TV Review: 30 Rock Season 7 Episode 8
Good god, 2 episodes in a row with main character weddings.
And a funeral this episode, too.
I’m sure there’s a Four Weddings and a Funeral joke in there somewhere, but I honestly can’t be fucked.
TL;DR Colleen is her fabulous, bitch-ass self. Jenna tries to sabotage Liz by pulling out her surprise wedding at an awards ceremony. And it’s Christmas in New York. Rejoice!
Dat snow-kissed cityscape.
So we’re hot on the heels of LIZ’S MOTHERFUCKING WEDDING from last episode, and Jenna is none too pleased that Liz stole the crap out of her thunder. In retaliation, she devises a scheme of stealing Liz’s spotlight at a women in entertainment award thing. Liz catches on, though, and one-upping ensues. Meanwhile, Colleen is in town for Christmas and Jack has a new approach to dealing with her constant disapproval: do absolutely nothing. The scheme is working perfectly until Colleen has a fall and Jack insists on taking her to the hospital. On the horse-drawn carriage ride there (because that’s how Colleen DO) they have a heart-to-heart and she tells him she only wants him to be happy. Before they reach the hospital, though, she dies. And Jenna cracks out her surprise wedding at the funeral, naturally. And Tracy tries to show Kenneth that life isn’t like a TV show. Meta as hell.
If I had to scrounge up a fault in this episode, it would probably be that the plots aren’t very exciting (or in the Jenna/Liz case, new). We’ve seen Jenna and Liz square off against each other before, back in season 1 when Liz was jealous of the success of The Rural Juror. Sure, the roles are reversed this time, but it’s basically the same thing.
And this has got to be the least enthralling Colleen episode. She barely makes a handful of wise cracks before carking it.
But to be fair, her death is handled with excellent humor (and a refreshing amount of flippance). I’d challenge any other sitcom to not indulge their morose side with a character death. Well done, 30 Rock.
Why I hate this episode:
But still, it sucks for Colleen to die. We’ll never get to see her wear a tie again. Oh, the humanity!
When was the last time we heard about Jenna’s surprise wedding? It’s been a while. It feels like the writers just remembered it so they had to hurriedly stuff it into an episode. And I can’t be the only one who isn’t remotely shocked by any of the stuff that Jenna and Paul say about their sex lives. That joke was dead a long time ago.
The Tracy/Kenneth sub plot is another fine example of obligatory characters treading water so they appear in an episode. It gets very little attention, doesn’t prove anything, and isn’t adequately resolved.
It also loses points for mentioning goddamn Hazel (who, on the plus side, seems to be gone for good). And Tracy brings in a terrifyingly over-surgery’d Florence Henderson to provide nightmare fuel for anyone with working vision. Shudder.
Oh, and Jack deduces that Colleen’s “just be happy” message is an actually an insult, as he believes you only say that to people who can hope for no better achievement in life than to just be happy. The ensuing personal realisation (that Colleen’s endless disappointment provided him the motivation to succeed) is well done, but I thought it was pretty cruel of Jack to so quickly jump to that conclusion.
Reasons to watch:
But it does prove that Colleen is the master of “tough love” parenting. Because Jack did push himself to success. What a gal.
Jack’s epic eulogy is a treat. Bonus points for a guest appearance from Kermit the Frog.
And Jenna’s stealing of the spotlight for her wedding is handled with the surreal but warm edge we’ve come to love from 30 Rock. Jenna reasons that everyone she cares about is already there, so hey. And although Liz is concerned Jack might be upset by it, he actually laughs and says Colleen would have hated it, which makes it fine for him. Can you feel the love?
As part of his sub plot, Tracy manufactures a “stuck in an elevator” situation with him, Kenneth and Florence Henderson. Clearly he’s been taking notes from Gossip Girl.
And once all 3 promptly freak out/nearly die from it.
Colleen will only agree to the trip to the hospital if they go via horse-drawn carriage. And they do.
At the awards ceremony Liz has a chat with Gayle King, Oprah’s best friend, about how awful best friends can be. That season 2 episode with the big O comes full circle. Loved it.
Kenneth says Hazel has officially broken up with him, so fingers crossed (please!) she isn’t coming back.
Tracy (in an attempt to cheer Kenneth up) brings a “re-cast” Hazel to see him, and he says she “tested through the roof” (an obvious reference to how loathed Hazel is). I fucking lol’d.
Best line goes to Jenna, with this committed boast when Liz says she stole her thunder: “My whole life is thunder!”
Jenna also gets second best line with this exclamation upon seeing (from afar, I might add) Liz’s wedding ring: “What the H E double vibrator!?” Classic Jenna.
I’ll give Liz and Cerie special mention, too:
Liz: “I’m 42, Cerie.”
Cerie: “I don’t know what that is.”
At one point the characters bemoan those obnoxious pop-up ads that promote shows on the bottom section of your TV screen. Cue an ad for Bitch Hunter. Oh, callbacks.
Jenna says she thinks about Criss during sex. Who doesn’t?
Oh, and to prevent Jenna from jumping on stage during her award acceptance speech, Liz gets the lighting technician to make the stage lighting unflattering. Jenna steps under it and does a bona-fide vampire hiss and shrink back. It is sublime.