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30 Rock: Fireworks

Liz & Floyd: Sitting in a Tree?

Floyd finds Liz scarfing a hot dog on the street. And we’re off!

Floyd: "Hot dog times, eh?"
Liz: "I only eat them on special occasions."
Floyd: "What’s the special occasion?"
Liz: "I decided to eat one."

Liz asks if Floyd is going in her direction (making the mistake of indicating which way that is) but no, he’s headed into a church. On a Tuesday. Hmmm. They go their separate ways.

Later, Liz and Pete (who is still staying with Liz since the fight with his wife, and who also has taken to wearing matching outfits with Liz, against Liz’s wishes) puzzle over Floyd’s Tuesday church attendance. "Maybe he’s born again. Oh boy. We’ll spend our Saturday’s in Central Park, trying to save gay rollerbladers." Pete takes a tangent and reveals his theory of love. "Love is like an onion. And you peel away layer after stinky layer, until you’re just weeping over the sink." Liz nearly responds, but then she realizes Pete is wearing her sweatshirt.

Back at the hot dog stand later in the week, Liz is having it out with the vendor, who refuses to sell her yet another, concerned about her sodium intake. Liz threatens to report him to the Fox Problem Solvers (anyone know what this is?), but is soon distracted by the sight of Floyd ducking, once again, into church. She does the only logical thing, and follows him. He passes through the sanctuary, and darts into a side room. Is he headed into a confessional? Will Liz take the one opposite, and pretend to be his priest? Or is he a spy, using the church as a rendezvous to sell industry secrets?

No, one look at the room tells us all we need to know. But not our Liz. A group of professional looking adults meeting regularly in the middle of the day at a semi-private locale, to drink coffee and talk? She doesn’t get it. Floyd spots her and comes over. Their brief conversation divests neither of their misconceptions. She thinks he’s there for a revival meeting. He thinks she’s come to take part in AA. Which he starts.

"I’m Floyd, and I’m an alcoholic."

"Hi Floyd," everyone replies.

"Hi Floyd," Liz echoes, sitting up a little straighter. (Loved the delayed double-take. Loved it.)

Liz wisely tries to slip unnoticed out the back, but when Floyd announces that he will be talking about his issues with women and trust, she makes a beeline back to her seat.

Returning to work, she confesses (!!) to Pete what she’s done, who tells her that it’s not okay. She knows, but on the other hand, she loved hearing about Floyd's complicated relationship with his father, "and he told this story about trying to make french toast for his mom when he was a kid, and he started crying. I love him," she whispers. Pete asks whether she plans to fake being an alcoholic for the rest of her life. "I don’t know. One day at a time, Pete. I’m going to take it one day at a time."

Well, at least she was listening at the meeting, right?

Floyd hunts her down at work after she misses the next AA meeting, to make sure she’s okay. (Come on. Who doesn’t love him?) He offers to take her out for coffee any time she needs support, while Pete clearly mouths the word, "NO," over his shoulder. "Do you have time now?" Liz asks.

Their date extends into the early evening. Liz invites Floyd over to watch AFI Top 100 Movies with her and Pete; they are working through them one by one, but Liz only owns "Star Wars" (#15; see *** below) and "Tootsie" (#62) on DVD, so they watch those over and over. Floyd agrees, but only because Pete will be there. Otherwise, it would be too much like a date, which goes against AA rules. Liz thinks the rule was made to be broken, but Floyd says he needs the rules. The last time he drank, he did a "Man on the Street" for "Tarzan on Ice." (You know, like, "I laughed, and then I cried, and then I threw up all over myself! You gotta see it!")

The next morning, Liz wakes up on her couch. (The soft sound of her cell phone, on vibrate, wakes her, but she misses Jack’s call.) The "Tootsie" menu and "It Might Be You" plays on TV in a continuous loop. Floyd is asleep… on her calves. She wakes him. Awkward! "I never let anybody put their head that close to my feet before." Liz jumps up to make coffee, and BOOM! "Pins and needles," she cries, her legs still asleep. Floyd hauls her up. "Walk it off, scarecrow," he says.

