It's Week 3 for NBC Thursday night comedies, and after a long wait, 30 Rock returned last night to kick off its final abbreviated season. This year we're covering Lemon & Co with live chat recaps from the lovely Halle Kiefer, Taylor Moore, and Emmy Blotnick. So let's dive right in!
30 Rock: "The Beginning of the End"
Halle Kiefer: Okay, so I have no idea what we're doing.
Taylor Moore: Good.
Halle: But what did you guys think of the season premiere?
Emmy Blotnick: It was enjoyable as heck.
Taylor: I thought so too.
Halle: I felt the same way! I was so relieved. I just watched Season 6…it has some real rocky eps.
Emmy: So, just copy/paste this for the rest of the season?
Taylor: I love it when season premieres immediately dispense with the previous season. Especially all the Jack stuff.
Halle: Agreed! The end of last season was so Jack and Avery heavy.
Halle: What did you guys think of the "purposely tanking NBC" plot?
Halle: I’m usually impressed with how far they go when zinging NBC, and this was PRETTY FAR.
Emmy: Agreed! The Justin Guarini Old Navy commercial only made it more real.
Taylor: One of the things on my wish list for the final season was that the fictional NBC and TGS followed the drama of NBC's prime time trouble, and boy oh boy. It appears to be the mission of the entire final season, which I love.
Halle: Wow, you are on the exact same wavelength as the show!
Halle: Yeah, I love that the end of the season premiere is that both Liz and Jack agree to sabotage everything. But it didn't feel mean spirited, just…destined to backfire in their faces.
Taylor: Oh, but it must be right?
Halle: It must be mean-spirited?
Taylor: Well, aside from Alec Baldwin, no one wanted this show to end right?
Halle: I think you're right. There was some story today that had Tina Fey laughing about how, now that he's on set, Alec Baldwin is complaining that he wants an eighth season.
Taylor: That hotel-info-channel gag? A knife in the ribs of the new Thursday night.
Halle: Can we all just post as many of the fake shows as we remember?
Halle: Hunchbacks starring Jonathan Silverman
Halle: O.J. Live
Taylor: Joe Rogan IS Mandela
Emmy: That was the best.
Emmy: God Cop
Halle: Followed shortly by An Hour Of Gary Sinise's Band
Halle: The NBC tanking plot seems like it will have a wealth of hilarity, and I feel the same way about Jenna's wedding. I have to read about celebrity weddings like every day.
Taylor: The wedding bits they had tonight killed with the people that were watching with me. Witch undertones?
Emmy: Oh, the bridesmaids’ leotard! “The Clinique lady said I have witch undertones.”
Emmy: Yeah, I especially liked Liz's demon voice for "no cake?"
Halle: "I want a stripper from every race. Start looking for Indian. It's a hard booking."
Taylor: Two great season arcs.
Halle: I will say I was less psyched about Kenneth and Hazel
Taylor: They are wonderful.
Halle: Oh, yes, I agree
Taylor: Prediction: Hazel dead or gone before the end of the season.
Emmy: Haha, yes.
Halle: Hazel was just so mean to Kenneth last season. Remember how she sabotaged his page application? The last time we saw them, he confronts her and she kisses him. I know because the entirety of 30 Rock is on Netflix right now. My prediction is that Kenneth and Hazel get married, then her husband shows up, or her kids, or some such
Taylor: Whoa. I can't see them trying to land the finale with Hazel pissing all over everything. She negates whatever heart the show manages to muster. And I dont mean that the show has a hard time with heart, just that with Jenna literally FLYING IN THE AIR
Halle: Looooooool. My eyebrow shot up to the ceiling when she did.
Taylor: It’s going to be tough to keep up this maniacal arc/hyper reality and manage to pull the heart strings when Jack and Liz finally mouth-kiss over the last credits of the last episode.
Halle: Guys…I know I’ll have to turn in my college degree and vagina, but I would be more than happy if Jack and Liz got together.
Emmy: I'll second that
Halle: Having watched the entire series on Netflix, then accidentally masturbated to some Jack/Liz slash-fiction, I'd be thrilled
Halle: Unintentionally, I mean
Taylor: At what point did you say "Whoops!"
Halle: The whole time.
Halle: It was a fact-finding mission.
Halle: Did you guys have any other favorite standout moments? One of mine would be Kenneth greeting Tracy as he arrived to his apartment for dinner: "Welcome to the condemned site of the Candyland Murders!”
