'30 Rock' recap: 'When it Rains, it Pours'
As "30 Rock" fans already know, Jack Donaghy is a man of wisdom. In this episode, suddenly acutely aware of his own mortality (thanks to Liz's "old Dad" comment) Jack sets to recording every single piece of advice he can think of for his unborn son. The nuggets of wisdom came to us in quick spurts, and I got the sense that the "30 Rock" writers must have enjoyed themselves with this project, much like Tracy's repressed memories last season ("I once bit into a burrito, and there was a child's shoe in it!"). I'd love to see what didn't make the cut. Perhaps a nice DVD extra, NBC? A few of my favorites:
-- "The secret to a strong healthy head of hair is dove blood."
-- "I may not be there for your wedding. But allow me to give you one piece of fatherly advice. Do not hire Sting to play at the reception. He’ll insist on doing jazz versions of Police songs. It’s just … demoralizing."
-- "The Donaghys orginally come from Ireland's little-known County Seethe where, historically, we were whiskey testers and goblins."
Liz has also reached her own kind of enlightenment: All of a sudden, she's attractive to strange men on the street, men who can't seem to stop telling her how much they want to put her feet in their mouth. It is, I am afraid, a phase every woman must go through. Liz is confused at first, but Jenna explains it. Liz was always sort of attractive, "like a pretty refugee on the news," but now that she's in a stable relationship, she's not emanating negativity the way she used to. And that makes her catnip to men. Liz decides to work her new-found power. She's not going to hide her light under a bushel; no, she's going to toss her head back in an exaggerated Julia Roberts laugh. And guess what? It works. Liz is even able to charm Richie (guest star Paul Giamatti), the mercurial, mole-like Islanders fan who works in the edit room, and help him win over his beloved, assistant editor Donna. Last season, I began to feel that sad sack Liz just wasn't that funny anymore, and I'm glad that Liz's happiness has actually just made her funnier -- like in her "you've been to Canada" scene with Richie. I'm hoping that Giamatti will reprise his role as Richie, which reminded of me of his performance in "American Splendor."
Even Tracy proved himself something of a sage this week. On his way to the hospital for the birth of his daughter, Tracy unwittingly becomes a contestant on "Cash Cab." (I know two people who've been on the show, and I have been boning up on geography for years now, awaiting my own turn). I expected Tracy's appearance to be a dismal failure, but with Tracy, you've got to expect the unexpected. It turns out he's sort of a trivia whiz. Not that he knows the facts, per se, but that he's able to connect the dots in a way that is uniquely his own.
All in all, this was a stellar episode. Tracy, Liz and Jack each had storylines that allowed them to strut their comedic stuff, and the guest appearance by Giamatti felt like an organic extension of the "30 Rock" world, not a fleeting distraction. (I still haven't recovered from Padma Lakshmi incident last season).
What did you think?
Best line of the night: Tie!
"She is an orca, Benjamin!" --Tracy
"Your new vibe is a double-edged sword. Much like the kind Mickey Rourke tried to kill me with." --Jenna
Extent of Liz Lemon's humiliations: Except for the Kiss FM cowboy hat, negative. Remember, when it rains, it pours!
Jack's conservative streak: “Shel Silverstein is a communist.”
Least PC joke: "It's a CD of some Civil War songs I thought you might like, but it’s very authentic, so don’t play it around your black friends." --Richie
Smarty-pants reference: Grizz is reading a book called "Urban Fervor" by Kevin Grisham.
Jenna's diva behavior: "We all make sacrifices Liz; I had to be at work at this morning at 11 o’clock.”
Quintessential Kenneth: "I was trapped, just like the time I was cleaning my closet and my mom and her friend Ron came in and took one of their grunting naps on the bed."
Something I'd like to know more about: “Abu Dhabi. I know that because if I go back there, I will be executed.” -- Tracy
Most absurd Tracyism: “Why's that baby covered with goop?” -- Tracy
Guest stars: Paul Giamatti, Brian Williams, Andrea Mitchell, Ben Bailey
-- Meredith Blake
Photo: Angie (Sherri Shepherd) gives birth, while Kenneth Parcell (Jack McBrayer) poses as Tracy and Dr. Spaceman (Chris Parnell) assists. Credit: Ali Goldstein/NBC