Wednesday Night Sitcom Recap: ‘South Park’ and ’30 Rock’ Weather the Storm
Last night, while South Park aired at its normal time, Hurricane Sandy forced NBC to move 30 Rock to Wednesday instead of Thursday so it could make room for a delayed episode of The Voice. All other NBC comedies were cancelled this week. But I’m sure they don’t feel too bad — they know who pays the bills in the peacock’s house. But let’s see how those two shows went last night, shall we?
30 Rock: “There’s No I in America”
Halle: Well, I was pleased with this episode.
Taylor: As was I.
Halle: “There are no I or me in America.”
Halle: I have been loving all the Jenna-centricity this season.
Halle: Every line she had in this episode was so spot-on.”Someone who respects the human fetus, and recognizes it’s value as a hair volumizer.”
Halle: It delights me to no end the idea that the election would come down to a rich, mean pervert. That just feels right.
Taylor: Did this two-parter conclusion make up for last week as far as your concerned?
Halle: Oh yes. Mainly because we didn’t have to see the Crab Catchers at all.
Taylor: AT ALL!
Taylor: When it first came on, I thought “Oh yeah, it was a two parter from last week.”
Taylor: But I also thought it was the welcome touchdown to last week’s Hail Mary pass.
Taylor: That’s a thing right?
Taylor: It was a real penalty kick at half time fly ball.
Halle: A real love-love with the curling broom
Taylor: I guess what I’m trying to say is this: Boxing!
Halle: Yes, they resolved the “Jenna controls the election” plot to my satisfaction, and the debate was excellent. “And you sir, look like Scotty Pippen.”
Taylor: good, I thought maybe you were leaving the cult and going back to your family after last week.
Taylor: I believe it was this very Splitsider website that actually counted all the jokes in a few episodes of 30 Rock a few years ago. I would put this episode at the very tippity-top of the joke density pile
Taylor: I wasn’t counting, but it felt lime every single damn line was the funniest thing I’d ever seen on the show. “Long live Reverend Todd!”
Halle: Yeah, agreed. Just crammed full!
Halle: I will say thought…I didn’t love the Pete plotline as much
Halle: They have made Pete such a tremendous Mega Creep, I sort of don’t care about him any more.
Taylor: His laughter as he entered the elevator was my favorite moment. Scott Adsit slam dunked that part so hard the backboard broke.
Taylor: The backboard is that thing the umpire wears in hockey, right?
Halle: I just find his sweaty desperation depressing
Halle: And a backboard is the back of a chess board. DUH.
Taylor: How do you feel about Peter Horn? You must LOVE him
Halle: Oh wow! I could watch him find a parking spot all day!
Taylor: or turn his hot tub on with his phone
Halle: Dating all the security guards he wants!
Taylor: I believe that every psyche is made up of two sides, Peter Horn and Mayor Debbie, and that life is a struggle between those two.
Halle: Yeah, Mayor Debbie dreams bigs.
Halle: Those cut-aways were probably my favorite part
Halle: well, and every detail about the Stone Mountain ballot. “Should we let him marry his daughter, or bury her like the other dead folks?”
Halle: The Hermit What Live In The Clock Tower needs to have a say too!
Taylor: “The new airport…sized strip club.”
Taylor: You know, if 30 Rock leaves us just one thing and that one thing is the misleading ellipsis gag it will have done more good than most presidents and ALL popes.
Halle: They are really the leader in their field.
Taylor: They might not have invented it but history shall always think of them together, like Graham Bell and the telephone. Or Oprah and taupe couches.
Halle: I wonder how they’re going to fit in the actual outcome of the election (if they are.) It seems remiss not to address it after devoting these eps to it
Taylor: Great question. They must be done filming
Halle: I have no idea. Maybe they’ll just swiftly switch back to wedding/baby plots.
Taylor: If it were up to me, I’d have Obama win, and then never acknowledge that it was weird
Taylor: also because that is what’s going to happen.
Halle: Haha. Yeah, seems like a safe bet.
Taylor: I mean Mitt Romney,
Taylor: doesn’t know how to let a moment land
Halle:: Plus it would be funny if for some reason Obama didn’t win (like if everyone got a brain worm or something), then the rest of the season is preserved forever in this fantasy world.
