30 Rock


The Wife:

Parks & Recreation 1.6 “Rock Show”

All I can say is that I hope Ann and Andy never break up because Chris Pratt is the best part about this show. I completely understand Ann’s anger upon finding out that Andy had lied to her about when his casts could be removed just to get another two weeks of complete servitude out of her, but I also get how nice it is to be taken care of the way Ann had taken care of Andy. Let me give you a list of how funny Chris Pratt’s Andy is:

  • His songs about things that are physically near him: “Sandwich! Are you turkey or ham?” (To which Ann responds, “Ham.”)
  • The sundry items that fell into one of his casts, including some gummi bears and Ann’s iPod.
  • His long list of band names which appear to change frequently: Scare Crow Boat, Mouse Rat, Fourskin, Threeskin, Teddy Bear Suicide . . . many other suicidal inanimate objects included there.
  • The Pit song.
  • His genius plot to get back in Ann’s good graces, which I infer entirely from the look on his face when he sees the pit outside his door after she kicks him out: fall into the pit again and get hurt.
  • His reaction to Mark falling drunkenly into the pit, which is basically just an excuse to get back in Ann’s house and watch TV while Mark suffers.


Until she finds out that he lied to her, Ann spends her time flyering for Scare Crow Boat’s first concert on Andy’s newly healed legs, which she still attends that night because everyone else on Leslie’s subcommittee has agreed to go . . .except for Leslie, who attends what she thinks is a business meeting but turns out to be a date with a 62-year-old man, set up for her by her mother. Mark spends the evening at the rock show realizing that he has somehow become the third wheel to everyone in the Parks department: Ron Swanson attends with his new girlfriend, his ex-wife’s sister, who hates his ex as much as he does; Tom Haverford attends with his wife, a hot doctor who, he reminds Mark, makes, like, a ton of money; and even Intern April shows up with a gay guy she makes out with sometimes when she’s drunk. Mark tries to get Ann to see the light about being with Andy, but she rejects him outright, knowing that he’s not any better at relationships than Andy is.

Pleasedonteverbreakup!

Pleasedon'teverbreakup!

Leslie and her date show up right as Mouse Rat (formerly Scare Crow Boat) finishes its set, but Leslie’s date is too old and he falls asleep, so she spends the rest of the night drinking with Mark until last call. After which, they go to the pit and have, actually, a really sweet conversation about Leslie’s hopes to turn the pit into a park in which Mark proves to her its already a park. (“Ring Around the Diaper” and “Duck, Duck, Glass” are two games he imagines children playing there.) And then he falls in.

I’m still not 100% sure about Parks & Rec, but I think it’s starting to settle into its own groove, and I was very surprised at the sweetness and realness of this episode. Often, Leslie’s idealism and naïveté make her incredibly unrelatable, almost like she’s actually mentally insane instead of a misguided go-getter. But here, especially in her scene at the pit with Mark, she seemed the most real to me that she’s been all season, and I’d like to see more of that Leslie.

[Husband Note: I very much like the show and am 95% certain it can find a great groove next season. In addition, it might be my favorite new opening theme music of the year, but I can’t really explain why.]

30 Rock 3.22 “Kidney Now!”

Jack prepares to give his father a kidney, until Dr. Spaceman reveals that they’re not a match at all, leaving Jack to resort to the very thing the liberal media is best at: putting together fundraising telethons and gala concert events to solicit money for causes. So he pulls out all of his favors with various celebrities to get them to record a “We Are the World”-esque diddy coercing the entire nation to donate just one kidney (just one!) to Milton Green, because he really needs it. I think the plea for a kidney was best summarized by Maroon 5’s Adam Levine: “And while you don’t have two beards, you do have two kidneys. Let’s put it this way, if you had two dollars, you’d give me one, right?”

I think Cyndi Lauper might need a new liver soon . . .

I think Cyndi Lauper might need a new liver soon . . .

And how did Jack acquire some of these celebrities? It was easy to get Clay Aiken, because his cousin Kenneth promised he’d do it. Mary J. Blige owed Jack a favor because he got her out of a 20-year concert contract at Seaworld. And as for Elvis Costello? It is best that no one ever finds out that he’s actually an international art thief. Sheryl Crow ended up being the only one to get paid for it. Cyndi Lauper did it for the free booze. (I think that’s also why she was in The Threepenny Opera and on Gossip Girl.) I have no idea why Adam Levine was there, but he got the funniest lines in the whole show. In addition to his kidney appeal above, there was also him pretending he wasn’t a celebrity in front of Jenna (whom Jack didn’t want in the concert) by acting like he was from Europe (“Pleased to meet!”) and his intense desire to harm Elvis Costello in some manner: “When he isn’t looking, I’m going to punch Elvis in the back of the head.” Oh, Adam Levine. I love you. So much.

Clearly, Jack’s insanely overkill kidney drive was the crux of the episode, but there were also two other silly plots. Liz gets dragged onto the Vontella show with Jenna to promote the Dealbreaker sketch by doling out relationship advice (although, Jenna’s usual appearances on that show involve intense catfights with women pretending to be her half-sister). While Jenna is unable to answer any of the questions the audience poses to her, Liz becomes surprisingly adept at dishing out bon mots about fruit blindness (when you’re fiancé is gay and you don’t know it) and other such dealbreakers. My favorite: “Only one snake in the bed. Dealbreaker.” Eventually, because her appearance on Vontella was so popular, the women of 30 Rock start asking her for advice. Angie wants to know what to do when she finds out that Tracy rents a hotel room twice a week for two hours. Likewise, Pete’s wife wonders why Pete doesn’t want to attend their family vacation. Tripping on the power of fake advice, Liz tells both women to “S that D: shut it down,” incurring the wrath of both of her coworkers. You see, Tracy only rents a hotel room so he can shit in peace. (Angie should instead be worried that he only poops twice a week.) And Pete doesn’t want to go on his family vacation because they’re going to work on a farm, and he’s the only one with hands dexterous enough to steer the bull during mating season. But Liz refuses to stop, especially with a book deal in the works and Jack encourages her: Liz is finally getting hers.

As for Tracy, he’s invited to speak at his old high school’s commencement. He refuses because he vowed never to go back there after he left school for crying over being forced to dissect a frog in science class. He also vowed never to cry again, a fact he admits to over a montage of all the times we’ve seen Tracy cry about something. Kenneth convinces him that he should go, though, to prove to himself that he isn’t that kid anymore. When he does give his speech, he is awarded with an honorary high school diploma, which he cries about. Tracy’s plot was the weakest in this whole episode, but because Jack and Liz’s stories were so funny, this all adds up to be a pretty good, silly and weird season finale.

Other funny:

  • “Science was my most favorite subject – especially the Old Testament.” – Kenneth
  • “My Mary J. Blige Foundation is celebrating its 10th year of searching for the Loch Ness Monster.” – Mary J. Blige
  • “We called him Mean Steve. But his real name was Steve Killer.” – Tracy
  • Jack and Milton playing catch.
  • Liz and Sheryl Crow played Kidneys in the 5th grade school play. And Sheryl does not like Liz at all.

[Husband Note: In case you didn’t catch all the celebrities, a commenter on AV Club listed (I think) everybody else. That would include The Beastie Boys, Michael McDonald, Rhett Miller, Robert Randolph, Sarah Bareilles, Norah Jones, Moby, Wyclef, Talib Kweli and Rachael Yamagata.]

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The Husband:

My Name Is Earl 4.26 “Inside Probe, Pt. 2”

A continuation of last week’s Geraldo probe into what caused the disappearance of Ernie Belcher, owner of Ernie’s Crab Shack, we as viewers are pretty much left with the second half of the episode instead of a full story. Which is fine. Just give us next week’s finale and end your fourth season on a high note, and I will continue to hope that you get a fifth season, despite the idiots who misunderstand the show as “just a redneck show” in the vein of Blue Collar Comedy Tour (it isn’t) and pray for its quick death.

