Kari, Author at Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

30 ROCK Season Finale: Kidney Now!

May 15, 2009 by  
Filed under #1 featured, 30 Rock, Posts by Kari

Last night was not only the season finale of 30 ROCK, but it was also the last recap by the wonderful Kari.  Kari, thanks so much for reviewing this season of 30 ROCK.  We are all so grateful.  We’re going to miss your weekly reviews next season but we hope you’ll stop by and comment every once in a while.  Thanks again!


It’s the end of the line, folks, both for Season 3 and me. And while I stand by my earlier assertion, stated somewhere, that a string of hilarious one-liners alone do not a solid episode make, I laughed enough during “Kidney Now!” to mostly overlook what fell flat. (Although the bloated musical ending fell pretty flat, compared not only to previous season finales but also the great “Midnight Train to Georgia” number that capped “Episode 210.” I mean, why not let Kenneth interact with cousin Clay Aiken, or at least punch him in the nose? But I do like how Tina Fey & crew took all those “too many special guest stars!” complaints from critics and fans and cranked up the dial to 1000 in response. That’s just the kind of thumb in your eye I appreciate as one of the complainers.)

First, though, kudos to Alan Alda for playing off his own “earnest, decent liberal” label so effortlessly. Watching him enjoy a simple game of catch with Alec Baldwin might have been the highlight for me, as well as the smile on Jack’s face at the end when he realizes that for some reason this guy Milton accepts and loves him for who he is, and not what he can give.

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30 ROCK: Natural Order

May 1, 2009 by  
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Oh how the worm turns, as we start the ball rolling toward the season finale with Jack realizing Jimmy Donaghy, that wily old con artist, isn’t his real father. Obviously this will upset the natural order of quite a few things: Jack Donaghy is who he is because of both mommy and daddy issues, and he’s got 35 years of hurt and resentment wrapped up in Jimmy’s abandonment of the family. He’s also been sitting on a pretty good kiss-off speech, which he delivers to his mother’s unsuspecting married boyfriend instead, with only the slightest of edits: “I am not afraid of you, you’re just a big bully, like Simon Cowell! That’s right—I just called you a Communist.”

The possibilities of this little thread are lined with comic gold, and not only did we get the return of Steve Buscemi’s weirdo PI—who rides his bike to a meeting with Jack and admits he’s wearing a child’s Halloween costume beneath his clothes—every line coming out of Elaine Stritch’s mouth was divine (“I’ll call the restaurant, see if they can seat a third wheel.”). They didn’t skimp on the heart this time, either, bringing a tear to even my jaded eye when Colleen consoles Jack and tells him, “You’re my good boy, and I just love you to death.”

The Liz/Tracy power play also had some nice twists (“Twist!”), starting with the detailed steps everyone’s taken to hide the actual time from Tracy, which have overlapped a bit: “I took my son to his cello recital this morning at what turned out to be midnight yesterday!” All of this naturally leading him to shout “Irregardless!” before handing his race card to Liz which, to Pete’s dismay, she accepts.

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30 ROCK: The Ones

April 24, 2009 by  
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Oh dears! I’m not sure what to say about an episode that seemed devoted mostly to showing us how flamboyantly Salma Hayek could remove a trench coat, even if one of those removals revealed a pointless yet fabulous BSG t-shirt.

This one lost me almost entirely, with Elisa’s Black Widow secret bringing out the boring in everybody and leaving Liz with little to do other than react while snuggling up with her Slanket and Night Cheese. I was equally baffled by the weirdness of Jenna approaching Pete with her problem, although I enjoyed her heartfelt serenade of “Don’t Cry Out Loud” before self-identifying as a sociopath and then proving it by trying to kill Kenneth. I also liked Tracy helping Jack the only way he knows how: first through a test of erotic temptation in a flashy nightclub and finally by admitting his own terrible secret (that he’s never been unfaithful to his wife). And let’s give special props for the shirtless montage, where they slipped in a bizarre real-life Tracy Morgan appearance on Chicago’s WGN in which he improv-ed a pregnant woman giving birth on the news desk.

Overall the small touches saved it for me: the Pranksmen’s feathered caps; Liz searching for online stories on Elisa (“Ew, writing on green. Why?”); Brian Williams taking a misdirected call for Tracy, then inviting the caller up to Connecticut; Tracy’s Angie tattoo morphing quite naturally into Tangiers the gay lion.