Taylor: Like West Wing it would become an alternate timeline where smart people make good decisions far away from the nightmare of the real.
Taylor: How great would it be if 30 Rock transitioned to a show where the TGS staff ran Jack’s campaign and then his White House
Taylor: NBC HIRE ME
Halle: HIRE TAYLOR MOORE.
Taylor: Or better yet, Liz’s white house and Jack is chief of staf.
Halle: Humina humina.
Taylor: Vice President Black Shrek. It’s got a ring to it
Halle: Yeah, they really neatly tied in Tracy, which I appreciated. Just a small part, but a vital part of the plot
Halle: Any other favorite lines?
Halle: Mine was Lutz’s “If you need a kiss so bad, why don’t you just kiss a potato like the rest of us?”
Halle: Oh Lutz!
Halle: The tragedy of Lutz
Halle: Little Shawna’s take on Spanx. “It’s just kid’s bike shorts for fatties!”
Taylor: “I’ve never dropped a hat in my life.”
Taylor: That they are still able to come up with such wonderful specifics for Jack amazes me
Halle: “A head has five holes, and they are all needed.” How has no one ever pointed that out to me before?
Halle: I just hope we keep on slaloming down this court of dreams.
Taylor: yeah, Play Balls!
Halle: And that one day I might be one of America’s top hags.
Taylor: Lay off the HERstrionics, Halle
Halle: Oh Taylor, if only you’d let me rub off on you.
Taylor: 5$ says next week we’re tanking
Halle: Tanking and baby!
Taylor: And I have not seen the episode descriptions. Baby Tanks!
Halle: Okay, the load-baring balloons that hold up my apartment are starting to give way, so I have to run for my life. Until next week!
Taylor: And I’ve got a meeting with Mayor Debbie. If you know what I mean.
* * *
South Park: “A Scause for Applause”
If anyone was concerned that South Park was just phoning it in lately, “A Scause for Applause” should prove otherwise. This week’s episode was intricately drawn (in both story and animation), well thought out, and challenging. And they put Jesus in a Free Pussy Riot t-shirt. Don’t worry, it’s not a political statement, it’s a joke.
“A Scause for Applause” opens with an epicly long line of people at a Walgreens waiting for some procedure. It turns out they’re all there to get their yellow cause bracelets clipped off safely. Each person who approaches the table mumbles something along the lines of “lying jerk” or “I don’t know what to believe in anymore” right before the bracelet is removed. But instead of making it about Lance Armstrong, we find out in the next shot that it’s actually Jesus. Scientists have discovered that he used HGH and was high at the time of crucifixion. And everyone in the town is very quick to turn against him.
Except for Stan.
Stan’s choice to keep his W.W.J.D. bracelet on causes such a stir, that he gets invited on Charlie Rose to justify his position. The only advocate they can find to support his position is a retarded fish. But then, miraculously, Stan’s refusal to go along with the rest of the town and the world becomes an inspiration, first to a group of farmers in Belarus, and then to his school, his town, and the country. It gets its own name (Standground) and bracelet (brown), and soon enough, the corporate endorsements start rolling in.
Eventually Stan’s credibility is challenged as well – Craig spreads a rumor that Stan actually clipped his bracelet and glued it back together, and everyone is all too eager to prove him a fraud. And this is where things start to get interesting. Stan teams up with Jesus to gripe and figure out how to preserve their reputations, and it eventually leads them to the P.F. Pityef Bracelet factory – a Dr. Seuss fantasy world where they speak in verse and rhyme and where their entire reason for being rests on the manufacturing and selling of cause bracelets.
The corporate cause machine is fairly easy fodder for critique, but this was a truly imaginative take. Now that they’ve done it, it seems crazy that South Park has never had a Seuss episode before. The Seussian illustrations are spot on, and provides an interesting contrast to the animation style of South Park – which is even more disarming than the “Simpson’s Did It” episode. And the overriding idea behind the episode also harkens back to South Park’s origins, allowing Jesus to come back and rail against our consumerist tendencies, as he does in “The Spirit of Christmas.”
But even when they all realize how ridiculous and disconnected $5 plastic bracelets are from actually doing something for whatever cause they want to support, they just move on to t-shirts.
If Žižek ever thought about tuning in for an episode, this one might be one he’d appreciate.
Lindsey Bahr is a writer living in Los Angeles.