I read an astoundingly accurate account of 30 Rock a few days ago – an account that shall remain unattributed, largely because I forget where I read it – that said the programme is now doing great because they’ve stopped relying on Alec Baldwin’s charisma and Tina Fey’s sexy librarian look. ‘Yes!’ I probably screamed out loud, although as we’ve already established my whole memory of the period is a little fuzzy so it’s hard to go into specifics.
The last two episodes prove the point. Having raved about it for ages, The Head and the Hair proved to be hi-larious. Even my housemate, who I have already documented as trusting the programme less than a package holiday to Mombasa, laughed out loud when Kenneth asked if pedalling swan boats for tourists was a euphemism for some kind of sex worker.
A funny line, and there have been plenty of them so far in the series. But this episode marks the point when the writers pulled their collective finger out of their collective arse and swaddled such little gems in other comedy goodness. Sure, Kenneth might have made a similar quality joke; but this time he’s cleaning up the wrecked dressing room of one of America’s leading newsmen, and wiping a barely-concealed message scrawled across the room against CBS’s leading lady, that ‘Katie Couric sucks’. Better, Rock, better.
It’s been a busy fortnight for the sexy librarian too, having first off dated someone she is convinced is out of her league but turns out to be in the same genetic pool; and then pretending to date Jack to make his ex-wife jealous, playfully played by Isabella Rossellini. The Head and the Hair wins for showcasing Liz Lemon get increasingly panicky at dating someone (“It’s Star WARS!”), but Black Tie was still a treat, with Jenna dreaming of marrying inbred Austro-Hungarian Prince Gerhardt (“I’ve always reminded myself of Grace Kelly”).
The ‘let’s get more stuff into each episode’ rule benefits other characters who’ve been desperately short of onscreen time. Jack had to work for Kenneth while still trying to deal with the arseache of television, and Kenneth himself got to show his love for the box (“from the glory and pageantry of the summer Olympics, to the less-fun winter Olympics”). Indeed, this is what gave rise to the Katie Couric incident, while Jack delved through Brian Williams’ socks full of bird seed. I’ve now watched the scenes in Williams’ dressing room several times. Despite the fact I’m a drearily po-faced person most of the time, I laughed out loud every time I saw it. Bird seed in socks! Mazin.
So, I believe that means that I can relax my balls (incidentally, I was drunk on work experience a few weeks ago and imparted said relaxing wisdom to one of the female bosses. Be careful what 30 Rock vocabulary you pick up) as the programme has finally settled into quality episodes. Hopefully.