30 Rock’s forward momentum towards the series finale isn’t letting up. Jack’s (Alec Baldwin) epic NBC tanking continues, Liz (Tina Fey) finally takes a serious step towards having her baby with Criss (James Marsden), and Jenna’s (Jane Krakowski) recent single “Balls” burns up the charts makes her $90. So maybe not all of the storylines work, but since the episode gifts us with a Ghost remake involving a CD tower at Staples, this episode counts as a success.
Let’s break it down…
Thankfully, the writers are resolved to see last season’s pregnancy storyline for Liz and Criss through, and in the most awkward and uncomfortable way possible. Liz is predictably having a rough time enjoying her baby-making sessions with Criss, practically crying to Jack (Alec Baldwin) that they’ve been “taking the dump truck to the bone yard most nights.” But a sudden spike in activity at the TGS offices has forced Liz to better schedule her work with her love life, and helps her discover that extra spice she needs to get excited: organization. What follows is one of the sexiest montages to ever take advantage of the offices supplies section at Staples ever. It’s great that the show is finally forcing Liz to grow this late in the series, especially since the past few seasons and even in last week’s premiere, Liz has just been reacting to the other characters. And the writers picked the right turn-on for Liz with organization, even though food should have been involved somehow, too.
Meanwhile, Jack and Liz continue to destroy NBC’s ratings. A foil emerges, however, when a new Mitt Romney running mate named Gov. Bob Dunston is selected, and he’s a dead ringer for Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan). On top of that, he’s any comedian’s dream political candidate. TGS can’t pass up the opportunity to mock the man who announces that he knows of nine forms of legitimate rape and that Romney isn’t a merman. Naturally Tracy’s portrayal sends ratings through the roof. Even Republicans like Tracy’s performance, as Cooter Burger (a return cameo by Matthew Broderick) explains that it makes Dunston more likeable.
It’s an interesting conundrum for both Jack and Liz as it forces them to decide whether their careers and personal goals are more important than their politics. While Liz ultimately decides to keep airing the sketches in order to help her have her baby with Criss, Jack doesn’t stop her, ultimately choosing his party ties over his hope for an NBC coup. It’ll be fun to watch Jack try and rebuild the network as it is now and continue working for Hank Hooper.
Unfortunately, Kenneth’s (Jack McBrayer) family visit and their awkwardly written interactions with Jenna aren’t quite as successful. Getting Catherine O’Hara and Bryan Cranston to play Kenneth’s mother and her “friend” Ron is great in theory, but not if they are just going to smile, be awed by “celebrity” Jenna, and get into a little tiff with Kenneth. The song the pair sang about Kenneth at the end is fantastic – it’s exactly what I was hoping the rest of their visit would have been like. And poor Jenna. She does have her own story about trying to figure out how to convince Americans to buy CDs, but really she only seems to be hanging out with Kenneth and his family because there’s nothing else for her to do in this episode.
- How has Jenna’s song “Balls” not been turned into a single yet? The chorus is nothing but the word “balls” repeated ad nauseum. It practically writes itself!
- Liz calls herself the Sally Draper to Criss’s Glenn. Does anyone else suspect that even the daughter of Don Draper is more worldly than Liz Lemon?
- Matthew Broderick’s return as Cooter Burger is perfect. Just as long as it should’ve been (a few minutes), and chock-full of jokes, including the recipe for an “Old Spanish” drink and handing out googly eye frog stickers.
- This episode, if nothing else, shows that Bryan Cranston and Catherine O’Hara need to be a couple in the next Christopher Guest movie. Make it happen Hollywood!
Your turn! Are you surprised at all that Jack Skypes with Mitt Romney’s horse, Rafalca? What do you think of the introduction of the family Parcell? And will anyone take Frank (Judah Friedlander) up on his hat’s offer of “Free Zits”? Sound off in the comments below!
30 Rock airs on Thursdays at 8 EST on NBC.
I love Liz Lemon’s German!