Anyway, this is two negatives in a row for me in a disappointing season, but I’m still hoping we can ride it out in style over the next couple of weeks. What did you think?


  • Jewelry salesman on Liz: “She’s very spirited. Like a show horse.”
  • Lutz running into that wall with his face. (Lutz seems to be this year’s Josh in the humiliation and pain department.)
  • Tracy to Liz: “You are wise, Liz Lemon. Like a genetically manipulated shark.”
  • Liz to Elisa: “How are you so quiet when your parades are so loud?”

Kari is a 30 ROCK fanatic and will be taking it out on you, her new imaginary friends.

30 ROCK: Jackie Jormp-Jomp

April 17, 2009 by  
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“I’m back, nerds!” And not a moment too soon. While I enjoy seeing all the, um, “colors” of Liz Lemon’s home life, I really do prefer it when they keep her locked up in the office with the usual bunch of bananas.

Of course she would fall in with a band of bored, privileged divorcees and end up drinking, shopping, and Botoxing her way through her two-week S-E-X probation (sweet montage, btw). And turning a group of seemingly harmless boozehounds into an Upper West Side fight club (“the pain proves we’re alive”) made perfect sense to those of us who actually inhabit the Upper West Side. But something about the pacing tends to feel off when Liz is interacting with an entirely different group of people, and this episode was the most laugh-free of the season for me. Right up till the end, that is, as she chastises Jenna and Tracy in a standard speech of exasperation, only with her patented anger replaced by a big ol’ grin that nicely offsets her big ol’ black eye, and knowing it’s the grin that terrifies them.

The Jack/Jenna pairing was a welcome twist, though, mostly because Alec Baldwin’s performance manages to both ground and heighten Jenna’s deeply ingrained lunacy, since Jack is just as crazy as she is but in a more straightforward, businesslike way. (My favorite bit was his wordless reaction to Dora the Explorer’s backpack bumping Jenna from the red carpet.) I also like that it’s the (true) revelation of her age that leads Jenna to sabotage the chances for her own increasingly horrible-sounding film, as well as the paparazzi mistaking her for Dina Lohan at the Kids’ Choice Awards. But not involving Liz in Jack’s Tupac-ing scheme made the whole storyline feel too trivial, although having his fix fail in a way that Liz’s likely wouldn’t have (debatable, I guess) is what leads to her triumphant return in the end.

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30 ROCK: Cutbacks

April 10, 2009 by  
Filed under #1 featured, 30 Rock, Posts by Kari

I don’t expect “Cutbacks” would hold up very well under scrutiny, but life is hard and I laughed like hell, so I won’t look any deeper than that. Also, did you know they sell Sabor de Soledad T-shirts at the NBC Store? You can stuff that little tip right in the ol’ Easter basket along with your “decorative air holders.”

Anyway, as Liz and the TGS crew celebrate their 50th episode, they receive unfortunate news from Jack: the Sheinhardt Wig Company is making cuts, and the entertainment division is going under the knife. Liz responds in true Lemon-like fashion, giving a full-on Steve Jobs presentation to the heavily browed hatchet man brought in to review her budget. Too bad three colorful graphics, some repetitious wordplay, and a TGS clip reel fail to deter said hatchet man (guest star Roger Bart), so she resorts to sexual bartering instead with the help of triple Spanx and the sluttier makeup artist. Only—surprise!—giving Brad “a little taste of the Lemon” has no effect whatsoever, perhaps because, as Jack points out, her top front is her worst quadrant (a revelation that seems to not faze her much, mostly because she’s so worried about getting back her food and straws). It does lead her to drive a widower to tears, however, and ultimately she wins by losing, which is the sort of lesson I’m sure none of us would mind learning. Or not learning, as is the likelier case where L.L. is concerned.

Meanwhile, Jack’s own cutback is poor Jonathan (!), who he fires and replaces by forcing Kenneth into doing double duty as both NBC page and personal assistant. (Jack’s required three D’s of service: “discretion, docility, and don’t use my bathroom.”) Kenneth is a little less up to the task than one might expect, although I guess it’s not surprising that lying and prioritizing emergencies are not his greatest skills. (Free Showtime! Spiders! The head spins.).

