September 23, 2010

30 Rock Premiere Recap: The Fabian Strategy

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Welcome back 30 Rock.

“No Tom Jones, No.”  What is in Liz Lemon’s (Tina Fey) dream?  Welcome back Jack (Alec Baldwin), looking very grizzly-bearish indeed.

Of course Liz can tell that Jack has grown a beard just by speaking with him on the phone.

How was Liz’s (Tina Fey) summer, asks Jack? “Get this, my gynecologist committed suicide.”

Hi, Matt Damon.  His pilot, Carol, is now dating Liz and he has to fly a Newark-Atlantic City route before he can finally catch up with Liz.  Who flies Newark to Atlantic City, she asks? “Black bachelorette parties.”  Bringing back the offensive!

And welcome back 30 Rock theme song.  I always half-expect people watching to get up and dance 40s-style to this music (Does anybody?).

It’s the first commercial break, and I am surprised that there is no scene immediately after the theme music.   Did anyone else notice the new Time Warner feature on DVR that brings you to the beginning of the scene after the commercial break NO MATTER AT WHAT POINT YOU UNPAUSE IT?  Sheer brilliance.

Pete Hornberger is back and he is writing internal memos on the back of his kid’s art.  Why do Pete’s kids depict him being bludgeoned to death.  Foreshadowing?

Jack tries to maintain the image of NBC as a “sexy profitable company” to ensure that the merger with Kabletown goes through.  Seriously, check out its website (  Jack points out that the company’s Harry Potter theme park is a huge hit with both Anglophiles and pedophiles.

And Jenna is now a producer as a result of strange contractual obligations that weren’t set to kick-in until the fifth season of TGS, a feat that seemed an improbability when it was first aired, considering that it was NBC’s attempt to appease women for the failure of Bitch-Hunter.  Now for Jenna, everyone must make eye contact with her and as a result of her new producer credit, she shows up wearing a shirt that reads, “Business Slut.”  Looking forward for these shirts to catching on.

Sadly, Kenneth has been fired.  Tracy asks a vision of Kenneth how Martinizing dry-cleaning works (“I’ve always been curious.”)

Liz is most happy with Carol’s ability to get seated at a Chili’s even if the pilot’s date has been yelling at the hostess (“You’re the Jackie O of our time,” Jack tells her).  Jack’s jabs at Liz’s vanity never get old; his constant criticism of her lack of any desire to present herself well seem real – like the time he walked into her apartment while she was getting ready for a wedding wearing the most ridiculous bathrobe and shower cap and exclaimed, “I don’t have time to talk about what you look right now.”  Or when he told his girlfriend Avery over the phone that she looked like a “slutty Grace Kelly,” and then proclaimed, when Liz walked into his office, that “the exact opposite walked in.”  Incredibly offensive, but Liz doesn’t care.  She has no sense of vanity and this truly perplexes Jack.

Jack introduces “The Fabian Strategy” to Liz, his method of getting his way in disputes with Avery by appearing to give into her demands.  Of course, Liz thinks The Fabian Strategy is the theory that a feather and an apple will, if dropped at the same time, land simultaneously.  She is obviously playing with Jack, but he can never sense her desire to strive for the ridiculousness and confuses her as naïve.

Jenna proves herself to be an effective producer; she is calculated enough to fire those Pete believes could only be terminated by a monster.  She fired the elderly “Grace,” who had worker there since Jack Paar’s Tonight Show.  I had dibs on her being a single, pregnant mom before they cut to her.  What did everyone else think? Classic 30 Rock misdirection.

Why isn’t the staff more upset that Kenneth is gone?  “This isn’t real.  I’m in control of this, like the World Cup.”

Great moment with Liz and Carol, and Carol has a great interaction with the writer’s.  Did I hear the theme song of I Love Lucy playing in the background?  Am I as confused as Tracy?

