When television shows want to break out of their regular format they send their characters to Hawaii or have a musical-themed episode or go live. But leave it to 30 Rock, television's eccentric cousin who goes to art school, to step into its own alternate reality TV universe.
Just a week after doing its second live episode, 30 Rock revisited the divisive Queen of Jordan. I happen to really love the faux Bravo series and desperately wish it was a real show. Make this happen, Andy Cohen. If you don't –– RUDE!
The whole gang was back and loonier than ever, even by reality TV standards. D'Fwan made his own d'fwine, which he wants you to d'fwink responsibly; Portia had a catch phrase she wasn't crazy about ("Portia reads the paper!"); and Randi bravely posed for Playboy "against their wishes" But it was, as always, all about Angie (the pitch-perfect Sherri Shepherd.)
Since we last saw her, Angie (or Tangiers, if you will) has become an octuple threat as a reality star/actress/singer-songreader/perfumist/IBS survivor/best-selling author of a book she didn't write/catch phrase coiner ("Rude!" was wonderful, but it's no "Ham!"), and now, a designer for her clothing line Cheek (pronounced "chic") a "stretchable formal wear for elegant plus-size women and huskier gays.” Angie is poised to introduce Cheek to the world with her fashion show that will feature an in-no-way-planned surprise from her husband Tracy. But even with D'Fwan and Randi and Portia and insanely adorable baby Virginia on her team, Angie was outcrazied by the TGS crew, who will always outcrazy everyone.
While Jenna was desperate to get on cam-er-ah (nothing new there), Liz found herself immersed in a hilarious standoff with baby Virginia (the episode's MVP) after inadvertently criticizing her chubby baby legs ("Never talk about a black woman’s leg size. Not on babies, not on the Williams sisters, not on a mannequin at Avenue," D'Fwan warned) and Jack and Diana (Mary Steenburgen) tried, and failed spectacularly, at hiding their affair from a soon-to-be-returning Avery and the cameras.
You have to give the 30 Rock writers a lot of credit for this episode. Not only did they make their latest Queen of Jordan even funnier than the first one, but they moved the story along in a real way (Jack is getting closer to facing the reality of his wife coming back, Liz is certain that, despite some judgmental babies, she wants one of her own) and tackled one of the show's biggest hurdles: Jack and Liz kissing.
It finally happened and it wasn't because of some big, romantic confession that they've loved each other all along or "it was all just a crazy dream." No, it was because Jack spun such a terrible lie that involved a homeless guys (30 Rock's resident homeless guy Hannibal Buress) named "Gus", Russian restaurants named "Russ", and Chandler Bing-like cover-up about why he just kissed someone he shouldn't have been kissing. Jack and Liz kissed and it was awkward and forced and everything a long-anticipated television kiss shouldn't be. It was perfect.
Here are some of the other best lines and moments from last night's 30 Rock:
– "Not to be racist, but white guys are typically punctual."- Tracy
– "Doctor guy, pilot guy, Cleveland dude, British guy, rich dude, James Franco.” - Tracy, on why Liz is a "sex maniac"
– “I really don’t watch TV. I’m more of a masturbator.” - Tracy – "Oh my God. Ned Stark is dead?!” Grizz, reading – "I’ve never been so disrespected in my life and I’ve gone to and worked at the post office!" - Angie – "That's right, I read World War II history, motherf***er!" - Angie, after spouting her latest catch phrase "A bridge too far" – Liz wearing the same outfit as Virginia to the Cheek fashion show. – Jenna attended "Adrien Brody's unaccredited acting school." – Kenneth modeling, wondering what cocaine is like, and revealing his roommate was John Mark Karr. – Queen of Jordan's descriptions: Liz = Lisa Lampanelli? Kenneth = Not Worth Describing Dianna = Keeping It Tight Jack = NBC exec (That's a Television Channel) Would you agree this was the better of the two Queen of Jordan installments? Which line slayed you? ("Why don't you control your dog?" "He controls me!") Was the Jack and Liz kiss everything you'd hoped it would be and more? Sound off in the comments section, because it's my way 'til payday. [Photo credit: NBC] More: 30 Rock: Live Blog! 30 Rock Live: Can You Spot All The Changes Between the East & West Coast Broadcasts? 30 Rock Recap: We Need To Talk About Kevins
The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.