(Apologies for the late recap, fellow Rockers. I was trying to help Tracy make his assets liquid again. Unfreezing a pool filled with money is not quick or easy work…)
This week’s overstuffed episode reminded me of the videos that the villains of Cold War flicks show to their victims in order to brainwash them: a lot of crazy images flash across the screen, and some of those images could actually be interesting or funny if the audience was given a second to process them. Instead, the videos only result in memory loss, loss of motor functions, and occasional vomiting.
Here are this week’s ‘30 Rock-Does-Things…Impatiently’ awards…
Craziest Bitch on the Block: Hazel Wassername (Kristen Schaal) takes another step towards becoming the next Single White Female: when she’s not handing out photos of herself in just her bra to the staff writers, she’s trying to scare Jenna (Jane Krakowski) away from her new BFF Liz (Tina Fey) with falling lights and rat traps hidden in Jenna’s fridge. On the one hand, it’s a refreshing change of pace that Jenna isn’t the crazy one for once. On the other, Hazel went from slightly quirky her first week on the show, to full-on nut-job in a way too short span of time. It seems as if the writers are determined to make the most of Schaal before her guest stint comes to an end. But in doing so, they have sacrificed any attempts at creating a character that is in any way nuanced or… human. Is anyone actually sorry to see this caricature go?
Creepiest End to a Vietnam War Story since ‘Apocalypse Now’: Everyone’s favorite hugger/Kabletown president Hank Hooper (Ken Howard) opens the Shareholder Meeting and Dog Fashion Show with a little gem of a story that ends “So we boiled the skull, and made a teakettle out of it!”
Most Wasted Meditation Sequences: Both Liz and Jack (Alec Baldwin) win for this category, each indulging their inner egos on screen for a few minutes. In Liz’s head? The TGS crew bust through an imaginary set piece like a community performance of Rent sans music (or talent), before guru Jack waltzes in to announce that meditation is pointless. Jack, of course, states “Meditate perfectly,” gets his inner self to give him guidance on a new project to pitch to Hank Hooper, and declares “Meditation over.” These meditation sequences, for the two minutes they are on screen, have a few fantastic bits in them. Even greater than guru Jack announcing to Liz that her reward for achieving Transcendence is that “all pants have built-in underwear” is seeing Liz look down her own pants and grinning ear to ear. And during Jack’s perfect meditation is a parade of Lizes who distract him with typical Liz nonsense, like her female mustache, her feet, and “Smash Mondays at 10!” The problem is that the sequences only have two minutes.
30 Rock’s most frequent vice this season has been throwing out great plot ideas but dispensing with them all too quickly, and squishing them into episodes that already have a lot going on (see: Jack’s mayoral run and the Batman parody from “The Tuxedo Begins,” and Kenneth’s promotion). This episode epitomizes that trend. There is a lot more that could’ve come out of these sequences if they were given more screen time – they could’ve been opportunities to explore the recesses of Liz and Jack’s minds, which I imagine could be fun, phantasmagorical realities filled with bi-curious shoe shopping adventures and jellybean-eating contests with Reagan. But because of the excessive plots flying around, those two minutes are all we get. Instead, this episode is packed with Liz literally discovering how everything that happens today has already happened, on the crazy ways Tracy (Tracy Morgan) makes money, on Hazel’s inanity insanity, and on a parody of MacBeth staring The Hamburgler Mayor McCheese. There was too much happening on screen for any of it to grab me the way it could have if given room to breathe.
Sagest Advice from Jack to Liz: Jack solves one of Liz’s greatest worries with these wise words: “Lemon, just get another DVR for the bedroom and then you can record all four shows at once!” I made special note of that one myself.
So how was this episode for you? Has Hazel worn out her welcome? Would you like to have seen more of the inner workings of Jack and Liz’s minds? And could you sit through Tracy Jordan’s 5NOW DOG5, even if it’s running time is only twenty-six minutes? Sound off below!
30 Rock airs at 8:30 EST Thursdays on NBC.