They say there’s a little bit of truth in every fiction, but one wonders just how hard real-life sleazy TV execs may have pushed the idea that was the central focus of the latest "30 Rock" episode: To beat the competition, Jack tasks the TGS staff with the challenge of producing disaster relief programming before any catastrophes actually take place.
The job is no small feat, but the big boss is intent on seeing his vision through and enlists some high-profile cameo help, most notably Robert DeNiro in an awesomely bizarre performance. A tidal wave destroys Washington D.C.? Check. A tornado that hits a gun factory and causes a bullet hailstorm? Absolutely. Reverend Gary’s ark for teenage boys during the apocalypse? Absurd, sort of upsetting, but it’s hard to keep from screaming with laughter.
Meanwhile, Tracy’s determined to be professional and uneventful to keep from giving the producers of his wife’s new TV show any material to work with, despite their best efforts to manufacture a dramatic spectacle between he and Liz. He’s a robot of etiquette and pleasantry, because "Perfection is my middle name! Unclaimed Perfection Baby Boy." Liz decides to make the best of Tracy’s self-imposed antics and tells him he needs to stay late and do the DVD audio commentary he’s been putting off for five years.
Liz: "Hope you didn’t have plans tonight!"
His reaction? "No, I wasn’t going to buy two blimps and crash them into each other to see what sound they made."
The writers are overcome by Jack’s wildly exaggerated possibility of a disaster happening, and begin devising an escape plan to get out of New York if necessary. The only catch? Nobody has a car… except the creepy, makeup-wearing Lutz. He claims his car can only seat three others, which leads to a marathon battle between the rest of the writers to suck up to Lutz the most and earn a coveted spot on the road to salvation (supposedly). As it turns out, he doesn’t actually have a car.
DeNiro’s a great sport, but the comedy is sucked out of the room when the camera hits him (if you haven’t seen Little Fockers, for the love of God don’t) and the pacing of the show is thrown off. It’s a minor speed-bump for the fact that Bobby D was actually on the show, and his abominable English accent was laughable – once you realized that he was intentionally mucking it up.
Let’s get this out of the way, because we’d be remiss not to discuss it, but it’s nothing I’d like to focus on – the snart. The word danced throughout the episode, with Liz delightfully fascinated by the idea of a sneeze-fart. It’s already been a trending topic on Twitter, and at least one of your friends are trying to inject it into the Facebook slipstream as you read this. The horror of the snart.
Quick-cut edit manipulations on Angie’s show unfolded a fake conflict and dramatic moment of resolution between Tracy and a fake Liz. Cue Lemon tearing up: "I know it’s fake, but damn it, I miss him!" How long they’re going to keep up the Angie show angle is anyone’s guess, but it’s bound to culminate in an epic Tracy meltdown, and there’s no shame in admitting I can’t wait for that to happen.
In all, a relatively mediocre episode of "30 Rock," which is a standard that demands an asterisk. After all, the sprinting wit and relentless quality level that stands head and shoulders above most other comedy series – and has the Emmys to prove it.
Best moment of the episode:
Tracy: "I have no reason to hug her other than my love of having boobs pressed against me."
Liz: "If I hugged you, I would angle it so you would get no boob."
Tracy: "And I would anticipate your angling and I would get there…I would get there!"
CraveOnline Rating: 6.5 out of 10