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The Splendor of My Beginning: Things Go Up in Flames on "30 Rock"

Here comes the funcooker...

Was it just me or was last night's episode of 30 Rock ("The Funcooker"), written by Donald Glover and Tom Ceraulo and directed by Ken Whittingham, absolutely hysterical?

Perhaps it was the fact that each of the four storylines this week didn't compete for attention but earned it by remaining distinctly hilarious while also managing to intertwine in a delightful way. Much like the ham setting on the new Funcooker, in fact.

While Liz found herself assigned to an arson trial (despite her Princess Leia costume, issues of Playgirl from the early 1980s, and her excuse of being a hologram), Jack attempted to find a suitable name for his portable microwave oven, Jenna participated in a risky clinical drug trial for an anti-sleep medication, and Tracy discovered he could say whatever he wanted on television as long as he could pay the fines... and ended up becoming one of NBC's main advertisers in the process.

It was a series of plots that could have only worked on a series as deliciously loopy as 30 Rock. And much of the credit for this highly memorable episode has to go to guest star Jackie Hoffman (Kissing Jessica Stein) whose hilarious portrayal of arsonist Rochelle Gaulke sparked a sense of kinship within our own frustrated fire bug Liz Lemon... who considered burning TGS to the ground and ended up starting a fire that made all of her staffers absolutely terrified of her. It was a tiny part that could have faded into the background but Hoffman's deadpan delivery of her testiomony and her brittle charm made this one-off character instantly unforgettable.

What else did I love? Kenneth's signs and proclamations about menstruating women and men with mustaches and beards being barred from the workplace; Jack turning to Scrabble letters for a name for his product and coming up with either vagina or Hitler; the BiteNuker; Josh offering to make t-shirts for the new members of the microwave division; Professor Bananas; the freaks in the jury selection pool at the arson trial;
Frankie Muniz, Katherine Heigl, and Raven Symone appearing on the cover of Dr. Spaceman's So You’re Simultaneously Doing a Movie and a TV Show! pamphlet; Tracy's excitement at making Martha Stewart Live as "raunchy" as possible; both Jack and Liz telling a silent Lutz to shut up; Robot-Bear Talk Show sketch (and how easily Jack was able to pitch an entire TGS episode of sketches); Hot Richard; Jenna's vision narrowing as the "darkness" closes in around her; Frank repeatedly removing his pants; Tracy's request for "Diet Slice and some pita chips" after everything that had happened; Liz changing her mind about it being the worst day ever when she discovers the Funcooker can heat up ham in the shower. (Really, the list just goes on and on.)

Best line of the evening: "Most of the time has been spent focused on coming up with a hip, edgy name for the product. Something that will appear to the marketing Holy Trinity: college students, the morbidly obese, and homosexuals." - Jack

What did you think of this week's episode? Will it stand the test of time as one of the funniest installments of 30 Rock? Discuss.

Next week on 30 Rock ("The Bubble"), Liz discovers that the good looks of her new boyfriend Drew (guest star Jon Hamm) have allowed him to escape many of life's usual frustrations; Jack tries to convince Tracy to stay on at TGS after his contract expires; Jenna considers getting a new hairstyle to attract public attention.


Jon88 said…
Not just you. I had to stop and rewind multiple times because I kept laughing and missing things.
Anonymous said…
I'm definitely going to have to watch this episode again as I'm sure I missed many of the lines while I was laughing. I think this episode had the 30 Rock spark that's been missing in the last few eps. And any episode with Dr. Spaceman is bound to be good!

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