Episode 8 - College
19 November 2010
Synopsis: Liz reminisces about the one fortnight in college when she was popular. When she is presented with the chance to be popular amongst her own crew she takes it and goes to great lengths to keep it. Meanwhile Jack too is looking back as he presents his last quarterly report as part of GE and as head of the microwave division. When he discovers that their recent success has nothing to do with him he works to prove otherwise.
The Good: Both these plots reminded me of season one of the show when the sense that this was a real world was still vaguely intact. Liz once more learns that as boss she can't be popular and responsible. Jack learns that he has to let go of what he has achieved and move on to new challenges. Two sensible relatable stories.
The Jack microwave plot has a particularly clever ending. All episode the running gag had been that Jack's voice was sold on by Princeton to various other companies because of its intrinsic American accent. That plot point was well established because of the series of misuses of it by the writers (see Comic Highlight). So as Jack brought the new microwave back to its designers he was ready to lie about their product to make himself feel better until his own voice intervened. The broken microwave speaking in his voice kept blurting out "stop" "over" "done" "end" and finally "goodbye." Jack got the message, complimented the designers on their product and left. A lovely bit of writing.
Jack's story also had the delightful result that when he returned to his office Pete was waiting. All episode Pete had endured a series of embarrassing and implausible prank calls from Toofer and Frank which led him to believe Jack was his new best friend. But now exhausted and remembering his missed college experiences Jack was happy to drink beer with him. It was one of the only times I can remember where a 30 Rock character (other than Jack) actually got an unexpected pleasant surprise rather than yet another humiliating disappointment.
Liz' search for popularity was more predictably doomed but played out just fine. Sometimes Jenna's lines sound just believable enough to make me laugh and this one caught me: "This is why I hated my first two weeks at the Tampa Academy of Dramatic Tricks. No one knew who was the sluttiest, but I showed them. I showed them all!"
The Bad: Many of the jokes were typically foolish overkill. Pete was too easily fooled into confiding in Jack and rapping down the phone. Kenneth was babbling on about death as Jack blindly ignored his cold state. But the worst offenders were the Indian scientists working on the microwaves. It looks like the 30 Rock writers wanted to try their hand at writing an episode of Outsourced and they didn't miss a trick with their mildly offensive sterotypes.
Comic Highlight: As Jack leaves the writer's room they play his voice on their laptops to mock him. Jack is ready to take them down and says "I tell you what. Make me say anything you want. Get it out of your system." Toofer types "Obama is very Presidential" to which Jack instantly says "Alright that's enough!"
The Bottom Line: A largely enjoyable episode with a happy ending. It's funny how that made the whole thing seem so much better isn't it Tina?
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