Look, even I’ll admit 30 Rock has had a slow start to its sixth season. The jokes weren’t quite as crisp, the humor not quite as sharp. And, yeah, they pretty much blew a golden opportunity with the Tracy Jordan homophobic rant storyline. But last night, in its Gotham-inspired love letter to New York, the show came roaring back. I’ve always thought the series worked best when it focused on Jack and Liz as the opposite sides of the same coin. And it can’t get more opposite than Jack as Batman and Liz as the Joker fighting for the soul of Gotham. It’s like Jay-Z says, New York, “concrete bunghole where dreams are made up, there’s nothing you can do.”
Well if you’ve ever wanted to see Tina Fey dress up like an ever-increasingly psychotic old lady, this was your Christmas morning. Liz Lemon as the Joker? Um, yeah – I’d probably still hit that. Well, provided she finally wash her gym bag full of microfiber workout clothes.
FEELINGS, FEELINGS, FEELINGS!
One of 30 Rock’s greatest strength has always been its urban sensibility. This is a city show set in the world capital of culture, finance and King Kong attacks. Sure, sometimes that city is just a thug in a cocktail dress. But I think that’s also what makes it pair so nicely with Parks and Recreation. It’s like City Mouse and Country Mouse – one set in a city with a cynic’s heart, another set in middle America with an optimist’s heart. Still, the cynic isn’t above telling the concrete jungle it cares, and it was never more evident than in the Batman v. Joker showdown between Jack and Liz. And in the end, Old Liz was right, even in New York City people like Mr. Met, the starry eyed ingénue prostitute and the dude dressed up like the Statue of Liberty do want rules.
Admit it, without people like Liz, civil society collapses completely. But then, thanks to a particularly unpleasant subway ride – “That’s not how it works, let people off first!” – something snaps in law and order Liz. Or perhaps she just sneezed out a particularly important parg of her blurn. I don’t know about you, but watching her slow descent into Joker-style madness was kind of cathartic. Who hasn’t dreamed of just letting it all go and freaking out the world for one’s own selfish gain?
Also, really people, sneeze like Obama told you to. What is wrong with people? Also, if you’re lucky it’ll come out looking like Jesus.
You know why this episode was so funny? Light sprinkles of Tracy and Kenneth and heavy dosages of Liz, Jack and Jenna. I’ve always thought Jenna was underused on the show, and Jane Krakowski’s full range was being hidden under a bushel. But when she tries the kinky new world of normaling with her boyfriend Paul, it all became clear. Seeing Jenna act normal is hilarious. I mean, Paul napped on her and she liked it, that sick bitch. Though, Old Jenna got in her zingers too. Bread-stick flavored nightgown that comes with dipping sauce? I’d buy that. And, well, there’s this old classic: “Oh, don’t be so dramatic. That’s my thing. And if you take it away from me, I will kill myself, and then you.” Man, I can’t wait to see how their sexual walkabout turns out.
Still, the night belonged to Jack/Batman. After getting mugged by a man in Dockers, he starts a campaign to protect the one percent from the 99 percent because “the lower classes are getting cranky about the rich earning all of their money away from them.” But when he can’t even get his buddy Commissioner Kelly (they have competing columns in Irish Arguments Weekly, America’s only all-caps magazine) to start an elite, $5 million starting salary police force for the rich, he decides to run for mayor. And, of course, it all happens with him in a tuxedo. It’s after 6, what is he – a farmer?
Welcome back, 30 Rock. I sure missed your whole Sam and Diane thing. And, yes – per Kenneth – Sam and Diane are the lesbian couple in my building who murdered each other. Yeah, it even got in a lesbian joke. It’s definitely back.
So, what did you think, nerds? How’d you like 30 Gotham?