30 Rock Review: "Don Geiss, America and Hope" (3.15)

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<em>30 Rock</em> Review: "Don Geiss, America and Hope" (3.15)

Everyone has their own little art niches they can’t stand, even when confronted with the best a genre has to offer. For some people that’s European electropop or superhero cartoons, for me that’s contemporary romantic comedies, or “rom coms” as people who like shortening not-particularly-long phrases are wont to call it. While some of my favorite films are screwball comedies, if it was made post-1975 or seems likely to force Hugh Grant and/or Meg Ryan into some sort of fulfilling relationship, then I’m not interested.

Apparently some of 30 Rock’s writers feel the same way, as they decided that Liz’s relationship with her “future husband” would play out exactly like a by-the-numbers romantic comedy, only with the twist that the guy she’s flirting with is a complete non-starter. Not only is Wesley Snipes (played by a very defensive-of-his-charcter’s-name Michael Sheen) not particularly good-looking, he’s also boorish, dull and refers to bicycles as either foot cycles or velocipedes, depending on his mood. He’s the romantic comedy's worst nightmare, and has such a wonderful lack of chemistry with Tina Fey that this entire subplot feels completely natural, even though it stems from a pretty stupid premise. Hell, even the dumb premise works, given that it's basically a parody itself.

As with most of Lemon’s suitors, she considers Snipes long after she should have because while imperfect, he may still be just good enough to settle for. There’s a sort of parallel from here to Jack’s plot, in which he’s also given a situation to settle for, only what Jack’s offered is actually pretty desirable. Lemon’s view of romance is so bleak by this point in the show that even Snipes seems passable for a while—Jack is offered more of a deal with the devil. Kabletown is offering Jack the ability to just sit back and look pretty while collecting money. The thing of it is, though, Jack is a corporate vice president not just for the fame and the fortune, but also because he does in fact genuinely love his job. He accepts the new position with Kabletown but makes sure it’s on his own terms, introducing “porn for women” along the way, which was pretty funny despite being an extremely lazy joke.

The episode’s final subplot worked just as well, even if its premise was just as uninspired as the whole porn for women thing. An ex-maid of Tracy’s writes a memoir that reveals he never slept with her; in fact, he’s never cheated on his wife with anyone. If people believe her, Tracy’s reputation will be ruined, so he sets out to solve this problem. Like most Tracy plots, this one doesn’t particularly lead anywhere, but I was happy to see that Morgan and the writers just let him fly into a flurry of crazy one-liners like old times.

I’m not sure when the last time I thought every plot in a 30 Rock episode was a winner, but “Don Geiss, Hope and America” delivered on the exuberant claims of the episode’s title, right down to Geiss himself’s appearance frozen in carbonite.

Stray Observations:
"I don’t know why you’re wearing girl’s pyjamas, but I’m sure it’s cultural."
-Turning off the L.A. part of the meeting is a nice touch. I hope Jay Leno’s there.
"Worst of all she revealed the fact that I’ve never cheated on my wife."
"Your Ben & Jerry’s flavor is called adult-a-raisen."
-A bat in a suitcase is mighty insane but the gag is pulled off with aplomb.
"I should know, I’ve been in a hot tub two times."
"At least we’ll always have Dr. Kaplan’s recovery room. It was our Paris."
"Brought good things to life, and bad things to Chinese rivers." I remember when the Yangtzee was a functional river. That joke just makes me sad.
"In England we call it a film pod."
"But Frank, I still party. I’m still terrible at my job."
"I got a lot of flack after I ate that pig that played Babe."
"It’s like a black Barbie doll in Arizona: nobody is buying it."
Fresh-Ass, Based on the Novel Tush, by Ass-Phire.” On a personal note, you may be amused to learn that the novel itself has also been renamed Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Saphire." No, really.
-Foot cycle or velocipede, which is more retarded? You be the judge!
"I wish I could help you, but I can’t sleep with a black guy—I’d lose my endorsement deal with Nascar."
-Tracy's dance was from I Dream of Jeannie. It was also sublime.
“These are all hookers—pick one.” Don Geiss will truly be missed.
-One joke I was pretty meh on was Geiss's daughter being an amazing trumpet player as a sort of half-assed Susan Boyle thing. Totally unnecessary.
"Jack, women hate Porn even more than men hate going to outlet malls."