Why is Liz so cold to Carol?  Is she as egotistical as Tracy and Jenna.  This is her least attractive quality – she always seems to lack empathy for selfish reasons.  An interesting personality the writers have given her, since Tina Fey says this is the one part of Liz that isn’t based on her (Fey is married).  Is Tina Fey the 2010 version of Mad Men’s Peggy Olsen?

Meanwhile, Kenneth is working as a page for the Late Show with David Letterman, where they seat audience members based on attractiveness.  Is Jay Leno a writer for this show now?  Low, 30 Rock.

Liz and Carol are now watching Barefoot Contessa, and they both confess that one of their three favorite things in the world include “when Muppets present at awards shows,” as well as the relationship that Jeffrey and Ina Garten have on Barefoot.  Carol doesn’t really feel that way and breaks down: “I’m not like Jeffrey Garten.  I’m not as strong as that guy!”  Great visual of him cut in.

Liz is so unnatural.  “Don’t be cry!”

Cool Ipod Nano commercial.  And cut to Liz and Jack’s phone conversation, while they are both on their MacBooks.

I get that Elizabeth Banks is a movie star and can’t always appear, but if she’s going to play such a major role in Jack’s life I’m not truly buying that she’s in the next room when she doesn’t appear at all in the episode.

Pete is so thrilled that Jenna’s productive role as a co-producer gives him free time to do whatever he wants; he tells Liz that he made love to his wife without even waking her and cuts to a scene of his sleeping wife snoring and moving against the bedpost.  After Liz is horrified (as was I) and says, “That’s one of the most upsetting things I’ve ever imagined,”  Pete responds with “ Are you sure? Think about it again.”  Same cutaway – this is a little too much like Family Guy’s use of it; could’ve done without this scene.

Cutaway to Liz and Carol’s “emotional breakfast,” where he sobs as they hold hands and she licks cereal out of her bowl.

Jenna comes to the savvy realization that she is unnecessary as a producer and asks Pete to fire her.

The most shocking part: Liz and Carol’s dual confessions: “I’m on a waiting list to adopt a kid.” “Touched by a priest. It’s fine.”  You choose who said what.

See you October 14, Liz says to Carol.  Which also happens to be a Thursday.  And now we know the date of Matt Damon’s next guest appearance.

All in all, a nice start to the season; it was perhaps more plot-driven than packed with the emotional and uproariously funny episodes that concluded last season.   Great amount of Jenna screen-time, which is always a plus.  I could have done with fewer smug Jack moments.  It de-humanizes him, but I’m sure this won’t be a concern when Avery gives birth to his child.  The Liz disses, The Fabian Strategy, and his attempted seduction of Avery’s friend whose job was to pick the color swatches for their apartment were over the top.  Also,  Avery should be SEEN and HEARD.  Always.  This episode never reached the utter hilariousness of last season, but I hope that wasn’t the climax (sorry, Liz), and it can eventually return to its previous heights of hilarity (Live episode? Time to bring back Oprah?).

Best game of Would You Rather:

Jack: Let go of your precious autonomy and let Jack into your life or teach your cat to dial 9-1-1?

Other Great Lines

·         Liz: You know that I have life-alert. Oh, no I pressed it.

·         Tracy: “Oh no, I missed it! Do it again” (After Tracy doesn’t see Kenneth get hit by a car).

·         Tracy to Kenneth: “Don’t you miss rubbing my foot back into the shape of a foot?”

·         Jenna on her role as a producer: “As great as I am at this, I’m not really necessary.  The last time I said that I was in a three-way with two of the Backstreet Boys.”

·         Carol to Liz: “I’m not sorry you saw me cry. That’s actually not even a part of my personality that’s just something that happens to people who change altitudes more than four times a day.

·         Kenneth, watching the credits at the end of TGS: Goodnight Moon…Sun Park from accounting.

·         Liz to Jack on the phone: “You seem weird, do you have a beard?”

·         Jenna: “The writers can’t take a car service at night anymore.  I’ve crunched the numbers and it’s cheaper for us to just replace anyone who gets murdered.”

Original Author: Scott Eidler