30 Rock season 1 episode 9 review

Yawn - 30 Rock sleepwalks its way through episode nine. This is untoward! This is not toward...

30 Rock

Consistency is a hard thing to get right. Gravy can turn out lumpy. Between pouring the water and drinking it, Lemsip will settle. And 30 Rock will downright give up for roughly every third episode to turn on their comedic autopilot.

That pretty much sums up ‘The Baby Show’. The last episode was so chockful of good stuff that I couldn’t fit it all in the review (including, as was mentioned in the comments, ‘Black Frasier’, on BET at about 8 or 8:15). My favourite episode of the first series is coming up in two weeks time. But this is…not the best.

You can always spot the weaker episodes, as Liz spends even more time than usual pacing up and down corridors, whining about how she doesn’t have time to do anything. Considering 30 Rock has already taken the mick out of Studio 60 for doing that, it’s more than a little cheeky of them. It’s also startlingly unfunny, as it usually involves Tina Fey encountering one of the characters doing something a little daft, and then telling them she hasn’t eaten all day. Again, yawn.

The writers, obviously thinking they were on to a good thing with Jack’s phone calls to Not Condi Rice last week left him hanging on the telephone to his mother all week. With that only taking up a few minutes, that meant lots of minor character fun. Kenneth, Cerie, Dr Spaceman and Jonathan, probably my four favourite characters, were all wheeled out. And given rubbish lines.

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Cerie was given some thoroughly unfunny jokes about what she would name her forthcoming child (“If it’s a girl, Bookcase or Sandstorm. Or Hat, but that’s more of a boy’s name”). Kenneth was forced to tutor Jack through the southern way to stay happy, and even that failed to raise a laugh. Dr Spaceman got away with the best lines of the whole episode (“I’m also listed under meth addiction and child psychiatry. So, what can I help you with? I should start by saying that I can’t personally help you conceive. Something happened to me while scuba diving.”)

Jonathan’s exasperated love for Jack is only actually that funny, I suspect, on watching the series go around the second time. Even the terminally unfunny Rachel Dratch, who appears like an unfunny smear whenever there are a few seconds to fill, drags out her cat wrangler skit again.

Maybe the show just needs a greater volume of writers. The little cut scenes, which while not normally funny are at least an indicator of how much effort has been put into making a densely scripted piece, were effectively missing this episode. The only one, of Tracy tasering Josh in the middle of the studio, could have been done with about two minutes to spare.

Of course, to get the last bit of mileage out of my gravy metaphor, floating in the brown water are tasty bits of salty treats. Try again in the fortnight, or just hold on to ride out the brown wave.