So what happened to Ernie Belcher? Despite Randy’s forced confession, the Hickeys had an alibi thanks to a NASCAR champion (whose word counts for three average American citizens), so Geraldo has to “stick his probe even more inside” to find out the truth. But what does he discover but a nearly town-wide belief that aliens were involved in the night of his disappearance, thanks to a series of blinding white lights that lit up the sky that night and confused all of Camden’s creatures, gay and whore. But what caused this confusion?

Claws of death unknown.

Claws of death unknown.

But lo, there’s another element to the case, and it was the episode’s saving grace. Apparently, Camden County (which we find out, finally, is located in the Central Time Zone) was hesitant to take either side during the Civil War, and instead chose to become its own individual country and fight for the Central Cause, which demanded both the North’s industrial progress and the South’s reliance on slavery. Jefferson Washington Hickey, Earl’s ancestor, even created a Central flag, but, unfortunately, the Central Cause was eliminated on the same day as its creation as soldiers from both the North and the South shot Jefferson Washington Hickey to death in an outhouse.

But, you see, Ernie was a patriot, and still kept the Central flag flying above his business year-after-year, and tasked Darnell with taking it down each night. But on the night Ernie disappeared, Darnell went up to the roof only to find a vandal trying to steal the Central flag, and after some hand-to-hand combat, accidentally knocked the flagpole into the electric pole, which in turn produced a great amount of sparks and explosions across town. It also shut off the power, which is what did Ernie in. You see, he was in the newly remodeled bathroom downstairs, changing a tape in the wall connected to his hidden bathroom cams (he produced some fetish videos, btw), but when the power went off, he fell back into the wet concrete and sank into it, leaving only a nose to stick out of the floor. How did nobody notice this nose before? They all just thought it was a nose-shaped doorstop.

…K…

I think the image of the nose is funny enough to make up for the rest of this fairly unfunny two-parter. Otherwise, let’s just finish up the season with style and grace.

The Office 5.25 “Café Disco”

If I was just going to judge this episode based on the first five minutes, I would have called this an unfortunate return to non-plot silliness that sometimes works with The Office, but most of the time is just kind of a waste of talent and 30 minutes of my time. Now that Michael’s back as boss, he has returned to his old tricks of trying to unite his employees to have a good time, which as usual is met with blank stares. This time, it’s that he has turned the Michael Scott Paper Company office (as he still has the lease) into a Café Disco where people can drink java and dance their cares away. But the people of Dunder Mifflin would rather work, and so we’re left with another episode of people hating Michael.

But by the end, something very nice happens, as small factions of employees make their way down to have a good time (except for Phyllis, who throws out her back almost immediately), and learns, once and for all, how strong they are as a group. Almost as if acting as a series finale, everybody ends up in a very good, very happy place (even Phyllis), made even better by the fact that the party, in turn, reminds Jim and Pam that they and their friends deserve an actual wedding, and not just Jim and Pam driving to Ohio to get a non-waiting-period marriage license. Even Angela is a blast, despite her proclamation that she doesn’t agree with music and what it does to people.

I don’t really know what the deal with this episode was, or why it made me feel so good after making me feel so disappointed, but I’m glad that this show continues to surprise me.

The Wife:

Parks & Recreation 1.5 “The Banquet”

“The Banquet” was a mixed bag for me, but a some of it was trying too hard or coming too close to certain clichés, yet, as far as plotting is concerned, it was pretty entertaining to watch. Even if the jokes fall flat or hackneyed, Parks & Rec is amusing when there’s an element of plot to it, otherwise it’s just nothing.

Here, Leslie’s mom, Marlene, is being honored with a local government award and Leslie wants to use her time at the banquet to not only honor her mother, whom she clearly admires and imitates, but to drum up a little bit of buzz for her pit project. Unfortunately, in her attempt to follow in the footsteps of other stars of local government, Leslie gets her hair done at a men’s barber shop and turns up at the banquet looking like a tiny Trump. Also, everyone at the banquet thinks she’s a lesbian because she brings a pink-clad femmy Ann as her plus-one, in an attempt at a joke that I think could have been done without. It was so obvious from Leslie’s ridiculous hair that lesbian jokes would arise and, thus, none of them were funny.

Or maybe they weren’t funny because we’ve moved past a moment in our culture in which we can identify someone’s sexuality just by looking at them. At least, I’d like to think we have. But what the fuck do I know, since I live in a state with a giant gay population and we still can’t let them get married. (Thanks for rubbing that in our faces, Maine and Iowa.)

It also wasn’t funny that Ann was overdressed. But the lesbian hair jokes and the dress were the biggest clichés about the episode, so I guess it’s good they got them out of the way at the beginning.

This game of got your nose has gotten way out of hand.

This game of "got your nose" has gotten way out of hand.

Anyway, at the banquet, Leslie sees the zoning chairwoman and wants to get on her good side, but doesn’t know how. When she finally gets up the courage to talk to her after “buttering her up” with some odd sentiments in her speech about Marlene (and after a strange nose-holding conversation with Mark and Ann that was funny by way of being totally, completely weird), chairwoman Janine suggests Leslie call her secretary and set up something for the next month. Leslie is proud of this, because she’s generally clueless, but her mother, the Iron Bleepedy Bleep of Pawnee, tells her that a call to a secretary is basically a diss and suggests her daughter blackmail the chairwoman to get an earlier appointment. So Marlene tells her that Janine’s husband got a DUI out of state last month, information that Leslie unsuccessfully uses to leverage a meeting with Janine, which gets a drink thrown in her face before she scurries off apologetically.

Some funny bits:

  • Tom and Mark’s date with girls in real estate post-banquet, because I think working in real estate has to be exactly that uninteresting. (“Sometimes, I forget to bring my keys when I show a house.” “Oh, yeah, that’s the worst because you have to drive all the way back and get them and then be all like, ‘Oh, I forgot my keys!’ Hehe!”)
  • Clearly, the joke about the slaughter of a settler when he tried to sell the Native Americans a baby and all of the things they used his mutilated corpse for. (“That’s the great thing about Indians back then. They used every part of the pioneer.”)
  • Ron Swanson’s speech of facts about Marlene. (“So, Marlene, it is true that you have won this award.”)
  • “Thank you, Tony, for those inspiring twitches and blinks.”
  • “It’s fun to pretend to be zoning board members.” – Mark

30 Rock 3.21 “Mamma Mia”

By far, my least favorite 30 Rock of season. And it’s probably because it relied so heavily on borrowing and not entirely subverting the plot of one of my least favorite things in the world, Mamma Mia. (Although I enjoy that Liz is obsessed with it because it’s a good example of how she straddles the line between a smart, snarky singleton and a sad, lonely middle-aged woman bordering on being Cathy from the comic strip Cathy. I mean, that did print that thing she said in the paper, “Chocolate! Chocolate! Chocolate! Aak!”)

Plot #1: Jack has three potential fathers, so Liz suggests they “Mamma Mia” the situation and invent a fake contest for Jack’s potential fathers to win so he can meet them and figure out which one is his real dad. The winners are a Korean guy, a dude whose genitalia were destroyed in the war (“It’s like a bowl of Spaghetti-Os down there”) and one seemingly-normal college professor who turns out to be a bleeding heart Jewish liberal.


“I will not be spoken to this way! I am a contest winner!” – Milton Green


Of course, after arguing with Milton, Jack realizes that he must be Milton’s son because family is supposed to be that aggravating. When Jack reveals this to Milton, he is thrilled to have a son because he needs a kidney.

