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Betrayal in B Minor: A Question of Succession on "30 Rock"

How utterly fantastic was last night's episode of 30 Rock ("Succession")?

Increasingly, 30 Rock is becoming the brightest, shiniest spot in my television-viewing week, offering more belly laughs, throwaway lines, and blink and you miss it jokes than most typical seasons of other network comedies. Last night's brilliant episode, focusing on Don Geiss choosing his successor and Liz becoming a high-powered executive, was no exception; it was taut, elegantly crafted comedy that fused together wit and absurdity into one brilliant package.

After all, what other comedy series would reference Amadeus in a plot thread about Tracy Jordan fusing together video games and porn into one single package to bear his immortal legacy? I loved that a jealous Frank (who had devoted his life to porn) played Salieri to Tracy's Mozart and beautiful slow-mo montage of Dr. Spaceman rushing down the halls of 30 Rock, cloak billowing in his wake, as he then pauses at the vending machine for a snack.

And how hysterical was it that, when Leo finds Don Geiss in a diabetic coma, he tells Liz and Jack that he can't give Geiss a shot of something in the heart "because we don't really know where the heart is... it's different on every person." He then attempts to call for help, unsure whether he should dial 411 or 911. Getting information, he casually asks for "New York... diabetes repair." I don't know about you, but I couldn't stop laughing and had to rewind what came next because I was laughing so hard I couldn't hear what anyone was saying.

Loved the subplot with Tracy trying to find a way for his sons to be proud of him and the flashback to him bringing his son's "music stick" (read: flute) to school, only to discover that he had not been invited to Bring Your Dad to School Day... which invariably leads to Tracy dancing--sans shirt, of course--an embarrassing jig. The remembrance of this moment sends Tracy on a quest to create a lasting legacy for his children (whose photos he keeps hidden) and he doesn't need to turn to Eureka for a good idea this time.

One of the many hilarious lines of the evening that made me squeal with glee: "You've got the charm and spark of a young Leona Helmsley." - Geiss to corporate Liz, who has thrown away her dreams of living with gorillas in the wild for a slap-worthy salary. Of course, that tied with "Hey nerds, who has two thumbs, speaks limited French and didn't cry once today? This moi!" 'Nuff said.

Seeing Liz as a high-powered exec was a treat, especially with her corporate hairstyle. I thought she would bristle when Jack offered to make her his successor; she doesn't scream out corporate in any way, shape, or form. And yet she rose magnificently to the occasion, fitting in with Jack and his cronies, making a quick decision about microwave button classic which saves GE $2 million in research, and slyly handing Jack a tampon when he expresses sympathy for someone. I loved that Jack--who believes that hugging is "so ethnic"--would even consider Liz for the job, but, after all, she does always have his back, even going so far as to forcibly make out with rival Devon Banks ("I pretended he was a sandwich") on the elevator's security camera in order to give Jack further leverage with Geiss.

Devon of course is about to wed Don's freakish daughter Kathy Geiss, a woman prone to eating flowers, forgetting to wash her hands after using the toilet, sipping from juice boxes, and climbing into small, confining spaces. I love having the deliciously sleazy Devon (Will Arnett) on the series; Jack needs a rival to work off of and Devon fits the bill perfectly. It's the small touches that make him more than just a cardboard villain: the fact that he wore a low-cut top to his "sham bachelor party," or his weakness for one Kenneth Ellen Parcell.

And, despite admitting to Jack that he knew that Geiss had passed him over, Devon clearly seizes advantage of Geiss' diabetic coma (brought on when Liz forgets to get him something to eat at the bachelor party) in order to take control of GE, putting Kathy in charge as a figurehead and satisfying the even more freakish board of directors that a Geiss should sit atop GE. It's a clever gambit that pays off for Devon and the look of shock and outrage on Jack's face is unlike anything we've ever seen from him before. Just what this means for the power structure at GE/NBC remains to be seen.

I wouldn't have it any other way. Hell, I didn't even need to be "business drunk" to say that.

Next week on 30 Rock ("Sandwich Day"), it's the return of Liz's ex-boyfriend Floyd (Jason Sudeikis) who needs somewhere to stay overnight after his flight out of New York is canceled; Jack finds himself demoted to the 12th floor after Devon takes over GE, causing him to question his future with the company.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Ghost Whisperer
(CBS); Most Outrageous Moments/Most Outrageous Moments (NBC); Friday Night SmackDown! (CW; 8-10 pm); America's Funniest Home Videos (ABC); 13 Going on 30 (FOX; 8-10 pm)

9 pm: Moonlight (CBS); Dateline NBC (NBC; 9-11 pm); Duel (ABC)

10 pm:
NUMB3RS (CBS); 20/20 (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

8 pm: Sarah Jane Adventures on Sci Fi.

On tonight's episode of the Doctor Who spin-off ("Revenge of the Slitheen, Part 2"), the Slitheen's plot to blot out the sun takes Mr. Smith offline, forcing Sarah Jane and the kids to resort to subterfuge in order to stop the aliens. Afterwards, it's the first part of "Eye of the Gorgon," in which the gang investigates reports of a ghostly nun at a nursing home and uncovers a secret society devoted to a creature who can turn her victims to stone.

9 pm: Doctor Who on Sci Fi.

Season Four of Doctor Who continues tonight with "Partners in Crime," in which Catherine Tate's Donna (last seen in "The Runaway Bride") joins up with the Doctor to battle an alien plot involving a fad diet... which makes fat vanish along with people.

10 pm: Battlestar Galactica on Sci Fi.

On tonight's episode ("Escape Velocity"), Baltar's new messianic role creates some problems of faith for those who cling to their beliefs in the Lords of Kobol and a death (ahem, you know who) casts a pall on the Colonial fleet.

8-11 pm: BBC America.

Looking for a sci-fi alternative? If you happen to be staying in after a long work week, why not do it in true Anglophile style with back-to-back episodes of Coupling and new sketch comedy series That Mitchell and Webb Look, from the stars of Peep Show?


Such a great episode! Will Arnett is my favorite 30 Rock guest star but I have to say that, last night, Dr. Spaceman stole the show. His questionable methods make even The Simpson's Dr. Nick look good and that phone call to information was icing on the cake.
Anonymous said…
Great ep. And yes, Dr Spaceman definitely stole the show. I think I laughed at every single thing he said.

Frank's wail to the heavens about how he'd been working on it his whole life and Tracy solved it in one night was genius.

Seriously, seriously great ep.
The CineManiac said…
I loved the episode but the line I can't get out of my head is from last weeks episode:
"You've put me in a quandary Jack Donaghy. A quandary."

Put Spaceman was hilarious as was Tracy's response to Frank saying "Salieri" and his "Eureka!" joke

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