Liz flips her arms around his shoulders, and the two share a tender moment. "That was really fun last night," Floyd says. "I think 'Tootsie'… is a real well-crafted movie." "Yeah," Liz replies, "they use it as an example in all the screenplay books." The heat between the two is palpable. Floyd decides to retreat, sensing the direction they are headed. Liz is forced into a real confession, explaining to Floyd she pretended to be an alcoholic because she has a crush on him. "I know, it just makes me seem like a nut log, Anne Heche crazy, but if there’s any way you could see past it?"

"No!" Floyd is horrified that she defiled the sanctity of his AA meeting, and even more so at all the personal stuff she heard him talking about. Pete wanders out of the bathroom in a towel and reminds Liz of her breakfast meeting with Jack. She hurries to go, but Floyd beats her out the door, leaving Liz alone with a semi-naked Pete.

Liz finds Floyd at work, and tells him the following personal facts, to even things out:

· She’s been sexually rejected by two guys who later attended Clown College.
· She gets super-nervous at the sound of vacuuming, which her mother used to mask the sounds of parental fights.
· She almost never – okay, never – vacuums as a result.
· She’s already had three donuts today.
· During college, "I pooped my pants, a little bit, at a Country Steaks All-You-Can-Eat Buffet, and I didn’t leave until I finished my second plate of shrimp." (And the woman who comes in to the room behind Liz around, "pooped my pants," and quickly backs out? Hilarious.)
· A couple of months ago, she went on a date with her cousin.
· There is an 80% chance in the next election that she will tell all her friends she is voting for Barack Obama, while she secretly votes for John McCain.
· When she was a kid, she would put on her fanciest nightgown, mix orange soda and cream soda in a champagne glass, sit in the dark and watch, "The Love Boat."
· Consequently, she has "sexual fantasy stuff" for Gopher.
· She lied. She’s had five donuts.

Floyd rises. Gives her a tip for a quieter vacuum. Confesses a similar Gopher fixation. (However, the one from "Caddyshack." Which happened to star a whole bunch of people from SNL.) And… they kiss! FINALLY.

Later, they enjoy a real date. Okay, maybe it’s spent on the sofa, eating pizza with Pete, and watching Jack’s disastrous TV special. But still. It’s a date.

Kenneth: Proud as a Peacock

Jack shows Devin Banks (guest star Will Arnett), the Vice-President of West Coast News, Web Content, and Theme Park Talent Relations, visiting from Los Angeles, around the office, and introduces him to Kenneth, in whom Devin takes an immediate interest; and Liz, to whom Devin says, "You guys. You’re the real heroes." (Um… Is this the new NBC policy? "30 Rock" references the most recently aired "The Office," which references "Heroes," and so on and so forth until a cheerleader somewhere implodes as the ultimate promotional tie-in and saves the world?)

Anyway, Jack tells Liz he knows that Devin is after his job, and that he's fierce competition, having pioneered the concept of 10 Second Internet Sitcoms. And then we see, "Makin’ It Happen!" 10 seconds, two characters, one line of lame dialogue each, followed by a quick scroll of credits which include a cast of six characters and one guest star. (Plus, a teaser for a show called, "Moonquest – Quest on the Moon.")

Jack's only idea is for a live television special with fireworks, maybe one with a cowboy hat? Jack wants Liz to help him more, since she did such a great job with the jokes for his Mitt Romney Fundraiser. "Those weren’t jokes," Liz says. "That was an appeal for a return to common sense and decency." "Well, it got big laughs," Jack replies.

Jack thinks his fireworks idea is gold, but Liz thinks he can do better. Jack’s assistant, Jonathan, runs up with exciting news: Having been spying on Devin, he caught him hitting on Kenneth. (Loved how Devin rearranged Kenneth's bangs with his pinky.) "Devin is gay," Jack hisses. "He’s even more powerful than I thought." "Maybe you should seduce him, and get him to tell you all his secret plans," Liz suggests, amused. But Jack goes one better. He sends in Kenneth instead, with a list of pertinent questions, two tickets to "A Chorus Line" and a bottle of bronzer.