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30 ROCK: Apollo, Apollo

March 28, 2009 by  
Filed under #1 featured, 30 Rock, Posts by Kari

“Hello, Dummy.” And with those two little words, my heart leaps. Think it’s a coincidence that this is the first undeniable A+ episode of the season? No way. Dean Winters’ Beeper King is the one guest star we simply cannot get enough of, at least once a year. But it wasn’t only Dennis Duffy’s return that vaulted this episode into the stratosphere; it was Tracy’s spaceman dream tying into Jack’s lost childhood tying into Liz’s softcore phone line past tying into her forgiveness for Jenna’s betrayal and vice versa. Because there is beauty, and then there is 30 ROCK beauty, and my friends, this was 30 ROCK BEAUTIFUL.

Dennis has always been Liz’s Achilles’ heel, the one boyfriend—unloved, unwanted—who keeps showing up again and again, this time to atone for his Web MD self-diagnosed sex addiction: “Former Sex Partner, I’m sorry that my disease has made you a victim of my sexual charisma. I’m sorry that I’ve ruined you for other men.” Doubtful, but still, it’s too bad he’s making the same apology to Jenna via Liz, who answers Jenna’s phone while Jenna is flying high on a Peter Pan rig. And that he would be the one boyfriend of Liz’s that Jenna would choose to sleep with confirms everything we already know about the Beeper King and our favorite oblivious C-grade celebrité; i.e., boobs galore. At the same time, their hookup neatly confirms the order of Liz’s priorities: it’s not the fact that they had sex together that bothers Liz the most, it’s the fact that they had sex in her bed, which is where she sometimes eats.

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30 ROCK: The Bubble

March 20, 2009 by  
Filed under #1 featured, 30 Rock, Posts by Kari

Alas, Dr. Drew is no more. But Jon Hamm got a solidly sneaky send-off this week, as Liz discovers her beautiful boyfriend is actually too beautiful for his own good. And hers. Even a Disney prince and potential Calvin Klein underwear model can’t overcome the handicap that is a lifetime spent inside “the bubble” (which according to Jack enables one to “free drinks, kindness, and outdoor sex”), and so the poor man sucks at nearly everything—including tennis, cooking, sex, and apparently his job. (He was a pediatrician, right? Double nards!) And while she’s tempted—as, let’s face it, who wouldn’t be?—there’s simply no way on earth Liz Lemon is going to let a loser beat her in tennis, or strap her on the back of his motorcycle/scooter for an obviously fatal trip up north. So we say Go forth, Liz Lemon, and find someone as “moderately pleasant looking” as you are. We’ll all be safer and/or happier that way.

Also, the realization (and reality) that Jack Donaghy was once a bubble boy himself? Too good for words, but they should have gone ahead and shown that laminated picture he was carrying in his pocket, because it would’ve saved the rest of us a lot of time and effort. (For some reason, the Google returns on “Alec Baldwin + shirtless” include a lot of pictures of The Hoff. So you’ve been warned.)

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30 ROCK: Funcooker

March 14, 2009 by  
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Yay! How much do you want a Funcooker? Just knowing it’s named after Tracy’s backside would probably be enough for me, although the prospect of microwaving food in the same shower in which I am simultaneously bathing is a pretty sweet bonus. Mmmm…bathroom food…

Let’s start off by putting this one in the win column for the season, for sheer lunacy alone, and also for the callback to Liz’s previously foolproof jury duty escape plan: a Princess Leia costume that’s ingeniously capped off with a Yoda voice. Except: oops! She’s in New York City now, where a jury of her peers will include one person dressed in Christmas lights, one preteen boy wearing a fake mustache, two tight-faced elderly twins, a woman carrying a dog wrapped up like a baby, and what appear to be a couple of homeless people. (As a current resident of New York City, I will say: all plausible. Princess Leia: apparently also plausible.) Plus I am a sucker for any episode that can tie together three seemingly disparate plots and work in all (or most) of the cast, and then wrap it up by teaching Liz Lemon a valuable life lesson that she is able to forget in under two minutes.

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30 ROCK: Goodbye, My Friend

March 6, 2009 by  
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Judah Friedlander was just on the cover of Time Out New York’s “Date These New Yorkers” issue, and I would’ve been more eager to respond if he’d looked more like Lawyer Frank and less like Actual Frank. Because I’m shallow that way, and the real Judah Friedlander is obviously a cutie pie. The problem is that Lawyer Frank isn’t quite Our Frank, is he? Wearer of message hats and eater of anything; he’s Patti LuPone’s little mama’s boy, who wants to go back to school and become a lawyer to screw over a father he barely remembers.

