30 Rock season 3 episode 4 review

If decoys, Canada knocks, multiple marshals, 'not prison' and the promise of a pig moat weren't enough, 30 Rock gives us Steve Martin in a perfect guest-starring role...

30 Rock

 

4: Gavin Volure

A better title for this ep may have been ‘Ask, and Ye Shall Receive’. I had a mini-moan and maxi-hope last week that the 30 Rock guest stars’ chunk of lines and screen time would be slimmed down, and a bigger slice of primetime pie be served to the regular cast – the true source of the Fountain of Goof that makes me wade in week in, week out.

From my lips and fingertips to Tina Fey’s pen and crew, because I got exactly what I hankered for. That’s not to say that this week’s guest star, one Mr Steve Martin in the title role, wasn’t given time to shine with some mighty fine lines.

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The show opens with Liz and Jack as dinner guests of reclusive Gavin Volure, a rich agoraphobiac who’s taken with Liz. Alas, he also suffers from a debilitating fear of germs, so he has his stand-in hand-kisser say good-night to Liz in style when the evening ends.

Could this be Liz’s ideal mate? Coupled up in a large house with not much more to do than nap all day and watch TV and make fun of people, the idea of a sexless, effort-free relationship appeals to Liz on many levels.

Jack might benefit from the friendship too. Gavin Volure shares a secret about a new company he’s forming and offers to let an eager Jack (and his cash) in on the ground floor.

Jack jumps the giant scissor grand opening, though, and takes $4,000 Kenneth’s been saving to repair the thinning shield that keeps the Parcell’s violent, in-bred pigs at bay. Jack adds Kenneth’s hard-earned to the pot to invest in the Volure endeavor, promising huge returns, ample enough for Kenneth’s family to afford a “pig moat” if they so desire.

Things are looking good for most of the 30 Rock employees, including Tracy, at least financially. His porn game sales still soaring, he’s also raking in profits on tie-in merchandise, including Tracy Jordan life-sized sex dolls, about which Jack asks Tracy, “Other than the natural inclination to make love to yourself, why did you get this?”

Tracy’s expanding wealth is the root of a nagging suspicion. As the rich father of two sons, Tracy’s afraid he’s going to be Menendezed (yes, it’s a verb now). He tells Jack his plan to use the doll as a decoy so his sons will try and murder the doll while he escapes unharmed.

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The third strand in the mesh that will weave so seamlessly together by show’s end is that Pete gets a memo that decrees every floor at the Plaza has to designate an Emergency Marshal, “…for fires, terrorist attacks, Cloverfield monsters..”

While Liz is at Gavin’s big house for the weekend, Jack and Kenneth phone Jack’s broker to find the money they invested is gone, wiped out of the account. Shortly after, Gavin confesses to Liz that he’s actually under house arrest for tax fraud and under constant supervision by the designated hand-kisser, in reality, a US Marshal.

Jack confronts Gavin, who escapes confinement, but goes to the studio to convince Liz to run away with him. When she turns him down, he climbs up scaffolding, threatening to throw himself off and die at Liz’s feet.

Kenneth, in the official Emergency Marshal hard hat, Tracy, Jack and the sex doll join forces to prevent Gavin’s suicide. Such teamwork!

This episode was a glowing example of perfect guest star treatment. Steve Martin didn’t upstage anyone, but he wasn’t wasted either. Despite involvement from first frame to last, it never seemed too much or too little. It was just right and reminded me how much, and how long, I’ve enjoyed Steve Martin’s work.

It was great to see Pete back, although Jenna was mysteriously missing but mentioned. Even office ornament, Cerie Xerox (Katrina Bowden), got a good sentence in in her seconds. If everyone can’t get a turn at the mic in the allotted time, but the show continues to cycle through the cast in this fashion, I’ll be happy enough.

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I’m always especially impressed when seemingly unrelated side stories manage to meld in the end, like they did here, no matter how bizarrely.

Standout moments for me were:

Jack: “I can’t believe you’re out of the game. It’s like Picasso not painting, or Bruce Willis not combining action and rock harmonica.

Liz rapidly rattling off locations of the best cupcakes in the city.

Gavin: “Toronto is just like New York but without all the stuff.

Kenneth’s street performance to Herbie Hancock’s Rockit.

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And the bonus with this Top Ten contender was an unexpected closing with an NBC “The More You Know” PSA that sex dolls save lives and bring families together. What a topper!

Check out our review of episode 3 here.