'30 Rock': It's Anna Howard Shaw Day!
One word: Oral. Two words: Oral surgery.
Last night, Liz decided that the pain of a root canal was nothing compared to the pain of an unmedicated Valentine’s Day, so she opted for some routine, excruciatingly painful oral surgery rather than spend the day alone, eating junk food. As any woman who has been single on this most loathsome of holidays will tell you, it was a perfectly reasonable decision. Liz's plan was foolproof except for one big ol' wrinkle: She needed someone to pick her up after the surgery, since she would be doped out of her gourd. Talk about adding insult to injury.
Unfortunately for Liz, this meant she had to beg basically the entire TGS staff to pick her up, but to no avail; even Frank had V-Day plans. Liz eventually signed a sad single woman waiver (after discussing the fine print with eternally youthful guest star, Jon Bon Jovi) and stumbled out of surgery in a drug-induced stupor with dried blood on her teeth. In this hallucinogenic state, she mistook three Jamaican nurses for her ex-boyfriends, and a potted plant for Jon Bon Jovi. Come to think of it, there is kind of a resemblance, no?
It was a more traditional Valentine’s Day for Jack and his new love interest, CNBC host Avery Jessup -- think of her as a blonder, bitchier version of Erin Burnett. Jack appeared on her show, “Hot Box,” and in one of the most dazzling exchanges I’ve ever seen on “30 Rock,” they fell instantly for one another while the cameras rolled. After some lackluster female guest stars this season — I’m talking to you, Padma — Elizabeth “You Taste Like Burger” Banks’ appearance was a breath of fresh, sassy air. Maybe I’m already partial to Banks (anyone who has seen “Wet Hot American Summer” should understand why) but she might be my favorite of Jack's girlfriends so far. Banks has both the intelligence and the comic timing to match Baldwin’s, an exceedingly rare killer combo.
The "30 Rock" formula is always pretty much the same: There's an A plot, a B plot and a C plot. It's rare that the three plot lines are equally strong, but this week they were. Even Jenna's stalker problem, which could easily have fallen flat, was very funny (I particularly like the doll heads in her fridge). This was a stellar episode, and it was especially enjoyable after last week’s ho-hum installment and before “30 Rock” goes on a forced hiatus during the Winter Olympics.
My only complaint? Coulda used more Jon Hamm. But that’s true of basically everything, from “30 Rock” to “Mad Men” to what I like to call “my life," so I've included this picture. Savor it.
Oh and in case you were wondering, Anna Howard Shaw was a real person, but as far as I can tell, Jezbah Romney is not.
Even by “30 Rock” standards, this was an unusually rich, dense episode: a flourless chocolate cake of comedy, if you will. Here are a few of the finest zingers.
Funniest Joke: The rapid-fire "Countdown" between Avery and Jack had me laughing out loud (in the literal sense) and also rewinding several times. The exchange was so brilliant, I feel the need to duplicate it in its entirety.
Avery: After Dubai, what's the next credit crisis?
Jack: The Baltics or women’s tennis.
Avery: Do we need a second bailout?
Avery: I love it! (to other guest) Try to get in there, Beta Dog. (to Jack:) Who will be the next president of these United States?
Avery and Jack in unison: Mitt Romney oldest son, Jezbah.
Avery: Who's No. 1 on your speed dial?
Jack: Blackberry, Warren Buffett; iPhone Jimmy Buffett. (for the record, this may have been my favorite joke ever in the history of the universe)
Avery: Favorite movie?
Jack: Tie: "The Fountainhead" or "Uncle Buck" (actually no, it's this one)
Avery's Republican Talking Point: Introducing a guest on her show, she says "Also joining us, Walter Stein, whose bow tie tells us he works for some liberal think tank."
...and Jack's: "And the food in his beard tells us he purchased a snack pack on the train from New Haven."
Liberal Self-Loathing: "Hot Box" panelist Walter Stein (the one in the bow tie) predicts that Dennis Kucinich will be the next president, and the last movie he saw was "The Yellow Handkerchief".
Best Tracyism: "I'm Tyke Myson, baby boxer." (wearing a baby bonnet and some boxing gloves for a TGS skit)
Jenna the Diva: She tells Maynard, her retired stalker, "I always knew this would end some day, I just thought it would be with me in the trunk of a rental car."
Quintessential Kenneth: He steps in to fill the void left by Jenna's stalker, leaving her a poison pen letter that says, "I want to eat your boogers."
Just because: "Doug is my vibrator." --Jenna
What did you think? Is Avery Jack's best girlfriend so far?
--Meredith Blake (follow me on Twitter @MeredithBlake)
Photos: Top, Liz (Tina Fey) puts the moves on Jon Bon Jovi, or so she thinks; Bottom, Drew (Jon Hamm), Dennis (Dean Winters) and Floyd (Jason Sudeikis) show up to escort Liz home from the dentist's office, or so she thinks.
Credit: Ali Goldstein/NBC