'30 Rock' recap: Season 5, here we go!
No one could ever fairly accuse the writing team at “30 Rock” of beating around the bush. Here’s what we learned in the first three minutes of tonight’s season premiere: Jack and Avery are blissfully happy together, Liz and Carol are going strong despite their infrequent visits, Tracy’s still insane, and Liz is in need of a new lady doctor. The explication out of the way, it was time to move on. To quote Liz, “Season 5, here we come!”
I’m thrilled that “Javery” not only lasted the summer, but is thriving. My only complaint? I wish Jack would keep his off-duty beard. Jack and Avery are crazy about each other, and not even spats about vintage wallpaper versus Benjamin Moore paint colors -- the bane of upwardly mobile couples the world over -- can squelch their passion for one another. Not to get too Freudian here, but isn’t it interesting that for all his macho posturing, Jack loves Avery even more once he finds out she beat him at his own Fabius maneuver? That he, in fact, likes to be vanquished by his girlfriend -- and not the other way around?
I did find it curious that no one mentioned the little Donaghy growing in Avery’s womb. By my precise calculations, she should be about five months along by now, so I’m guessing their four-week jaunt on Paul Allen’s yacht might have been a babymoon (which makes the image of Jack and Avery “making love” on the beach surrounded by British butlers all the more disturbing). Let’s hope that next week, we at least get to see Avery -- and her baby bump too. Speaking of which, I’m looking forward to the fun “30 Rock” has with this plot line. Avery’s famous, so I’m hoping -- and expecting -- that “30 Rock” will manage to poke a little fun at the celebrity-baby industrial complex. Perhaps Avery will pose on the cover of Star, a mere two weeks after giving birth, claiming the 20 pounds of baby weight just melted off from breastfeeding -- but we’ll know the truth, that she’ll be back on the treadmill within five minutes of cutting the umbilical cord. Or maybe Jack will gain some sympathy weight and become workout buddies with Liz. In any case, I’m excited to see how “30 Rock” will handle a cozier, domestic scenario.
Jack’s always been the office sage on “30 Rock,” and it appears that his romantic bliss only makes him more so. When Liz tells Jack about her long-distance relationship with Carol, he gets a little Dr. Phil and tells it to her straight: Sleeping with someone twice a month doesn’t make you someone’s girlfriend, it makes you a hooker. And of course, beneath the sarcasm, Jack is right. If Liz wants a real, adult relationship, she can’t keep Carol at arm’s length. That means sleepovers at her apartment -- not the local Starwin hotel -- and a willingness to deal with his altitude-induced crying jags, too.
But seriously, why wouldn’t she want a relationship with Carol? He’s darn-near perfect, by which I mean “a male version of Liz.” He loves “The Barefoot Contessa,” sweater weather, Muppets at awards; he hates Geico’s unorthodox branding tactics; and he’d rather wear a shirt made of Liz’s pubic hair than be single for the rest of his life. If that's not devotion, I don't know what is.
Oh and, in case you didn't catch it, Liz tells Carol, “See you on October 14th.” The next time Carol's back in town is -- no coincidence here -- the same day that “30 Rock” will be broadcast live. You've got to hand it to Matt Damon, who could have breezed in for an afternoon, muttered a few self-deprecating lines and earned his "funny" badge, and gone back to making blockbuster action movies. Instead, he's signed up for the Tour de France of guest spots.
Matt, I love you like it's 1998.
Best line of the night: “I’m a bear and I’m a daddy. I’m a daddy bear.” -- Jack
Extent of Liz Lemon's humiliations: Minimal, and entirely self-inflicted (example: Life Alert necklace, preference for staying in chain hotels with free Internet rather than in her own apartment)
Jack's conservative streak: “She's perfect, like a young Bo Derek stuffed with a Barry Goldwater.”
Least PC joke: It's a tie between the fact that Carol is flying from Newark to Atlantic City for a “black bachelorette party,” and his confession that he was “touched by a priest.”
Smarty-pants reference: Liz and Carol bond over the fact that they both have the exact same idea about what to do with Palestine. (Liz: “It would work, right?” Carol: “Of course it would work!”)
Jenna's diva behavior: She takes a hands-on approach to her contractually obligated role as a producer. “A line-item budget! I love this -- it takes people and turns them into an amount of money.”
Quintessential Kenneth: The page (who now works at -- GASP! -- CBS) throws himself in front of a cab to prove to Tracy he’s not an apparition. It did the trick, but Tracy just shrugged and walked off with Kenneth’s “Mentalist” tote.
Something I'd like to know more about: “It was so warm, you could pluck cooked lobsters out of the water.” -- Jack
Most absurd Tracyism: “Come back home to TGS and pick the peas out of my fried rice. And the rice. I just like the carrots.” -- Tracy
Guest stars: Matt Damon!
So, what did you think? It's good to have the gang back, isn't it? Any predictions for the coming season? Will “Javery” and “Larol” go the distance?
-- Meredith Blake
Photo: Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) shares some quality time with boyfriend Carol (Matt Damon).
Credit: Ali Goldstein / NBC