Devin and Kenneth return to Devin’s hotel room after the musical show. Kenneth pitches ideas for sitcoms (the one about the ice cream parlor owned by the Jew called "Ice Cream Cohen" was particularly bad), but Devin is distracted by Kenneth’s boyish figure. Devin offers Kenneth a libation. "I have champagne? Vodka? Absinthe?" "Fruit punch!" Kenneth cries with delight. Devin tries to slip Kenneth a little bourbon with his punch, then slinks off to change into something more comfortable, while Kenneth peppers him with Jack’s questions from another room. Devin returns in a very short robe. "I had to cut it down myself," he explains.

Well, I probably don’t have to tell you where this is going. Devin props his leg up on the coffee table, Mrs. Robinson-style, starts tipping fruit punch into Kenneth’s mouth, and asks him for "a hand." Sweet, innocent Kenneth complies, and Devin makes his request. "Tell me about Jack Donaghy."


Armed with new information, Devin sandbags Jack in his office (hey hey hey, I said sandbags), getting right to the point. "I’m gay, and I want your job." Jack isn’t fazed. "Devin, I’m straighter than you are gay, and I leave particles of guys like you in my wind. I’m not afraid of you." They agree to face off in the meeting, but before Devin takes his leave, he reveals his source. "Oh by the way, a little slimwaisted birdie in a page jacket told me you’ve got nothing. You’re going down."

"No, Devin," Jack answers. "I don’t do that."

Let’s just stop right here. For a moment. I need a moment. Okay. Moving on.

This leads us to the best exchange in the show, as Jack confronts Kenneth with telling Devin that he (Jack) is creatively bankrupt. "I’m sorry, sir. I had to keep talking just to stop him from putting his fingers in my mouth." Kenneth demonstrates, waggling his digits over his lips.

Jack has no pity. "Kenneth, you are the worst gay bait, ever."

"You used me?" His voice cracks on "used," his innocence on the verge of being shattered forever.

"For television. Kenneth, I humiliated you for television."

Now that, my friends, is a language Kenneth understands. Quickly making a connection to the plot of a classic episode of "What’s Happening!!" Kenneth is ready to do whatever Jack needs: To be humiliated again. To kill Devin, if necessary. Or merely to distract him from the meeting. "Just like Sydney Bristow on 'Alias.' I’ll use my sexuality as a weapon. To the wig shop!"

(Oh, "Alias," how we miss thee...)

Kenneth shows up at Devin’s hotel room, where Devin is practicing karate in his short-short robe. Kenneth suggestively applies chapstick, says he was in the neighborhood, and then gets comes up with a plan. "Oh! Do you want me to dance for you?" Devin slaps on the radio, and Kenneth starts to boogie to the funky beat. (Adorable. You have to see it.) But then, the song ends, replaced by station identification. And Devin starts shouting out odd requests. "Touch your belt buckle! Now touch your peacock! You are a peacock!" Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea…

The radio announcer declares the time. Devin realizes he’s almost late for his meeting. "You warlock. You’re here to entrance me."

Meanwhile, Jack is desperate. Liz hasn’t shown up, having overslept while on her sort-of date. Without her ideas, he fumbles the first part of his meeting. Devin steps up with his idea: Celebrity snuff films available on cell phones. Jack decides to pitch his fireworks show, selling the idea of TV as spectacle, perfect for big events like, "Rockefeller Center Salute to Fireworks." The question is, can he get fireworks shaped like cowboy hats? Can he ever!

Liz gets a call through to Jack and tries to explain, but he’s not interested. "Whoever he is, I hope he’s worth it." Yikes! Jack hangs up and gloats his victory over Devin.

The special airs in May, hosted by Al Roker. Three hours of fireworks. In midtown. And not on the 4th of July. The mayor calls immediately. The show is shut down.

But not before the cowboy hat explodes! Hooray!

Tracy: Founding Father?

