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MILF and Cookies: Liz and Jack Face Off on "30 Rock"

There was one thing I was looking forward to this week more than anything. (Yes, even more than being just two scripts away from reading every single drama pilot this development season, which feels pretty damn good.) That thing was, of course, the return of original episodes of brilliant comedy 30 Rock to the airwaves.

I felt very worried as the familiar musical strains began last night's episode ("MILF Island"); would the episode live up to my high expectations after all of this time or would I be disappointed after I built up this moment for so many months now? I'm happy to see that the answer to the latter question is a resounding NO. I thought that "MILF Island" was textbook 30 Rock: slick, sly, and filled to the brim with throwaway lines, ongoing jokes, and surreal, brainy humor.

What other series would offer up such a deliciously apt send up of slipping NBC quality standards with the meta show-within-a-show MILF Island? The return of an in-joke at the beginning of the season, the B storyline of this week's episode revolved around a Jack Donaghy and Jerry Seinfeld-executive produced reality series (did you catch his name in the end credits there?) about 50 eighth grade boys, a bevy of hot MILFs, and no rules. It plays directly to the types of oversexed reality franchises we're seeing now, targeting the core demos of "soccer moms, NASCAR dads, white-collar pervs, and the obese," and I loved how the entire TGS staff and most of America (including Dick Cheney) were riveted to the season finale of MILF Island and the final showdown between Debora and Deborah. Choice quote from Jack: "Debra and Shana are facing off in Erection Cove!"

Meanwhile, Liz investigates the culprit behind a mean comments about Jack in Page Six that refer to him as a class-A moron, while actually concealing the true identity of the trash-talker: herself. I loved that for once Liz was the one who screwed up and tried to blame it on her "idiot" staffers, who quickly come apart at the seams quicker than a MILF Island cast member's overfilled bikini when they face the heat upstairs at Jack's office. Liz quickly sells out Kenneth in a moment of passion that echoes MILF Island, right down to the very words coming out of her mouth.

Jack, of course, once again proves he's smarter than Liz Lemon; while he's waiting for a call from Don Geiss (and hopefully the, er, praise attendant with being called "Jackie Boy") he sets in motion a ruse to ensnare Liz, one which involves a mocked copy of an official report noting him as a class-A moron and a sob story about being a child stutterer and attending a special needs class in the school boiler room with another boy named Gilly (thawed out after falling through the ice) who eventually taught him to sweep sawdust into little piles, got him a job at the local mill, and would make fun of Jack while playing with himself in the corner.

The Jack/Gilly story was absolutely hilarious and had me rolling on the floor with laughter. Each and every detail seemed selected to force Liz to confess and yet, when she didn't, Jack's story got more and more outrageous. At one point, I nearly choked on my tea when I began to laugh. (Trust me: you do not want to be drinking hot tea with milk while watching this show.) I loved that Liz, while still not able to confess to the crime, did admit that she was born with an extra baby foot from possibly eating her twin in the womb and had to wear corrective footwear that attached to headgear. (Ouch.) Points for Fey walking out of the scene pigeon-toed and for Jack coercing her into writing that spinoff for MILF Island's Debra who wants to "sing in every episode."

Loved Tracy's insistence that Liz had spoken the exact words found in a "Cathy" comic strip the day before ("Chocolate... chocolate... chocolate... Ack!"). Hell, they even got Cathy's cardigan and tongue-positioning perfect in the "flashback." And Kenneth telling Liz, "You eyes look like my uncle's after he drinks from the air conditioner." Can this show be any more perfect?

A C storyline had Pete trapped inside a vendine machine trying to snag a free Soy Joy bar; not so coincidentally, Soy Joy is not only the sponsor of MILF Island, but this episode of 30 Rock as well (as indicated in the closing credits). I couldn't help but remember that old Simpsons episode where Homer finds himself caught inside not one but two vending machines and the fireman finally tells him to just let go of the soda can he's holding. I was sort of hoping that would be the case here but instead Pete removes most of his clothes and, in a hilarious twist, throws objects against a phone to call for help... only to dial the four digit extension for his own phone. Funny and ironic.

In the end, this was a strong installment to a series that just gets better and better (save those strike-produced episodes which definitely lacked the funny) and felt more like a season opener with the amount of momentum and set-up it contained. I've waited a long time for 30 Rock to return and I have to say that, given the hilarity and wit of this episode, the wait was worth it in every respect. Welcome back, my old friend. I've missed you.

Next week on 30 Rock ("Subway Hero"), after Liz's ex-boyfriend Dennis (Dean Winters) saves a man who has fallen onto the subway tracks, he becomes a local celebrity and sets out to win back Liz Lemon.

Comments

TxGowan said…
Well, a couple of things:

It was Debra and Deborah (Deb-or-ah).

Jack is hoping Geiss will call him "Jackie-Boy". He says it a couple of times.

White-COLLAR pervs.

But those are nits. :P

I dunno. I enjoyed the episode and I think Jack's plan was beautifully executed, but Liz being so cutthroat seemed completely out-of-character.

I liked the MILF Island parody quite a bit. They really put it to the cliches of those types of series, particularly Survivor. Did you notice that the director and co-adapter to American television was Brit Ishman?

I've never even heard of SoyJoy, though, and there wasn't a commercial for it in these parts. I guess Texas isn't the SoyJoy demographic.

I have to admit that I laughed out loud a lot more at The Office than 30 Rock. I guess 30 Rock's humor is more of a smirky, sly humor, but this week at least, I think The Office was the better show.

Of course, that's just one man's opinion.
It felt so, so good to have Thursday night comedy back. Both 30 Rock and The Office were excellent but, as for which was funniest, 30 Rock wins by a nose if only for the yarn Jack spun about his old (fake) schoolmate Gilly.

As for Liz being out of character, she's had some seriously selfish moments in the past (remember when she fired Floyd's girlfriend?) so that didn't bother me at all. Liz Lemon is far from perfect... even without that extra baby foot.
Anonymous said…
"MILF and Cookies" - GREAT title!
Anonymous said…
30 Rocks its the best and I am glad its back. Jack is the man but when will he and Liz get it on? and oh I have two Soyjoy bars in my drawer in the kitchen, which have been there since sept, 2007, after I was given them as a freebie at the departure lounge at JFK as I was heading back to the UK. I just might try one if they are still ok to eat. MILF Island lol.
The CineManiac said…
Loved it, although I watched it fairly earl in the morning (like 3 or 4) while up with Owen.
I saved it so I can watch it at least once more. While I caught Seinfeld's name on MILF Island's credits I missed that it was Pete's own phone.
So I need to watch it again. Overall a fine episode.
J. John Aquino said…
"When will Jack and Liz get it on"? Hopefully never--does every prime-time show have to turn into a daytime soap?--although the end of the Paul Reubens "Black Tie" episode was rife with sexual tension.

One of the things I like about 30 Rock is that unlike other shows, it views the idea of having its male and female lead characters hook up as both boring and disgusting (not to mention that the TWoP name of the pairing would be "Jizz"). Tina Fey said in an interview that she hates writing storylines about Liz's love life, plus it's been established that Jack finds Liz to be repulsive and mannish--one of the show's best running jokes--and pairing them up would deprive us of that running joke. Yet mannishness didn't stop Jack from showering with Greta Van Susteren.

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