30 Rock: Season 6, Episode 2
Idiots are People Two
There is a cloud hanging over every episode of 30 Rock, a black pall that casts a shadow over each laugh (I'll admit i'm exaggerating here, but less that you might think). Alec Baldwin has made quite clear his intention to leave the show at the end of this season, yet there has been no announcement as to whether 30 Rock will continue in his absence. The departure of a major star from a show tends to hurt it going forward (if you have doubts, check in on Michael's coverage of the post-Steve Carrell incarnation of The Office), but think, for a moment, on what 30 Rock looks like without Jack Donaghy. It is a bleak picture, and this fear is something I imagine we will return to many times throughout our discussion of this season. For now, though, let's turn our attention to "Idiots are People Two" (which, by the way, has a GREAT title).

The A-plot, like any time that Jack Donaghy is on screen, displays how invaluable Baldwin is to this show. Having a storyline in which Liz has doubts about her new boyfriend (the always amiable James Marsden) and those manifest in her envisioning Jack pointing them out is nothing if not a complete cliche, the sort of thing we've seen on any number of sitcoms a million times before. But damned if Baldwin doesn't carry it off and almost make this plotline worthwhile. This is pretty old material (in fact, How I Met Your Mother, a sitcom far past its prime, did this basic plotline earlier this season), and it can't really be wholly saved by Baldwin's pitch-perfect delivery, but it certainly helps.

The rest of the plots are more in line with inspired 30 Rock lunacy. In a ripped-from-the-headlines story we've been waiting for since Tracy Morgan's homophobic tirade, Tracy Jordan pisses off the gay community by asking why gay people don't just look at their own junk (and saying people can be "turned gay"), which leads Liz to denounce him on TV, calling him an idiot. Tracy then launches a protest for idiots, which Liz would ignore except for the fact that the only people that watch her show are ,"black nerds, Jet Blue passengers who fall asleep in front of their televisions, pets whose owners have died, and idiots."

Finally, in the most promising, and slightest, sub-plot in this, the first of a two-parter, Jenna and Kenneth accidentally give Pete mercury poisoning and call in Kelsey Grammer to help them clean up the mess. Seeing as Grammer's last appearance (in season five's "Reaganing," in which he, Jenna, and Kenneth pulled off a long-con depriving Carvel of $800) is one of my favorite plot lines the show has ever done, his return is very exciting to me. And also, Jane Krakowski is at her best when paired with Jack McBrayer and given the chance to throw out the weird sexual energy she sends his way (not to mention more of her hilariously absurd Hollywood anecdotes), so this storyline promises to blossom into a beautiful fruition next week.

It can be hard to evaluate Part 1 of a two part episode by itself, as so much of what we saw tonight hangs on next week's conclusion. However, "Idiots are People Two," even with its cliched A-plot, had some great 30 Rock lunacy to offer, and instilled in me high hopes for next week's conclusion. If this is the last season we have with Alec Baldwin, I hope it continues to be this strong. And if they give this incredibly strong comedic actor material fit for his ability (as the show often does), that will truly be a sight to behold.

Grade: B


-"Easy as pie, Ms. Maroni. What could go wrong? Why would I even say that?"

-I like that Liz and Terry the gender neutral doll are wearing the same outfit.

-"You want a smiley face?" "German flag, please!"

-"Wow...that is some detailed reporting, Curry."

-"Did you know that Snuggles, the fabric softener bear, is gay? He's dating one of the Charmin cubs...I thought they were babies!"

-"They make the Japanese look like Greeks!"

-"Why not? The Bronx turned me dyslexic..."

-"Remember when I offended stubborn people? That took forever to sort out!"

-"Is it a stupid name, like Dakota or Barack?"

-"Jenny McCarthy died? But who could have been slowly poisoning her?"

-"Terri Polo and Ving Rhames called me at home."

-"I am an idiot. I am. For all intensive purposes." I love this, both because Denise Richards is pretty dumb, and because that is a personal pet peeve of mine.

-"Vaginal Mesh: Nice try, prolapse."

-I love that Jack is riding an eagle on his check. And that the memo says "I used your bathroom."

-"His name is Kelsey, he's very wealthy, he doesn't have to be doing this..." No. But we love him for it.
Tags: 30 Rock
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