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30 Rock? More like Dirty Sock! - The Book of the Celestial Cow

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June 25th, 2007


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11:41 pm - 30 Rock? More like Dirty Sock!
Although very few people seemed to be talking about it when it premiered, it seemed like everyone I knew was going bonkers over 30 Rock these last few months. But you know me; I am loathe to pick up new shows.

Then I was on an airplane and, being a captive audience, I went ahead and watched the episode they showed, which was pretty damn funny. The very next day, buffseeds linked this great pimping post in fandom_picspams. There were two things that stuck out: the fact that the main character, Liz Lemon, was apparently a big nerd who made Star Wars references all the time, and this exchange:

Liz Lemon: You're not gonna come to our crappy poker game, are you?
Jack Donaghy: No I'm not.
Lemon: Good.
Donaghy: I bluffed, yes I am coming.


That right there convinced me that 30 Rock and I would get along. (Okay, to be honest, I knew we would get along from the promo where Liz described a "talking like this contest." And, er, that joke doesn't translate in text.)

So I watched it all this weekend, and it was hilarious.

30 Rock = (Sports Night + Arrested Development)/Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. It's what Studio 60 should have been: an entertaining behind-the-scenes look at a sketch comedy show. It's much like Sports Night in the setup, with a great deal of the episode taking place inside the building with all the characters working on the show, although there isn't as much focus on making the show. It's very Arrested Development in its sense of humor, which is inappropriate and highly random (while it's not nearly as clever, it has its moments of brilliance).

"I wanna hold a mirror up to society. And then win world record for biggest mirror."

Lemme run through the characters, real quick.

Liz Lemon is totally adorable. She's terminally endearing with lettuce in her hair, and she has this cute cleavage that's not sexy but just there and cleavage-y, and she does in fact make Star Wars references all the time. She's the sort of chick you'd want to hang out with if she actually took the time to hang out with people. Much of the show is about her struggle to balance her professional life and personal life. And by balance I mean have a personal life.

"Dr. Spaceman, is it true that bread eats away at your brain?"
"We have no way of knowing, because the powerful bread lobby keeps stopping my research."
"Well, folks, bread will never maybe attack your brain again!"


Jack Donaghy is Liz's boss, and Alec Baldwin basically owns the part with his deadpan. Jack and Liz have a fun relationship, since he's not overtly an asshole; he's just trying to do what he thinks is best for other people.

"Damn, Jack, you went all out; that's a giant SHRIMP."
"Made out of shrimp, and diving into a
bowl of shrimp."

Jenna Maroney is Liz's long-time friend and star of The Girlie Show. She's basically Jane Krakowski's character from Ally McBeal in a new setting.

"Son, to have you, your mom must have been so stupid, she thinks Grape Nuts is an STD."
"Well, sir, your mother must not have raised you right, 'cause you're not saying very nice things!"


Tracy Jordan is the star of such hits as Who Dat Ninja and Honky Grandma Be Trippin', added to the show to boost ratings. Also, he's crazy. Literally. This can be annoying sometimes, but it gets toned down as the season progresses. Tracy gets some of the best lines in the show since he has no filter and will spout random nonsense when you least expect it. For example, his motto is "Live every week like it's Shark Week." Through him, the show gets to do a lot of race humor (while at the same time poking fun at race humor).

"If Kenneth could beat me, and you could beat Kenneth, then by the transitive property, you should beat me too!"

Pete is the producer and sort of a straight-man. Frank is notable for his hat, which says something different in every episode (and sometime every scene). Toofer is the stereotypical unstereotypical black guy. Lutz is fat. Josh is a young actor who acts young. Jack's Indian assistant is Indian by virtue of the actor but not written any differently, which I like. Cerie's entire purpose is to be ridiculously, inappropriately hot, and she succeeds admirably.

"My mother always told me that even when things seem bad, there's someone else who's having a worse day, like being stung by a bee. Or getting a splinter. Or being chained to a wall in someone's sex dungeon."

And then there's Kenneth, the Secondary Character Who Steals the Show. Kenneth is a page, naive as a button. It took me a long time to realize he reminded me of Randy from My Name Is Earl, since they have a similar brand of funny. But whereas Randy always seems to be out of it and not really aware of what he's saying, Kenneth is fully confident of himself, which makes it a different kind of funny. At first, he seems unreal, but they add some subtleties to his character that make him more plausible as a human being.