Emmy: YES. Followed by Tracy’s "Thank you. Your home is terrible."
Taylor: The PAAS product placement
Halle: Haaaaahaha. Yes, praising how thin the wire is, leaving an extremely thin dye line.
Taylor: “AND webisodes”
Halle: Kennth's "Both sides being right is like kissing your sister: a delightful treat!" or Jack’s "What my good friend Bane tried to do for Gotham."
Taylor: I'm completely in love with the whole "tanking" thing. The final scene with the 9:30 am toast made me so very happy.
Halle: Haha, yes. Oh, and the Homonym contestant!
Emmy: Avery Monsen!
Halle: It seemed like a great omen.
Emmy: He was great
Halle: Let's namecheck him in our recap!
Taylor: And Don Fanelli as the cop right?
Halle: Oh my god, was it? He immersed himself in that role.
Halle: In conclusion: this episode is about 100% better than the sixth season premiere, which again I just saw on Netflix. I'm very enthusiastic for the season
Taylor: This was exactly everything I love about 30 Rock. That they came out with Fun Cookers blazing and taking dead aim at the network makes me feel great about the season we're about to have the pleasure to watch. Also, Liz is totally getting a baby
Halle: Here here! Yeah, I'm betting adoption. They can come over and look at her apartment, she and Chris have to debate getting married and Jack will write her a heartwarming recommendation. Count it!
Emmy: Hahaha. That all sounds completely possible.
Emmy: Did we chat hard enough for you?
Halle: Guys, this was exactly what I'd hoped. All people want to do is talk about TV, right?
Taylor: Good peacock to you. I SAID GOOD PEACOCK TO YOU.
Halle: Good peacock to us all.
Up All Night: "Swingers"
Megh: The thing about "new parent" shows is that there's always going to be a baby involved, but we never really know where baby Amy is during "Swingers" except one scene where she's asleep in Ava's cluttered bedroom-turned-storage-turned-Ava Show swag hoarding room. Chris and Reagan are both unemployed right now — and by the way, what happened to Chris and Scott's business? Shouldn't they be buckling down on that? But no — instead, Scott helps Ava sell her junk while Chris and Reagan try to escape their boring lives as a Real Housewives-addicted "Waffle House Death Couple." Sadly they wuss out — both on backporch sex and the trapeze swing — and so, squareness confirmed. (Side note: I did love how revved up Reagan got just before the trapeze lesson when she yelled "REEEAAADY" and "SEEEET" over and over.)
Between dismal ratings and the whole "show retooling" thing, watching Up All Night already comes with a side of sympathy flop sweat, and there still feels like a jarring rift between Reagan's world and Ava's even though "Swingers" tries to further meld them. Rachel Dratch made a welcome cameo as the devout Ava Show fan Linda who shows up at Ava and Scott's garage sale, but she wasn't given much of a chance to be weird and alarming or even creepy-hilarious, which seems like a missed opportunity knowing her SNL chemistry with Rudolph. But Ava's at least making some post-Ava Show cancellation progress and pays homage to Steve Martin's The Jerk when she clutches onto her keyboard, rain stick, yoga ball, and coconut bikini top, while Chris and Reagan have basically reaffirmed their boringness to the non-backyard-owning world, so it leaves me with questions: Who is this show about? Is there a lead character or central driving force? How long can they afford to be unemployed parents? And most importantly, where's the baby? They should probably go check that last part first, because without a baby there's just no excuse to be that tepid.
The Office: "Andy's Ancestry"
Megh: Maybe I'm in the minority as a member of the Nellie fan club, but without her mischievous meddling throughout last night's episode, there wouldn't have been too much learning. And almost everyone learned a little something: Pete and Clark learn that Andy craves approval (in the form of them applauding every mundane thing he does), Nellie learns how to drive, Erin learns how to speak Dothraki, Andy learns that his ancestors transported slaves, Darryl learns that he needs to work where his effort is appreciated, Jim learns that Pam supports his start-up Philly business, and Pam learns that Jim thought he needed to wait three episodes to tell her about it. Much like 30 Rock's season premiere, The Office has begun to metaphorically pack its bags and prepare its characters for a believable and hopefully awesome end.
