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30 Rock Fodder

30 Rock: Cleveland

As of the time I publish this, the bigger news than whether this episode was funnier than last week’s (it was, considerably), is Alec Baldwin’s phone rant to his daughter Ireland, his refusal to discuss this with the press, the accusation by Alec’s spokesperson that Kim Basinger leaked the voicemail, and the fact that this might imperil Alec’s visitation rights with Ireland.

What does this have to do with “30 Rock?” Nothing, I hope. I’m sure there will be those who find themselves unable to watch the show anymore, because of this association with Alec Baldwin. But I assume those same people probably quit watching back in November when Tracy Morgan pleaded guilty to misdemeanor DUI charges. Or maybe they never even started watching, because of Tracy’s first DUI bust. Maybe guest stars like Paul Reubens and Rip Torn, with their legal troubles, kept them away. Or maybe Tina Fey’s tirade on Howard Stern’s show about Paris Hilton was simply enough to turn them off.

What I’m saying is this:

1. Everyone has a point at which they are unable to separate the artist from their work. I think that’s completely valid, particularly with something like how Alec spoke to his child, which might touch a painful chord for some people, or in the case of Tracy Morgan, whose DUI might remind them of personal tragedy.

2. On the other hand, if we start dismissing all entertainment by artists whose actions we disapprove of, we might as well give up entertainment entirely. I’m not saying that artists are beyond accountability for their actions, but I would question why our society is so quick to condemn them. Does anyone really think Alec Baldwin is the only person who ever yelled at their child? Or that Paul Reubens is the only person who ever performed a sexual act in an inappropriate location? Or that Tracy Morgan and Rip Torn are the only two who ever drank and then drove? I’m guessing that if we were all completely honest, we might admit to bouts of temper, rash acts, poor judgment, inappropriate comments, prejudices – need I go on?

No. I need to get to my review.

Liz & Floyd: Moving to the Sub-blurgs?

Liz and Floyd, with a Real Estate agent, look over a fancy apartment.

Liz: By the Hammer of Thor! Can you afford this place?

If Floyd gets that new promotion, yes.

Floyd: I could hang a huge TV right there. You could get that third humidifier you’ve always dreamed about.

Liz thinks it’s great, but isn’t ready to move her humidifier yet. “Someday,” she says.

A man walks in, accompanied by his son. He waves his hand around.

Sheik: I’ll take this one too. My son Ahmed will keep his motorcycles here.
Agent: Oh!
(To Floyd and Liz.)
Agent: Thanks for coming.
She snatches the brochure from Liz’s hand.

Back in Jack’s office, Liz admires the horse painting hanging where the picture of the microwave oven used to be. Jack and Phoebe return, fresh from Paris.

Phoebe: I’m Phoebe, we met before. Jack proposed to me outside your office? I have hollow bones? Like a bird?

Liz remembers. Phoebe excuses herself to go deal with a collection of Chinese erotica.

Jack: Pick out a good one for me.

Liz asks Jack if he’s set a date. May 18. (Bianca’s wedding date.) He doesn’t believe in wasting time for love. He wants Liz and Phoebe to get along, and suggests they have a Girl’s Day Out with Jenna (Hooray! Jenna’s back!), and gives Liz his gold card to cover all expenses.

Jack finds Floyd before his final job interview. Jack has put in the good word, and is certain that Floyd will be chosen. The only other candidate is named Allen Garkle; surely the name of a loser, no? No. Allen exits the elevator, post-interview. He’s black. And in a wheelchair.

Jack: No. You’re not going to beat that.
Garkle wheels by.
Jack: Well-played, Garkle.

Liz, Phoebe and Jenna go to lunch. Liz explains “Caddyshack” to Phoebe, but to no avail. Liz’s phone rings; Phoebe recognizes "Ride of the Valkyries."

Phoebe: Oh, you like Wagner.
Liz: No, I like Elmer Fudd.
Jenna sings, quickly joined by Liz.
Jenna: Kill da wabbit, kill da wabbit, kill -
Phoebe: My parents were both poets, so I don’t really get it. So…

Liz tries smalltalk. Phoebe quickly gets to the point.

Phoebe: Look, I know what you must be thinking. What kind of woman marries a man she hardly knows? What is she after?

Liz tries to turn it into a joke, given that she’s been dating Floyd for a month and still doesn’t have a ring. But all she gets in return is real sympathy.

Jenna: How “Sex & the City” are we? I’m Samantha. (To Phoebe) You’re Charlotte. (To Liz) And you’re the lady at home who watches it.


The Ladies Who Lunch go shopping. Jenna stumbles around the store, trying on lingerie willy-nilly, but Liz is more discerning.

Liz: Yikes! If I wanted to spend $600 to have my boobs pinched, I would have gone to that fundraiser at the Clinton’s house.
Phoebe is unamused.
Liz: Come on! That was solid.
She raises her hand for a high-five.

Phoebe changes the subject to her and Jack’s sex life. It’s bad. “Jack fell asleep on her in Paris” kind of bad. But still, can she have that credit card please?

