If this week’s new episode is any indication, 30 Rock is going to be pretty bittersweet from hereon out. It’s not that the subject matter of this first rejoinder back from winter hiatus is at all dire or particularly sentimental — in fact, it keeps perfectly in step with the show’s usual brand of raucous absurdity. But the ep, titled “Game Over,” forced us to bid a solemn farewell to three recurring characters who have stood fast as fan favorites since first gracing the nutjob world of Liz Lemon and company: Dr. Leo Spaceman, Devon Banks, and Len Wosniak.
Goodbye, Dr. Spaceman!
That morally bankrupt, mortifyingly incompetent physician (and pretty good dentist) known as Dr. Leo Spaceman (Chris Parnell), who has been tending to the ailments of the NBC staff for the past seven seasons, treats America to an extravagant series wrap in the opening tag of the episode, barging in on Liz in the middle of her appointment with another, presumably more qualified, medical professional. After basking in an acerbic, long overdue tongue-lashing from Liz over his derelict sensibilities and scattered knowhow, Spaceman is actually apprehended by a pair of police officers… informing him that he has just been named the United States’ Surgeon General. And so, as Leo is dragged out the door, offering only a meta proclamation of his character’s 30 Rock conclusion (“That’s a series wrap for Leo Spaceman!”), we are forced to bid adieu to the man who has treated Jack to so many a colorful pill, who has chuckled so giddily at the hard “k” sound in “kidney,” and who has promoted the use of crystal meth as a viable weight loss option.
Meanwhile, Liz is grappling with her decision to become a mother — each of her options seems to present a roadblock. If she tries to induce fertility and have the baby herself, she runs the risk of health problems for her child, due to her age. If she waits to adopt a newborn, she’ll be almost 50 before becoming a mother. And she fears that the choice to adopt an older child at the present time will present a whole separate set of challenges in the realm of parenting. But we’ll get back to all hubbub that after we focus on the more important issue at hand: saying goodbye to Devon Banks.
Jack’s arch nemesis. The only man with a business sense, unquenchable thirst for power, and Batmanian voicebox on par with those of Donaghy himself. Devon (Will Arnett) resurfaces in this episode when Jack actually calls upon him for help: in an effort to squash his top competitor for the position of KableTown CEO, Hank Hooper’s granddaughter Kaylie (Chloe Moretz, also back for a final swing this week), Jack joins forces with Devon to form the ultimate duo of dirty tricks. First, a bit of context:
Old-fashioned Hooper (Ken Howard), retiring as of his forthcoming 70th birthday (an event he holds sacred, as with each of his birthdays), wants to keep KableTown a family business. But Devon feeds Jack the sordid secret that Kaylie is actually the illegitimate child of Hooper’s daughter-in-law and the family pool boy, thus recanting her KableTown birthright. Jack machinates a plan to apprehend Kaylie’s DNA to prove her not the true child of Hank’s son, whom Devon reveals to be gay… but everything seems to backfire when Kaylie reveals that she and Devon have been working together all along, planting tall tales in Jack’s head in order to sway him into sending false accusations the way of Hank against his own granddaughter… but everything then unbackfires (frontfires? backices? goes swimmingly?) when Jack discloses his cognizance of the pair’s plan all along. He, in fact, was playing them, conning Kaylie and Devon into putting so much time into their devious ploy that they would in fact forget all about Hank’s birthday, thus losing his favor, which would fall duly in the lap of Jack… who, instead of false accusations about Kaylie, actually sent ol’ Hank a thoughtful birthday card. Donaghy, you’ve done it again.
But back to our farewell to Devon. Throughout the game of double agency, Devon employs all his old goldmines for comedy: desperate greed, childish competitiveness, and an apparent incapability to avoid making sexual innuendos while facing off with his archenemy. As with every one of his descents back into the dark cavern from which he sprouted, the farewell we bid to Devon this time around is not one that sees him off to happier locale. Having failed miserably, once more, in his warfare with Jack, we know not what the future will hold for young Banks: is he still living happily as a husband and father of three in Brooklyn? Or has his personal life fallen apart in light of his egomania? We’ll never know. But we’ll always have cold pizza to remember him by.
The least prominent of this episode’s recurring characters but perhaps the most recognizable of its guest actors is Len Wosniak (Steve Buscemi), Jack Donaghy’s bungling private eye whose personal life is always straddling the gutter. Jack brings Len on to aid his quest of defeat over Kaylie and Devon, knowing not that he would actually be unleashing Len onto the next chapter in his life. See, in going undercover as Kaylie’s female substitute teacher, Len discovers a happiness in this new identity like none he’s ever known. He feels free, he loves teaching, and he even gets engaged to a fellow instructor! It’s all-smooth sailing from hereon out for our pal Len, and we’re glad to see him off with such a bright future. No more clinging to the joys of free ice from the GE Building cafeteria or hats from his gym, or giving his gun to his pastor in times of the gloomies — things are going to be different now.
But back to Liz, who, as we must remember, is the main character of the show. See, it is surprisingly a conversation with none other than Tracy that answers her question about which option to explore in the vein of child rearing. When Tracy, who is now producing a film about Harriet Tubman with Octavia Spencer as the star, laments the perils of dealing with a difficult actor (Spencer, playing a loony version of herself, is twice the nutjob that Tracy is), Grizz and Dot Com help him realize that Liz was always the one to straighten him out when he got out of hand. Tracy forwards this message to Liz, recalling how she shaped him from a maniacal man-child into some semblance of a reasonable human being… and if she can do that with Tracy, she can do that with any kid. Thus, Liz phones Bev at the adoption agency (hey, Megan Mullally’s back, too!) to declare that she wants to adopt an older child right away!
