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Cougars and Bad News Bears on "30 Rock"

I think it's safe to say that, until 30 Rock came along, a comedy hasn't managed to perfectly capture my absurd sense of humor, love for Tivo-friendly sight gags, and tendency to fall madly in love with non-sequiturs since Arrested Development. And to think that the Emmy winner for Best Comedy was nearly canceled during its freshman season after just a handful of episodes. Where would we be today without the comedic genius that is 30 Rock?

Thursday nights can become a bit of a drag when it's populated by nothing but repeats. Fortunately, 30 Rock was there to lift my spirits last night with a hysterical brand new episode ("Cougars") by co-executive producer John Riggi that ranks up there with some of the series' very best and had me rolling on the floor with laughter.

This week's installment juggled several storylines flawlessly, including Liz's doomed affair with much-younger-man Jamie, Tracy's war with Jack over an underdog little league team from Knuckle Beach; and Frank's sudden man-crush on Liz's little coffee boy. All this AND homemade bacon and mint-flavored country gum from Kenneth. Does it get any better?

So what did I love so much about this week's episode? (Well, everything.) But to pick some gems, it had to be Liz's reaction to her new "Zac Efron" lookalike boytoy Jamie, who thought that Liz was 29. (She didn't do much to correct him on this front.) And when she finally did come clean at the club, she uttered a phrase that many New Yorkers are repeating today: "I'm 37, don't make me go to Brooklyn!" Still, I did kind of like Liz and Jamie together; Liz has been a mess since she ended her relationship with Floyd at the end of last season: ordering meatball subs with extra bread and watching Top Chef on TiVo by herself on Friday nights. (Can I say how much I loved Jack's mean-spirited spoiler that Casey was booted off that week? Awesome.) Now, she's going up on her roof with abandon, dating a guy with whom she shares a 17-year age difference, and partying at the same hotspots as Cirie. That's got to amount to progress, right?

It all came together when Liz picked up Jamie at his place, which he shares with his mom, only being 20. (Glad that they addressed the relative splendor of his apartment, unlike most NYC-set series which have their young protagonists living in all sorts of unrealistically luxurious places.) Loved the sight gag of Jamie's mom looking exactly like Liz Lemon. Fitting, hysterical, and heartbreaking all rolled into one, uncomfortable and squeamish ball. (Kinda like Jenna dating that 13-year-old guy with the wheelie sneakers and penchant for soda.)

Meanwhile, I absolutely loved the Tracy, Jack, and Kenneth storyline that had Tracy coaching a disadvantaged little league team from one of the city's roughest neighborhoods after his motorcycle ran over a police horse. (Only on this series would that sentence even remotely make sense.) The kids' dream-little life plans were hysterical ("One day I'll have an office like this... to clean!") as was their belief that Jack Donaghy was some sort of "king." Loved the Sheinhardt Wig Company uniforms, the "Fun Accomplished" banner, Jack's salute to General MacArthur, and the park's namesake statue of Jefferson Davis which the kids pulled down in a blatant shout-out to Iraq.

And the storyline in which Frank went gay for Jamie (but only Jamie) was also mordantly funny as he repeatedly found ways to touch Jamie (and then grossly smelled his fingers), bought the coffee boy a sweater (not on sale, he insisted), and presented him with a painting he made of a one-armed unicorn mermaid with Bigfoot. But the visuals of seeing Frank Rossitano (Judah Friedlander) in a red-and-white striped tank with a Freddy-from-Scooby Doo kerchief? Classic.

All in all, another brilliant episode of 30 Rock that delivered on every level and cheered me up immensely. I'm curious to know from you guys what you thought. Were you as enamored of this episode as I was?

Next week on 30 Rock ("Secrets and Lies"), Jack and C.C. face a crisis when she suggests they take their relationship public, while Liz attempts to satisfy the diva-like needs of her two stars, Tracy and Jenna.


Great pic of Frank. I would use it as my screensaver if it didn't make me feel so...dirty.

I loved this episode. The doomed Liz/Jamie relationship had so many hilarious moments, including when he said he'd pick her up at ten and she gasps "at night?!"

I already can't wait to watch this episode again!
Unknown said…
SO many great moments in this episode! I'm with you - one of the best episodes yet. I laughed out loud so much - that has to be why I slept so well. I thought the kids baseball story was brilliant satire about Iraq, from the statue coming down to the banner to Jack saying "one word, surge" (and Tracy's hilarous response of "that's two words!"). Such greatness in 22 minutes. Sigh.
The CineManiac said…
Hilarious, I loved it all, just wish I had more room on my Tivo to keep it longer, but I'm about 3 to 4 weeks behind on several beloved shows (Pushing Daises I miss you so) as finals have been gearing up and many papers have been written.
Maybe I'll get on and watch it, oh wait that's just a promotion, damn.
TV Guy said…
I absolutely loved this episode. Ya know, 30 Rock is under appreciated for the great comedy it brings to TV.

I can't wait for next week's epi. Edie Falco return as C.C. I smell another hilarious episode.
Liz said…
First: Totally agreed--30 Rock is the best comedy around these days.

Second: If you're all about the absurd sense of humor, Tivo-friendly sight gags, and non-sequiturs, you should absolutely check out Frisky Dingo (on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim). Yeah, it's a totally crazy 15-minute cartoon, but it's seriously the only other comedy on TV that comes close to making me laugh in the same way Arrested Development did. Much like AD and 30 Rock, there are lots of jokes that reference back to past episodes, though, so it helps to DVR a marathon and start from the beginning.
Anonymous said…
Such a funny episode. It has earned its place as best comedy. It was so quotable. I love the line "He looks like Zac Efron. That's a thing, right?"
Anonymous said…
My favorite quote of the episode came from Jack, upon seeing Liz at a hip Gallery opening: "Lemon, what happened? Did you take an Ambien with your Franzia and sleepwalk here?" LOL Or Liz's line early in the episode: "You can't be gay for just one person.... Unless you're a lady... and you meet Ellen." LOL Or Tracy's line about the neighborhood the kids come from: "Kuckle Beach is a totally different world.... A world where orange soda is a substitute for breast milk." LOL Where do they come up with this stuff? Comedy gold!

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