Later, Liz comforts Floyd, who didn’t get the job. He’s tired of the rat race, and wants to go out of town. Liz suggests Vermont, or the Bahamas? Floyd is thinking Cleveland. They are stopped on the street, and Liz allows the police to search her bag while Floyd waxes nostalgic about his hometown. Finally, she asks when he’s thinking of moving home. A long time, he tells her. Three, maybe four years.

Policeman: What’s this fungus cream for?
Liz: Alright. That’s it. Show’s over.

How long does Liz intend to live in New York? Forever, she thought. He points out a bag lady who flips them off, New York style. Is that how she wants to end up? No! Liz spots an old vibrant lady, traipsing down the street, like Mary Poppins as conceived by Tom Wolfe.

Liz: I want to be like her!
Elderly Debutante: Oh, there is nothing like New York in the Spring!

Another woman, passing by, gives the lady a solid shove into a pile of garbage bags.
Liz quickly recovers from shock.

Liz: Come on. This is the capital of the world. The culture, the diver –

A filthy pedestrian spits at Liz.

Liz: Oh!
Floyd: Are you alright?
Liz: He spit in my mouth! Let’s go to Cleveland.

Later, Jack shows Liz a set of golf clubs Phoebe has bought him, that once belonged to Gerald Ford. Jack asks what Liz thinks of Phoebe. Liz deflects the question. Jack mentions that Phoebe is speaking at Columbia that night, then promptly falls asleep on the couch.

Liz turns to Jonathan.
Liz: Do you cover him?

Jonathan waves her out of the office. He knows Phoebe isn’t going to Columbia, since she had him call her a car to take her downtown. Liz agrees to spy on her, and finds Phoebe intimately dining with an older gentleman. Liz’s phone rings, Phoebe recognizes Wagner, and spots Liz. The two women trade glances, and Liz runs off.

Liz tries to warn Jack, but a Tracy incident intrudes. Then Phoebe shows up, as does Floyd. Liz gives up on telling Jack, and runs off to Cleveland, which is everything she could ever want:

• It smells good.
• Strangers mistake her for a model, and suggest she’s too skinny.
• She has lunch with Little Richard at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame + Museum.
• The police not only do not randomly frisk her, but they let her pet their horses.
• Men politely allow her to be first in line at the hot dog stand!

Floyd already has a job offer in Cleveland, and found an apartment he can afford. He wants Liz to move with him. There are TV jobs available; a man overhears and offers Liz a hosting job on a cooking show on WKYC.

Back in NYC, Liz dreams of moving on, but Jack informs her that Tracy has disappeared. Liz runs into Phoebe, who on the one hand has stopped introducing herself, but on the other hand wants to know if Liz has told Jack anything. She explains that her dinner date was a former lover she was ending things with; that she makes Jack a better man; and that she’s the equivalent to Jack that Yoko was to John.

Liz: You want to be Yoko?

But then a strange thing happens. In the midst of their argument, Phoebe loses her English accent. Liz notices, but Phoebe has a solid, heavily-accented response.

Phoebe: I don’t know what you’re on about. Daft wanker.

Liz goes to Floyd’s office, and announces that she can’t go to Cleveland. Her life is in New York, and she’s only known him a month. Floyd understands. They were on a “vacation high.”

Floyd: If the whole world moved to their favorite vacation spots, then the whole world would live in Hawaii, and Italy, and Cleveland.

Even so, he took the job.

Liz reports to Jack. She hasn’t found Tracy. He’s more interested in what she thinks of Phoebe. And she tries. She really tries. But still. Jack wants an answer.

Liz: I think she likes you, a lot. And I think she… takes care of you, and she’s smart. And pretty. And completely wrong. And she doesn’t deserve you. I think she’s weird, and I don’t like her, and her ex-boyfriend is old, and I don’t even think she’s British. And you shouldn’t marry her, Jack. Please, don’t marry her.

Jack laughs. Phoebe warned him that Liz is infatuated with him. He thinks she’s better off with Floyd. But Liz breaks the news. Floyd isn’t “happening.” Floyd is moving.

Jack (very concerned): Floyd is moving? What did you do?
Liz: What did I do? I acted like a rational adult. I didn’t get engaged to some gold-digger, and then delude myself into thinking I could keep up with her. Yeah, Jack, I know you fell asleep on top of her in Paris. In Paris, France.


Jack: I think you should go.

Liz backs out. Phoebe steps in. And closes the door, with great satisfaction, in Liz's face.

Liz: Blurg.

(Liz says this three or four times throughout the episode. Maybe I missed something? Is this like a Peanuts swearword that I don’t know about?)

Tracy: What a Fool Believes?

Tracy is upset that the bank has turned him down to finance his “Jefferson!” movie, because they didn’t want to pay for all the Claymation sex scenes. But he quickly rallies, and lays out his plan for a “Tracy Jordan Come Back,” which includes:

• Comedy Tour
• Michael McDonald Cover Album

Later Frank delivers the bad news. Bill Cosby has called Tracy an “embarrassment” to African-Americans. Tracy is hard-pressed to think what he’s ever done to embarrass black people.

