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30 Rock Fodder

30 Rock: The Head and The Hair

Jenna asks Liz whether she's going to ask out "The Head." Liz and Jenna explain to Pete (and viewers) that they refer to two "MSNBC guys" they've seen in the elevators at 30 Rock "The Head" and "The Hair" because one's a geek and the other's gorgeous.

I'm momentarily curious how they know the guys work for MSNBC, yet don't know their names. Maybe they've tracked which floor the guys get off the elevator on. Anyway, it might be a bad sign that random stupid questions like this are occurring to me before I've laughed at anything in the show.

Liz agrees to ask "The Head" out, in her ongoing effort to improve her personal life.

Jenna has changed into a French maid's outfit during their conversation. Liz's eyes widen.

Liz: No, the French maid-werewolf thing is cut. You're supposed to be Hilary Clinton right now.

Tina Fey, in her appearance on "The Daily Show," discussed her amazement that nobody ever walks into the Oval Office dressed as a hamburger (or something to that effect). And here it appears, to effect, in her show. Awesome.

Jack, meanwhile, is working on television programming, which he refers to as "one unpredictable assache." The shows sound freakishly like NBC's plans.

Jack tells Kenneth about the corporate "Bottoms-Up Day" in which Jack will be a page for a day. They fail completely to get adequate mileage out of the ridiculously possible term for the 5S-like training exercise. It's also strange that Jack and Kenneth spend the entire day together, rather than exchanging jobs and being shown the work by the appropriate assistant (Jonathan) and nearer-level supervisor.

In the C storyline, which this week is so weak I will mention it only this once, Tracy Jordan enlists Toofer and Frank to write his autobiography in a day because he's under the mistaken impression that it's due to a publisher. The funny bit in the story is that they use Wikipedia as a research source. For an autobiography.

Jack's first assignment as a page is to rub Tracy's snake's belly. He also gets yelled at by Josh about the salad he gets him, and cleans Brian Williams's dressing room.

Liz follows through on her attempt to ask out "The Head." She realizes in the middle of asking the receptionist to contact him that she doesn't know his name. But "The Hair" appears, saving her from that particular problem. We never do learn the name of "The Head," but "The Hair" says his own name is Gray. It turns out that he has a brain under that hair, and he jokes with Liz. Then he asks her out, and despite her confusion, she eventually accepts. She tells Jenna about this using a "Star Wars" metaphor, and admits that he's way out of her league.

Liz: Something is wrong with this. I have upset the natural balance of things.
Jack: Good morning, ladies. I'm making a coffee run. Would either of you care for anything?

In the progression of the Jack/Kenneth "Bottoms-Up" story, Jack offers to help Kenneth get a new job. To which Kenneth (Jack McBrayer) replies in the perfect old homily, "What? And leave show business? No, thank you." Jack tells him how awful the page job is.

Kenneth: I like this job.
Jack: Kenneth, this is not a job. This is an exercise in constant humiliation.
Kenneth: You're fired.

Liz looks and feels out of place at the Soho restaurant opening she's attending with Gray. (They're serving oxygen; one can empathize with Liz.) She calls Jenna, who's having a bad date of her own with "The Head." Liz bails on the party, but Gray runs after her. Liz voices the questions we all have.

Liz: OK,what's your game, friend?
Gray: Game? There's no game. What are you talking about?
Liz: I don't have any money, if that's what you're after. And I'm not one of those girls that does weird stuff in bed because they think they have to. If you're a gay guy looking for a beard, I don't do that anymore. And if you're trying to harvest my organs and sell them, I have an uncle who's a cop, so don't even try it.
Gray: Hey, we all have uncles who are cops, so just take it down a notch.

Liz tries to buy a bottle of water with a $100 bill (she complained earlier that an ATM gave her one, to set this up), and she and Gray agree that the small-bills-only policy of the guy running the convenience store (who's probably robbed weekly) is illegal and wrong, and they synchronize in their criticism of the clerk.

The cutaway prevents us from seeing whether they get the guy to take the C-note.

The next morning, Liz and Gray meet up outside 30 Rock. They evidently went back to the party. She thanks him for getting her to do something new. Then Gray convinces her to call in sick. She does, including faking vomiting noises. Jack walks up.

Jack: Lemon, you're looking a little under the weather. Maybe you should go home.

She leaves with Gray. Jack has a talk with Kenneth.

Jack: Kenneth, you and I actually have a lot in common. We're both hard workers. When I was your age, I was putting myself through college in Boston, paddling swan boats for the tourists.
Kenneth: Is that a euphemism for some kind of sex worker?

Kenneth gives a moving speech about his passion for television: "And more than jazz or musical theater or morbid obesity, television is the true American art form." Jack, who doesn't particularly understand or care for TV, which we know from the eight-second bit we saw earlier in the episode, asks Kenneth about programming.

Jack sets up a meeting with some creative executives for Kenneth to pitch his game show idea. Kenneth's compensation is to include a creator credit and a clock radio.

Liz, in Gray's beautiful apartment with an elevator that opens directly into the living room, recognizes a photograph of her great-aunt. They're related. So it ends, because comedy's easier when characters are miserable than when they're happy, but Gray does say, "You are a Hair, Liz Lemon." Which is sort of in the vicinity of a line that works.

Filming of "Gold Case" closes out the show, and when the weighty flaw in the idea becomes obvious, they cancel it.

Presumably, Kenneth gets to keep the clock radio, and becomes the official head of the pages. Typically, nobody thinks of loading the other cases with equal weights of lead, or putting all of the cases on tables. Even as I type this, I'm worried that some network now has this in the works.

The idea of turning the "30 Rock" world upside down was a great one, but it fell somewhat short in the execution.

I sense that I'm being harder on this episode because the "Scrubs" musical was so much fun. Which seems strange, given that I should've been a "warmed up" audience. But I'd rank this as one of the worst episodes of "30 Rock" to date. It's still better than most other current comedies, but it's not at the moment atop the pile.

Here's hoping next week marks the comeback.

Posted by on January 19, 2007 6:51 PM
Permalink |

Loved John McEnroe's cameo as the "Gold Case" host.

Thought this was a good episode, but dammit -- I want Liz to be happy. She deserves a hot guy!

And not to get off topic, but I am not sure what I thought of the "Scrubs" episode. It took guts, but it sort of freaked me out after a while!

-- Posted by: Rachel at January 19, 2007 9:18 PM

I gotta say - I didn't like the Pilot ep. I thought it was so weak and pandering to everything networks think as "funny" for sitcoms, but I've been watching eps online and the show has gotten WAY BETTER!

The ep with Isabella Rosellini and Paul Reubens were HYSTERICAL and I've always thought Alec Baldwin was comedy gold and he proves it every week!

-- Posted by: Connie at February 23, 2007 1:50 PM

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