30
Oct
2009
30 Rock: Season 4, Episode 3
Stone Mountain
Jordan
This week's 30 Rock had a lot of the problems that people often accredit to the show. It had a plotline about smug superior liberals, a large dash of Jenna, and an overabundance of celebrity cameos. However, "Stone Mountain" also had a fine heap of hilarious lines to counteract the somewhat heavy handed plotting tonight.

The A-plot is easily the worst offender. Liz's ongoing quest to recruit a new cast member that is representative of "the real America" has lead her to San Francisco (in what Jack decries as "The People's Gaypublic of Drugafornia") and next she's heading to Toronto, far from where Jack thinks the new recruit should be found. So, in a gamut that has rarely paid off for the show, Jack and Liz go off the reservation and to Stone Mountain, Georgia, near where Kenneth grew up (after his descendents left their original home in "Sexcriminalboat. Do you think that's Cherokee?").

There they find Fatty Fat's Sandwich Ranch, a polite desk clerk, and a new comic played by guest star Jeff Dunham. The idea that Dunham's style of "comedy" is even worth recognition by the show that remains the funniest thing on network television irks me, and his appearance on the show falls incredibly flat only partially because it was designed to. Liz's repeated insistence that there is no "real America" and that everyone in the country is the same is the stuff liberals have been complaining about for over a year now, and her speeches come off as heavy handed and more than a little unnecessary. No one watches 30 Rock to be proselytized at, and when Fey goes off on a monologue about how liberals are Americans too, she should know she's preaching to the choir. The only saving grace to the scene in which Liz tries to heckle Dunham out of becoming a cast member is that it ends with Jack literally decapitating his puppet, an act I've dreamed of often in recent weeks.

The B-plot centers around Jenna's overly complicated relationship with the writers. It begins as an attempt to butter them up so they'll give her better material (oh yeah, they still do a show!), then devolves into the writer's quest to prank Jenna into leaving them alone, then further devolves into the writer's attempt to butter her up so she'll invite them to Gay Halloween. The quick turns of the plot are pretty weak, but the idea of Gay Halloween as a Mecca of sorts, and the return of Sacha from Jenna's entourage provide laughs to sustain the story.

In the C-Plot, Tracy fears the "Rule of Three" after the man who inspired Pac-Man and a popular clogger/Huffington Post contributor both die (Tracy vows that, "I will eat a bowl of cherries and some ghost meat in his honor."). This leads to the most consistently amusing storyline of the night as Tracy plots to ensure another celebrity dies first. He tries to kill Betty White (by calling her and yelling "Boo!") and when that fails, he hopes to bludgeon Queen Latifah's friend (Jimmy Fallon, in a pretty rote cameo that becomes wryly clever when he acknowledges the crappy guests he often has on his own show, vowing to kill his first guest, which will be a dog that plays soccer, if someone hasn't died by then).

Looking at the episode objectively it is filled with three pretty unfunny plotlines and has a few overly long scenes that don't deliver nearly enough laughs to warrant their length. This may be the weakest episode the show has done yet this season, but "Stone Mountain" still had enough hilarious moments to keep me generally happy throughout.

Grade: B-

Notes:

-"Stop trying to amuse yourself and start thinking about what makes actual human beings laugh!" Followed immediately by a pratfall from Lutz. This is a recurrent theme this season, that the show is out of touch with America. I'm not sure if its Tina Fey worrying this is the case or network tampering, but it tends to come off as smug and condescending, even when its as funny as that joke.

-"Orange and black decorations? Is this Halloween or Princeton Parents Weekend? I don't know whether to be scared or proud of my cousin!" "Its Halloween sir." "Proud it is!"

-The gag of everyone in Georgia looking like Kenneth also fell flat. Less of Jack McBrayer continues to be more.

-"This is going to be the scariest Princeton Parents Weekend Ever!"

-"I'm not going to be pushed aside and forgotten like that time at my sister's funeral."

-Lady airline pilots make Kenneth laugh.

-"At night The Chuckle Hut becomes The Laugh Factory, and that's a comedy club!"

-"I gotta go somewhere where nothing will happen to me. Can you get me on Charlie Rose?"

"It's a myth. Like going bald with dignity."

-"Keep refreshing. Maybe Andy Dick has died in the last 20 seconds."

-"Any arm pain? Shortness of breath? Plans to investigate corruption in Russia?" I love that all celebrities know, and fear, the "Rule of Three."

-"Choir member, desert storm veteran, father of three. I made all that up, but you get my point."

-"And some of them are skeevy dirtbags like the Dukes of Hazard, driving around like madmen. Children use those roads!"

-"All of god's children are terrible." A lovely moral, 30 Rock style.

-"What's wrong Ken? That hatchet isn't real, is it?"
Tags: 30 Rock
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