Plot #2: One of Tracy’s illegitimate children found him three years ago and has been asking him for money. His experience with this additional child in his life is what prompts him to encourage Jack to find his dad, but Liz and Pete are sure that bastard son Donald is scamming Tracy . . . in part because neither of them are very good at telling how old black people are. (Liz thinks Samuel L. Jackson is 33, and is surprised, as I was, to hear that he was 61. Dude looks good for 61.) Barring acquiring Donald’s birth certificate, they try to devise some tests to determine whether or not he is scamming Tracy, one of which is having him spar with Lutz to see if his alleged Dojo is real. (It is, because Donald is wicked good at karate.) Because Cerie is pretty, she is able to get Donald’s birth certificate, which proves he’s actually one year older than 39-year-old Tracy. When Liz presents Tracy with this information, he says he already knows and that when Donald first started scamming him, he was a low-life but, with Tracy’s help, he’s actually turned his life around and become a small-business owner.

I liked the twist on Tracy’s plot a lot, actually, because it was so completely different than what we’ve come to expect from Tracy Jordan. Unlike the “I need a kidney” reveal, which was neither clever nor funny.

Plot #3: Unrelated to notions of family, Jenna’s “That’s a dealbreaker, ladies!” Millionaire Matchmaker-esque sketch becomes a catchphrase-wielding hit and gets her named Funniest Woman in New York. Liz, however, is jealous and wants to share credit because she writes that sketch with Jenna. (Or, technically, the entire sketch, while Jenna just texts her gay friends.) She demands that she be allowed to do the photoshoot with Jenna, and spends most of the time looking awkward while Jenna looks hot. Then the photographer brings out the prop box, which Jenna warned Liz not to use because the photographer will always choose a shot of a celebrity looking like an idiot for the cover while holding a rubber chicken rather than choosing a shot in which the celebrity actually looks good. Desperate for credit, Liz offers to hold the rubber chicken when it’s thrown at her, and quickly becomes the star of the photoshoot for her complete lack of vanity, eventually ousting Jenna from the cover entirely when the photographer chooses Liz’s “birthing the chicken on the toilet while wearing a Grouch Marx nose-and-mustache” shot for the cover.

While the Liz-and-Jenna plot was nice in that we all know Tina Fey is very hot and she deserves magazine covers, whether or not she’s birthing a rubber chicken on the toilet, I feel like desiring credit and loving the limelight are a little out-of-character for Liz. But that said, I appreciate an actress without vanity, and I’m glad that Tina Fey is totally willing to do ridiculous shit with rubber chickens for laughs. Can she make a movie with Anna Faris? That’d be killer.

All in all, a middling episode, devoid of 30 Rock’s usual madcap humor, non-sequiturs and the other stuff I love.

Little bits of funny:

  • Donald sucking on lollies.
  • The Tracy Jordan Institute for Black Karate.
  • “Are you not telling me something, Jack? Let me guess. You bought a motorcycle with a sidecar, but your dog won’t stay on it?” – Tracy
  • I’m glad that Liz’s knowledge of Italian American culture comes from Mario Brothers.

The Wife:

Parks and Recreation 1.4 “Boys’ Club”

This was probably my favorite Parks and Recreation episode so far. It stands as the first that seems to really have a plot (save for the pilot) and had some stand-out humor, which, surprisingly, didn’t come in the form of a joke about the brutal slaughter of Native Americans and/or settlers. Weird.

Someone sends the Parks Department a gift basket that would have a total value of more than $25, so Leslie sequesters it so that no one will be tempted to violate the ethics of local government. (The same is true of swag given to journalists. If it’s over $25, it looks like a bribe.) But when Leslie and Ann infiltrate the Tuesday night after work boys’ club hosted by Mark and the other city planners, she finds she enjoys socializing with the boys and some brews and doesn’t want the night to end when the beer does. So she steals some wine from the gift basket to keep the party going. And the cheese. The next day, she’s filled with remorse for breaking a rule and taking unethical actions and starts using her “confessional” time in the documentary to voice official apologies to all women in government for letting them down (funny!) and asking her boss Ron Swanson to discipline her. When he refuses, considering the rule insignificant, Leslie writes a full confession of her actions in an email and sends it to everyone in local government, along with a link to the Pit’s new social networking website, put together by Intern April, to remind everyone of the good work she’s doing.

“Maybe in your world it’s not a big deal. You’re a white Protestant man with a full, rich mustache.” – Leslie


Only April, a 19-year-old minor, has posted a video of herself drinking the gift basket wine on the Pit’s website, thus getting Leslie in, theoretically, enough trouble to incur fines for contributing to the delinquency of a minor and the potential loss of her job. She goes to her disciplinary hearing, which Leslie draws out with her commitment to truthiness and extreme details of the situation until Swanson steps in and says he’ll reprimand her and prevent people from drinking on government property. Not because he cares for Leslie, but because he actually hates government. His idea of a perfect government is just a guy in a room who gets to decide who to kill. And that man would be determined by, possibly, some sort of athletic contest. And he could demand women to pleasure him at his behest.

This is how my parents used to wash their dog!

This is how my parents used to wash their dog!

There’s also an adorable/funny subplot in which Chris Pratt’s character, invalid Andy, decides to do something nice for Ann, who works so hard to take care of him. While she works a double shift, he decides to clean up the house for her, which he achieves mostly through the use of a grabbing stick and his incredible ability to vacuum while resting his weight on crutches, hopped up on painkillers. Andy even hauls all the trash from the house out to the Pit to dump it, taking time to greet a neighbor who’s doing the same thing. But the icing on the cake is his demonstration of his cleaning process, which, since he can’t stand in the shower, involves filling a kiddie pool with soapy water and covering his leg casts with duct-taped plastic bags, resting naked in it while listening to some tunes he wrote for Ann on his boombox. He even washed his shorts! But then a neighbor comes by and takes Andy’s boombox, crucial because he intended to play that song for Ann when she walked through the door later that day, and so Andy springs from the pool, nude and draped in plastic bags, and hobbles down the street to get his boombox, the image of which is one of the funnier things I’ve ever seen. He does, however, make it home in time to groom himself and cook dinner for Ann, making him totally one of my new favorite losers with hearts of gold. (I hope he one day does this whole scenario for his fiancée, Anna Faris. She would find it hysterical.) Someone, indeed, is getting gently laid tonight.

30 Rock 3.20 “The Natural Order”

I really enjoyed 30 Rock‘s take on an age-old comedy trope of “living in each other’s shoes to see who’s right.” This was already broached this season when Tracy and Jenna trade places to see who is worse off in America, black men or white women. This was a much more old-timey take, made bearable and funny by 30 Rock‘s hilarious dialogue. In an effort to get Tracy to learn to come to rehearsal on time (is that what ANTM‘s Aminat was talking about?), the TGS staff goes out of its way to set his clocks forward and behind, which goes so far as to have him take his son to a cello lesson at midnight that was supposed to happen two days ago . . . or something.

“White oppressors, answer my question. What time is it really?!” – Tracy


And so he plays the race card (“Don’t accept it! Don’t accept it!”), which Liz refutes by challenging Tracy to actually earn the right to not be treated like a child by proving he can be professional. So Liz demands he show up on time for rehearsal, have his lines memorized and that she will send a regular towncar to pick him up instead of “one of those Duck Boats.” When he amazingly does prove he can be treated like everyone else, he suggests that Liz also receive no preferential treatment as a woman, forcing her to load 50gallon water cooler jugs by herself, which clearly ends in more water being on the floor than in the watercooler. (I’d like to note that I have the tiniest upper body in the world and I can change a 5-gallon watercooler tank. The trick is to leave the cap on and then pull it off when the spout is already partially in the socket. Some water will spill, but not a lot.) Tracy’s decree extends to the writer’s room, where the guys no longer hold back farts and insist that Liz accompany them to Lutz’s UnBachelor Party at a strip club, and pay for it, because that’s what a dude boss would do. Liz, however, gets the last laugh here by making Tracy stay behind to read and approve script revisions, since he’s equal, which drives him to the brink of madness, as does Liz having to watch a stripper take off Lutz’s shirt (“That gland thing is not a joke!”). They call a truce, and all goes back to the way it was before.