Hate her or not, much of last night's progress was thanks to the fabulously demented Nellie. I can't help but like the sweet and cruel sides of this difficult, insane, incompetent Brit who eats salad while driving like a maniac and lies to Andy about his distant relation Michelle Obama, then lovingly calls Pam "Scranton's most dangerous muralist" and enlists her to paint a mural in the warehouse. Most of the Dunder Mifflinites have broken in their roles for years now, but Nellie's so new and spunky and most importantly so hated — by both her fellow characters and by a lot of Office fans — to the point where her coworkers are throwing trash at her, but at least she's not a mealy-mouthed putz like both Jim and Andy have become. Even Pam admits to the camera that she finds Nellie fun and exciting, so I'm not the only one who likes the idea of Nellie lurking like a redhead Grim Reaper of Realizations until the season's end. Thanks to her, Andy now has a lifetime supply of wealthy white man guilt, almost enough to catapult him into Michael Scott levels of self-absorbed self-sabotage, and Pam's eyes have been opened to a more negative side of her marriage with Jim. I've always wanted their happiness to be tested, but Jim resisting Cathy last year only proved that nothing is more boring in comedy than untarnished fidelity. Maybe Philadelphia is just the wake-up call old sleepy Jim needs…try that elaborate prank shit in Philly and he'll get a wake-up call real quick. Some lines:
Andy: "Get your wrinkly old balls in here."
Pete: "It's hard to remember what's real at this point."
Clark: "Just clap through it man."
Stanley: "Well somebody owned somebody, and I don't think anyone would buy an Andy."
Andy: "Darryl said 'cool, man.' He called me a cool man."
Darryl: "This is only weird if you make it weird."
Andy: "Worrrrd, brothah."
Dwight: "People laughed at Klingon at first, and now you can major in it."
Parks and Rec: "How a Bill Becomes a Law"
Samantha: This season is shedding some light on the dark side of Pawnee politics; “How A Bill Becomes A Law” shows that sometimes, you’ve got to suck it up and give in to special interests. Though there have been a few blows to Councilwoman Knope’s ego, the old Leslie is back in action (“I am big enough to admit that I am often inspired by myself,” she smiles), lobbying to extend public pool hours. But The Leslie Knope Fun in the Sun Act is threatened when dentist-slash-Councilman Jamm — Jon Glaser’s highly anticipated recurring character, who we assume he named himself — withholds his vote unless Leslie hands over her private office bathroom. She stops at nothing to defend her bill — venturing out in public with half a perm, eating a racist councilman’s Caesar salad — but eventually realizes the Pawnee Porpoise swim team is more important than her distaste for Jamm (sorry) and buys his vote with an office swap, a parking spot, and the promise of getting Invisaligns. It goes without saying that Glaser’s unapologetically dickheaded Jamm is a welcome addition to City Hall.
There’s another new Pawnee-ian (Pawnee-ite?) on our radar: Lucy Lawless’s Diane, a mother of two Ron meets while on an impromptu pothole-fixing mission. Almost as adorable as their awkward flirting (about having both recently made purchases at Food N Stuff), is the reveal of Andy standing behind them with a huge grin on his goofy face. In one of the show’s most shocking moments ever, Ron lets Diane’s daughters give him a full-on princess makeover; also uncharacteristically, he backs down from pursuing her (but ends up with a date anyways, after Andy scrawls “RON LIKES YOU CITY HALL FIRST FLOOR” in front of her house). Meanwhile, in DC, April suggests a weekend road trip home, but ends up getting stuck in a parking garage, learning that Ben’s the kind of guy who doesn’t trust his GPS, loves soundtracks, and puts “Shoop” on his Cool Times Summer Jamz Mix (basically, her nightmare). As the show settles into its multi-city format, we’re seeing more of the former roommates’ endearing, exasperating friendship (“She’s like the little sister I never had, because the little sister I do have is normal and not terrifying.”) We also see Tom sub for a conspicuously absent Anne, defending Leslie’s reputation and earning one of her famously lavish rewards; and it’s always fun to watch the odd couple of Donna and Jerry, left in the office to man the newly established 311 line (or, reading 50 Shades of Grey and fielding accidental 911 calls, respectively). Also: Chris continues on his rapid downward spiral (“Fun fact about me — I recently began intensive psychotherapy!”), and Tom realizes that he’s not into cigars.
Halle Kiefer, Taylor Moore, and Emmy Blotnick are three comedians who've formed a hive mind to bring you 30 Rock recaps for the last season of the show. You're welcome.
Samantha Pitchel writes about and watches comedy in Austin and Los Angeles.
Megh Wright misses Harrisburg, lives in Brooklyn, and answers phones in Manhattan.