Tracy skulks around the office in disguise, telling the writer’s room he has been slapped with a paternity suit, but he’s certain That Child is not his. Two seconds later, one of the "writers" slips Tracy an envelope. "Mr. Jordan. You’ve been served." Yeah, the lousy subplot.

Tracy visits Dr. Leo Spaceman for a paternity test. After a quick swabbing, Tracy asks, "Dr. Spaceman, when they check my DNA, will it tell me what diseases I might get, or help me to remember my ATM PIN code?" "Absolutely," replies Dr. Spaceman, "Science is… whatever we want it to be." When the results come back, the news is good and bad. The good news: Tracy is not the father of That Child. The bad news: He is a direct descendant of our third president.

"Jasper Buckleman?" Tracy asks, in shock.

The good doctor sets him straight: Thomas Jefferson. A white dude. Tracy is immediately upset, glossing over the news that he is related to a major historical figure, or the even more shocking revelation that the third president was not Jasper Buckleman. No, what concerns him most is what being "mostly white" will mean to his comedy act. His, "whole persona is based on an in-depth analysis of the differences between black and white." For instance, how each race dials the phone.

Tracy, quick to embrace his DNA, objects to the portrayal of a white dude as a criminal in a new sketch. "That’s a negative portrayal of my people!" Tracy admits to Racial Identity Confusion (R.I.C. – the hot new disease, soon to claim more celebrity sufferers than Restless Leg Syndrome). Toofer – further revealing his underbaked character development; beyond his limiting nickname, I mean – makes a strange leap in logic, from discussing what race Tracy is ("Tracy, you’re not white."), to being proud of his heritage ("Tracy, you should be honored to be a descendant of Thomas Jefferson."). So, then, he is white?

Ugh. This whole subplot is dragging me down.

First of all, Tracy Morgan is way above this material. (A Bobby McFerrin joke as cutting edge racial humor? Really?) I know he’s great at this stuff, but come on. Either give him a good bite of satire to chew on, or else explore another aspect of his character.

Second, what is this subplot about? From Paternity Suit, to Mulatto Misery (hey, I didn’t write it; complain to NBC), to the upcoming twist – something about Toofer’s ancestor fighting for the South during the Civil War, not the North, as he’d thought, to some dream with Tracy on a Maury Povich hosted, Jerry Springer like show, where Alec Baldwin doubles as Thomas Jefferson (hated it the first time around, but it got funnier the second time), to Tracy pitching Toofer a movie, like "Norbit," of the story of Thomas Jefferson, with Tracy playing all the parts, only it's a drama... Focus, people, FOCUS!

(I hear Tracy pursues this movie idea next week. Sigh. Maybe I'll explain it better then.)

Third, Toofer’s speeches and angst in this episode is like something straight out of "A Different World," season four or so, long after the effervescent Marisa Tomei and the Lisa Bonet characters had been written out, and the creative team had no compunction about stopping the jokes, at any time, to let any and all characters grandstand. Don't get me wrong; I still watched. My point is, Toofer's vibe is off, and he's more of a concept than a character right now.

Can we just list the funny lines in what’s left of this storyline?

Tracy, strangling Alec / Tom: "I hate you Thomas Jefferson! I don’t know who I am anymore!"

Maury Povich, after Sally storms off stage: "Sally Hemmings just called you a dog, Thomas Jefferson."

Thomas Jefferson: "I rode a horse all the way from Heaven to tell you something important. America, which I invented…" The crowd goes wild, booing T.J., who flips them off, his fingers pixelated into a pair of Founding Father Blurs. "WHICH I invented," he continues, "is a great country, because we are not burdened by our pasts. Embrace who you are, Tracy Jordan. And may the Force be with you always." The crowd applauds. (*** Second of two Star Wars references in this episode.)

Favorite Random Lines:

Liz Lemon (laughing): "I have never seen so much come out of one pigeon!"

Floyd: "Yeah, I think it might have been sick. Maybe the little guy ate a cigarette or something."