Paul, this is the son that ran me over with his car.

Paul, this is the son that ran me over with his car.

Meanwhile, Jack’s mother is in town to remember the anniversary of the night when Jimmy Donaghey walked out on her and Jack for good. Or at least that’s what Jack thinks. Really, she’s there vacationing with her four-years-her-junior boyfriend, whom Jack instantly dislikes because he’s too young for his mother and from Florida. (“Have you ever been to Florida? It’s a criminal population. It’s America’s Australia.”) Jack hires his PI (Steve Buscemi) to dig up dirt on Paul, but he’s clean . . . except for the fact that he’s been married for 35 years and is cheating on his wife with Colleen. Jack decides that this is the opportune time to deliver the speech he wrote as a young boy to deliver to his father should he ever return. Colleen walks in on Jack upbraiding her boyfriend for being a Communist and informs him that she is well aware of the fact that Paul is married and doesn’t care.

“It’s Florida, Jack. It’s like it never stopped being the 70’s down there. And a man who can drive at night? You just don’t say no to that.”

Considering the fact that my baseball grandma is not allowed to drive at night, I found that line exceptionally funny. That’s what I want when I’m old. A man who can drive at night. That’s the good life. I’m totally with Colleen on that one. Furthermore, she has completely forgotten about the final time her husband walked out on her because he had left so many times before then. Their tradition was always more for Jack’s sake then her own. Nonetheless, she realizes in this moment how much Jack loves her and declares him a good son, so they head off for their commemorative Jimmy Donaghey dinner together, minus Paul.

I actually liked Elaine Stritch’s performance in this episode so much that I think she deserves an Emmy nod for it. She delivered every single on of her lines with the appropriate blend of caustic comic wit and human tenderness. Colleen is what she is, and her son may have accidentally-on-purpose tried to kill her once, but there’s a real, strange love between Jack and his mama. And Stritch definitely deserves props for her part in that. She’s fucking fierce.

Ah, but, twist! It turns out that Jimmy Donaghey can’t be Jack’s father, as he was missing from 1957 to 1959, since the last time he left was after taking Colleen to see 1959’s Some Like It Hot, and Jack was conceived in 1958!

Other funny:

  • Jenna had a completely throwaway sub-subplot in which she makes a little monkey baby of the Gibbon Liz hired to fill in for Tracy at rehearsals, the best part of which is this line: “The gibbon did not attack Jenna. He was trying to have sex with her face.” – Kenneth
  • “Why? The gibbon is on time, he knows is blocking and he doesn’t try to bite the dancers!” – Pete
  • “No, he’s happy. His costume is hiding his erection.” – Jenna, in re: the gibbon
  • (Okay, so the gibbon was good for three funny lines. I must really like animals.)
  • “It’s the biggest regret of my life, Lemon. And I once made love to Kathy Hilton.” – Jack, on not delivering his confrontation speech to his dad

The Husband:

My Name Is Earl 4.24 “Gospel”

As My Name Is Earl comes close to, perhaps, ending its four-season run, it gave us this spiritual throwback to earlier seasons, when the plots may not have been as intricate as they grew to be over the show’s evolution, but relied enough on character work to make everything seem like it’s working hard for your money. A “hick show” this isn’t, but one based on a quite varied concept of spirituality and faith, without any of those religious implications that get in the way of what really matters – being a good person.

After meeting a preacher at a local fair, Earl decides to take on #34 on his list – stole an organ from a church. Why? He and Randy completely misunderstood the concept of “selling organs on the black market.” Whatever. To make up for it, they bring the organ back to the church, and Earl learns more of the preacher – he was once known as Hash Brown, a violent, short-tempered gangbanger who found God while in prison. Oh, and one more thing – Earl has done more than one unkarmic thing to this preacher. First, he stole his tool kit while Hash Brown was a construction worker, and to add insult to injury, Earl knocked over the port-a-potty Hash Brown was using. The preacher is a forgiving man, though, and simply asks that Earl and Randy attend the church’s next service.

And I shall strike down upon thee with great vengeance!

And I shall strike down upon thee with great vengeance!

At the service, the preacher and his congregation forgive the Hickeys, and then moved by the spirit confess transgressions of their own. This is fine, until the preacher’s wife stands up and declares that she slept with Earl with Hash Brown was in prison. (At the time, Earl had realized that picking up women outside of jail was a great idea.) The preacher, in turn, reverts back into Hash Brown and beats the shit out of Earl, grabs some valuable items from his lectern and goes out to his truck, declaring that God owes him ten years of missed income from Hash Brown’s business of selling crack. Earl, struggling to save the situation, notices that Hash Brown’s truck has a busted taillight. In fact, Earl had once tried to have Randy catch a bullet as a magic trick, a bullet that went through Randy’s hand and broke the truck’s taillight. Fortunately, this busted taillight got Hash Brown pulled over by the police so many years earlier, which in turn led to his incarceration and reawakening. No harm, no foul, and the preacher understands it as divine intervention.

In the B-story, Joy had become so drunk at the church fair on wine in Dixie cups that Darnell won’t let her drive him, so she wanders around Camden until she comes across a sit-down lawnmower. Now drunkenly driving quite slow around the neighborhood, she sees Catalina and runs her down, jealous of all the prizes she won at the fair that Joy wanted for herself. Realizing that she has two strikes and can’t get in trouble again (sort of the focal point for season 2’s court case that put Earl in jail), she drives the unconscious Catalina to a shed and pins her against the wall, figuring out what to do so that Catalina doesn’t call the cops.

“That psychic was right – I am going to die in a shack, pinned to the all by a lawnmower.” – Catalina

When Joy comes back the next day, she has Darnell in tow. Usually the voice of reason, Darnell can think of no other solution but to kill Catalina, and just as he is about to slash her throat (as Joy’s husband, this is in some ways the most reasonable solution), Joy knocks him out with a swift shovel blow to the head. Moved by Joy’s own intervention, Catalina promises to keep her mouth shut.

While not a great episode, I’ve always been drawn to the stories where one of Earl’s transgressions turns into several, and like an episode of a Larry David show, the decks get stacked so high against Earl that it’s fun to watch him flail.

The Office 5.23 “Broke”

Despite having taken a good deal of business away from Dunder Mifflin, the Michael Scott Paper Company (MSPC) seems to be approaching bankruptcy, thanks in no small part of Michael’s ignorance of how much it costs to expand a business beyond three employees who do all their early-morning deliveries by themselves in a van bought from a Korean church. (And as the logo is still on the side of the van, so every once in a while a Korean member of the Scranton community will hope on board.) By the way, what does Pam discover is Michael’s drink every morning? Milk and sugar. Nothing more. (Lufthansaaaaaa…)

“Ever since I’ve gotten clean, something about fresh 5 a.m. air makes me sick.” – Ryan

The important thing, however, is that Minor and Wallace at Dunder Mifflin don’t realize how close MSPC is to going belly-up, and as a result decide that it’s probably the best idea to simply buy them out. As Minor is starting to realize that Dwight, while possessing the best intentions, is a complete embarrassment through and through, he lets Jim go down to MSPC to propose a buy-out meeting.

Oh, no, this is a completely unfavorable situation.

Oh, no, this is a completely unfavorable situation.

Pam is especially excited for the deal to go through, because she has noticed that, on her quest to get some weekend work, she can’t even get call-backs from the likes of Old Navy, Target and Walmart. She and Ryan convince Michael to go through with it, as well as to do the best he can not to bring up the company’s financial situation. After all, she can’t really blame him for his failure:

“When a child gets behind the wheel of a car and runs into a tree, you don’t blame the child. He didn’t know any better. You blame the 30-year-old woman who got in the passenger seat and said, “Drive, kid. I trust you.’” – Pam

Upstairs at Dunder Mifflin, Michael stands up and gets Minor and Wallace to increase their offer from $12,000 all the way to $60,000, and in a moment of complete loyalty, Michael demands that all three members of the MSPC be allowed to work at Dunder Mifflin again. And this time, Pam is to be a salesperson.

