I’ve been sick this week so last night I watched Thursday television through a groggy cough syrup haze. My head cold, combined with the absence of Parks and Rec, made it one of the weaker Thursdays we’ve had in a while.
(Semi-related: I spent a good part of my sick day trying to shove my cats’ faces into pieces of bread. Thanks, Bobby.)
Without P&R, 30 Rock’s Valentine’s Day show was stretched to a busy 60 minutes, and the full hour allowed time for every character to have a legit story. Liz is still with Criss, who suggests a nice Valentine’s Day date. Our unlucky-in-love Liz is unenthused because of her crappy history with the holiday. She flashbacks to having a gun pointed at her by Matt Damon, trying to make out with a plant in a Novocaine stupor, and this:
Liz agrees to having dinner at home on the condition that they eat at a real table, meaning they have to go, as a couple, to IKEA. (I go to that gigantic Scandinavian stress factory plenty often because I’m a poor in a mid-sized city, but why would a successful New Yorker shop there? I don’t get it.) Things turn south once they enter the store and are greeted with “SILENCE PRISONER. I mean, hello.”
Avery Jessup’s mother, played by Mary Steenburgen, shows up to help Jack haggle with the UN to get Avery out of North Korea. At the UN offices, both are disgusted by soccer magazines and that people say “14:30” instead of 2:30. They meet with a Transylvanian representative (i.e. vampire) who gets talking about how annoying it is that Bono never throws in for pizza. They threaten not to release any more episodes of Friends to Romania if he doesn’t pitch in. Count Chokula, who has just gotten to the part where Chandler and Monica sleep together, is scared.
I think I first saw Mary Steenburgen as the slutty neighbor lady in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and she’s been locked into that persona ever since. As she and Jack become friendly, and then attracted to one another, I was just like “Well yeah, she WOULD be like that. So Steenburgen.”
In the C - G stories: Jenna has swiped Pete to produce her singing segment on America’s Kids Got Singing, but her voice goes out. They visit Dr. Spaceman, who points out that “if those teeth were on your vagina you’d be considered a monster!” She ends up nailing the performance when Pete shoots her with an arrow. Lutz, like Liz, is trying to break his horrible Valentine’s Day failure streak. Tracy and Frank, who are in relationships and unable to use their skuzzy tricks to pick up damaged women, help Lutz out with tips like asking a black woman walking out of a hair salon where white ladies work what is wrong, and mixing up sizes on bikinis to make women feel fat and bad about themselves. Gross. Kenneth is sharing tips with new page Hazel who doesn’t think it’s fun when Tracy throws cereal at her, although she is rightly impressed to see Liz at home eating mashed potatoes out of a martini glass. "Who are you - the President? Of France??"
WHEW. SO. This episode was funny, but it was also exhausting, and I don’t think it’s just my head cold talking. 30 Rock works better in 30 minute blasts, when the characters that are not featured just get awesome one-liners. I mean, not everybody needs to have a Thing going on all the time.
And I’d mentioned last week that there could be more said about the boss/employee relationship between Jack and Liz. Leave it to the good folks at NPR to tackle that for us in this article about Liz’s character’s regression into a little girl. While I don’t wholly agree with its thesis because, 1. I think Jack barges into Liz's life more often than she asks for, and 2. Liz might be getting more stubborn as she ages, but not dumber, it’s worth a read because reading about television on the internet is always a good time. ALWAYS.
Not bad! Actually, better than I’ve seen in a while. Less Jim Halpert and more Erin and Andy and Stanley and Ryan is good for this show.
Up All Night
Tussin kicked in halfway through and I went to bed but I don’t feel like a missed a lot. Am I wrong?
Man, I guess I'm kind of a hater when Parks and Recreation isn't in the line-up to make me all love and unicorns. It really is the best show.
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