But wait, shouldn't Liz talk to Criss about any of this? No? James Marsden’s not available this week? Yeah, okay, fine, just focus on Dr. Spaceman.
[Photo Credit: Ali Goldstein/NBC (2)]
'1600 Penn' React: Attempting Old-School Charm in the Oval Office
'Grey's Anatomy' Recap: Bride and Gloom
'Hunger Games,' 'Glee,' Katy Perry Win Big at People's Choice Awards
From Our Partners:
Megan Fox’s 12 Hottest Moments (Moviefone)
Ryan Gosling’s ‘Airbrushed’ Abs: Plus 19 More Reasons We Love the Actor (Moviefone)
Oddly enough, people seem to really like music. Enough to allow it to pervade into something else they really like: TV. NBC is jumping on the music-themed series bandwagon this February with Smash, a drama about the pursuit to become a Broadway star. The latest news surrounding the series regards two guest stars to be featured: Nick Jonas of the Jonas Brothers and actor and Broadway legend Bernadette Peters (Ugly Betty). Jonas will take the role of a sitcom star who has roots in Broadway acting, and connections to two of the main characters (played by Christian Borle and Jack Davenport). Peters will play a has-been Broadway star and mother to another of Smash's central characers (played by Megan Hilty). Smash will premiere Monday, Feb. 6 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on NBC. -Zap2it
Yesterday, we reported that 30 Rock would be getting a guest star in James Marsden. Well, the superb NBC comedy will also be welcoming Denise Richards to the show for one episode. According to Richards' Twitter, the series is "one of her favorite shows." The sixth season of 30 Rock, returning to NBC as a midseason replacement, is already brimming. -Twitter
How I Met Your Mother will be bringing in a whole bunch of guest stars for an upcoming episode. Enjoying some very promising guest roles on the series are actors Chris Elliott, Frances Conroy, Wayne Brady, and Bill Fagerbakke. They will all appear in the Oct. 24 episode "Noretta." In the theme of family reunions, Elliott will play Lily's (Alyson Hannigan) estranged father, while Conroy and Brady will return as Barney's (Neil Patrick Harris) mother and brother...respectively, of course. Fagerbakke is the only one whose role is yet to be revealed. How I Met Your Mother airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS. -EW
Rosie Perez. She's more of a force than a human. A dynamic power, something unstoppable. And she's bringing all that to Nurse Jackie. Perez will appear in one episode of the upcoming season, playing a patient with a mysterious illness. Nurse Jackie, starring Edie Falco, returns to Showtime next year for its fourth season. -THR
Why on earth would anyone want to remake Straw Dogs? Sam Peckinpah’s original film released in 1971 is a provocative disconcerting examination of man’s basest impulses. Its violence a source of some controversy when it was released seems relatively tame by today’s standards; its core assertion – that we’re all capable of the most extreme barbarism if pushed far enough – still unnerves. But it was very much a product of its time borne out of the social unrest and political upheaval of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. The appeal – commercial and otherwise – of a modernized re-telling would seem perilously limited.
In the new version director Rod Lurie (Resurrecting the Champ The Contender) partly refashions Straw Dogs as a ham-fisted allegory for the increasingly acrimonious red state/blue state divide. It is exceedingly clear which side he’s on.
James Marsden plays David Sumner a Hollywood screenwriter who moves with his actress wife Amy (Kate Bosworth) to her hometown of Blackwater Mississippi after her father’s death. Their stay is intended as only temporary long enough for them to prepare the family home for sale and for David to finish his latest screenplay about the siege of Stalingrad.
Blackwater presents more or less the prototypical (i.e. clichéd) Hollywood vision of a rural Deep South town populated with scruffy churlish yokels who instinctively recoil at anything resembling sophistication. Gun racks and confederate flags and “These Colors Don’t Run” bumper stickers abound. David with his vintage Jaguar credit cards and polysyllabic vocabulary incurs immediate resentment. David’s thinly-veiled condescension doesn’t help matters.
Everywhere he goes David is eyed with suspicion and made to feel unwelcome.
Hoping to ingratiate himself with the townsfolk he hires a local construction crew headed by Amy’s handsome ex-boyfriend Charlie (Alexander Skarsgard) to repair a barn damaged during a recent storm. The men prove less-than-stellar workers drinking on the job leaving early to go hunting and brazenly treading about the house as if they own it. Equivocal by nature David is loath to confront them and Charlie and the boys seize on his timidity. Their provocations soon adopt a more sinister face.
Straw Dogs like its predecessor is built around a climactic final “siege” of the Sumner house when David surrounded on all sides by men intent on taking everything he has is finally driven to fight back. But whereas Pekinpah’s film filled the preceding minutes with scene after scene of troubling moral complexity Lurie’s version can only offer unremitting tedium. His Straw Dogs is more than anything else a terminal bore. At 110 minutes it is actually shorter than the original but it feels a good deal longer. Even a pivotal rape scene – in which the victim’s consent is ever-so-briefly implied – and some virtuoso scenery-chewing from James Woods playing an alcoholic ex-football coach can’t breathe much life into this empty mundane film.