30 Rock Recap: Blind Date - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

30 Rock Recap: Blind Date

October 26, 2006 by  

30 Rock Recap

I’m not sure I’m in love with 30 Rock yet.  But I’m not giving up on it.  It’s a freshman comedy still trying to figure out who they are.   GMMR 30 Rocker Brian seems to be enjoying it.  Here’s what he was to say about tonight’s episode.
For two weeks I sang Tracey Morgan’s praises but worried that he might crowd out the brilliant Tina Fey. I also lamented the summer-switch of Jane Krakowski for Rachel Dratch. Well apparently neither Krakowski nor Dratch showed up for work this week, and Morgan takes a back seat to Fey in episode three of a consistently improving 30 Rock.

On the set, Liz is in a snit. Frank has too many bears in his bears-and-robots sketch, someone did Liz’s Sudoku puzzle, and now Donaghy wants to see her in his office where he employs his usual managerial charm. It seems he thinks companionship just might be the cure for her moodiness.

Donaghy:Your mood affects the quality of your work, which in turn affects me. I would like to become a resource to you for improving your personal life. Do you agree that you need someone in your life, Lemon?
Liz:No, I have bigger things to worry about than my personal life.
Donaghy:I would think that a single woman’s biggest worry would be choking to death alone in her apartment.

And thus, the seed is planted in her head. A The classic sit-com set-up ensues, though the set-up turns out to be anything but classic. Meanwhie, Donaghy is distracted by Liz’s mention of poker night.

At home over dinner at the kitchen counter, Liz proceeds to choke on a piece of food and has to self-apply the Heimlich maneuver. Cut back to Donaghy’s office, where Liz pops her head in and agrees to be set up. Oh, the power of suggestion.

While Liz frets over her blind date with “Thomas,” fearing it might be with Tom DeLay, so she turns to Frank for advice, which can be summed up as “Guys like porn.” Donaghy sets up a fancy dinner date for her and, objecting to her casual attire, gives her money for a new dress, which only draws cackles and catcalls in the writer’s room.

Pete: Hey, look at you. You look like a fancy prostitute.

Liz can sometimes act like a 10th grader who was just named editor of her student newspaper, but she dresses up real nice. While Donaghy takes over the ensuing poker game, she heads off on her date (and is choking on an Altoid in the elevator before it even starts).

Back at the game, Pete antes up with his wedding ring while Frank puts up an Emmy. Donaghy’s three jacks send Pete into a panic attack, but Donaghy keeps dealing and dissects each writer’s tell.

Donaghy:Like when Lutz here has a good hand he stops eating. When Frank is bluffing he asks a series of inane questions to hide his nervousness.
Frank: Oh really? Is that what you think? Is that what I do? Am I doing that right now? I’m out.
Tracey: OK Rainman. Tell me what I got.
Donaghy:  Well you have two of your cards backwards actually.

Then Kenneth the page shows up. He’s taking Pete’s place because “he’s in the bathroom lying in his own sick.” . Donaghy is intrigued by Kenneth’s complete lack of intellectual depth, especially after Kenneth takes the first hand.

Liz, meanwhile, is greeted at the bar by Gretchen Thomas, who just happens to be a hot blonde woman. Good time for a commercial, if you ask Liz, who already has that “is she or isn’t she” thing going on. A series of flashbacks confirms the point.

She and Gretchen hit it off, but Liz is ready to let Donaghy have it for assuming she was gay. It was her shoes, he explains, agreeing to “correct it in her file.” He’s more obsessed with Kenneth’s file, though, which reveals that Kenneth’s middle name is Ellen and his psychological profile shows a rare combination of extroverted, intuitive and aggressive.

Donaghy: It’s the same as mine. He could be trouble down the line.
Liz: Kenneth?
Donaghy: Kenneth Ellen.

Turns out Gretchen liked Liz a lot, which puts a smile on Liz’s face.

There’s a couple of jokes you could easily miss, including a PA announcement calling Jenna to the “Dancing with the Deities” sketch, Pete’s admission that he had money left when he bet his wedding ring and Liz’s discovery that her Emmy is missing. These jokes between the jokes demonstrate how great and deep the writing is. This is also the point where I realized Tracey and Jenna have been AWOL most of the episode. I guess this is the balancing act, which I talked about last week, that the writers face with so many talented actors portraying such larger-than-life characters.

Back at home Liz is eating another TV dinner when she decides to call Gretchen. Turns out they have a lot in common, including their anxiety about living alone. Problem is, Liz isn’t a lesbian, so it’s not clear where this is going. But they agree to meet. Punctuating the phone call, Liz trips and falls and makes the same weird choking noise as the lady in the infamous grape-stomping video that made the rounds on the Internet a few years ago.

I just thought that was worth pointing out.

