Inherently, 30 Rock is a series about a fictional comedy show that airs on a real network. The series has always weaved NBC’s corporate upheavals into the program with great wit and relevance, whether through mocking Jay Leno’s move to 10 pm or the dominance of The Biggest Loser. So on the show, Kabletown’s acquisition of NBC was perfectly timed to parallel the start of Comcast’s first days, this week, as NBC Universal’s new owner. Luckily for 30 Rock, today, many news stories featured the new ownership’s decision to drop the famous peacock from the NBC Universal Logo.
Even if you hadn’t been following the corporate shenanigans at NBC with such enthusiasm, this episode had plenty to say on a number of topics, most prominently, loyalty and reality television. I recently told a friend that I thought Bravo’s programming was “cutting edge” after watching The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Although I have seen only a batch of episodes, I’ve interpreted the series as a satire, a Mean Girls for rich ladies. But apparently, I’m in the minority. Tracy’s wife Angie’s new series, “Queen of Jordan,” appears on 30 Rock just as the news-making Beverly Hills season ends, offering a satire of the satire.
Tracy, who apparently received an Oscar nomination for his performance in Hard To Watch (remember his heartbreaking reaction to the lines, “Your mother exploded?”), is highly protective of his image. Consequently, he has creatively deduced how to throw temper tantrums that the show’s producers are legally prohibited from airing. Liz and Tracy’s performance of Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl,” was a series highlight; this show constantly leaves me amazed by the great lengths writers will go through to induce a laugh. It makes all the sexual innuendo on Two and a Half Men seem downright lazy.
The ridiculousness of the episode (the entire natural disaster benefit concert) is well balanced through Liz and Tracy’s heartfelt discussion of who saved the other’s career. The conversation put both characters’ points of view into perspective, and I don’t think, until this point, Tracy or Liz had realized the other’s importance in his or her own personal and professional success. We always see Liz and Tracy interact, mostly in scenes demonstrating the former’s sheer frustration with the latter, but the flashbacks of Tracy shouting, “Honky Grandma be trippin,” and Liz teaching improv to an elderly pervert, felt like truly realistic glimpses into their possible futures.
Still, on my Mind Grapes
· Liz’ New Word of the Day: Snart
· Most Meta Moment: Liz, “It’s 10 o’clock.” Jack, “No, 10 in the morning.”
· Best Misunderstanding: Tracy, literally “phoning it in.” And, “Five Years ago, I rode in here on a white horse, which you made me leave in the lobby.”
· Tracy referencing Lost character Charles Widmore as owning an island, along with Celine Dion.
· NBC Reality Programming: Woman with Hundruplets, Live Execution, The Real Transvestite Hoarders of Orange County Penitentiary
· Jenna, accepting Jack’s offer to sing at the unnamed natural disaster benefit concert, “I’ll do it, but I hate my dress.”
· Tracy has been putting off DVD commentary for the past five years. I would love to hear him describe the origins of the “Fart Machine” sketch.
· Tracy, “I’m as happy as a clam who wants to kill some woman.”
· Liz can’t make up any more words to her and Tracy’s version of “Uptown Girls,” so they continue howling by snapping their fingers a la West Side Story.
· Jenna’s lyrics: “Help the people, the thing that happened, happened to.”
· Liz would spend $80,000 to buy the lyrics to “Uptown Girls.”
· As Liz says, “actors are not people,” the camera cuts to Jenna demanding, “someone get a PA to feed me baby food or I will drop a D in the green room.”
· What was the deal with Lutz’ maniacal bathroom mirror shots? Richard III reference?
· Tracy shoots garden gnomes with Tupac
· Lutz’ car has flames on the side, and everyone’s cool with that
· The first thing that Oscar Gibson says to Lester Holt is, “First off, the Holocaust never happened.”
· Mel Gibson lives with houseguest, Jon Gosselin