7
Apr
2012
30 Rock: Season 6, Episode 15
Nothing Left to Lose
Jordan
As last night's episode of 30 Rock ended, a friend I watched it with turned to me and said, "You know, I don't think I'm going to watch 30 Rock anymore." It's not like this decision came out of the blue: The show has been having a terrible season, and it seems pretty clear that it won't be pulling out of this slump any time soon, if ever. I made a similar decision last night, though one less severe: I do not leave a show behind easily, especially if its one I have devoted a lot of time and affection to (this is why I watched Scrubs until "My Finale," which I consider the series finale and would prefer be treated that way by everyone, and why I still watch How I Met Your Mother). So while, if 3o Rock does return for a seventh season, I will watch it, I will not be reviewing it. 30 Rock has always been a difficult show to write about; at its best, it is a problem of trying to find different, interesting ways to say "that was funny" and at its worst, it is a struggle to describe why it was not funny. At this point, though, I don't think the show is worth the time and effort it takes me to write a review, nor worth the time and patience it must take you to read them. I will, as a dutiful servant to you who read these every week, finish out this season, though. And so we turn our attention to "Nothing Left to Lose," the second episode in a row that tried, and failed, to make jokes out of the fact that this show is running on empty.

To give credit where credit is due, "Nothing Left to Lose" is funnier than this show has been in several weeks. Yet that humor comes from characters behaving even more implausibly than usual and attempts at absurdity that are painfully forced as often as they are fitfully funny. This has always been a broad show, but with two break out musical sequences, pratfalls, and Liz making a joke about how her greatest weakness is her humility, this was an episode that was broadly comedic in the worst possible way.

That Jenna, while hopped up on liquor and prescription pills, admits that she hates herself in an evaluation is neither as surprising nor as funny as the show seems to hope it will be. I have never been a huge fan of the ongoing prank war between Jenna and the writers, mostly because I can't remember a single truly funny plotline that arose from this set up; tonight's is no exception. There are twists here, mostly involving Lutz, but none of it ever works well enough for me to care about it, and the show goes to fairly great lengths to set up a Smurfs joke that then falls painfully flat (though I did chuckle at Tracy's, "What happened, J-Mo? Did you pass out in a goose costume at LaGuardia?")

Pete's downward spiral has been a joke this show runs to more and more as it gets on in years, to mixed returns at best. Sometimes Pete the sad loser is funny, but more often than not he just feels like a once-realistic character who has devolved into a string of jokes in human flesh.

Then there is the most ridiculous plot line, in which Tracy regains his sense of smell and starts to try to win Liz' approval because she smells like his father did before he went out for milk and heroin and never came back. This is a patently ridiculous concept (and not in a good way), but I was on board with the return of Dr. Spaceman and always have reasonably high hopes for Tracy Morgan to say something insane that will get me to crack a smile. Neither really met my (at this point pretty low) expectations, though, and instead this plot seemed set to wacky but without any jokes to help it coast along. Things are pretty dire for 30 Rock at this point. I think it might be time to take the show to see the rabbits...

Grade: C

Notes:

-"What if the Wright Brothers had kept making bicycles or Alexander Windowblinds had said, 'I don't want to partially see outside.'" The inventor naming products after himself joke will never get old to me.

-"Kenneth, how do you feel about revenge?" "The Bible says its wrong, but its the surprise hit of the season on ABC, so I just don't know!"

-"Why are you kissing it?"

-"The other day I was mugged by what I'm pretty sure was two five-year-olds in a trench coat."

-"Are you quoting Lord of the Rings?" "No, I'm quoting myself talking to Bruce Willis."

-"John Adams and MITT ROMNEY enter. Commentary!"

-"Or I could be six feet under...in the subterranean paradise we built to escape the poor."

-"Why are you so heavy?" "Because so much of me has died."
Tags: 30 Rock
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