30 Rock Recap: Jack the Writer - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

30 Rock Recap: Jack the Writer

November 2, 2006 by  

30 Rock Recap

Title: Jack the Writer
Original air date: 11/1/06

I took more notes than usual when I watched 30 Rock this week, which was surprising because it seemed like pretty much nothing happened when it was over. After three straight weeks of improvement, I’d have to say Tina Fey’s behind the scenes look at a prime-time variety show took a slight step back this week. The laughs were there; the storyline wasn’t. (And neither was Jane Krakowski for the second straight week.) That’s too bad, given the recent announcement that NBC has tabbed the show to join the network’s latest stab at Must-See-TV Thursdays.

Well this is a recap, not a critique, so here goes.

We open in the writing room, and Liz (Fey) is trying to get her writers’ attention. But sexy Cerie (Katie Bowden) is too much eye candy for these dudes.

Kenneth the page (Jack McBrayer) got Tracey’s (Tracey Morgan) car washed, because he apparently thinks it’s his job. Tracey assures him their relationship won’t be a one-way street (yeah, right) and even offers this bit of sage advice: Live every week like it’s Shark Week. I don’t know what that means, but I totally agree.

Back in the writers’ room, when Liz calls for a one-minute dance party, boss Jack (Alec Baldwin) walks in and busts up the fun. He tells the crew about the Sixth Sigma, GE’s corporate training course that calls on managers to know every facet of the business intimately. Translation: he’ll be sitting in on the writers’ meetings. This flies like a one-winged bird, but the writers try to be creative anyway. After bandying about potential cereal names for a commercial parody – Honey Bunches of Sadness, Oat Bung, Swastickos, Froot Lupus and Dingleberries – they settle on Fart Nuggets because Jack finds it funny. Soon he’s suggesting “doing” Dilbert, which he came across while doing “comedy research,” and shooting down comic jabs at his friend Jeb Bush in favor of Barbra Steisand.

All the while Cerie keeps showing up to work wearing very little clothing. Only Liz minds.

Liz: That’s it. I’ve got to talk to her about her clothes. She can’t dress like that.
Pete: What? Yes she can. People like the way she dresses.
Liz: Oh, come on. It’s distracting. It’s inappropriate.
Pete: You’re inappropriate you jerk with your big, stupid face. No, Liz. Listen, listen, listen. Look at me. Look how bald I am. Look at my life. Please just give me this one thing. (pratfall ensues)

While Tracey is sending Kenneth up to the Bronx to get him Yankee Stadium nachos, Liz is pulling Cerie aside. Her clothing intervention backfires when it becomes clear Cerie is completely oblivious. All Liz accomplishes is to leave feeling really bad about her own appearance, right down to her food-stained clothes.

She gets back to work to confront a writers revolt at Jack’s overbearing presence. As tactfully as she can, she lets Jack know he’s not welcome. The possibility of a sketch called “Monkey Senate” makes her blurt out that he can’t be in the room anymore. Jack seems to take it well. He doesn’t really, of course.

When Kenneth returns from scaling a chain-link fence behind the Yankee Stadium bleachers, Tracey sends him on an illegal fish-finding mission. Meanwhile, Liz is finding Jack strangely unavailable until Jack’s assistant lets her know she needs to apologize.

At this point, 18 minutes in, a PA announcement calls Jenna to the set. Is Jenna still on the show? I know I railed against her usurping Rachel Dratch’s spotlight, but neither one has been seen in two weeks. Did they think we wouldn’t notice? What’s the deal, NBC?

Anyway, Kenneth’s frequent absences become noticeable. We find him in Chinatown, nervously asking dumb questions of Asian exotic fish smugglers. He’s such a perfect freak, it’s hard to look away. He actually steals several scenes from Tracey, who takes an inexplicable back seat for the second straight week. Kenneth even says Vajayjay!

Back up in Jack’s office, Liz is apologizing. Jack tells her not to worry, but twists the conversation around and makes Liz lie and say she likes him. Soon he’s getting her sweet Chamillionaire tickets and back-stage passes, making Liz wish she hadn’t sarcastically claimed to be a fan. The short of it is that Jack wants them to be “friendly.”

Liz and Cerie have another run-in over wardrobe that’s too painfully awkward and embarrassing to recount properly. Let’s just say Liz is seriously insecure, a fault not helped by the writers laughing at her attempts to dress sexy.

Her tussle with Jack over their “friendship” comes to a head when she gets overly chummy with him in front of some network execs. Jack chews her out to save face, all the while quietly apologizing.

Jack: I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.
Liz: I thought you said we were friends.
Jack: I said we were friendly.
Liz: Well I don’t like you anymore.
Jack: I don’t believe you. (pause) Go easy on the pizza.

And that’s where the show ends, quite abruptly. Even on second viewing, I find myself wondering what this episode was about. There are a few funny lines sprinkled around, and the writing is as sharp as ever. But where’s the storyline?

And I know I fretted about Tracey Morgan taking over the show, but he’s funnier than the next three co-stars combined, and he’s woefully underutilized lately. If this show is going to tread water on Thursday nights, he’ll be the reason why. I don’t miss Krakowski (Seriously, I’m sorry.), but where’d she go. And where’s Dratch?

Memo to the writers: you’re joining the varsity (Scrubs, The Office). Better step up your game.

Brian is a special contributer to GMMR.  He just think week realized he wasn’t recapping Studio 60.  All this time he was waiting for Amanda Peet to show up…sorry Bri.

Filed under 30 Rock, TV News


3 Responses to “30 Rock Recap: Jack the Writer”

  1. Becky on November 2nd, 2006 5:43 pm

    I think you’re right about this episode not being as good as the rest. I’m not sure what it says about me that I haven’t even noticed that Jane Krakowski hasn’t been on there.

    I really like the page. He kills me.

    And Alec Baldwin is hilarious.

  2. srah on November 2nd, 2006 10:31 pm

    “Fart nuggets” made me laugh too. That worries me.

    I love that you don’t really see the sketches – you just get little phrases and titles like “Monkey Senate” and “Fart Nuggets”. Studio 60 keeps showing the actual sketches and they aren’t funny.

  3. Lorraine on November 4th, 2006 1:23 am

    Yeah it seems kind of like a ‘huh” epsiode, but I did like the six sigma bit (my company is really crazy about it), the original Star Wars trilogy jokes and the Studio 60 jabs.