S5E22: I think I learned something last night. I mean, I always knew it, but I finally acknowledged that 30 Rock isn’t that great with plot. We all knew this, but recently it’s been a glaring issue. The writers are some of the best joker writers out there, but the way we get to the jokes is sometimes just a little obnoxious and sometimes the plot requires that these gags go on just a little too long. Especially when they’re as racist as the Kim Jong-il as played by Marget Cho sketch was. Just because we don’t like North Korea doesn’t mean we need to pull every Asian stereotype out of the bag and use it, but more on that later. The episode had its moments, but overall I’m just not sure what the writers were thinking.
“You plus me equals frowny face.” – Jack
Apparently, in an effort to relieve Elizabeth Banks from her guest star duties and to find Condoleezza Rice a guest spot, Avery is detained in North Korea. This also gave room for Cho to do her Kim Jong-il impression. There wasn’t much about this that I actually liked. There were a few good lines like the text message Jack used to break up with Condi back when they were an item and Avery’s admission that “Capitalism might be flawed,” but over all it was a barrage of Cho proliferating Asian stereotypes. It may be technically okay because Cho is Asian and because I doubt any one watching was a Kim Jong-il fan, but it’s the type of joke that should have happened once and maybe again in the tag. It dominated the episode and by the end, I was just rolling my eyes.
The other factor in this part of the episode was Jack’s plea for his ex to help his wife get home. Usually when someone like Condoleezza Rice stops by 30 Rock, they give them some killer dialogue so that even though they can’t act, their presence is worth it. Hello, remember that time Al Gore stopped by but suddenly rushed away because there was a whale in trouble? That was funny. Jack’s strange, cardboard musical competition with Condoleezza was just awkward and it stopped the episode dead in its tracks.
Of course, because Banks can’t be on a television show all the time because she’s got a big ol’ movie career, Avery isn’t able to be rescued and she’s even married off to a Kim Jong-il’s son. This was all so strange and Jack just accepts this problem as something he can’t control. To that I say, what the hell? I know it tied in with Liz’s whole notion of taking control of her life, but it just doesn’t make sense for Jack’s character.
“Lizbianism means that I’m a dyke…against the rising waters of mediocrity.” -Liz
Alright, this was pretty cute. My favorite little joke was the moment when Jack is so proud of Liz’s new lease on life that he bequeaths her one of his ties and quotes Invictus, but she can’t remember who “the white guy” is in the movie because it’s Matt Damon and in 30 Rock world Matt Damon is Carol, Liz’s ex-boyfriend. It was tiny, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Anyway, Liz is getting her own life together. After cleaning up Tracy’s fake Africa in her unfinished duplex, she’s ready to build her perfect home. I did enjoy the fake progress song that Tina Fey sang over the home improvement montage even though it got a little too literal. My problem came when she found the plastic takeout bag completely stuck in the tree outside her window. I didn’t have a problem with all the insane ways she tries to get it down. I don’t even mind the cop with OCD who tasers her for sawing a branch off the tree. What bothered me to no end was the scene in which the plastic bag has a full on monologue. It would have been funny enough to have it say one line and have Liz question it, but the full speech was ridiculous. Like the Condi moment, it really suspended the flow of the episode. I guess my revenge came when the delivery guy accidentally releases a whole slew of plastic bags into the air and into Liz’s tree. Well, it’s revenge as long as they don’t all start talking to her.
“Was Dot Com standing that gay?” -Tracy
“Um no sir. He was not.” – Kenneth
Tracy is back and he’s upset that he’s missed out on a few inside jokes, so of course he goes crazy and insists that if DotCom, Grizz and Kenneth are going to keep using them, they have to recreate the situation in which they were created. They recreate everything down to the tiniest detail. This should have been hilarious, but save for a few one-liners, it was just sad. As it turns out, they used the inside jokes to make themselves feel better because they missed Tracy so much and he’s actually the funny one. All is well again, but to be honest, I was a little bored.
There was a bit of redemption for Tracy and Cho’s Kim Jong-il. I did enjoy the fake cop movie excerpt at the end of the episode in spite of myself. I’m not even sure if it’s because of the impression though, I think found the digs at movies like Rush Hour more entertaining than Cho/Jong-il shimself. It may sound like I completely hated this episode, and it’s true I hated parts of it. It wasn’t the worst, I just know they could do better.