It’s because of the high comedic currency of an episode like tonight’s “Gavin Volure” why I have never even tried to watch an episode of Two and a Half Men, or anything else on CBS for that matter. It’s amazing how many great one-liners got packed into what turned out to be a winding and cohesive story. As I watched the episode it put me in mind of hearing a great standup routine by a comedian, like Woody Allen’s “The Moose” a story that begins with him shooting a moose then taking it to a Halloween party and ends with Jewish man at a restricted country club. It’s loopy and has absurd twists but in the end it wraps up not just the joke but the story too.
The main storyline revolves around the Steve Martin character Gavin Volure, a rich agoraphobic businessman who never leaves his mansion in Connecticut. He invites Jack and Lemon to an Algonquin dinner, flirts with Lemon, and tells Jack about his brewing new business venture. The next day Gavin invites Lemon to his house for a date. Now aside from that whole married with children thing, don’t Steve Martin and Tina Fey make a great “makes sense” couple? The same cannot be said for their characters, mostly because Gavin Volure is, in actuality, an indicted tax criminal. He lied to people to try and save face but he really likes Lemon and wanted to confide in her. That large man who shook your hand for me so that I wouldn’t have to risk germs is really a parole guard who monitors my whereabouts.
Meanwhile Jack has agreed to help Kenneth invest his money wisely in the stock market. What harm could that do? He puts all of Kenneth’s money, minus the Confederate dollars, into the new business venture Gavin previously told him about at the dinner party. Unfortunately for Kenneth there is no new Gavin business endeavor and instead Gavin stole the money from his account. Jack goes to Gavin looking for a money return but Gavin uses him to escape his parole guards and flees into the city and 30 Rock to find Lemon.
The other important storyline involves Tracy and his two sons. Tracy has made a lot of money of late and not just from his porn video game, but also from his ancillary products being sold in Japan. Products like a life-like sex doll in his likeness. But now his kids seem to crave his attention. They stare at him silently and want to know where he’s going. That might sound good to attentive fathers but Tracy leaps to the conclusion that his kids want to “Menendez” him, a theory he picks up while watching Court TV. It turns out his kids don’t plan to murder him. They’re just very insecure that their father will leave them now that Tracy is suddenly flush with cash.
Gavin appears at 30 Rock to try and win over Lemon, but when it turns out not to be, and Jack catches up to him, Gavin climbs to the stop of the scaffolding on the set of The Girlie Show with plans to commit suicide. Lemon, Kenneth, Jack and a seated Tracy all beckon him to come down but he refuses. Gavin’s got nothing more to live for. Before he can do anything further though, Tracy emerges on the top of the scaffold behind him and grabs him for safety. The Tracy seated below was his sex toy. The only other time I’ve seen a masturbatory product used to save a person’s life was that time I used a plastic mold of Sasha Grey’s vagina to blunt the impact of a falling box of Tera Patrick vagina molds. The last scene is a “The More You Know” p.s.a. by Tracy about the importance of sex dolls. In it he answers a burning question for anyone who has been watching. Is he posing as that sex doll or is that a real sex doll? I’ll spoil it for you. He’s the sex doll. What incredible concentration.
Steve Martin is excellent in this episode but then again I am a huge fan. He really plays two characters: the very rich and debonair businessman at the beginning, sort of a warmer, funnier version of him in Shopgirl, and then a more free-spirited crackpot criminal towards the end. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels anyone? Humble opinion assumed, he’s the best guest star of the year.
A piano is being played softly at a mansion in Connecticut. Jack and Lemon walk into the dining room of eccentric businessman Gavin Volure who invited the pair to a private dinner. Lemon is nervous because of the "strange toilet" situation but Jack knows Gavin personally. He speaks of Gavin's accomplishments to Lemon then explains how he fell off the face of the earth, sold his company Sunstream, and hasn't left his home in three years. He's also right behind them playing the piano. Our first shot of Steve Martin as Gavin Volure. The room applauds, as do I. I've got a man crush. He introduces himself to the room and then he introduces everyone else: a thin black man from the world of fashion, a thin and aged white woman wearing a debutante's crown from the world of society, a thin, disturbed white man from the world of art collecting and yelling -- wait that's John McEnroe. "Why isn't there any good art in here? C'mon!" Gavin introduces Jack and Lemon last. He's especially pleased to see Lemon from the world of the Arts could attend. He saw a photo of her and Jack on the front of the New York Times Sunday Styles section and found her beautiful. She returns the compliment with a Time Out New York comprehensive compendium on the best cupcakes in New York.
It's a late night on the set of TGS at 30 Rock. Tracy tells Kenneth he's afraid to go home because his two sons Tracy Jr. and George Foreman make him nervous. They follow him with their little kid eyes everywhere he goes now. "Those two have never paid me any attention and rightly so. I'm a strange man who can't be taken seriously." Kenneth suggests that the new attentiveness is born out of love, but Tracy sees something more insidious at hand. He holds up a doll the two made for him and charge them with practicing the dark art of voodoo. He does acknowledge, however, that there have been financial changes in his life recently and not just from the porno video game he created last year. There's new money coming in from the video game tie-ins, the toys, and a life size Tracy Jordan sex doll that is selling like hotcakes in Japan. "Well you know what they say," adds Kenneth. "Money is the root of all evil." Tracy is confused. "I thought that was just a tagline from my movie Death Bank." The Death Bank IMDb page.