30 Rock is the rare TV series that didn’t overstay its welcome on our season-pass managers. It leaves the airwaves next week while it is still, for the most part, on top of its game. That’s a great thing, but that means my expectations for the final episodes are quite high. By those standards, “A Goon’s Deed in a Weary World” was just OK. It didn’t have the impact I was hoping for in the Emmy-winning comedy’s penultimate episode.
Liz and Criss receive news that the eight-year-old twins they are adopting are arriving at JFK Airport on Jan. 29. There’s so much they have to do to prepare—buy clothes, decorate the bedrooms and watch TV. “The DVR’s at 98 percent, but I’m just never in the mood to watch Treme,” Liz laments. It’s moments like this that I think, “Has Tina Fey been in my home?”
Liz needs to fight to keep TGS alive—that means performing a show for the Board of Directors, slashing the budget and finding a corporate sponsor. While she’s running around trying to do all of this, Criss is busy preparing for the twins’ arrival. And no one is doing what they are supposed to do. The writers are playing games instead of writing, and Tracy and Jenna promote a movie that’s not being made instead of TGS. “What would it take for you people to ever step up and help me?” Liz wonders.
In the night’s best gag, Liz finds a corporate sponsor in “Bro Body Douche.” They’re changing the name of the show to The Man Cave and Liz Lemon will be credited as Todd Debeikis. The sight of Liz sitting in a blow-up chair and saying “Jeah!” was fantastic. And a company like Bro Body Douche seems entirely possible.
But then Criss calls Liz from the airport. The twins are arriving earlier than expected. Liz tells him she can’t meet him because she needs to oversee the TGS show for the Kabletown board.
OK. Stop right there. I know this show is a ridiculous farce, but the Liz Lemon I have gotten to know over the last seven seasons would have gone to meet her children. Please. But Liz’s temporary lack of judgment leads to a simultaneously hilarious and poignant moment. Everyone involved in TGS quits so Liz is free to go to the airport. “Let us step up and do what we do best. Nothing,” Jenna tells her. Once again 30 Rock puts a new spin on an old TV cliché. Any other show would have had the gang rally to put on a terrific show without her. But still I wish Liz had realized on her own that work was not her priority right now. (I know. I know. I’m applying way too much logic to 30 Rock.)
At the airport Liz and Criss are confronted with miniature versions of Tracy and Jenna. So Liz has gone from taking care of adults who act like children to children who act like adults. Like Liz says, “That seems about right.”
While Liz is about to take on a major life change, Jack is trying to figure out who to hire to replace him as the head of NBC. He makes Kenneth a page again (hooray!) and has him give a tour to the final candidates. “You can only truly judge a man who doesn’t know he’s being judged,” Jack tells Kenneth, who thinks it’s just like Willy Wonka and they’re searching for the candidate with the purest heart. But Jack likes Willy Wonka because he’s a true capitalist: “His factory had zero government regulations, slave labor and an indoor boat.” According to Jack, TV is a dying industry and the new president of NBC has to be a “grave-robber who will strip every last bauble off the corpse.”
In the end, Jack has a change of heart and makes Kenneth, the man who truly loves TV and especially NBC, the new president of the network. Again, that seems about right.
Next week is the one-hour series finale. According to NBC’s press website, Liz will adjust to being a stay-at-home mom (I don’t see that going well), Kenneth adjusts to being the head of NBC (ditto) and everyone gets ready for one last TGS show.
And now for the second-to-last time, my favorite quotes of the night:
• “’Kenneth the Page.’ That’s a name I haven’t heard in a long time. Some say he’s dead but others hear his name in the wind.”—Kenneth to Jack.
• “Boy, women who try to do things sure get killed a lot.”—Jack about Liz’s female heroes
• “You got Lemon, make lemonade.”—the fantastic way Liz has taken to answering the phone.
• “This industry is totally irrational.”—Jack about television. So true, Jack. So true.