’30 Rock’ Recap: Mrs. Donaghy

S5:E11 Sometimes we don’t get a riotous 30 Rock. Often, episodes just treat us to the comfort of a good old NBC-bashing time and we can curl up on the couch with our night-cheese and a comfy sweater in preparation for the barrage of giggle-inducing one-liners. Last night, 30 Rock took the comforting route instead of blowing our minds, but it’s cool because those episodes are still hilarious and enjoyable.

“Lemon filled in as my best man” – Jack

Well you may have guessed it after the previews and the fact that the episode is called Mrs. Donaghy, but Jack finally got married. Thanks to the French-speaking minister, Liz and Jack are hitched instead of Avery and Jack and herein lies the conflict of the whole episode. I wasn’t bothered by this plot line, it’s simple and effective, and allowed for that whole awkward Liz imitating “Drew Barrymore’s impression of that crazy lady” (a Grey Gardens reference, folks) in a Pink Jackie O suit that looks strangely like the one she borrowed in the 30 Rock pilot when she follows Tracy to a Harlem strip club, or was it just me?

The cold open announcing the mix-up fell a little flat. I mean, Jack accidentally married Lemon, this scene could have reached so many levels of insanity, but instead they settled for Jonathan’s piercing squeal before moving onto the rest of the show.

“I sense more complaining in you.” -Pete

Before Liz can deal with the marriage snafu, she encounters another big problem. Jack is renting out all of the TGS spaces to other people (including turning her green room into an NBC Experience store) and cutting benefits. Everything’s going wrong and she doesn’t know how to fix it when the solution falls into her lap – blackmail Jack by refusing to sign divorce papers until he fixes her show. Of course this opens up a whole bluffing game between the two that hearkens back to the good ol’ days before Jack and Lemon became buds. Like I said up top, this is nothing new but as long as it provided opportunities for that Yoda reference from Pete and the gay cat rodeo from Liz, I think we’ll be alright.

“I’m hosting the international pornography awards and I have to go get an insurance physical so I can fly into the arena in a peanut-shaped parachute.” -Tracy

Finally Tracy’s ridiculous life finds its major consequence: health problems. (You know it’s bad when your “blood tastes like root beer.”) Dr. Spaceman delivers the diagnosis: you gonna die. This means Tracy needs to find a way for his wife, Angie, to support the family should he suddenly croak. Of course this means Jack takes the opportunity to fire back at Liz by hiring Angie as her intern, making for one of the most uncomfortable and most hilarious moments of the episode. In trying to explain internships to Angie, Liz gets dangerously close to a very un-PC slavery reference, and blammo, we’re back to the 30 Rock we know and love.

When the Angie situation spins out of control, Jack threatens to turn Angie into a reality show that will run instead of TGS, but Lemon calls his bluff. I love that Liz is really getting some cahones for once, she never would have let it get this far a few seasons ago.

“No, a buffer is a protective barrier.” -Pete

“Like pigs have around their delicious testicle meat!” -Kenneth

This is the only funny thing that came out of this tertiary plot wherein we find Jenna sharing a dressing room with Danny because hers was rented to a group of computer nerds. (Thank you, writers, for throwing in the line about forgetting Danny was on the show; where has he been?) This sharing of space leads them to immediately act like a crazy old married couple, making Kenneth the tortured child stuck in the middle. There were no holds barred with this little plot, but it just wasn’t original and frankly, it wasn’t that funny. If you’re an NBC Thursday night super-fan like me, you may remember when Community tried the family dynamic on for size and totally killed it. They did something unique with it, reverse roles and using the idea to their comedic advantage; unfortunately for 30 Rock, that wasn’t the case with this episode.

“(On the phone) You have to buy NBC with everything else…Well, just don’t watch it.” – Jack

It’s not a huge part of the episode, but I have to give praise to the relentless onslaught of hits that 30 Rock takes on the channel that allows the show to exist. The whole episode was a bit of a hit on the network, but nothing worked quite as well as Jack’s pie graph of NBC priorities: 60 percent The Biggest Loser, 30 percent for “Make it 1997 again through science or magic” and a sliver for everything else. Even on NBC’s big comeback night, the show still manages to take it down a peg. It was hilarious and on point and yes, it’s fun to kick big companies when they’re down. Sorry; the truth hurts.

“Walk like a woman, Lemon” -Jack

“Your fly’s open, Jack.” -Lemon

The cornerstone of the show is finally restored after a little rundown of Lemon and Jack’s apparently wildly inappropriate friendship courtesy of HR rep, Mr. Wienerslave (pronounced “slahv” but man, those terrible names never get old). Though I actually never thought about how Liz and Jack might be too close by normal work standards, it’s necessary. It’s that claustrophobic factor that makes their relationship so entertaining, and besides it was fun running down that laundry list and remembering all the moments associated with each inappropriate item.