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'30 Rock': Liz meets her future husband (we hope)

March 12, 2010 | 10:45 am

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It’s been a long “30 Rock”-free month (thanks a lot, you selfish Olympians!) ,so I'm going to start out by saying something bold: I’d like to see Liz Lemon maintain an adult relationship.

It’s a controversial desire, but it probably shouldn’t be. I know, I know, part of Liz’s charm is her perpetual adolescence, her utter haplessness in matters of romance, personal finance and nutrition. And that part of the appeal of sitcoms is that the characters never really change: Fonzie loves the ladies, Phoebe is a ditz.  

But come on, people. If you’re reading this blog, you probably know that Tina Fey is happily married, appears in American Express ads, and is totally skinny. Even her fictional counterpart, Liz Lemon, is the head writer on a network television show. Obviously, Fey's character has something going for her; can’t she finally land a dude?

So when it turned out that, under the influence of various painkillers, Liz had met someone wonderful enough to be listed as “Future Husband” in her iPhone, my hopes were flying high. She and Future Husband -- aka Wesley (Michael Sheen) had a promising, maybe even adorable, start. They (re)meet cute in the dentist's office and decide to go out for coffee. But things quickly went pear-shaped, as Wesley might have put it.  

Sample dialogue:

"Like when they say that older women have bread back?"

"What's that?"

"A loaf of backfat between a woman's bra and her giant underwear."

"That's not a thing. People don't say that."

"Not to you."

Yikes. I suppose it’s funny that Liz is cursed in the love department, but couldn’t she still be funny even with a boyfriend? Just-cast Bill Nighy and Brenda Blethyn as Liz’s future in-laws send her on a trip to London, and let the hilarity ensue. Liz’s spinsterhood is usually funny (especially when she’s mistaking frozen waffles for DVDs of movies starring Nicole Kidman), and surely we can all relate to her insecurities, but as time goes on, the whole Bridget Jones gambit is becoming less convincing.

I also felt like the wonderful Sheen was underused in this episode. I was worried that after Wesley’s supremely awkward date with Liz, we might not see more of him. Luckily, Wesley found Kenneth’s wallet (maybe it was fate after all?). And if NBC’s publicity photos (or IMDB, for that matter) are any indication, it looks like Sheen will reprise his role as Wesley next week. So maybe Liz did meet her future husband after all?

While we’re on the topic of romance, Jack and Avery (Elizabeth Banks) seem to be taking it to the proverbial next level. Jack was in a panic over rumors that a company called Kabletown was going to buy NBC from Sheinhardt (sound familiar?), and that he was going to be left out in the cold. Jack’s paranoia went into overdrive once he found out that his beloved mentor, Don Geiss, had actually passed away and that his death was being kept secret while the Kabletown deal was finalized. Liz provided comfort in the form of a “hug plane,” but it was the savvy Avery who really came to the rescue: on her influential “Hot Box” show, she says Jack’s “the only guy out there with the programming experience, business savvy, piercing blue eyes of a Siberian husky that the job requires.” 

Lo and behold, his phone starts ringing instantaneously. More so than some of Jack’s previous relationships, this one seems remarkably convincing. The appeal of “30 Rock” isn’t its verisimilitude, but convincing chemistry never hurt a show, did it?  Still, I’m thinking Avery might be the one to walk away from Jack.  

Even Tracy and Jenna have formed their own special platonic partnership this season, between the “Problem Solvers” and this week’s acting lessons. So isn’t it time Liz had some meaningful companionship -- other than Kenneth?

So, Show Trackers, what do you think? Do you think Liz and Wesley have a fighting chance as a couple? Will Avery end up breaking Jack’s heart?

Funniest joke: I loved how Liz's Jamaican accent morphed into an Irish one, though for me, it’s usually Chinese to Irish. I wonder how many takes it took for Fey to get it right?

Best pun: “Tracy’s Claps-giving Yay Ha-Rade!” was clearly genius, but there was something about the simplicity of “Geiss Cubes” (full of “cubes of knowledge”) that did it for me.  

Most insane Tracyism:
"Pacman, I’m Jewish!"

Something I’d like to know more about: Jack’s talent for braiding hair.

Quintessential Kenneth:
"We all know deceit is OK if it’s done for love, like when Lot’s daughters got him drunk to repopulate the world through incest, or when Screech went to the masquerade ball so Lisa would kiss him."

Liz’s bad eating habits: While recovering from her root canal, Liz’s one and only concern is how soon she can resume eating hard cheeses.

Jenna the diva: She tells Tracy that she’s been trying to get the Tony Awards to add a category for “living theatrically in everyday life.”

Most meta moment:  In an episode that was about as meta as it gets (hello, Jack Welch), there was still one particular moment that stood out. And that would be when Liz asked, "Where's Frank? He still hasn’t written this Olympic skit about Lindsay Vonn winning the gold medal for skiing." Only the “Lindsey Vonn” and “gold medal for skiing” parts were delivered via voice-over, as Liz opened and closed her mouth lifelessly. Get it? Maybe you had to be there? Point being, it wasn’t just the usual NBC-Sheinhardt-Universal joke, but one about the process of writing a TV show filled with topical jokes about being a show on NBC.  So very meta.

Guest stars: Michael Sheen, former GE chief Jack Welch, Brian Williams, Elizabeth Banks

-- Meredith Blake (follow me on Twitter @MeredithBlake)

Photo: Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) talks mergers and acquisitions with Avery Jessup (Elizabeth Banks). Credit: Ali Goldstein / NBC

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