Or does he? Turns out his long-lost dream fits Jack better than it does Frank, and sets the two of them on a sweet journey into father/son territory, which is also father/woodland ape territory thanks to a late-night screening of the surprisingly nuanced “Harry and the Hendersons.” (Jack: “This morning it hit me in the shower why the Hendersons named their guest ‘Harry.’ That film has layers.”) And the prospect of a lonely Jack joining four emotionally stunted nerds for dinner at a Ninja-staffed restaurant and a crappy movie was a good one; I only wish they’d taken it further and given Josh more than one line. Also, having never seen “Harry and the Hendersons,” the emotional climax of the storyline was kind of lost on me, and in any case felt rushed and too easily resolved. But I like seeing Jack’s personal mentoring list continue to grow (with Liz, Kenneth, Pete, Tracy, and now Frank), and watching Patti LuPone as Frank’s feisty Italian mother slap Alec Baldwin not once but twice across the face was reason enough for the whole plot. (“You want me to paint you a picture? ‘Cuz I did!”)

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30 ROCK: Larry King

February 27, 2009 by  
Filed under #1 featured, 30 Rock, Posts by Kari

Would that I had more goodness to report, but I’ll remember this one primarily as the episode where Liz’s foreign exchange student past finally came to its inevitable “99 Luftballons” nexus, which was admittedly a thing of dweeby, mid-‘80s beauty. It also gave us the hopefully permanent departure of Elisa, with all apologies to Salma Hayek, who proved there are limits even to the awesome powers of Alec Baldwin’s chemistry. Who knew.

And although he’s technically the C story, I will award A story status to Tracy Jordan this week, since his bat-crazy appearance on Larry King saved the entire show for me. As we saw in his single-handed rescue of Lehman Brothers back in “Generalissimo,” this is a man with a plan for every crisis, and here that plan is Thunderdome. Also: freak the geek out. And hide your money in Kenneth. Tracy is so cheerfully adrift in his own sea of absurd that he makes a recap of “Teen Wolf” sound perfectly logical in the context of a promotional appearance on a cable news network, although given his love of werewolves, not all that surprising. In fact, I will give him a solid gold star for being my favorite thing about what has been overall a disappointing season. Devil’s avocado, indeed. (Also good was him leading the on-air treasure hunt for our good friend, guitar icon Peter Frampton, along with spider-face Lutz. I think the thing this season has suffered from most is a lack of exposure for the writing staff in order to focus on Liz and Jack’s personal lives.)

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30 ROCK: St. Valentine’s Day

February 13, 2009 by  
Filed under #1 featured, 30 Rock, Posts by Kari

It’s a little tough to tell Valentine’s Day apart from April Fool’s Day on 30 ROCK, huh? So it’s only natural that Liz would forget Saturday is Vday, since what single person wants to be reminded of that? Only the crazies. And that Jack would be stuck accompanying Elisa to church for “the feast of the martyrdom of St. Valentine” instead of stuffing them both full of a horrible-sounding $1,000 dessert at the equally horrible-sounding Plunder. And that Kenneth would end up playing a mute Christian to Tracy’s hillbilly Cyrano on a “Valentine’s dately-do” with a pretty blind girl, only to lose her to his own face in the end. So much love! So many fools!

Our own Liz Lemon comes out lucky in love for once, although I’m not sure a first date in which you accidentally expose both a boob and yourself on the can would be considered all that lucky anywhere but in Lemonland. Still, everything unfolds pretty much as you would expect, as a pyromaniac wino daughter, an unfortunate pot of stew, and a batch of burning brownies take Liz and Drew all the way to Date 20 in a single night (with a sad detour to Liz’s Date Never, toilet-wise). And this is before she gets sucked into tagging along to Drew’s mother’s deathbed, where she learns that his mother is actually his grandmother and his sister is actually his mother. Which actually makes Drew sound a lot like Kenneth. But nobody’s perfect, and at least he’s not a serial killer. Right?

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30 ROCK: Generalissimo

February 6, 2009 by  
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Given the dismal state of NBC these days, it’s not tough to imagine a future in which all roles will eventually be played by Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey. Which is okay by me, and if they can find a way to throw Jon Hamm in there, too, I will certainly not be complaining. All Fey and Baldwin need to do is sit around and talk to each other, and Hamm can stroll in and smile every so often and say something totally benign yet inherently sexy, and then at some point he and Baldwin can have a hair contest while Fey tosses cheese curls at them. Ratings will surge!

