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30 Rock Review: "Dealbreakers Talk Show #0001" (Episode 4.7)

December 4, 2009  |  1:30pm
30 Rock Review: "Dealbreakers Talk Show #0001" (Episode 4.7)

The two big surprises for 30 Rock this week were that a. it looks like Dealbreakers is done and b. a whole episode based around Dealbreakers ended up being pretty good after all. Admittedly, the later is a bigger surprise, but I’m happy that the show dispatched things with such grace when almost everything else having to do with the whole Dealbreakers plotline tended to be cliché, unfunny, or at the very least filler.

In fact, the Dealbreakers part of this episode was really some good writing even by the show’s outsized standards. Sure, having characters switch roles isn’t exactly a new trope, but it’s fun and hasn’t been a large part of 30 Rock yet. Turning Liz into Jenna for an episode isn’t earth-shattering, but it works well in twisting a lot of 30 Rock’s normal tropes into some unexpected places. Heck, they even showed the TGS writing staff for more than two frames—always a plus.

"Dealbreakers Talk Show #0001" has Liz and Jack preparing for their new show’s first episode. Due to Jack’s criticism, Liz soon divas out and loses all sense of self, mental stability and the ability to cry from her eyes. Which is to say that she’s become Jenna, and due to Devon (Will Arnett) threatening to flog him should the show fail—both figuratively and literally—Jack is under pressure to make things succeed regardless of how irritating Liz becomes. Which, as you can guess from Jenna, is pretty damn irritating.

In a completely unrelated but nonetheless pretty awesome plot, Tracy is pursuing his newfound dream of having a baby girl by way of winning an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards). Not that the two are linked in any way outside of Tracy’s mind. In any case, pursuing that dream at the cost of failing in his commitment of buying Christmas presents for his family somehow convinces his wife that she should try to have a daughter. Don’t try to follow that logic, it’s Tracy logic so it literally doesn’t exist. That’s the best type of logic for laughter, though, and it all works out for the best.

And remember Frank? You know, the writer with the funny hats who we all love yet inexplicably only gets featured in some of the worst plots? Well he gets tapped to replace Liz. The episode continues its doubling here, because apparently when you replace Liz, you become Liz. She’s like the highlander in that way. Pretty soon he’s lost his hat, wearing glasses and eating ham like his ex-boss. This doesn’t really lead anywhere, but still made me happy, even if Frank in full-on Liz Lemon mode was more disturbing than actually funny.

In the end laughs were a-plenty, plots were clever but not overwhelmingly self-conscious and Kenneth even appeared as a muppet. Who doesn’t like that? Communists, that's who. Will Arnett, Dr. Spacemen and even Whoopi Goldberg, apparently still alive, pop in to give us some loving. It’s a return we’ve long been waiting for, and though it took longer than last season, the show’s once again found its footing.


Stray Observations:

"I'm a star, iIm on top...somebody bring me some HAAAAM"
-Doesn’t tina fey look vaguely like Britney spears in that fantasy?
-Mike Dexter returns!
“I knew it, you’re blonde in your fantasies. It looks terrible.”
“Come here and check out my corner—no trap.”
“Having a daughter is like going to the NBA all star weekend—it changes you.”
“I said click to distract you from the sound of the handcuffs.”
“Writers who never talk, anyone want a promotion?”
-I rather love Frank taking over as head writer. Let’s bring back more TGS plots!
-“A moron says what jokes” are as timeless now as when I was in 2nd grade
“That’s a good goal for a talented crazy person.”
“What if we change your name to Veronica Saint-Pierre?”
-Yes, Liz’s hair is fine
“We’re all going to chuckie cheese’s, it’s divorxced Hispanic moms night.”
“I’m not Liz. Ooh, ham.”
-Cam-er-a
“Treat her like the New York Times treats its readers.”
-Again, pretending that Tina Fey isn’t hot just kinda annoys me.
-I think I enjoyed the high-def camera joke less than other people for whatever reason. But who exactly was Alec Baldwin in that?
“How could five of the most popular music styles played at once sound so bad?”
“You created the super majority?”
-The Liz is Gollum thing is pretty dumb.

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