the drunk and possibly mercury-poisoned Pete, passes out. This was probably the weakest plot in this episode. After we got to see a new side of Jenna last week as the acerbic-yet-image-savvy judge on America’s Kidz Got Singing, this episode undermined that development by trying (and failing) to mine anything new from Jenna’s insane narcissism.
But TWIST! The story isn’t over yet! Just as Criss shows to Liz Jack’s ten thousand dollar investment cheque for his hot dog van, for the first time, our show throws up a “TO BE CONTINUED” card before the credits. So how exactly does Pete end up with a bag over his head, a belt around his neck, and a porn in hand in the writer’s room? Will Liz and Criss’s romance of exploring the ethnicity of Star Wars characters and imitating old-school TiVo ‘boop-boops’ and ‘bongs’ endure? Will the protesting band of idiots reveal to us the true spirit of America? Find out next week on ‘Idiots are People Three!”
- Is Denise Richards really the best celebrity spokesperson for idiots? I would have selected Karl Pilkington (of An Idiot Abroad and The Ricky Gervais Show fame), who recognizes that there’s a fine line between being a genius and being an idiot. Who would you get?
- Line of the night: Tracy asks Liz, “Remember when I offended stubborn people? That took forever to sort out!”
- Somehow the gender-neutral doll Terry of Liz’s youth, the one that comes with both sets of genitals, was still less creepy than the anatomically-lacking Ken dolls I had growing up.
- Time to get Mr. Subhas (Subhas Ramsaywack) the janitor, his own storyline, especially in light of his declaration that “sexuality is a continuum, and he is but a voyager on a vast ocean of pleasure.”
What did you think viewers? How did you feel about the “TO BE CONTINUED”? Are you waiting with bated breath? Let us know in the comments section below.