(This is even despite Dwight’s warning that the company is, in fact, going under, as he has discovered that the MSPC made a round of calls to their clients asking for more money. However, Jim frustrates Dwight so much in front of Minor that Dwight ended up looking like an idiot.)

I’m not really sure why Wallace agrees to all the terms, but it definitely avoids a headache down the line. Michael had made a good speech moments earlier that even if the MSPC fails, he’ll just start another paper company, and then another, then another, so I guess that even if Michael is clearly a terrible businessman, his determination is enough to cause Corporate some discomfort.

A very forceful, very triumphant episode that more than makes up for a few lags over the last few episodes, as it proves that the show is completely incapable of spinning its wheels anymore. Comedy is one thing, but story is another.

Other funny bits:

  • “Come along, afterthought.” – Dwight
  • “Well well well…how the turntables…[pause]…” – Michael

The Wife:

Parks and Recreation 1.3 “The Reporter”

This episode was Parks & Recreations foray into having a plot, which was fine and all because plots are generally good things to have, but this one never really got any momentum behind it. (The first two episodes of this show I’d consider pretty plotless, and yet both moved toward some kind of denouement that actually, I felt, went somewhere.) In an attempt to drum up publicity for her pit-into-park project, Leslie sets up an interview with a reporter. Naturally, because everyone involved in this project but Ann (and maybe Mark Brandanawicz at times) is an idiot, they say things during the interview that they probably shouldn’t have said, like Chris Pratt’s revelation that he was drunk and searching for a toaster when he fell into the pit and broke his legs. I had kind of assumed that, but apparently Ann didn’t and now there exists a tape recording of his admitting to drunkenness which he didn’t tell the hospital when they gave him anesthesia in the ER.

Oh, God. Thats so great that they have that on tape now. Thank you.

Oh, God. That's so great that they have that on tape now. Thank you.

Leslie asks Mark to ameliorate the situation and charm reporter Shauna into writing a more positive article than the interview would lead her to. So Mark sleeps with her, which completely destroys Leslie when she realizes what has happened. Shauna quotes something Mark said to her about the park never, ever, ever going to come to fruition and Leslie asks him to get her not to write that, but she does anyway when he tells her that he doesn’t want to be in a relationship with her. The article remains mostly negative.

I guess my issue with this plot is that I find Leslie’s obsession with Mark too based in insane delusion than actual affection to care what he does one way or the other. I’m sure this has something to do with the way Poehler plays Leslie as perpetually optimistic, even to her determent, but in cases like this one, it’s really difficult to connect to Leslie’s feelings. She comes off as completely insane rather than completely human. (Husband Note: To be fair, Michael’s obsession with boss Jan over on The Office was also based primarily in insane delusion, but ultimately led to something much, much bigger.) I did, however, think her automatic response to Shauna sleeping with Mark was pretty great though, as she takes a breather from the interview to go lay down inside her government-issued vehicle, which in some way reiterates a theme her about bureaucracy being a way Leslie protects herself from being wholly human. It was also amusing.

Anyway, things that were very funny in this largely blank episode were:

  • Raccoons, which are never unfunny. They’re nature’s bandits.
  • A third joke about the brutal slaughter of Native Americans, this one a mural featuring a chief about to be shot by a cannon at close range. And yes, the fact that I find these jokes so funny does inherently disturb me. Who the fuck am I?
  • Tom Haverford’s approach to making his boss like him by intentionally losing at Scrabble. How badly does he play? With enough tiles to play FISHING for a bingo, Tom just plays his S next to an open I for a two-point play of IS. Man, I love Scrabble jokes!


30 Rock 3.19 “The Ones”

In this week’s A-story, Elisa returns, but doesn’t want to marry Jack because of her terrible secret. That secret? Her first husband cheated on her and she killed him, which became a pretty inescapable fact once a pop song was written about her, making her just like Helo Pinhiero, the Girl from Ipanema . . . if the girl from Ipanema were a murderess. Liz advises Jack that if she loves Elisa, he just shouldn’t cheat on her and marry her anyway. After all, Jack says, “right now, somebody is on a J-date with Monica Lewinski,” proving that even those with sordid pasts deserve love and forgiveness. But ultimately, Elisa doesn’t want to marry Jack and they break up.

The B- and C-stories were also about love and finding “The One” or not pissing off “The One” after you’ve found them. When an accident causes an LCD screen to fall on an employee’s head, Jenna meets and falls for a cute EMT, but his phone number gets eaten by the patient before Jenna can return. She pines for him in song like a Disney princess, and Pete asks her what she would do if she met a man at a funeral and wanted to see him again. Jenna proves she’s a sociopath by saying that, obviously, she would murder the deceased’s relative to see if the mystery man would come to that funeral, followed by a few other unnecessary murders. And so she goes on a near-death rampage, repeatedly poisoning Kenneth with strawberries (which make him go into anaphylactic shock) in order to see the cute paramedic again. The staff eventually tricks Jenna into think she’s killed Kenneth to get her to stop, but when Kenneth realizes why she was poisoning him, he drinks the potentially lethal strawberry water one last time to help Jenna meet the man of her dreams. Only when she does, she finds out he has a son, which means he definitely can’t be the one. Because Jenna hates children.

I think everyone needs a tattoo that basically says, Ima cut you!

I think everyone needs a tattoo that basically says, "I'ma cut you!"


As for Tracy, he can’t decide what to get his wife for their anniversary, so Liz suggests that rather than buying her meaningless gifts, he just ask her what she wants. And what does Angie want? Tracy to tattoo her name and image on his stomach, which is problematic because his signature move to get the ladies to want him is to lift up his shirt. DotCom suggests that Tracy get the tattoo, but simply draw a mane and add a few letters to it in Sharpie when he goes out so that it appears to be a lion named Tangiers.

“DotCom, that’s a great idea . . . if you want everyone to think I own a gay lion!” – Tracy

Tracy takes Jack out to help him decide not to cheat on Elisa and although they are surrounded by beautiful groupies, Tracy reveals his secret that he has never, ever cheated on his wife. The partying is all for show, but he loves and fears Angie too much to ever betray her. “All those phone numbers I hand out?” he says, “They’re not even mine.” They’re actually Brian Williams’, who, when called, will ask a booty call to come to Connecticut. I love Brian Williams. That dude is such a good sport. So Tracy does get that tattoo for Angie . . . only he gets it on his back . . . and it’s the tattoo of Tangiers, the gay lion. Oops.

Liz returned to her role as the bastion of normalcy in the wacky world of 30 Rock, even though she spent this entire episode wearing a Slanket, which seems infinitely cooler than a Snuggie, and comes in more colors!

Other funny:


  • “She is very spirited. Like a showhorse.” – The Cartier salesclerk, on Liz when he thinks Jack is buying a ring for her before revealing the real showroom when he sees a picture of Elisa
  • “You are wise, Liz Lemon. Like a genetically manipulated shark.” – Tracy
  • “I still think that would have sold much better if he had shot me in the face.” – Jenna, on the album she cut with Phil Spector
  • Liz: What do you want me to say, Tracy? I’m sorry I made it harder for you to cheat on your wife?
    Tracy: That’s a start, Liz Lemon. That’s a start.
  • “Could the hats have feathers? Yes! Yes!” – The Pranksmen
  • “I heard you singing, ‘Night Cheese.'” – Jack
  • “Eventually, it makes me loco for chocopuffs.” – Elisa, still not totally great at English advertising slogans, especially since she just spent two months away speaking no English whatsoever


And my favorite totally weird-ass reference of the night, from Kenneth, as he chokes on a strawberry:


“Oh no! Strawberries! My real name is Dick Whitman!”

