30 Rock series 1 episode 7 review

Dennis is gone. Jack's dating Condi Rice. Toofer's in trouble for using the N-word. It's fair to say that 'making a TV programme' has fallen off the 30 Rock agenda...

30 Rock: watch it. It's great.

I’ve already singled out Dennis, Liz Lemon’s part-time boyfriend, as the funniest minor character in 30 Rock. He’s sexist (“I got you a fancy briefcase, because you’re classy and important, like a dude”), bigoted (“I cried like a big dumb homo”) often the wrong side of legal (‘That’s the thing about 20-year-olds – half of them are 16”). And lefty-liberal Liz Lemon loves it.

Or, at least, she did. Moving his friends into her apartment and starring on NBC Dateline for dating under-age girls apparently constitutes suitable grounds for dumping him, despite the fact that her sole redeeming feature is scrubbing up quite nice about once every two episodes. Oh, Liz Lemon. You had the Beeper King but you let him go.

She really should be learning by now to also not to try to go to clubs and bars. As soon as you see a bar in the programme, you know that Liz is going to end up doing something inappropriate in it. There was the strip club; the karaoke; and in a couple of weeks, an attempt at Star Wars conversation with some native hipsters. She is nothing if not consistent.

Meanwhile, Jack is dating a high-ranking, African-American female in the Bush administration, whose identity remains an ENORMOUS MYSTERY through the whole episode. Playing off Hollywood liberal Alec Baldwin (who this series has already gone to Ann Coulter’s 60th birthday) with Condi Rice was hilarious, especially when he starts getting jealous of Putin copping a feel of her on television. Shame it doesn’t last (“I’m all about fantasy, but Abu Ghraib?”), but it starts a long stint of hilarious women in Jack’s life, from fake English to his ex-wife.

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Toofer, meanwhile, gets offended by Tracy calling him the N-word, even after Jack and Liz both explain to him that he’s allowed to use it. Toofer’s confusion and inability to use the N-word himself (“it just sounds so hateful coming from you”) nicely hooks into the best Tina Fey race jokes, like the whole cool Asian girl business in Mean Girls. Shame that this too pretty much falls off the 30 Rock agenda after this week.

But ultimately this isn’t as much of a loss as Dennis (“there’s this new thing called ‘women’s liberation’, which means that women get to choose who they want to be with, and you have chosen to abort me”) which is a bitter goodbye for Lemon. Still, that does mean we are almost at the best episode in the whole series, The Head and the Hair, when Liz dates well above her league. But ultimately, she’s missed her one chance to become the Beeper Queen.