Miscellaneous Thoughts:

1. This was a "supersized" episode, but they couldn’t even fit in Jenna (again?), Josh, or Cerie? Lame.

2. Why does Jack keep a bottle of bronzer in his desk?

Next Episode: "Corporate Crush" on April 12, 2007 at 9:00.

Posted by Chad on April 6, 2007 5:05 AM
Permalink |

Good Lord. Nice recap, but the synopsis is supposed to be shorter than the script.

Here's what I fear, long-term:

Once the show finally takes off in the ratings, Tracey Morgan will somehow leverage the very little talent he's stretching to the limit on this show to get his own show. It will fail. But some exec will fall for that ploy, no doubt.

-- Posted by: Jeff at April 6, 2007 8:10 AM

Chad, I imagine you have a decent job. I can imagine that from the fact you have apparently not seen the fabulous train wreck that is "Maury." Maury Povich does these "who's the Daddy" segments three times a week (replete with DNA tests). You need to catch it, because it makes Springer look well-crafted.

-- Posted by: timb at April 6, 2007 11:39 AM

Jeff - My appreciation for Tracy Morgan is growing each week. Hopefully, this show will stay on a long time and he won't need to go looking for other work. But if this is successful, he'll get another show.

Timb - Yeah, I can proudly say I never watched "Maury." I thought about doing some research before posting that, but then I figured -- Why? And look, you saved me the time. Now if only someone can answer my Fox Problem Solvers question.

-- Posted by: Chad at April 6, 2007 12:56 PM

This episode was laugh-out-loud funny. It was great. I sort of liked that they didn't try to cram every character into it. Save them for later!

I thought maybe Tracy Morgan's role was getting a little smaller. Maybe it just seems that way. I thought maybe it had to do with some of his recent legal troubles... like just in case they needed to get rid of him. I hope not though because I think he's great on the show.

Hope they keep up with great episodes like this one... people would surely catch on.

-- Posted by: Rachel at April 8, 2007 8:41 PM

Chad - Great recap. Keep up the good work!

-- Posted by: Jamie at April 9, 2007 2:23 PM

Fox Problem Solvers is a reference to the local Fox News affiliate's tendency to periodically take an individual's fight against some company/neighbor/etc, get the bottom of it, expose some injustice and make for 'riveting' television of the little guy winning out over the big bad guy with a little help from the Fox News team.

Its like mini-Dateline, but way less classy.

-- Posted by: Anonymous at April 9, 2007 8:46 PM

Alec Baldwin, dressed as Thomas Jefferson, flipping off the "Maury" audience -- greatest ... idea ... ever ...

-- Posted by: mac at April 11, 2007 9:23 AM

Holy crap! I forgot about the Thomas Jefferson part. That was awesome... whoever put Alec Baldwin in this show is a genius.

-- Posted by: Rachel at April 11, 2007 6:15 PM

Thank you, whoever provided the Fox Problem Solvers info.

As for the whole Alec Baldwin / Thomas Jefferson thing, the most brilliant aspect is that it's in Tracy's head. That wasn't "Alec" playing that part, it was "Jack Donaghy," and it opens up the whole possibility of us seeing how Tracy would recast his co-workers in his dreams. Just sticking with the Founding Fathers theme, Frank would make a great Benjamin Franklin.

The other great thing is that, having boxed themselves in by setting this show in the world of sketch comedy, and then casting the brilliant and versatile Alec Baldwin as the one character who will assuredly never get to play multiple parts (particularly after we found out how terrible an actor Jack is, in "Jack-Tor"), they still found a way to use his talents in other ways.

-- Posted by: Chad at April 11, 2007 6:56 PM

Devin's short-short robe was probably the most hysterical outfit I've seen in years - and it didn't even need a wardrobe malfunction to get us looking!

Love Kenneth - he cracks me up.

Tracy looked like he wanted to crack up when Alec comes out as the Prez on the Maury bit.

-- Posted by: Connie at April 24, 2007 8:28 PM

What kind of nonsense? This is not interesting. There is no such a thing.

-- Posted by: Shawn at January 31, 2013 5:20 PM

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