Back on the set it’s casino night. I half expected Donaghy to have two dates and for Frank to profess his love for Josh at some point. But it’s just Donaghy’s scheme to set up Kenneth for a high-stakes crash at the poker table.

While Tracey is distracted by the giant shrimp, made of shrimp, diving into a giant bowl of shrimp, Pete greets Jack, but Jack’s only interested in whether Kenneth has arrived yet. Gretchen draws plenty of gawks when she and Liz enter, but Donaghy’s attention is solely on the clueless Kenneth, who arrives soon after.

All the guys think Gretchen is perfect for Liz, who points out that she’s not gay. I half expect someone to say, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” Breaking from the “Tracey saves the day” theme of the last two episodes, Liz turns to Pete for advice. Ultimately Pete counsels her to try being a lesbian, so it appears she’s on her own.

The poker game is reduced to a one-on-one between Donaghy and Kenneth, who appears to be licking the nacho cheese from his Doritos.

Frank: He’s awesome. You can’t read his thoughts because he doesn’t have any.

When he gets serious, Donaghy does this scary, Southern voice that is some apparent pop culture reference I admit I didn’t get. I don’t think Kenneth got it either, but he’s scared nonetheless by the line about the pig farmer and the fried baloney smell. What’s that about? The tension in this scene runs pretty high considering there’s little setup. The game comes down to a single hand for all the marbles, including Kenneth’s job. Too bad his hand is crap, so Donaghy wins.

Liz: Kenneth, why did you bet that terrible hand?
Kenneth: Why? Because I believe that life is for the living. I believe in taking risks and biting off more than you can chew. Also, people were yelling, and I got confused about the rules.

No worries, though. Donaghy only wanted to assert his dominance over the lowly page he considers a threat. Kenneth will be back in the morning to sweep up the shrimp tails.

Liz: Well at least you let him keep his job.
Donaghy: The Italians have a saying, Lemon. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. And although, they’ve never won a war or mass-produced a decent car, in this area they are correct. In five years we’ll all either be working for him or be dead by his hand.

Back at the bar, Liz solves her own problem. Sensing that she’s bent on pursuing a platonic relationship, Gretchen reiterates her stance against chasing straight girls. And Liz admits she’s only attracted to men.

Gretchen: You sound pretty sure about that.
Liz:  What can I say I love a bald spot and a hairy back.
Gretchen: You’re alone there.

The nice, poignant scene is spoiled by Liz’s desperate attempt to salvage the moment with a pact to be roommates in 35 years if they’re both still alone. She even sweetens the offer nicely, if you ask me. But Gretchen’s not biting. A cheesy come-on from a jerk at the bar reaffirms Liz’s reentry into the world of straight singlehood, for better or worse.

This show is getting better and better. And now, news that it’ll be moving to must-see territory on Thursdays only bodes well for its future. Stay tuned.

Filed under 30 Rock, TV News


6 Responses to “30 Rock Recap: Blind Date”

  1. Julie on October 26th, 2006 3:36 pm

    Donaghy’s southern pig farmer reference was very Silence of the Lambs.

    I thought this was the best episode yet. The first two were entertaining but uneven, but this one was the most laugh-out-loud for me.

    Nice recap, and props for including the good lines. 🙂

  2. Liz on October 26th, 2006 5:26 pm

    This was definitely the best episode so far, and I loooved the Silence of the Lambs parody (yeah, I’m a freak like that)…as Julie pointed out, it mirrored a scene between Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster. Who would’ve thought that the page would end up as a funny, contributing character?

  3. Brian on October 26th, 2006 7:41 pm

    OK, now I feel stupid because I’ve seen Silence of the Lambs a bunch of times and still don’t get the reference.

    I hope I’m not being too big a cheearleader with these recaps, but I do like the show and want it to keep improving. And Julie, I’m glad you like the quotes. I’m trying to only pick the good ones and keep them to a minimum so they’re more than just padding.

  4. Jennifer on October 29th, 2006 12:49 pm

    Loved the episode but you missed one of the best jokes

    Pete: There was a tall, gangly, red haired guy who played guitar all the time.
    Liz: Conan.

  5. Michelle on October 30th, 2006 6:06 pm

    I am loving this show more every week. And the fact that it was being overshadowed by “Studio 60” at first makes it even sweeter (I don’t dislike “Studio 60,” really, but since the premise of the two shows was so similar, it seemed like this one was always getting put on the back burner, as in “Critics are excited about ‘Studio 60’…oh, yeah, and that other NBC show about a late-night comedy program is OK, too.”). I really think this show gets funnier every week. Hurray for your recaps, too, Brian! It’s like re-watching but without feeling like a time-wasting loser, which I would if I just re-played it. After all, this is a different medium, right?

  6. boy germs « counterfeit or real? on December 7th, 2007 5:24 pm