The burning question that preceded tonight's episode of 30 Rock was will this be as funny as The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show? I don't mind saying it was close, but in the end, I say leave the comedy to the professionals. Sorry Tina Fey.
Actually if it weren't for Gavin Volure this would be the best episode of the season, and tonight's nostalgia for those earlier guest-star free episodes of 30 Rock perhaps made it a more winning experience in the end. Keep in mind I have not been a member of the Greek chorus that knocks the show now for enjoying too many guest appearances. We're supposed to fault entertainment for trying to entertain us now? But (and there always is) the focus on the lives of the key players in tonight's episode, without having to digress for the sake of a showy star turn, which made this a focused and funny episode.
The main thread had to do with Lemon's wonder years. She gets an invite to her high school reunion in the suburbs of Philadelphia but is unenthused. As she remembers, her high school days consisted mainly of looking through a telescope and mumbling while the most popular girl in class laughed at her. Jack insists that she go and show her high school nemesis "that the ugly duckling has turned into a vaguely ethnic swan." He even offers to let her take the GE jet. ["It's got popcorn, how could she resist?" -- Angel] Jack is flying high in his own right thanks to the unexpected news that Don Geiss (Rip Torn, remember him) has awoken from a long coma. What it means to Jack is that he'll finally be offered the CEO position that he's long coveted, but his meeting with Geiss goes differently than expected. Geiss shot out of his coma with a beam of energy and is ready to reclaim authority at GE. Jack is back to where he was before the coma, telling Liz how many times she can use the word cat anus in a script.
He joins Lemon on the jet ride with the plan to drop her off and then head south to enjoy one of Miami's many sex opportunities. White Haven, PA has other ideas. They get there and then get snowed in. Jack has to stay with Liz and her high school reunion classmates. For her part, Lemon struts into the reunion room proud and successful. She confidently approaches the same popular girl who laughed at Liz. The thing is Lemon wasn't just a nerd in high school. She was a mean nerd. Lemon may remember things differently, that she was set upon and embarrassed, but her classmates share a different take. She was an acidic personality and voted Most Likely to Stay an Asshole. Lemon was a nerd bully. She battered everyone with a silver tongue and mean comebacks that belonged in an episode of Six Feet Under.
For the rest of the reunion her classmates repay the misery she inflicted on them in high school. Jack stays in the corner and drinks. He talks about mulch with some Joe the Plumber Americans and has an epiphany about happiness. It isn't guaranteed by a job as CEO for a major wig company. Is it Jack? Through a lucky turn of events he gets mistaken at the party for Larry Braverman a very popular and serendipitously absent former classmate. *Under false pretenses, Jack bonds with old friends and reignites an old high school flame while Lemon is shat upon by every single breathing thing in the room. At the end of the night, they all plot to Carrie her on stage by way of an awaiting bucket but Jack interferes and defends Lemon's character in a public way. Then the torn apart lover introduces Jack to Larry Braverman's bastard child. With that Jack announces he's a fake and he and Lemon get booed off the stage.
In the other storyline, Kenneth is very amusing on the elevator to other people. So much so it offends Tracy. When Tracy enters the elevator and observes to the other passengers “How come they ain't no Puerto Ricans on Star Trek?” no one laughs. When the elevator stops on the next floor and Kenneth observes “What is this, the local?,” those same people uncontrollably laugh. Tracy drags Grizz and DotCom onto an elevator ride with the command to laugh at what he says, but even they can't help but laugh at Kenneth's quick quips. Tracy warns Jenna, the other actor around, about Kenneth's attention grabbing, but it takes an elevator ride of her own before she's equally as nervous. The pair team up to exact revenge on Kenneth by fixing him lunch and conducting page tours around 30 Rock. It reduces Kenneth to tears; those chores -- they're all he has and they're all he really wants. Kenneth weeps and apologizes for being funny on the elevator. He and Tracy cry to the satisfaction of Jenna.
The T.I. chimes remix. The End.
Did anyone read the New Yorker review of 30 Rock in last week's magazine? I think you should have a more up to speed appreciation of comedy than comparing Alec Baldwin's performance on the show to a Sinatra/Bing Crosby number in "High Society." That's not to say that the writer didn't ultimately like the show from the review but I had to wonder exactly why she did in the end. If you find that the Tracy Jordan character is "annoying" how could you possibly like this show?
The burning question that preceded tonight's episode of 30 Rock -- will this be as funny as The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show? I don't mind saying it was close but in the end, leave the comedy to the professionals. Sorry Tina Fey.
We begin. The signature opening shot of the atlas statue with the 30 Rock building standing in the background. Inside, Lemon arrives to work to the chorus of several messages read by Kenneth:
Kenneth: Oh, Ms. Lemon. You have several messages. Ah, let's see, that company running the bike tour in South Carolina says no singles.
Kenneth: Uh, your credit card called. They want to make sure you're the one buying crème soda in bulk.
Liz: I sure am.
Kenneth: And your landlord called and he said, "it's not your toilet, it's you."
Liz: That's his opinion.
The last message is from Gene from Liz's high school reunion committee inviting her to attend the event. Lemon wants no part but Kenneth is, as always, eager about the prospect. He flashes back to his class reunion which looks a lot like my college reunions and that doesn't sound very strange until you consider I attended an all black, all male college. Kenneth greets his old classmates: "Hey there, Michael. Oh my god Bill Baer!" and then rather coldly, "Hello Teniqua," who in exchange runs a finger down his chest. Tracy and Jenna are also big high school reunion enthusiasts but it does not do a thing to convince Lemon to attend.
Jack dangles keys in front of a photographer trying to get Kathy Geiss to look at the camera for her CEO picture to be published on the cover of the quarterly reports. She's holding an etch-a-sketch that reads "Kathy=CEO" and is standing next to a toy unicorn. Even though Jack does all the work, Kathy is the recognized head of the company and it's been as such ever since Don Geiss fell into a coma at the end of last season. Kathy does something odd... wait, odder. She stares out the window and claws her hands against the glass. Something is brewing and Jack thinks he knows. Just then Don Geiss wakes from his coma and tells the nurse "get me Jack Donaghy."