If only Jon Hamm were around for that moment . . . I get why 30 Rock would make a Mad Men joke as both are critically acclaimed shows that don’t get the kind of ratings they deserve, and Jon Hamm did, in fact, guest on the show for awhile. But why Elisa has a Battlestar Galactica tee-shirt, I have no idea.

The Wife:


Parks and Recreation 1.2 “Canvassing”

After the supremely awkward denouement that was Leslie’s first town hall meeting at the end of this episode, I am definitely warming up to Parks & Recreation. To facilitate that meeting, Leslie et al spent the day canvassing, which my husband can tell you is basically the worst job in the world, during which time idealistic Leslie found out that not everyone likes parks. Sure, pedophiles do, especially if the park is more than the required 1000 feet from their home and extra-especially if there’s going to be a pool in which the kids can swim, but sometimes mothers of children don’t like them because they’re too noisy. And those park haters are exactly the kind of people who show up to voice their opinions at town hall meetings.

Yeah, Im pretty sure I took this internship so I wouldnt have to canvass for Peta and shit.

Yeah, I'm pretty sure I took this internship so I wouldn't have to canvass for Peta and shit.

Seeing how poorly that meeting is going, Leslie starts filibustering to run down the clock and avoid a potential park-killing vote. Tactics used? Reciting the history of Pawnee, which involves a good slaughtering of white settlers by the local Native American population, planting Intern April in the audience as the voice of the local pro-park youth and, eventually, reading aloud from The Phantom Tollbooth. Let me just say this: if every episode contains a joke involving the brutal and deadly culture clashes between Native Americans and white settlers, I will be a happy camper. So far, we’ve gotten one in each episode (the score is Natives 1, Settlers 1), and I for some reason think these jokes have been the funniest out of everything. It’s really hard not to find the phrase “until he was twisted to death” funny when you’re me.

Also funny:

  • Leslie and Ann returning to Ann’s home to find her injured boyfriend Andy playing Rock Band with Mike and Intern April . . . who should have been out canvassing.
  • Intern April hiding under a tee-shirt while playing Rock Band, as if it were an invisibility cloak.
  • “I want my daughter to succeed passionately. That’s why I always encourage her to be a wife and mother.” – Leslie’s mom, who is also in local government and is way better at it than her daughter will ever be.
  • “Nikolai, do you want to swim in the dirt?” –Leslie
  • “Fillibuster! Boom!” – Leslie
  • “You know, normally I don’t agree with Leslie about anything, but this book is awesome.” – Tom, holding up The Phantom Tollbooth


30 Rock 3.18 “Jackie Jormp-Jomp”

And so Liz begins her suspension from work, and she cannot wait to get back. In fact, all she does is spend her days annoying the hell out of her building’s various Polish doorpersons by yammering on and on about TGS and the crazy times she has there . . . until she meets an out-of-work Wall Street exec who teaches her how to let go of the work-defined identity she has cultivated and fill her days with booze, facials, shopping and lunch, brunch and dinner dates. It’s basically like living in Sex and the City, and despite her attempts to resist, Liz somehow finds herself completely in love with their culture, per a brilliant sequence where she insists she’s only going to have one drink with them, and suddenly finds that she’s spent the whole day eating, drinking, relaxing and shopping, all before she’s finished telling them she won’t stay. When she completes her sensitivity training and is reinstated at work, she suddenly feels overwhelmed by the prospect of going back to a job-defined existence and quickly sexually harasses Mr. Weinerslav (“It’s pronounced weiner slave.”) in order to return to the safe comfort of her new divorcee friends.


Jack: There is no solace in their luxury, only deep despair.
Liz: How do you know so many Indigo Girls songs?


And, of course, Jack is right, because Liz’s new friends turn out to be a fight club, where one night a week they beat the shit out of each other just to feel alive. They even make Liz fight her way out:

“This is very disappointing!” – Liz

Oh my god . . . Im actually alive, right? RIGHT????

Oh my god . . . I'm actually alive, right? RIGHT????

Meanwhile, with Liz gone from TGS, Pete and Jack are trying to hold things together, especially in light of the new sexual harassment policy and Sheinhart Wig Company’s refusal to release Jenna’s Janis Joplin/Janie Jimplin/Janet Jopler biopic, now known as Sing ‘Dem Blues, White Girl: The Jackie Jormp-Jomp Story. In order to have any hope of reviving Jenna’s career, Jack makes her attend the Kids’ Choice Awards (where she must begrudgingly set aside her feud with Raven-Symoné for one day) and they learn during a hilarious In Memoriam montage that, somehow, the entertainment world thinks Jenna is dead. Jack sees this as an opportunity to revive her career and market the movie, because every studio in the country would clamor to release someone’s final film. He asks Jenna to help him fake her death by staying out of the public eye.


“Oh, I can play dead. I watched my entire church group get eaten by a bear.” – Jenna


The new sexual harassment policy insists that employees declare relationships with other employees to their superiors, so Kenneth announces to Jack his intentions to marry Daphne, one of the Tracy Jordan dancers. Only Kenneth has never talked to Daphne and he is shocked/heartbroken/terrified to see DotCom turn up at the office, hand-in-hand with Daphne to declare their relationship to Jack. (At least Kenneth got to declare that he was sexually harassed by Meredith Viera, who made him eat an unripened banana in front of her and told him that pretty boys like him don’t need to read things. Man, I love the imagined life of Meredith Viera on this show.) Taking power into his own hands, Tracy puts an end to the feud between DotCom and Kenneth (for no one shall be denied extra mustard on his watch!), he fires Daphne, and the other dancers refuse to come to work in solidarity, leading Tracy to hire a bunch of female impersonators to dance on the show that week, which will be dedicated entirely to the memory of recently deceased Jenna Moroney.

Jenna is thrilled at the prospect of a show dedicated entirely to her, and watched gleefully from the sidelines. That is, until she notices that her real birth year, not the actress year, is listed on her memorial head shot. Unable to bear the thought that people would know she’s actually forty, Jenna sneaks onstage to cover up the year with her hand while singing live, in an Easter-like resurrection miracle. “Sorry, Jack! Totally worth it!” she calls out between soulful notes from her undead vocal chords.

I was very fond of the Jenna and Liz storylines in this episode, but the Tracy-DotCom-Kenneth piece didn’t really add up to anything. But I guess that’s what happens when you put Tracy in charge of something – the pieces just don’t add up. Firing Daphne didn’t really solve anything, and led us to a sight gag that never came to fruition. We should have seen those dancers again, in full force, preferably in a highly choreographed dance number in memoriam of Jenna, but we didn’t. Alas.

“Heavy is the head that eats the crayons.” – Tracy

The Wife:

Parks and Recreation 1.1 “Make My Pit a Park”

Here we go, boys! My own sitcom!

Here we go, boys! My own sitcom!

This pilot was kind of a letdown, filled with maybe a total of four things I found amusing, most of which were not amusing enough to actually vocalize laughter. I will list them:

1. Amy Poehler’s entire attempt to remove a drunk man from a children’s slide. There’s just something funny about poking a drunk man with a broom.

2. Loudon Wainwright III popping up as a local nutball who uses public forums as a way to rattle off his own conspiracy theories. First of all, I love Big Daddy Wainwright, even if, as a Rufus fan, I shouldn’t. (Listen to “Dinner at Eight” off of Want One if you don’t know what I’m talking about.) Second of all, I come across a fair number of public forums at my current job and this is exactly what they are like. There’s always one guy who pops up to share his theories on Laura Linney.

3. That painting on the brutal slaughter of Native Americans by the pioneer women of Pawnee, Indiana? That I laughed out loud at. And then I was suddenly filled with white guilt.

