30 Rock Review: "Anna Howard Shaw Day" (4.13)
After Julianne Moore’s somewhat blah, fascinatingly accented portrayal of a blue-collar love interest for Jack, Elizabeth Banks’ role in last night’s 30 Rock was a nice return to form. At some point in time, Jack’s current ladyfriend became the show’s revolving door for guest appearances, and how this has played out is somewhat mixed. Jack’s time with Edie Falco led to some of my favorite moments in the show, and Salma Hayek managed to fit right in with the show’s level of craziness while showing off some surprising comedic chops. Conversely, when the appearances don’t work they tend to drag the rest of the show down too, given how much time these romances are given on-screen. In fact, 30 Rock has spent a great deal more time dealing with Jack’s non-stop libido than it has anyone else, even if Liz is the nominal focus of the show and Tracy’s had eight-dozen fights with his wife due to his interest in strippers.
Banks took on the role of an over-the-top MSNBC political
pundit, who was in fact remarkable for being if anything less
ridiculous than half of that network’s usual group of talent. Jack
appears on her show and the two manage to simultaneously espouse
party-line Republican viewpoints and flirt, which is fun to watch if
difficult to actually follow. The two go on both unsuccessful and
successful dates before ending the episode ambiguously, as there’s only
time left to show how Jack lets Liz out of a jam.
Speaking of which, the episode’s other main plot is about Liz looking for someone to pick her up from an oral surgeon’s office on Valentine’s Day (we’ll ignore the fact that Valentine’s Day takes place on a Sunday this year). This acts as a very obvious and frequently stated metaphor for having someone romantically for Valentine’s Day. Going along with her statement that she doesn’t need anyone and will instead celebrate the titular Anna Howard Shaw Day, Liz gets her surgery done regardless of having no one to pick her up and, when it’s clear she’s in no state to get herself home, the nurses end up going through her phone and eventually calling Jack to pick her up. There’s also Bon Jovi involved in a lot of this, which is completely unnecessary but pretty awesome nonetheless.
The episode’s final plotline centers around Jenna’s sadness that her stalker, who usually does something especially creepy for her on Valentine’s Day, seems to have left for saner pastures. Not too much else going on here, but this leads to two wonderful jokes, the first in a montage of the horrors Jenna’s stalker has led her through in the past and ending with Kenneth pretending to be her stalker in a moment that’s both insane and sweet.
The convergence of the Liz/Jack plotlines was particularly strong and, as the episode ends, it’s hopeful that Banks’ character will return in the future. Beyond that, while there wasn’t anything particularly new to the episode, it was largely just some fun, top-form 30 Rock. Maybe for once we can have several of these in a row this season.
-www.jdlutz.com/karen/proof - enjoy.
“Me and Angie are renting a hotel room with a heart-shaped hot-tub and cook chili in it. Then we take it to a soup kitchen and that’s when things start to get sexy!!”
“She was on Maxim’s ‘I’d rape that’ 100.”
“You shouldn’t sign anything without reading it first. I made that mistake once and I ended up NBC’s artist-in-residence.”
-I was very happy to see the "Tyke Mison" TGS sketch, not because it was funny (it wasn't), but because they so rarely show any of that theoretical show. Apparently it's just as sadly derivative and behind-the-times as ever ... which is the way it should be.