Friday, March 09, 2007

"Kabala is a wonderful religion that mixes the fun part of Judaism with magic": 30 Rock

VADA SULTENFUSS LIVES!

I don't know if you were 11 in 1991 (I guess the odds are against it), but Macauley Culkin ruled the world (and was heavily hyped to be getting his first ONSCREEN KISS in the movie My Girl), The Addams Family movie was bigger than big and a shy and slightly gawky young lady named Anna Chlumsky starred as a shy and slightly gawky young lady in the movie My Girl. Culkin was killed by bees. It was Chlumsky's movie. I didn't get to see it because of a blizzard, but I did get to have Hot Stuff pizza and watch Fantasia and Big with Jeff Gillam.

Where was I?

Yes. Anna Chlumsky. She, randomly, turned up on tonight's 30 Rock as Liz Lemon's rival for the affections of Flower Guy, Liz Lemler (Lemler's flowers were sent to Lemon by mistake because they worked on the same floor). While Chlumsky was good, I was more bothered by trying to figure out who she was for the entire episode and then being impressed that she wasn't dead (just like today's children will be wondering whatever happened to Miley Cyrus). Her rough contemporaries are all out there, doing things, being chained to radiators in their panties and so on and so forth. So it's a fine moment for the Chlum to make her comeback.

But that wasn't all!

30 Rock continued its string of strong episodes with another solid collection of jokes and ridiculous plot lines. It maybe wasn't as strong as the last couple of weeks, but it was a good show, marred only by a couple of stale bits (the astronaut joke just proved that some things are TOO topical for humor) and a plotline that wasn't ever as funny as it could have been. I liked Nathan Lane as Jack's brother Eddie (and I'm not a big fan of Lane's work on film), and he and Alec Baldwin were good together, but the constant repetition of various Irish tropes and stereotypes reached the critical mass it needed to take off too late (roughly when the Donaghy men all revealed their fist names and Liz told Jack to punch his sister in the face). Still, so many of the one-liners interspersed throughout were funny enough to make the story pleasant enough.

More interesting was Liz's attempts to fire people, staring with the other Liz. Her meltdown from having a plan to firing her entire accounting staff highlighted just how much better Tina Fey has gotten as an actress in the course of one season (as did her recitation of her plan to Pete -- complete with that creepy little coda). I think she's probably just more comfortable within the confines of a sitcom and with this cast and that leaves her room to do her thing. Either that or she just realized she needed to raise her game to work with everyone else here. Either way, Fey has turned into a solid center for the show and an intriguingly feminine one (Fey's writing staff doesn't write Liz as just another man in a skirt -- common for female bosses on TV).

The Tracy runner about religion (quoted above) worked at giving us just the right dosage of Tracy and his wackiness. Tracy Morgan can carry a plot (as seen the week he went to the corporate meeting with jack), but he's almost better at doing these bizarre one-offs and strange gags. I laughed so much at "I believe vampires are the world's greatest golfers" that I missed the punchline, which was even better (I'll leave it to you to find out). That's the sort of thing Morgan does well (only Jack McBrayer's Kenneth compares in the cast), and I like how the writing staff is figuring out how to implement him.

It's all for naught though, because the show's going away for weeks 'n' weeks now. Catch up on it on the NBC Web site, so when it makes its triumphant return we can all watch it and laugh together, okay? I just. . .I need this show in my life right now. Like Chlumsky needed Culkin in that movie. Until he was killed by the bees, of course.

1 comment:

Nandu Machiraju said...

1) I don't know any of you, but your blog is amazing. As such, I'll be reading and will pass this along to others.

2) The Anna Chlumsky pick up is HUGE!

3) I agree that this wasn't the strongest 30 Rock. With the exception of Tracy Morgan's one liners in the scientology interview, I didn't think the episode had as many memorable quotes as previous weeks. Still, the show remains my favorite show on TV.