Quick Flash: Tracy stealing a TV. Grizz and Dot Com ask why. “Because the Jets lost.”

Kenneth arrives with more bad news:

• Temple University is canceling Tracy’s stand-up appearance.
• Michael McDonald is refusing to allow Tracy to cover any of his songs.

Kenneth (singing to the tune of “What a Fool Believes”): Oh Tracy you can’t use any of my songs.

(Hilarious! I can't wait for the musical episode. However, I wouldn't have minded if they got Michael McDonald to sing the line himself. That would have been even better.)

Tracy puts it all together. He’s become a target of the Black Crusaders!

Tracy: The Black Crusaders are a secret group of powerful black Americans. Bill Cosby and Oprah Winfrey are the chief majors. But Jesse Jackson, Colin Powell and Gordon from “Sesame Street,” they’re members too. And they meet four times a year in the skull of the Statue of Liberty. You can read about that on the interweb!

They take action when they think someone is making black people look bad, and are responsible for:

• Tanking 50 Cent’s movie.
• Blowing out Terrell Owens’ ankle.
• Cancelling Eddie Murphy’s Oscar, “Because he ran out on Scary Spice.”

Liz tells him to get it together and leaves the room, too early to hear Lester Holt on TV turn to the camera and warn, “Tracy Jordan, the Black Crusaders are coming for you.”

Tracy later sets fire to an Al Roker cut-out, then locks himself in his dressing room, convinced the B.C.’s want to get rid of him, “like Coolio.” “Coolio is around!” Liz yells, to no avail. Tracy escapes to Cleveland, where Liz is vacationing, but their paths do not cross.

Tracy calls Liz to inform her that he is quitting. Liz and Jack try to find out where Tracy went, and Liz reveals that Tracy’s fleeing from the Black Crusaders. Jack is stunned by the news, and runs off.

Liz: He’s surprisingly fast.
Kenneth nods and smiles.

Tracy hangs up and hurries down the street. But he’s being followed by a black man wearing sunglasses, who sends a quick message via his… watch? “I’m on him,” he says, and follows.


Is that TOOFER??

My Thoughts

The show felt like it was back on track. While I’m disappointed that Floyd might be leaving, I’m guessing he’s not gone for good. He and Liz Lemon have great chemistry and seem right for each other, and the one scene he has with Jack, toned down from last week’s crush to more of a mild infatuation, felt right. And I’m glad the Tracy Jordan storyline has shifted away from “Jefferson!” to something bigger, more contemporary, and more cutting edge. Plus, I thought the twist with Toofer (please let that have been him) was great. Now he has something to do.

As to whether Jack’s marrying Phoebe will open funny possibilities remains to be seen. I could see her easily being an on-screen Maris or Vera (from “Frasier” and “Cheers”), like Lillith was; the tiresome wife Jack flees from. However, the whole “dropped accent” thing hints that this will be a shorter arc.

Favorite Random Quote

Jenna: I would marry Jack in a heartbeat. I would have a three-way with two Jacks.
Liz: (whispers) You need to cool it.

Next Episode: "Hiatus" on April 26 at 9:00pm.

Posted by Chad on April 20, 2007 2:27 PM
Permalink |

By the hammer of Thor!

Great episode.

Who told Tracy about anagrams?

-- Posted by: Liz at April 21, 2007 9:54 AM

Frankly, when I heard that message, I did think of Alec Baldwin's character on this show -- and it was kind of funny. The situation is not funny, but it's the family's business and no one else's. Kim Basinger didn't exactly come off well either. What the hell was she thinking?

Anyway, I don't think this outburst is going to hurt 30 Rock all that much. He didn't exactly have a sweet reputation (college scholarships aside) going in.

My feeling is that he can make as many nasty messages as he wants to as long as he keeps cranking out performances like this one.

There were so many great parts, but I was rolling during his whole "we'd all like to flee to the Cleve" rant.

-- Posted by: Rachel at April 23, 2007 11:56 PM

Oh and another thing... save Fliz!

-- Posted by: Rachel at April 24, 2007 12:00 AM

Anyone as funny as Alec Baldwin can't be all that bad. I have my theories about the whole voicemail rant thing - but what parent hasn't had those same thoughts (and possibly voiced them as well) about their teen-aged child? His just happened to get aired over the internet by the less-the-legitimate (don't get me started on that guy, Harry Levin).

I don't think it will detract 30 Rock viewers from watching because let's be honest, 30 Rock viewers probably aren't comprised of the right-wing bible belt sector.

I love the quiet Emily Mortimer playing "Hollow Bones" Phoebe. She's about as good as Isabella Rosselini!

Best guest stars have been the ladies I just mentioned and Will Arnett as Devin Banks ("You're going down, Jack!") and Paul Reubens as Prince Gerhardt!

Glad the blog is up and running. I didn't care for the pilot ep, but the later eps have been spectacular and hilarious. Hopefully, NBC will give it time to grow and they may have a new Seinfeld on their hands.

-- Posted by: Connie at April 24, 2007 7:30 PM

Wonderful post. I learned many interesting things. Thank you)

-- Posted by: Michael at January 31, 2013 6:02 PM

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