4. “Sweet lady Marmalaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarde.”

I wasn’t fond of the pilot for The Office, either, and television wasn’t nearly as important to me then (probably more important? drinking) as it is now, so I didn’t bother to give myself a chance to warm to The Office, which I’m told by many people I should be watching. For as affable as Poehler is as Leslie Knopp, and as much as I like Aziz Ansari and Rashida Jones, there’s just something about these mockumentary-style shows I can’t get into. And this one seems imminently less relatable than The Office does. I’ll keep watching, because even though this episode was something of a letdown, it’s better than Kath & Kim.

30 Rock 3.17 “Cutbacks”

The celebration of TGS‘ 50th show is quickly snuffed when Jack announces that the Sheinhardt Wig Company is making cutbacks, and departments can either make them on their own, or let someone from corporate come in and do it for them.


“Enjoy your decorative airholders. You deserve them.” – Jack


So Liz is ordered to turn in a budget for her show, and even Jack has to make some cuts, firing Jonathan and asking Kenneth to do double duty as both NBC page and his assistant. But when it comes down to it, Liz can’t find any room in the TGS budget to scrimp. I mean, they need those straws, for the soda cans are the bathroom for all of the vermin infesting the halls of 30 Rock since Jack cut the exterminators out of the corporate budget. Enter Roger Bart as a corporate hatchet man to whom Liz must pander to save her show. She starts by giving an Apple-esque presentation about why TGS is awesome (it’s really conserving resources, you see, for it is a live show, a comedy show and a musical!), but Roger Bart remains largely unimpressed, although I don’t know how considering how freaking awesome Jenna’s Suri Cruise rap is. He orders Liz to cut 25% of her operating budget, and do so in a day, lest he do it for her.

And, really, how could you cut money from a show that Emmy magazine dubbed The Death of Comedy?

And, really, how could you cut money from a show that Emmy magazine dubbed "The Death of Comedy?"

When she is unable to make her cuts, Roger Bart goes ahead and fires a large percent of her staff, including the announcer who can’t really talk correctly anymore (but needs the insurance, that’s why Liz keeps him on). Liz decides to take a cue from Sheryl, a middle aged woman from another department who is ready to trade sex with Jack to keep her job (and, in fact, suggests to Liz that they team up and lez out a bit so they can get more out of it), and slut it up for Roger Bart in the hopes that he’ll show her department favor and give back her staff.

Like an 80s prom combination of William Wallace, Norma Rae and Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, Liz heads out to take one for the team:


“They may take my dignity, but they’ll never take our straws!” – Liz


But the next day after Liz offers Roger Bart some top front action, she finds that TGS is now the headquarters for Telemundo’s soccer sportscasts.


“Top front? Good Lord, Lemon, that’s your worst quadrant.” – Jack


She confronts Roger Bart about this and realizes, sadly, that what she thought was a business exchange was actually the first time he’s slept with a woman since his wife died. Heartbroken, he rails at the heavens:


“She’s a monster!”


Meanwhile, because Kenneth is busy juggling two jobs, he asks Tracy to feed his bird, with the stipulation that Tracy not enter Kenneth’s bedroom. Naturally, Tracy starts thinking that Kenneth is a serial killer, hiding bodies in his bedroom. I mean, why else wouldn’t you allow television star Tracy Jordan to enter your bedroom?


“Neither he, nor his bird, will let me go into his bedroom.” – Tracy


So Tracy does what one would naturally do when one suspects one’s coworker might be a serial killer and tells Jenna about it. She informs him that, based on the knowledge she gleaned about serial killers while playing Detective Jill St. Ferrari in the Lifetime original miniseries Hushed Rapings, Kenneth is most definitely a serial killer, especially because he has an inability to read facial expressions.

“I admonished him for that earlier!” – Tracy


After attempting to confront Kenneth about it, who is now speaking rather oddly because he’s not sure if he has to be Kenneth the Page of Kenneth the Assistant (he’s much tougher). Kenneth makes it seem like Jonathan is dead, and Tracy and Jenna go to feed the bird and investigate, ignoring warnings not to enter the bedroom. When they do, they see no bodies, but a bug bomb:


“Oh, no! Kenneth’s a killer or the Riddler’s coming!”


The bird drops dead, and they decide to confess their misdeed to Kenneth, who is so angry that he is forced to yell at them in his barn voice. I mean, they killed the bird he kept for over 60 years. I’d be upset, too. (60 years? Wow, the air in Appalachia has been good to Kenneth.) To make it up to him, Tracy and Jenna decide to buy Kenneth a whole bunch of birds, which he takes great delight in naming (Balthazar, Lorne, Michael, Donna).

Because of Liz’s sexual harassment of Roger Bart, she gets put on a mandatory two-week unpaid suspension, and she has to start the budget review process all over again – this time, under Jack’s supervision. See? Everything works out exactly the way you want it to when you harass sexually in the work place! Screw what that HR guy said!

As always, there is no such thing as a bad episode of 30 Rock. In the long run, I don’t think “Cutbacks” is going to be a classic episode of this show, but it was funny enough. I have a feeling I’ll be talking about Hushed Rapings for a long time to come.

The Husband:

I think if you’re looking to a Greg Daniels show (The Office, Parks and Recreation, King of the Hill) for loud, extended guffaws, you’re going to be disappointed. With the exception of the dialogue from some of the sillier Office characters, none of these shows are meant to make you laugh so hard your sides hurt in the way that 30 Rock does. They are clever, amusing, uncomfortable and true to life. They cause one to smirk, shudder, wince, chuckle, and, most of all, think. His previous shows work because they are about real people, not one-liner monkeys. My issue with Parks and Recreation wasn’t that it wasn’t this laugh-out-loud riot, but simply that, so far, I can only relate to the Paul Schneider character, and that may just be because I love his film work, especially David Gordon Greene’s All the Real Girls.

There are just different types of humor out there, and to expect one thing from something that it’s not may seem a tad unfair. But I do think that, had my wife stuck with The Office, she would have been better prepared for P&R.

It’s fine to not think something is funny, because humor is entirely subjective. But each show is entitled to reach its own form of funny the way they know how.

The Husband:

My Name Is Earl 4.22 “Pinky”

As Earl tries to solve #83 on his list (“never took the time to teach Randy how to blow a bubble”), we the viewers finally get an explanation to where the hell the pretty Camdenite lady went after last season’s finale. Turns out, she and Randy broke up, and she’s now at truck driving school. (I think I mentioned before that the actress who played said Camdenite, Deborah Ann Woll, is a friend of a friend of my sister, so her absence was especially notable here at Chez Children Of Saint Clare.)

That aside, Earl has something else to deal with, when Joy begins complaining that her son, Dodge, has been seen hanging out with one of Eugenia’s daughters acting all lovey-dovey.

“No son of mine is going to date something that came out of Eugenia’s devil chute.” — Joy

This in turn causes Randy to think back fondly to his childhood, when he and Earl used to spend time at the lake with their deliriously fat aunt as punishment, and how Randy was in love with a girl known only as “Pinky” (due to her pink hair), and was known to her as “Skipper,” due to his great ability to skip ocks. Unfortunately, when they were to meet on a bridge to finally have their first kiss, Pinky never showed up, and thus Randy lost his one true love.

Now 20 years later, Earl and Randy go back to the lake to track Pinky down, but the old employee there has enough on his mind.

“My penis lost all feeling in 1993.”

But when Randy mentions that the girl had pink hair, the employee knows immediately how to track her down, and, luck be to Randy, convinces her to return to the bridge so many years after the fact. Upon reaching the bridge, Randy discovers the horrible truth — Pinky is Joy. (OH NOES!)

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?

