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Cutbacks: Liz Has a Few Trix Up Her Sleeve on "30 Rock"

Comedy, when it works best, holds up a cracked mirror to our own society.

Last night's episode of 30 Rock ("Cutbacks"), written by Matt Hubbard, focused on the slew of budget cuts and staff reductions that are plaguing many a company around the country right now. After profits for NBC parent company Sheinhardt Wigs plummet, they call in an outside consulting firm to trim the fat. Meanwhile, Jack is forced to get rid of sycophantic assistant Jonathan and replace him with Kenneth the Page (while still making him do his page duties) and Jenna and Tracy become convinced that Kenneth is a serial killer.

While last night's episode might not go down as the most memorable episode in the history of 30 Rock, it did offer more than a few side-splitting moments and some great scenes between Jack and Liz, whom I love best when their storylines intersect, as they did here. I was glad to see that Liz was willing to do whatever it took to ensure that her staff and crew were unaffected by the budget cuts. Even if that meant putting on a song and dance for consultant Brad (guest star Roger Bart) and sexing him up a little in order to ensure her crew's safety. Which--in true Liz Lemon fashion--didn't quite turn out the way she anticipated.

But, sure enough, Jack was able in the end to clean up Liz's mess by giving her an unpaid two-week suspension from TGS (ahem) for her inappropriate behavior and taking over as overseer of her budget. (Is it just me or is Jack the very best boss ever?)

Meanwhile, I loved having Kenneth take over as Jonathan's replacement on Jack's desk. The little things--the way he waved his hand over his face to transition to/from being Kenneth the Page to Kenneth, Jack's assistant--was hysterical as was his insistence that a deal for free Showtime on cable was grounds for interrupting a meeting.

The Jenna/Tracy storyline in which they believed Kenneth was a murderer could have been run-of-the-mill but I found it absolutely hilarious this week. (Even though I find it hard to believe that series star Tracy would really go to Kenneth's apartment.) I love when Jenna and Tracy are paired together as they have a fantastically manic energy and a biting competitiveness. I never imagined that Kenneth's bedroom actually contained a bug-bomb or that they would end up killing Kenneth's beloved 60-year-old bird. Or that these two would be clueless enough to make it up to him by filling his apartment with uncaged doves.

What else did I love? The crew gifts of decorative air holders; Jonathan singing to Jack as he packed his stuff (although I am hoping that he'll be back); Liz's TGS presentation to Brad which ended with the entire cast appearing and confetti falling from the ceiling; the repetition of The Pelican Brief throughout; the "groovy" Boombox Division being behind the times; Liz's come-on to Brad about how "hot" he looks "in those trousers"; the sluttily made-over Liz; the poor elderly announcer's intros; Lorne, Michael; the "Death of Comedy" Emmy magazine cover; Liz offering Brad use of the "top-front" of her body; the Trix falling out of Liz's sleeve; the Telemundo studio in the writers' room; the rolled up towel under Kenneth's bedroom door; the reason behind the straw budget (ick); Jack admitting that one fired employee managed to get his belt off of him; and the return of the overweight would-be transsexual HR rep.

Best line of the evening: ""Good Lord, Lemon! Top-front is your worst quadrant." - Jack

All in all, last night's episode of 30 Rock was a fantastic diversion from our own current economic woes, even as it offered a nice satire on corporate cutbacks, the ability to read facial cues, and, well, "top-front" interactions in the workplace.

Next week on 30 Rock ("Jackie Jormp-Jomp"), Liz discovers she is lost without "TGS" while completing her suspension from work and misses all the stress that comes with the job; Jack tasks Jenna with creating some promotional buzz using her celebrity status when the studio has second thoughts about releasing Jenna's Janis Joplin biopic film.


"Jenna and Tracy become convinced that Kenneth is a serial killer."

Just reading that alone makes me laugh. Needless to say, I very much enjoyed the episode.
Brodie said…
Another favorite moment was Jenna mentioning her Lifetime movie, "Hushed Rapings."
par3182 said…
liz's rip-off of steve jobs's iphone presentation (including his wardrobe) was sheer brilliance

"would be transsexual" - i was assuming he was a FTM success

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