Tonight we raise a glass to 30 Rock, which six weeks and five Tina Fey-as-Sarah Palin Saturday Night Live sketches after its second straight Emmy win for best comedy, finally begins its third season. A sublime hour of Thursday comedy is now complete.
Fortunately, the slightly longer-than-average layoff and Fey’s multitasking don’t seem to have hurt the show much. Thursday’s premiere wasn’t quite 30 Rock on all cylinders, but it wasn’t too far off.
Hi, I’m Rick. I’m here for your spoilers. … Hi, I’m Rick. Let’s get started.
Jack Donaghy is no longer a federal employee, and Liz Lemon is so happy to see him back in New York that she can’t decide whether to hug him or shake his hand, so instead just punches him on the shoulder (the first of several fine Fey-Alec Baldwin bits of physical comedy tonight). Jack unfortunately can’t say how he got out of his job, "at least not until Dick Cheney dies, which is gonna be a long time. The man is mostly metal." So yeah, that’s a pretty quickly paved over plot hole, and yeah, I don’t much care. We all knew Jack would be back quickly.
While Jack schemes to reclaim his job from Devon Banks, Liz is gearing up for an adoption evaluation interview conducted by Megan Mullally, who’s the first of, oh, about a million high-profile guest stars you’ll see on the show this season. Bev is curt and no-nonsense, and she also wants to see Liz’s workplace, which has got to be just about the worst idea ever, what with Tracy lording the success of his porn video game over everyone and Frank being Frank and — well, you know. It’s just not good.
Particularly when Jack, who gets stuck in the mailroom at first but by the end of his first day has already been promoted twice, figures that in order to save the company from Devon’s mismanagement — he’s planning to shut down the company to turn it around — he’s going to have to (shudder) give himself up to Kathy Geiss.
"She touched me in my swimsuit area," he confides to Liz. "It made me very uncomfortable. It’s not at all erotic and fun like when men do it to women. Have you ever been sexually harassed? Of course not. So how far do I have to let her go to get my job back? Are we talking over the shirt, frontsies, backsies — or would I really have to … give her my gift."
We’re with you, Liz: Eww.
Again, Jack’s rapid return to the executive suite was accomplished awfully quickly, but inasmuch as it gave Baldwin the chance to recount his rise through the corporate ranks (including working "the day shift at a graveyard and the graveyard shift at that Day’s Inn") and the, uh — well, I guess it was a seduction scene between Kathy and Jack. "You smell like strawberries," Liz tells Jack. "That’s the lip gloss she put on me, so I could be her fancy boy."
The adoption stuff was slightly less successful for me, though Mullally was her usual strong self and there were a few fine individual moments, like Frank changing his hat (per Liz’s request) from a trucker hat to a bowler that reads "Horny" and Jenna offering up that she used to date O.J. Simpson ("And can I just say? Total gentleman"). I think it just feels a little too much like something we’ve seen too many times before.
But even a slightly off-its-game 30 Rock is still a joy to have back on TV. Some more highlights from "Do Over":
- Not a whole lot of Tracy tonight, which is not always a bad thing, but I was kind of missing his particular brand of crazy. The gifts he bestowed on Frank (solid gold nunchucks) and Pete ("a chinchilla coat. You’re gonna get so much nice-nice with this you’re gonna have to grow a new …") were a nice touch, though.
- Part of Devon’s plan to turn the company around: Selling the E in GE. "It’s just G now; I sold the E to Samsung. They’re Samesung now."
- Jack and Liz’s little soap-opera play for Kathy also featured some nice physical comedy, with Liz groping around for the right spot on his face to place her hand for the sexy soap pose. The scene was also a nice little wink to the notion that Jack and Liz are destined to hook up — which I hope Fey and Co. are too smart to do.
How happy are you to have 30 Rock back? What did you think of the premiere, and which of the many, many guest stars are you looking forward to seeing?