Anyway, they got off to a solid start last night because, while the mechanics of the “Generalissimo” storyline were clunky, the payoff was so fabulous it didn’t matter. Watching Alec Baldwin’s obvious glee in playing Jack Donaghy as a gay Spanish soap star—complete with pancake makeup, pencil-thin mustache, eyeliner, and guitar—was worth all of the tedious machinations of his never ending non-romance with Elisa. But it is ending at some point, right? It has to. His relationships are only interesting when they carry a note of danger (as with ex-wife Isabella Rossellini and the money-hungry, bird-boned Emily Mortimer) or outright hostility (Edie Falco’s C.C.). There’s nothing all that funny or even dramatic about him dating a nice, sexy nurse, and there’s no counterweight to the character; her presence illuminates nothing about him, so it doesn’t feel like it’ll actually break his heart when it ends. But I for one would like it to end. Soon.

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30 ROCK: Retreat to Move Forward

January 25, 2009 by  
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First of all, who wouldn’t want Liz Lemon as a camp buddy at a corporate retreat? What with the natural sunshine of her personality and her ability to make great first impressions in professional settings and everything. So thumbs up on the forced funtivities and cutthroat team building of Jack’s Six Sigma Retreat to Move Forward, which is just dumb enough, corporately speaking, to be a real name somewhere.

I always enjoy these little side trips into Jack’s simmering executive insecurities, especially when they’re played out before a party of his peers, which in this case is the vaunted Six Sigmas themselves: Teamwork, Insight, Brutality, Male Enhancement, Handshakefulness, and Play Hard. (Brutality in particular really seems to have it in for him.) Likewise the fact that Liz’s inherent bossiness will rise to the surface in any kind of group setting, right along with her meanness, and no more so than when Legos are involved: “Don’t stop talking, Jack! Always be talking!” (Nice take on one of Alec Baldwin’s signature roles there.) Try as she might to deny it, Liz Lemon (“from the entertainment division”) is just as much of a shark as he is, only less willing—or able—to button it up.

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30 ROCK: Flu Shot

January 16, 2009 by  
Filed under #1 featured, 30 Rock, Posts by Kari

30 Rock

Holy smokes! Did you know they just added “St. Elmo’s Fire” to Hulu?  [GMMR: I did notice this morning and I had the same jubilant reaction]. Sadly but truly, this news excited me far more than last night’s new episode of “30 ROCK.”

Where to start? Kenneth’s escalating death throes were a highlight, amidst the ever-growing parade of flu zombies, especially when we see him in the background while Tracy and Jenna are talking soup, and he’s busy licking the inside of his mouth. But Liz has grappled with her “elite” insecurity and guilt before, with much better results (“The ‘C’ Word” comes to mind), and Tracy and Jenna’s double-teaming flat-lined halfway through. Worst of all, though, Jack’s new romance with Elisa generated what just might be my most unfavorite line ever: “I live in the Big Apple, but I spend all my time with a Big Vegetable.” Yikes. But the “Mr. Templeton” date montage was my one real joy: “Mr. Templeton, why should he stay at home? Just get his medication…”

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30 ROCK — “Senor Macho Solo”

January 9, 2009 by  
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At last! Our long 30 ROCK holiday has ended, and the start of a brand new year brings fresh opportunities for all: love interests for Liz and Jack, a possible Janis Joplin headliner for Jenna, and plenty of loud quasi-public desk sex for Tracy and his wife.

Liz’s ongoing (and slightly feral) baby obsession has her fondling every infant, toddler, and little person in sight, which is what leads her to mistakenly pat UN delegate Stuart LaGrange (Peter Dinklage) on the head at a streetlight. Thank goodness our quick-thinking Lemon is aces at turning her own PC faux-pas into lemonade (sorry), as she finds herself ensnared in one more half-hearted relationship based almost entirely on her guilty conscience. Alas, their love match is doomed from the start when she persists in smothering the poor guy with her best intentions: “What if I order a tall coffee, or talk about my Nintendo Wii?” she asks Jenna, before rescuing Stuart from the flames of a street vendor’s grill and warning him to be careful crossing the street. (Especially good was her assumption that Kenneth thinks Stuart is a troll when he asks what it’s like to live under the Williamsburg bridge.) The callback at the end was nice, too, as she mistakes another young tot for Stuart, effectively sabotaging her own “SATC”-style happy reunion as only Liz Lemon can.

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