Turns out, Earl has been trying to stop Randy from pursuing Pinky because, 20 years earlier, Earl was so jealous that Randy was pursuing his first love while Earl was dealing with dying out his aunt’s fat folds that he forged a note and gave it to Pinky, a note that declared that the Skipper hated Pinky, and he wasn’t going to show up.

So now, he has a new list item — #277, broke up Randy and Pinky.

Her eyes finally open to this terrible situation, Joy wants nothing to do with Randy, but agrees to at least give him a kiss, but only if Earl breaks up Dodge and Eugenia’s daughter.

“My body, my choice, hear me roar, kiss my grits.” — Joy

Earl goes through with the plan quite easily, using the same forged note trick, but not without getting kicked in the junk and being called a pedophile.

Back at the bridge, Joy makes Randy swig some bleach dyed green (to clear out that Petri dish of a mouth), but is still having trouble trying to kiss her former brother-in-law and sworn social enemy. Randy tries to remind her of the delightful child she once was by trying to give her orange soda and some sweet tunes courtesy of a Bobby Brown album.

“I traded in orange soda for strawberry wine when I was 13, and I stopped liking Bobby Brown when he started picking doodie out of Whitney Houston.” — Joy

Finally, though, Randy and Joy share a sweet kiss, and everybody moves on with their life.

Bleeeeeeeeeeeeeeech!

Bleeeeeeeeeeeeeeech!

Considering this was a non-ensemble episode, these 30 minutes still really got a rise out of me due to its sweetness and longing, even if it ultimately tells us that life never really works out the way we planned it. I wish more Earl episodes could be like this, but with only two left in the season, I think I’m just going to have to wish that the showrunners and writers figure out that, with this show, heartfelt is always better than wacky, and that perhaps next season could be a bit more character-driven. (And a few really good multi-episode arcs, please. I want to know I’m watching the fifth season of something, and not just a rehash of something I saw back in 2005.)

The Office 5.19 “Two Weeks”

After Michael finally stood up to Corporate last week and declared his resignation from Dunder Mifflin, he still has to drag himself through his final two weeks, and, as Jim points out, there is a surprisingly big difference between Michael trying and Michael not trying. (This includes Michael walking around the office with Splenda-seasoned scotch, and smacking pieces of paper away from his employees with one of those sticky hand ropes you get at drug stores.) But when somebody else comes into the office to interview for Michael’s old position, Michael learns that the sinking economy will more likely than not leave him completely unemployed for an extended period of time. And looking for jobs online isn’t really going well, either.

[Horrible moaning and groaning sounds emanate from Michael’s computer]

Jim [to Michael]: It’s “Monster.com.” Singular.

[Horrible noises cease]

Finally, Michael comes up with what he believes is a brilliant idea — start up his own paper company called, cleverly enough, Michael Scott Paper Company. He feels he knows everything there is to know about the paper company (which he doesn’t) and begins trying to recruit his former employees into joining him at his new venture. But nobody’s biting, for obvious reasons.

“You know what? I had a great time at prom, and no one said ‘yes’ to that, either.” — Michael

When new boss Charles Minor gets wind of Michael’s new business venture, he has him thrown out of the building. But that doesn’t stop Michael, who sneaks back into the office to grab some necessary paperwork and to try to rope at least one person into his new company.

Defect with me, Jim!

Defect with me, Jim!

Finally, Pam, a mixture of her recent terrible bout with the new copier and…well…pretty much all the bad shit she had to go through at Dunder Mifflin, agrees to ditch the company to help Michael, but this time she will no longer be a receptionist, but instead be a salesman.

A fairly laugh-less episode other than the two previous quotes, plus Dwight’s complete misunderstanding of the “headhunter” concept, but since this has been and will always be a dramedy, that’s okay. Not a whole lot was accomplished in the episode’s 30 minutes that couldn’t have been done in about ten, but at least they’re taking their time with a story that could, potentially, change everything we think we know about The Office, and are still leaving us with what I believe is the show’s best season.

The Wife:

30 Rock 3.16 “Apollo, Apollo”

Much like Jason Segel, I truly, truly love puppets. If I could see the world the way Kenneth sees it, I would be a happy lady. Especially if the puppets occasionally sang to me. That’d be totally sweet.

This was a truly wacky, really funny episode, filled with good visual gags about Jack, Kenneth and Tracy’s various modes of seeing the world, and lots of funny lines from Liz’s ex Dennis about his newly made-up sex addition.

Jack: Jack is on the even of turning 50, and wants to complete the list of things 10-year-old Jack set out to accomplish before turning 50.

“I have hunted the world’s most dangerous game: man . . . atee. Manatee.” –Jack

The only thing left on his list is to make friends with Batman. But, as Jack attends his 50th birthday party and is introduced by the wrong name by Adam West, he realizes that he’ll never be as happy as he was on his tenth birthday, when he didn’t even get to open his gift because he was so excited that he threw up all over it, so he begins a quest to find out what that present was by employing a number of odd experts, such as a Deaf lip reader, who discerns that he was saying “Apollo, Apollo” before he inevitably threw up on the present. (And she is very, very upset that he neglected to warn her of the vomit scene). Jack buys himself that Apollo model rocket, but is still somewhat unfulfilled.

Tracy: Tracy declares at a press conference that he wants to fulfill his lifelong dream of going into space. In order to prevent Tracy from actually going into space or otherwise doing something stupid, Liz gets Pete to fake a space expedition within the halls of 30 Rock, all so Tracy can kill an Ewok. I love how the whole staff contributes to the illusion by telling Tracy he has to be blindfolded until he gets in the cockpit to prevent “space madness” and subsequently stops all conversation whenever he draws near so as not to rupture the illusion. That, my friends, is one well-planned lie.

I, for one, would have liked to see Tracy get hit with a bout of space madness.

I, for one, would have liked to see Tracy get hit with a bout of space madness.

Liz: Dennis shows up, claiming he’s a sex addict, spouting off such gems as:

“Former sex partner, I’m sorry that my disease made you a victim of my sexual charisma. I’m sorry that I’ve ruined sex with other men for you.”

Liz later finds out that Jenna also slept with Dennis, when she picks up Jenna’s cell phone (and does an excellent Jane Krakowski impersonation) while Jenna is preparing for her Peter Pan scene. The two women decide to band together and not let a douche like Dennis destroy their sisterhood, so they head off to stab Dennis/give him a piece of their mind. When they try to tell him off, Dennis decides to rank the two women, giving Jenna the number one spot over Liz. Angry at her friend over sleeping with a guy neither of them actually likes very much, Liz neglects to tell Jenna that her secure cable is not so secure and lets her fall and hurt her ankle — a real injury for once. To make it up to Jenna, Liz allows her to tell the writing staff about the commercial she did back in Chicago when she was still trying to make it as an actress.

That commercial is a commercial for the late night chat line 1-900-OKFACE, and when Jack catches a glimpse of it, he laughs so much that he vomits, which shall be henceforth known as “Jacking,” since laughing while you’re peeing is known as “Lizzing,” although she tries to pass it off as a combination as laughing and whizzing.

Or cashiers checks, for that matter.

Or cashier's checks, for that matter.

Other funny:

  • Tracy sees the world as though everyone in it is Tracy.
  • Kenneth is only worth $7 when Jack sees the world in money.
  • “That’s not even enough numbers!” — Frank, on Liz’s phone sex line
  • “What is this, horseville? Because I’m surrounded by naysayers!” — Tracy, so lame its hilarious
  • Jenna speaks with English inflections because she lost her virginity to the My Fair Lady soundtrack.

The Husband:

30 Rock also did perhaps the funniest thing since Moonvest screamed that he wanted Kenneth’s fingernails. When Kenneth looks up from his dressing room to see a Muppet version of Liz, we cut away to real life Liz in the hallway, walking just like a Muppet, head down and arms flapping wildly. It was the episode’s quickest throwaway gag, but it’s also a fucking gem. Now that’s attention to detail.

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