"And I have an idea about a show about a teacher named Art. I call that one Art School. And one about a Jewish guy who opens an ice cream parlor. That one's called Ice Cream Coen. And a drama about two cops, one named Cash, and one named Carrey. I don't have a title for that one."

I like the absurd, off-the-wall pseudoreality of the world (like I said, rather Arrested Development-ish) that allows for hilarious recurring characters like Dr. Spaceman, who, like most characters on the show, is played by someone from SNL. I like the bits of satire of the television industry. I like jokes about mathematical logic. I don't think the secondary characters (with the exception of Kenneth, of course) are all that strong, however, and they're fairly underdeveloped. It doesn't really start to have anything resembling an arc until the last few episodes of the season, and I hope that continues into the second season, since this is a show that would do well with continuity-based humor. It doesn't have a lot of depth to it, even though it's really very entertaining and funny. I don't agree with people who put it up there with The Office; it's not there yet. It's probably at the level of first-season My Name Is Earl or thereabouts, although MNIE has more cleverly plotted scripts.

Basically, I don't love 30 Rock so much I want to take it out behind a middle school and get it pregnant, but I definitely want to make out with it. Maybe even get to second base.
Current Mood: aggravatedthere's a moth in my room
Current Music: Snake River Conspiracy - She Said She Said

(25 memoirs | Describe me as "inscrutable")

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:cerulgalactus
Date:June 26th, 2007 07:05 am (UTC)
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You can't make out with my NonSitcomComedyGirlfriend. But you may watch while I do.

Seriously, good to have you on board.
[User Picture]
From:dlgood
Date:June 26th, 2007 10:18 am (UTC)
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Jack (re:Kenneth): In five years, we'll either all be wroking for him... or dead by his hand.
[User Picture]
From:kibarika
Date:June 26th, 2007 10:21 am (UTC)
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30 Rock is my casual lunch friend, only because of my TiFaux laziness. I'll have to go back and make it a friend-I-email-every-once-in-a-while friend, and then perhaps it could become a we-get-together-once-a-week friend. I've enjoyed what I've seen, though I find Baldwin slightly grating.
[User Picture]
From:kibarika
Date:June 26th, 2007 10:21 am (UTC)
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P. S. Kenneth? So very a possible human being. He reminds me of lots of people I know. Yes, Southerners really ARE like that.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 26th, 2007 03:15 pm (UTC)
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Look, lady, just because I end up mainlining series eventually doesn't mean I don't resist as long as I possibly can.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:latropita
Date:June 26th, 2007 12:40 pm (UTC)
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asically, I don't love 30 Rock so much I want to take it out behind a middle school and get it pregnant, but I definitely want to make out with it. Maybe even get to second base.
I kind of hope this is a reference, and not some heretofore unknown middle school fetish of yours. Because it's a felony.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 26th, 2007 02:44 pm (UTC)
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It is, indeed, a reference.
[User Picture]
From:sophia_helix
Date:June 26th, 2007 02:07 pm (UTC)
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See, by the end of this season 30 Rock was much funnier on a regular basis than The Office was (not in specificity, just in general), because TO was bent on crushing my heart into tiny crumbs. (My heart. Just mine.) And watching 30 Rock from the beginning and being really dubious and watching Studio 60 completely tank made it all the more surprising and delightful when it became hilarious -- it's all about the Gerhardt Haspburg episode.

It is not my favorite show, but right now I am giving it AD's neglected crown of "Funniest, in the Most Horrible, Soul-Destroying Way Possible."
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 26th, 2007 03:07 pm (UTC)
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Oddly enough, the previews with Gerhardt Hapsburg made me want to stay away, since I didn't really find that character funny at all. He was better in the context of the show (the dance scene was especially amusing). "Twirl! Twirl again!"

30 Rock was definitely improved by the end of the season, but I was a little dismayed that I couldn't just open up an episode and click randomly to stumble upon a hilarious line to quote in this post. It took way more effort than I expected it to. I am skeptical of the claims of a higher laugh/minute ratio. I agree that 30 Rock does not crush anyone's heart into tiny crumbs. It's just too light for that. Which isn't a knock, per se, but it's why I think The Office is a better show, and I actually appreciate it more now for being able to juggle the comedy and drama so well.

