S5E19: Finally, Tracy is back on 30 Rock. I always say I love having him on the show, but you don’t really understand it until he’s really missing. Sure, he popped up in a few Skype sessions with Kenneth, but it was about time he finally returned for real. On that same note, this doesn’t mean that the episode was amazing or anything. Once again Tina Fey and crew delivered a solid, funny episode of one of our favorite shows.
“Kenneth and I had to spend the rest of the afternoon trying to think like Tracy. I ended up eating a swordfish dinner at a strip club and Kenneth grabbed a cop's gun and shot a blimp.” –Liz
Of course, the main issue here was finding Tracy. After realizing the Tracy was eating pizza from Queens during his webcam chats with Kenneth, Liz and Kenneth go on a hunt to bring Tracy back. This worked for so many reasons.
First, it went back to Lemon’s original field mission to get Tracy on the show back in season one. Second, it gave us excuses for lines like “I’ll get in bra and you can throw nails at me.” It never ceases to amaze me when Liz is so completely out of touch with what kinds of “sex things” people want her to do. (Or not want her to do.) Finally, they find Tracy, living in the one place Liz would never look because she’s a workaholic: her apartment. I think Tracy’s reason for hiding was a little contrived, but hey what else can you do when a principle actor needs a sudden kidney surgery?
My favorite little moment out of this storyline was the scene in the pizzeria when Kenneth impersonates a student in pizza school. It’s another classic 30 Rock absurd yet banal incident: Kenneth knowing how to answer trick questions about pizza college and the manager cartoonishly helping him as a result. These moments aren’t as fun to quote, but they’re essential to 30 Rock-ian comedy and I love it.
“Oh please, don't kill me. I still haven't tried the famous seafood pizza at Sally's in New Haven.” –Jenna
Here’s where the episode title comes from, and while I was skeptical at first, this ended up being my favorite part of the episode. I think in Tracy’s absence, they’ve figured out how to make Jenna funny again. She was bordering on stupidly obnoxious at the start of the season.
With TGS still on hiatus and the fact that her back-up plan, Jenna Babies, turned out to be a way for smugglers to bring cocaine into the country, Jenna gets a new job in a torture-porn flick. Hilarious. (Also hilarious: the cutaway with kids who accidentally felt the effects of those coked up Jenna Babies. We’re going to hell for laughing at that.) Where previous episodes would have just thrown Jenna into this situation and milked for the same jokes all episode, they combined it with Jack’s storyline. He’s on a mission to keep NBC from investing in shit shows. (BLAMMO.) When Jenna comes crying to him because her torture porn is shut down when Connecticut takes away funding because it shows the state in a bad light (ya think?), Jack reveals that it actually started as a RomCom for Universal but got boiled down in rewrites and ended up as a torture porn for an NBCUniversal subsidiary. That means NBC owns it and this Jack can’t let it fail.
The solution? Shameless whoring eerily similar to the Morgan Spurlock documentary that comes out next week. How do they keep accidentally mimicking real life months before they could possibly have known? Creepy. Anyway, this all paid off because we end up with an ad-riddled shitpile, that like Spurlock’s documentary (which is anything but a shitpile, I assure you), points out the ridiculousness of product placement – something 30 Rock loves to do. Plus it was just fundamentally funny.
“Take out from Hooters!” -Pete
“That makes no sense.” -Frank
“We'll know they touched it!” –Pete
I love how Pete never ceases to be creepy. Ever. Yet he’s still not Lutz-creepy. The amount of varying kinds of creepy that 30 Rock manages to portray to hilarious results is kind of impressive, actually. Pete, Kenneth, Lutz, Frank, Jenna…you get my point. This week we got a little taste of what Pete’s bald-headed hell is like: fighting like 20 kids at home (seriously, how many kids does he have?) and fending off jabs from Rob Riggle (who I was stoked to see in this guest spot).
It turns out that dealing with all those kids allowed Pete to develop super arms and he gains power over the writers by beating them all in arm wrestling. (Hence the Hooters lunch that beats out the writers’ request to order from Ikea. They do know they live in Manhattan, right?) Pete tries to use his new power to best the heckling Rob Riggle, but finds that his ex-wife thinks Riggle is a loser. In a bout of humanity, Pete throws the epic arm wrestling match but in the final twist, it’s all in his head and he’s really wrestling Frank? And he loses? And they order lunch from Ikea? I’m still not sure what really happened there, but it was entertaining, so I’m not that worried.
The good thing is, we’ve got Tracy back and he’s on order from LL to be as crazy as possible so as to lower the public’s expectations. And really, who could ask for anything more? Well, I might ask for more of this.