’30 Rock’ Recap: Que Sorpresa!

S5E13: After last week’s incredible jump start of an episode, 30 Rock seems to have gotten its groove back, and they didn’t even need a shirtless Taye Diggs to do it. The incredible, wacky comedic pace that only Tina Fey and friends can bring us is back in full effect and the plots are back to what they need to be: simple, fun, and an excuse for a host of one-liners that mad me laugh so hard that I would have snorted milk out of my nose like when I was a kid if I hadn’t been drinking a beer instead.

“Tracy, do not mention where you think dinosaurs come from.” –Jack

“Do not mention the underwater city of Cironucon. Got it.” –Tracy

It was only a matter of time before the Kabletown execs finally invaded the NBC digs, and that time was exactly seven days in between last week’s episode and this week’s. Of course, this visit from the mysterious Hank Hooper is the catalyst for all of the episode’s action, from the idea Jack steals from Kenneth to the sweatshirt battle between Tracy and Jenna. I guess the side plot wherein Liz needs to pretend she’s pregnant isn’t directly related, but it adds to Jack’s already mounting stress about Hooper’s visit. Where’s your mind vice now, Donaghy?

“What’s Six Sigma? Is that Rock Band?” –Hooper

It turns out, Hooper is just a more powerful version of Kenneth, and while I absolutely adore Kenneth and his obnoxiously naïve and sometimes disturbingly odd nature, there can only be ONE. More than one Kenneth is as close to torture as I’d like to get. Their “cute” way of using the same phrases and sharing the opinion that soccer is dirty was just a little too cutesy for me. Luckily, this overkill didn’t kill the episode. It was more like that little pebble in your shoe that doesn’t hurt but is just irritating enough to make you spend your entire day trying to shake it toward the front of your shoe so you can just forget about it.

Anywho, Hooper starts changing things at NBC, including opening up the executive dining room to everyone — even to gross, obnoxious Lutz. Jack finds that he can’t connect with Hooper the way he had with his old boss, the heartless Don Geiss, and goes to the well to find an idea to impress the new boss man after Hooper requests that Jack listen to his employees’ ideas. While this gives us the treat of Frank trying to perform karate and tell Jack about his show idea in which his karate sidekick would be “a black chick that reads minds,” Jack eventually lands on Kenneth’s idea of putting a black bar at the bottom of every show to block out bad stuff like “nudity or soccer.” This is of course after Jack fails with his attempt at voice controlled TV – too bad it can hear its own programming.

Jack tries to reward Kenneth for letting him steal his idea, but he doesn’t want anything. Jack even offers to let Kenneth fight him, but ends up knocking Kenneth out. In the end all the page wants is a good 10 second hug from Jack, but I just hope to God Hooper won’t show up too often. My sentiments echo Jack’s uncomfortable face in this situation.

“Why would you pretend to help Jack? Help him for real; it takes the same amount of time!” –Tracy

In order to help Avery hide her pregnancy so that she can beat out her rival, Carmen Chao, for a new lead anchor position, Liz gets wound up in an elaborate lie that involves her being fake pregnant and Chao doing a feature news piece on the bun in the oven. At first Liz is resistant, but when she finds that it’s making everyone be nicer to her, her Liz Lemon opportunism kicks in and she embraces the lie. This is a great little storyline because it means we get to see Liz really let loose – thought you’d seen it all, didn’t you? We see her double her normal order of two breakfast sandwiches to four to fake eat for her fake baby. We see a hilarious interview between her and Chao. (“What’s wrong with you?” “Almost everything.”) And finally, we see Liz Lemon in a pregnant photo shoot. You’ve got to love Fey’s self-depreciating nature as she rubs oil on her belly and crouches down so she gets those embarrassing tummy rolls rolling over her jeans. This plot also brings back the best recurring guest star, Brian Williams who outs Liz as preggers in front of the whole crew. We’ve gotta love that Bri-guy.

“Good Sweatshirt. How are you sweatshirting this sweatshirt?” -Tracy

This subplot hearkens back to the good ol’ days of seasons one and two when Tracy and Jenna were still at each other’s throats, trying to nab the star spot. As part of the welcome to Kabletown, Hooper sends the pair their own iPods and MacBooks, but only one cheapo Kabletown sweatshirt for the two of them to share. Of course, because they are big ol’ babies they fight over even the dumbest item. It wasn’t a genius idea, but it did allow for some hilarious lines which is the reason we all tune in anyway.

“What if there was a channel that’s just the sounds of people having a party so you could put it on when you call your parents.” –Lutz

The tag treated us to the remainder of the staff’s ideas. Some of which were kind of disturbing and some of which involved lizard people and were totally awesome. (Brian Williams rules.) Blackout. End of recap.

Celebrity Editor Kelsea Stahler was born in a pile of dirt. Okay, she was actually born in an old Naval hospital in San Diego, which then became a pile of dirt and remained as such for a number of years before becoming a parking lot perfectly sized for circus tents, and finally a museum. She eventually left San Diego to attend New York University, where she studied Journalism and English literature — two less-than profitable liberal arts degrees about which guidance counselors warned her. Against all odds, she now resides in Brooklyn, where she fights the constant fear that the locals will soon discover she isn’t quite cool enough to live there, and makes a living writing absurd, pop culture features about Batman, zombies, vampires, funny people, and Ron Swanson.