I love your icon. It's very cute.
[User Picture]
From:jeeperstseepers
Date:June 26th, 2007 02:37 pm (UTC)
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I love 30 Rock. There are still a couple of mid-season eps I haven't seen because of Dissertation business.

You know what bit really stands out to me for some reason? Liz's flashback to the previous night's Aweseomest Uno Win Ever.

I don't find Jenna funny at all and like that she's used less near the end of the season.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 26th, 2007 02:47 pm (UTC)
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Aw, I didn't know you were a 30 Rock fan. Neat.
[User Picture]
From:magnolia888
Date:June 26th, 2007 07:19 pm (UTC)
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I don't love 30 Rock like I love The Office, no.

But frequently I find myself laughing more at 30 Rock, so it may be funnier, at least towards the end of the season. (Except for the finale, which I wasn't crazy about.) I definitely prefer 30 Rock to MNIE, which I dropped from my SP list.

Jack's video outtakes (from "Jack-tor") may have been the funniest scene of any show this season.

Is any of this usable?
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 26th, 2007 08:06 pm (UTC)
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"Maybe if I had a coffee mug in each hand, it'd be more natural."

What didn't you like about the finale?

I'm sorry you dropped MNIE, because the second half of the season was really awesome. They started breaking formula, and it was genius.
[User Picture]
From:magnolia888
Date:June 26th, 2007 10:47 pm (UTC)
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I just found the finale to be a big disappointment, with that inane subplot about Kenneth's cousin.

By the hammer of Thor, I was expecting more. Blerg.

But when I think of Jack's Thomas Jefferson on Maury routine, I start to laugh all over again, so it makes up for it. Every episode should have Jack-as-Jefferson flipping off the Maury audience. That was absurd. And absurdly funny.

I love so much about the things Jack chooses to be. (Leaving out Alec Baldwin's issues, because *lalalalala* I don't care to think about that so long as he's playing Jack and making me laugh.)
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 26th, 2007 10:52 pm (UTC)
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"And Academy Award-watcher Tracy Jordan!"
[User Picture]
From:dgriswold
Date:June 26th, 2007 09:05 pm (UTC)
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The Office is a better show than 30 Rock, but 30 Rock makes me laugh a LOT more. Most of it's fairly low-level laughing, though, whereas The Office makes me laugh in a thinky way.

Mostly, though, The Office makes me laugh as a side note to the drama. It's a dramedy these days, like Ugly Betty or Freaks and Geeks. 30 Rock is straight up side-splitting comedy.
[User Picture]
From:miniglik
Date:June 27th, 2007 02:23 am (UTC)
(Link)
(Okay, to be honest, I knew we would get along from the promo where Liz described a "talking like this contest." And, er, that joke doesn't translate in text.)


The one episode we watched had that line in it, and J uses it all the time now. All the time. Heh.


How was the doctor's appointment?
[User Picture]
From:beeker121
Date:June 27th, 2007 03:30 am (UTC)
(Link)
I haven't talked about this much because it's so name-droppery, but I went to college with Jack McBrayer who plays Kenneth. It cracks me up that he is totally wasting his theatre business degree. (He ASM'd for me for a show in college.) But he is a sweet, polite, southern gentleman, with a wicked sense of humor. I started watching 30 Rock for him, and was delighted to discover I really liked the show too. Whee!
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 27th, 2007 03:35 am (UTC)
(Link)
OMG! That's so cool! I have not gone to college with anyone famous. Except Niels from Beauty and the Geek.

I did not know theatre business was a degree.
[User Picture]
From:beeker121
Date:June 27th, 2007 03:59 am (UTC)
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I know! I've been having fun watching the show and simply geeking out that Jack is doing so well.

Theatre business is a not very common degree, about wanting to manage a box office or become a managing director of a theatre. Most people doing those jobs fell into it accidentally and worked their way up instead of going to school for it.
[User Picture]
From:thetheatremouse
Date:June 27th, 2007 04:54 am (UTC)
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Did you see the one where Liz and Pete have a sweet walk-and-talk?

(and, um, hi)
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 27th, 2007 05:04 am (UTC)
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Yes.

Hello, stranger.
[User Picture]
From:soleta_nf
Date:June 29th, 2007 01:12 am (UTC)
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I love this show too. I've only seen the first half of the season though. I have to download the rest when I get home!

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